A new study has discovered ethanol and biofuel plants burn more energy than they produce.
Researchers at two American universities – Cornell and California-Berkeley – say it takes 29 per cent more fossil energy to turn corn into ethanol than the amount of fuel the process produces.
But those involved in ethanol producing say the report does not take into account the by-products which come out of ethanol production including carbon dioxide which can be recaptured and put to other uses.
The study comes as farmers, businesses and state officials are investing millions of dollars in ethanol and biofuel plants as renewable energy sources.
However, Gary Kramer, Monroe's Badger State Ethanol President, said: \\$quot;A study by Argon labs south of Chicago showed a net energy gain of 136 percent during ethanol production,\\$quot;.
\\$quot;Studies by the USDA and the Colorado Bureau of Mines have all come up with essentially the same numbers.\\$quot;
He says this latest study is inaccurate and was funded by the petroleum industry.
And he said in the late 1970s it did take more energy to produce ethanol but processes have improved since then.
The study includes factors such as the energy used in producing the crop but Mr Kramer says while the costs of planting the corn seed, cultivation and spraying costs and the petrol used to transport the ethanol do have to be factored in, the study gives no credit to solar energy and the costs saved based on that.
He said: \\$quot;Corn is nothing more than converted solar energy and we look at it like we're in the energy conversion business.\\$quot;
The ethanol industry claims that using eight billion gallons of ethanol a year will allow refiners to use two billion fewer barrels of oil but this is disputed by the oil industry which says that, ethanol will have a negligible impact on oil imports.
For further information: