Biofuels: No get up and go?

The biofuels industry may be getting closer to turning on the spigot, but that won't do any good without enough filling stations and cars, Lux Research says.

Concerns over food crops are only one issue to overcome when it comes to biofuels. There's also a serious lack of infrastructure that will prevent the fuel alternative from becoming mainstream, according to a new report by Lux Research.

"The problem is that there aren't nearly enough filling stations and cars--nor will there be for decades--that are capable of using the fuel. Without changes downstream in the current distribution infrastructure and end-use, ethanol's growth will soon cease--even if it's given away for free," said Mark Bünger, a research director at Lux Research, who headed up the report "Biofuels After the Fall."

Bünger and his group said that research has been focused on developing more cost-effective production methods and reducing reliance on food crops , and that the industry is poised to produce 10 billion gallons for 2009.

But demand will be stifled until the development of commercial infrastructure giving consumers greater access to biofuels and of more vehicles that can use biofuel blends, according to Lux Research.

The report is "a reality check for biofuel advocates operating under the false assumption that demand will exceed supply as soon as costs are competitive with fossil fuels," the group said in a statement.

Lux Research, which interviewed 35 leading biofuel organizations as part of its study, saw algae-based biofuels , catalysts for fermenting biomass , and lucrative biofuel byproducts as other areas ripe for development and investment.

Earlier this year, a report from Sandia National Laboratories and General Motors said biofuels could be competing with gas by 2030 .

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About the author

In a software-driven world, it's easy to forget about the nuts and bolts. Whether it's cars, robots, personal gadgetry or industrial machines, Candace Lombardi examines the moving parts that keep our world rotating. A journalist who divides her time between the United States and the United Kingdom, Lombardi has written about technology for the sites of The New York Times, CNET, USA Today, MSN, ZDNet, Silicon.com, and GameSpot. She is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not a current employee of CNET.

 

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