NEARLY EVERY WEEK, I read about problems with biofuels and wind power. I work with some tree-hugging ecomentalists and I've learned about the science that supports alternative energy claims. I think some of the comments, especially in the business press, are ill-founded. Specifically, I think it's wrong to lay blame for food shortages at the rise of biofuels and I think it's short-sighted to believe that you cannot store energy harvested from wind power.
Biofuel Production Does Not Cause Food Riots. To point to the growth in biofuels as the sole cause of food riots around the world is to ignore the effect of growing populations, rising costs of production, increasing caloric intakes and reduced agricultural yields. All these factors contribute to an increased demand for food and the four factors would be in play, regardless of the need to raise crops to produce fuel. In fact, the rising price of oil affects everything from fuel for farms, to plastic packaging to the cost of fertilisers.
Moreover, it is important to distinguish between bioethanol and biodiesel. Bioethanol is an alcohol product derived from beetroot, corn, cane or some other starchy crop. Biodiesel comes from rapeseed, sunflower or some other oily crop.
You Can Save Wind Energy. It is entirely possible to store the power generated by wind. It can be done by using excess power to refill Hydroelectric power reservoirs or by producing hydrogen from wind power.
You can pump water with wind energy, pushing the water from a lower elevation reservoir to a higher elevation. Low-cost off-peak electric power is used to run the pumps. During periods of high electrical demand, the stored water is released through turbines. Pumped storage is the largest-capacity form of grid energy storage now available.