#Ethanol is heading toward obsolescence. #Iowa will need a new plan. RSS Feed

Ethanol is heading toward obsolescence. Iowa will need a new plan.

Over 40 percent of Iowa’s corn production goes to making ethanol — for a market that could soon disappear. Futurists predict that the energy and transportation industries are poised for rapid change, and that liquid fuels will soon go the route of telephone landlines.

There are three technology developments coming at us very quickly: 1) electric vehicles will soon be cheaper to buy and operate than gasoline and diesel vehicles, 2) solar and wind are becoming the cheapest forms of energy, and 3) homeowner-sized energy-storage systems will soon be widely available at reasonable prices. In his book “Clean Disruption,” Stanford professor Tony Seba argues that these three trends will soon make gasoline and diesel vehicles obsolete.

A “disruptive technology” is one that comes onboard very quickly, disrupting the status quo. Examples: One hundred years ago the introduction of the car quickly displaced the horse and buggy; today, the rapid adoption of cellphones is displacing telephone landlines.

Technology One: Gasoline and diesel cars have 2,000 moving parts; electric cars have 18 moving parts. Soon electric cars will be cheaper to manufacture, cheaper to operate, and longer-lasting than cars with internal combustion engines. Seba predicts that by 2025 all new cars will be electric, because liquid-fueled cars will not be able to compete on cost, performance, and durability.

Technology Two: Every time world production of solar photovoltaic, or PV, panels doubles, solar PV prices are reduced by 20 percent. Solar prices have dropped 75 percent since 2009, and are continuing to fall. New solar PV systems are now at grid parity in many places and, along with wind, will soon be the cheapest form of energy anywhere. In contrast, fossil fuels (coal, oil, natural gas) are becoming increasingly difficult and expensive to extract, and are causing increasing environmental and health problems in their extraction and use.

Read full article at The Des Moines Register