Idiots. ALL energy processing will yield less than what it takes to produce. That's called physics.
Its not that simple. They aren't counting the sun input to the corn. They are really talking about fuel accounting. Really fossil fuel accounting. There is a debate about ethanol replaces more fossil fuel then it consumes in production. If it doesn't, then its really not a sustainable energy source that the environmentalists are looking for. In fact it would make the problem worse rather then better. The author of the cited study is the leading advocate of the idea that it doesn't.
The devil is in the details. People talking about energy issues always seem to use the words energy, fossil fuels, and oil interchangably as if they were the same thing. If I can use coal to produce ethanol, then I can power today's automobiles off of a fuel that is mined domestically and has a 400 year present supply. Furthermore, if I can use coal I can use nukes. Ethanol might be a better energy storage medium then hydrogen.
However, its impossible to tell from this press coverage exactly what contributed to the "29% fossil fuel" drain, which fossil fuels are referenced, and whether they might be replacable. Is ethanol inefficient because we're still burning gasoline in the cars that are used to ship the stuff, or is there simply some fundamental barrier to making this stuff without using all of that fossil fuel that can not be resolved over time. One would have to dig into the study.
I predict that:
1. I don't have time to do so.
2. No one else does either.
3. In the near future this study will be used as a talking point by someone in group 2 in the course of a discussion about energy policy. It will be held up as further evidence that there is no solution and we must convert to a socialist economy immediately to avoid the coming eco-cataclysm.
RE: Study Says Ethanol Not Worth the Energy