Biodiesel, an easy-to-make, cleanburning diesel alternative made from vegetable oil or fats, has great promise as a energy industry that could be locally-produced, locally-used, and locally-controlled. But decentralized energy is not how the energy markets currently operate, and to develop this kind of biodiesel business, we will probably need to take a page from the history of the organic farming movement or other self-regulated, activist-driven industries.
Today biodiesel in the US is produced commercially by agribusiness and by a few rendering companies, with Gulf Oil involved as a major distributor in the form of the World Energy distributorship. Many homebrewers also make biodiesel as a hobby, and through their internet discussion forums, are sharing ways to make the process and the technology they use more effective. Additionally, many of us are ‘fired up’ about the possibility of something in between ‘industry’ and ‘homebrewing’- about developing small biodiesel production plants that would enable small fleets, cities, cooperatives, and farmers to make their own fuel, independent of current petroleum and biodiesel agribusiness infrastructure, and to enable more availability of pure biodiesel (B100) independent of trends and some pricing issues within the biodiesel industry.