back to article World needs needs Tequila power: report

Agave produces a highly-efficient intoxicant, as anyone who’s woken up “Wasting Away in Margaritaville” can attest. According to a joint Sydney University / Oxford University study, the plant could also be a highly-efficient feedstock for biofuels. It makes sense, really: the fermentation of sugars is what gives us the ability …


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  1. 404 Silver badge

    Best plant it now and lots of it

    It take agave 8-12 years to mature.

    Read an article a little while back that there is going to be a tekillya shortage worldwide because farmers are going for more lucrative crops like marijuana etc. As a side note, the best tekillya is 100% blue agave....



    1. Shaun 1


      I thought they cut a load of it down to plant crops for biofuel!

  2. Gene Cash Silver badge

    But in the US...

    The purpose of ethanol fuel is expressly to burn corn, as the corn farmers have a HUGE lobby.

  3. Martin Budden


    This sounds like a good idea, and I like that it is being trialled in Australia: we have a LOT of arid land so we could really make good use of this.

  4. Patrick 8

    What absolute tosh!

    Agave for making tequila needs 12 to 14 years of growth to mature to the point where it can make an end product of only 4 tiny bottles of pure tequila. Why don't you fact check things before spouting them and stop listening to the bio-fuel protagonists who like to kindly omit the mass insufficiencies in the conversion of bio materials into fuel energy and gloss over the fact you need to eat, take care of the soil by not removing nutrients but continually recycling them in mass amounts of biodiversity to be sustainable and not turn the ground into barren desert. If I hear another "but wait it grows in land not suitable for crops" argument I am going to puke. All plants grow poorly in such environments as evidenced by the long time frames for agave to make and store enough sugars for a tiny output of tequila.

    How about a dose of reality. You are going to have to give up your mass energy wasting lifestyle and decommission your endless piles of crap and live more self-sufficiently than you are currently comfortable with. It does not make for sexy or misleading headlines but its the truth.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up


    Anything that reduces the impact bio-fuel crops have to food production gets a huge thumbs up in my book.

    Do countries have zoning laws that prevent farmers from growing crops for human consumption / commercial uses?

    The problem I think is that biofuel crops are more profitable than normal ones so those farmers with high quality farmlands would be loath to give it up voluntarily.

    Yes yes, I know I am stomping on the god given right of the farmers to make as much money as possible. But some things cannot be left to the free market.

  6. Eddy Ito Silver badge


    We have to do something to scuttle this news now! Do you have any idea what is going to happen to the price of my precious blue agave añejo if this gets out. Damn, I never thought I'd live to see the day when it was cheaper to drink a high quality single malt than tequila... oh wait, so it isn't all bad but it isn't going to make uisce any cheaper!

  7. Michael Hoffmann

    I predict riots

    Never mind cane and corn/maize-based biofuels leading to food price increases, if this lowers Tequila output there will be blood!

    That said, isn't agave a really slow-growing plant?

    1. Ru

      Oh dear oh dear

      A 14 year latency before the first crop isn't the end of the world. It may even be a quite reasonable economic gamble that will pay off handsomely when your investment matures.

      Now, much as I'd like to trust the foaming rants of a random internet denizen over some fairly simple research by people who have little to gain by publishing their results, I'd say they have a reasonable point. Doesn't seem worth arguing it here, though.

      Oh, and as for your dose of reality; no thanks. You can go live in a hut wearing hair shirts and begging gaia for forgiveness; I for one will continue to support nuclear power and fully expect to be living my energy intensive lifestyle for many years to come. Don't expect the rest of us to join you in your ignorant flagellation.

    2. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge

      Here's a dose of reality...

      1) This is a research project

      2) You're not drinking the bio fuel so the question is do you really have to wait until the crop matures

      3) The study was done in Sydney, right? While Aussies are thinking outside of the box, Agave is grown in Mexico. In fact Te-kill-ya is only Te-kill-ya if it is made from the Agave grown in Mexico.

      4) Agave grows in dry climates. Tree Huggers will like this because unlike man made solar plants in deserts, its 100% natural and would have a lesser impact on the environment.

      5) Wasting lifestyle? Stop 3rd world nations from over populating the world and creating human bio-mass.

      6) Want clean cheap energy? GO NUCLEAR.

      That's your reality. Nuclear power is the clean cheap and most efficient source of power. That is, until you have fusion energy which is still yet another 50 years away.

    3. Pascal Monett Silver badge


      The purpose of biofuels was never to actually do something ecologically resonable, but to pander to a specific lobby group.

      Thus I predict that agave biofuels will never take off unless the lobby groups decide that it is in their best interest.

      And that's a shame because I can make a mean margharita when I have the right ingredients !

    4. Goat Jam


      "mass energy wasting lifestyle"

      How about you lead the way and switch off your computer.

  8. Denarius Silver badge

    oblig song reference

    In hopes of being first, why not a tequila sunrise industry refrain perhaps ?

    Mines the one with the lemon and salt in the pocket

  9. Anton Ivanov

    There are plenty of desert plants that produce sugars and oils

    There is a problem with desert plants - they do not naturally grow at a high density. Sugarcane is the best sugar crop for a simple reason - it can grow at crazy densities. Can agave grow in a desert in production densities? I doubt it...

  10. TeeCee Gold badge


    Roadside pumps selling cheap Tequila by the gallon. What's not to like?

    Now if they'd only go the extra mile and figure out how to make cars run on Long Island Iced Tea.....

  11. LoopyChew

    So the devil's drink will now be the devil's fuel?

    Looking forward to the day that people load their cars with the stuff, then wonder how the cars managed to end up in a cheap motel in Tijuana the following Sunday.

  12. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    So agave grows in arid regions...

    but what's the ratio of alcohol between sugarcane and agave on the same amount of water/fertilizers?

    It might be that agave is better able to survive, but if it takes more water to grow the same output, it's not all that helpful.

    Not that using space we could be growing food crops in, or the food crops themselves, is that bright an idea...

  13. Roger Jenkins

    Production pressures

    I have more than a passing interest in farming and my opinion is this. If farmers plant Agave and it is just as efficient as sugar cane, they will start to intensively farm it, as they do sugar cane. They will monoculture, they will fertilise, they will pour water over it. All to make more money. That is how farming is in Australia. Far from being stewards of the land, most farmers are rapists of the land.

    To back this up. In the last few days I have observed a local farm, they have been cropping carrots. The carrots were dug and picked up by machine and dumped into trailers. Two rows behind the digger there was a tractor plowing, two rows behind that was a further tractor and machine planting lettuce, behind that again were workers setting up the irrigation equipment.

    This is pretty normal practice in this area. Once the lettuce is cropped another crop will be planted and the cycle continues.

  14. Heironymous Coward

    Misplaced priorities

    Fine, displacing food production for ethanol is a problem. But there is no mention of the fact that agave-based ethanol production would displace tequila production...

    Can we get a Friday icon please??

    1. multipharious

      Here here!

      This is a serious potential problem!

  15. Anonymous Coward

    Future is in bio engineering

    ... looking at microbes that'll turn cellulose to sugar

    1. Richard 12 Silver badge

      More like cellulose directly into diesel

      It's already been done, they were supposed to be starting industrial trials last year IIRC.

      I haven't heard much since though, which either means it's quietly ramping up for a big release soon-ish, or it's currently stalled due to unexpected problems in scaling the system up to industrial quantities.

  16. TRT Silver badge


    that makes me happy.

  17. multipharious

    Tequila is more expensive

    Nothing like that bottle of tequila discovered in the back of a friend's liquor cabinet with a label made from a square cut from a brown paper bag. They bought it in Mexico on their honeymoon...and never touched it.

    Tequila and its smokier cousin Mezcal are both getting more expensive for a couple of reasons. The first is that more people are bravely ignoring the warnings that you are either coming from or going to a bad tequila experience. The second is that agave is being used as a sweetener. The one thing I am happy about with the additional popularity is that good tequila is easier to find than in the old days, but you people that want to drive with my drink need to back off!

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  19. disgruntled yank Silver badge


    It's a rum day for the cane growers.

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