Posts tagged “cellulosic ethanol”
Newly released documents show that government officials ignored repeated warnings from U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) overseers concerning the feasibility of a south Georgia ethanol fuel plant, a debacle that eventually led to $75 million in lost taxpayer money – and not a single drop of usable ethanol produced.
In last week’s Energy Trends Insider (ETI) I explained Why Sugarcane Bagasse is the Most Promising Pathway for Cellulosic Ethanol. In addition, I answered a reader’s question about Ethanol’s Role in Rising Gas Prices and whether that increases the chances of a partial waiver this year of the Renewable Fuel Standard. As we have done previously, we would like to share a story from ETI with regular readers of this column. Interested readers can find more information on the newsletter and subscribe for free at Energy Trends Insider.
Why Sugarcane Bagasse is the Most Promising Pathway for Cellulosic Ethanol
The history of cellulosic ethanol is a lot longer than most people probably realize. In 1819, French chemist Henri Braconnot discovered how to break cellulose down into component sugars by treating biomass with sulfuric acid. Once sugars are released from cellulose, the solution can be fermented to ethanol in processes that are very similar to those used to produce corn ethanol or sugar cane ethanol. Regardless of the way the sugars are released, processes that produce ethanol from cellulosic sugars are collectively categorized as cellulosic ethanol. CONTINUE»
House Ag Committee Holds Hearings on Energy
On May 18, 2012 the House Committee on Agriculture held hearings on retaining Energy Title funding in the 2012 Farm Bill. Written testimonies and the video of the hearing are available at Formulation of the 2012 Farm Bill: Energy and Forestry Programs.
The hearings were held as Congress prepares to write the next Farm Bill. The purpose of this particular hearing was to discuss the renewable energy development provisions of the current Farm Bill, whether particular programs are achieving the desired results, and whether specific programs should be continued.
There were some comments during the hearing that warrant further analysis. CONTINUE»
In this week’s episode of R-Squared Energy TV, I answer a few questions about pathways to biofuels, cellulosic ethanol, and Vinod Khosla. I have to apologize this week, because the microphone was a bit away from my mouth, so the volume is lower than normal.
Some of the topics discussed this week are:
- Some of the commercially viable pathways for turning biomass into energy
- The prospects for drop-in fuels
- The shift in Vinod Khosla’s optimism over the past 5 years
- What I think Vinod’s statements to the Wall Street Journal really signal
For those of you who missed it, the corn ethanol lobby failed to convince Congress to extend the ethanol import tariff (54 cents/gallon) as well as the blenders tax credit (46 cents/gallon), which were slated to expire at the end of 2011 …sound of crickets chirping.
My guess is that because we exported almost 9% of our ethanol production last year, it was hard to argue that we still needed a tariff to protect us from Brazilian ethanol imports, especially since Brazil was our biggest customer. In a related vein, it should also be hard to argue that we mandate ethanol use to reduce oil imports while exporting ethanol to Canada (second largest customer and largest oil importer) as well as the United Arab Emirates (our fifth largest customer).
As for the tax credit, well, paying oil companies to blend something they were already legally mandated to blend never did make much sense, except maybe to the oil companies who were not about to look that gift horse in the mouth.
This Week in Energy is a weekly round-up of news making headlines in the world of energy. Most of these stories are posted throughout the week to our Energy Ticker page. The purpose is to stimulate discussion on energy issues, and community members should feel free to turn these into open thread energy discussions. Suggestions and news tips are welcome. I (Sam) can be reached at editor [at] consumerenergyreport [dot] com . NRC Report to Congress: Cellulosic Biofuel Mandates Unlikely to Be Met A congressionally requested study by the National Research Council — an arm of the National Academy of Sciences — concluded that next-generation biofuels are costly, and their impacts questionable. “Absent major technological innovation or policy changes, the… Continue»
Rewards for Performance, Not Over-Hyped Promises I recently wrote a post detailing some steps that I believe should be taken to improve the nature of how we provide incentives for biofuels: How to Fix the Broken Cellulosic Ethanol Incentive System. My proposal is like a feed-in-tariff for next generation biofuels. The highlights are that we should reward companies that deliver, and not those that make promises. We shouldn’t put the taxpayer on the hook for broken promises, and we should create a more level playing field for advanced biofuels. At present that playing field is tilted heavily in the direction of cellulosic ethanol. The original article was edited a bit and also published at Forbes: Fixing A Broken Biofuel Incentive… Continue»
Book Update I have mentioned it on here a couple of times, but I am under contract to deliver a book on energy by the end of this year. I initially had a pretty good idea of what I wanted to write, but that has evolved a bit as I started writing. So far, I have turned in three chapters to my editor, and I have several others partially complete. The book is going to be broken down into sections of general information (who uses what, who produces what, how it is produced, etc.), controversies (nuclear power, climate change, peak oil, etc.) and then one on possible energy solutions going forward. I am trying to cover stories from an objective… Continue»
Overview: Mandates, Zero Production, Penalties, and the Failure of the Current System In the previous post, I discussed the annual ritual of rolling back the cellulosic ethanol mandates by 90% or more. For three years running, cellulosic ethanol production will come in far, far short of the mandated target volumes. In fact, of the 100 million gallons mandated last year and 250 million gallons mandated this year, there is still no qualifying production to date. For 2012, the EPA is considering reducing the 500 million gallon mandate to as little as 3.5 million gallons. This is a reduction of over 99%, and should be a crystal clear indicator that this system is not working as intended. But even though product… Continue»
Another Year, Another Chapter In what is becoming an annual ritual, the EPA is once more scaling back the cellulosic ethanol mandate for 2012. The 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act mandated that we would use 100 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol in 2010, 250 million gallons in 2011, and 500 million gallons in 2012. I said quite explicitly from the start that this was wishful thinking, and that there was practically zero chance of meeting these mandates. In one article, I wrote: The next few years will see a record amount of back-pedaling from most of the companies trying to establish a foothold in this space – and overpromising on their technology to do so. There will be the… Continue»