Posts tagged “cellulosic ethanol”
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»
The global potential for energy crops is a topic of great interest, and the media is often filled with reports of the potential for production on marginal land. Indeed, some of these reports go so far as to suggest that a substantial fraction or even all of current global oil consumption could be replaced by energy crops grown on marginal soil. A new study was just released that makes such a claim: Study Estimates Land Available for Biofuel Crops Using detailed land analysis, Illinois researchers have found that biofuel crops cultivated on available land could produce up to half of the world’s current fuel consumption — without affecting food crops or pastureland. The news release goes into some of the… Continue»
Here are my choices for the Top 10 energy related stories of 2010. I can’t remember having such a difficult time squeezing this list down to 10 stories, because there were many important energy stories for 2010. It was hard to cut some of them from the Top 10; so hard that I almost did a Top 15. But I made some difficult choices, and offer my views on the 10 most important energy stories of 2010. Previously I listed a link to Platt’s survey of the Top 10 oil stories of 2010, but my list covers more than just oil. Reviewing my list of Top 10 Energy Related Stories of 2009, I see that I made three predictions. Those… Continue»
Delusional Mandates It is hard to believe that just a few short years ago, Congress mandated a massive increase in usage of cellulosic ethanol. This was remarkable, because no commercial cellulosic ethanol facilities even existed at the time. But people like Vinod Khosla were busy testifying before Congress that the only thing holding the industry back was more funding, and if they would provide the funding we could replace all of our gasoline consumption with cellulosic ethanol. So Congress mandated in the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act that we would use 100 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol in 2010, 250 million gallons in 2011, and then rapidly expand to 16 billion gallons per year by 2022. At the time,… Continue»