Posts tagged “cellulosic ethanol”
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»
There was a recent article in MIT Technology review called What’s Holding Biofuels Back? There is a relatively simple answer to the question that I will delve into below, but the short answer to “What’s holding biofuels back?” is that we placed unreasonable expectations on them to begin with, and they have simply failed to meet those unreasonable expectations. People would think it was unreasonable if Congress mandated a cure for the common cold within 5 years, but they don’t think twice when Congress mandates the creation of a cellulosic ethanol industry within 5 years. Yet either scenario requires technical breakthroughs that are not assured. The article notes that the cellulosic ethanol mandate for 2010 in the U.S. was cut… Continue»
Here are five positive notes extracted from the USDA report on next generation biofuels.
The USDA has just issued a report detailing the outlook and challenges of next generation biofuels.
Welcome to the new R-Squared! Our goals here are to provide a place to engage in respectful and thoughtful debate about the very important issue of energy. I thought it might be a good idea to summarize my positions on a wide variety of energy issues. Here I will attempt to briefly cover my views on oil, coal, ethanol (cellulosic, corn, and sugarcane), renewable diesel (green and biodiesel), nuclear power, solar power, wind power, and then climate change. I don’t intend to cover a lot of ground explaining my positions in detail; I will save that for future essays. The most important thing to note is that I try to let the data determine my position. But that also means… Continue»
I am freshly arrived back on the U.S. mainland, with a couple of stops before I head back to Hawaii. I have been reading about energy developments during my travels, and finally wrote something on the flight from Europe yesterday. What has prompted me to write was a report that was recently issued by The President’s Biofuels Interagency Working Group: Growing America’s Fuel As I read through this report on the status of advanced biofuels, I couldn’t help but think that this appeared to have been written by an optimistic cheerleader rather than by someone conducting a sober assessment of the situation. It contains very little of “Here is why we have fallen more than 90% short of our targets.”… Continue»
I only recently became aware that the 2009 Energy Conference put on by the Energy Information Administration has posted the audio and transcripts of all of the sessions. You can hear the audio or download the transcript from my session – Energy and the Media – here. I summarized the overall conference in two posts right after the conference: The 2009 EIA Energy Conference: Day 1 The 2009 EIA Energy Conference: Day 2 My fellow panelists were Steven Mufson from the Washington Post; Eric Pooley from Harvard, (and the former managing editor of Fortune); and Barbara Hagenbaugh from USA Today. The panel was moderated by John Anderson of Resources for the Future (and a long-time reporter and editorial writer for… Continue»
I have written several essays on Xethanol over the past few years. If you recall, they were a poster child for the theme of “overpromise, boost your stock price, and get rich quick” on biofuels. For me, this story dates back to 2006, when an investigative journalist working for Dallas Mavericks’ owner Mark Cuban e-mailed me and asked about the company’s claims. They had announced that thy would “be the first to commercialize cellulosic ethanol” (if I had a nickel for every time I have heard that), and they issued press releases at every opportunity. It worked for a while – at one point their market cap was something like half a billion dollars – despite the fact that there… Continue»
Back home now, just trying to catch up on the energy news of note. Four stories that I want to highlight. First was POET’s announcement on their progress on cellulosic ethanol: Poet hits ‘long shot,’ cuts cellulosic ethanol costs WASHINGTON – The head of the world’s largest ethanol producer, Sioux Falls-based Poet, said Wednesday that his company has drastically cut its cellulosic ethanol production costs. It is a breakthrough that will allow cellulosic ethanol to compete with gasoline within two years. Jeff Broin, Poet chief executive, told reporters during a roundtable discussion that the company has reduced its cellulosic ethanol production cost during the past year from $4.13 a gallon to $2.35 a gallon. Andrew Leonard of Salon asked me… Continue»
I am hopping on a plane again today, this time bound for the Orlando Energy Conference. The topic I will present is An Overview of Global Energy Issues. Good thing they asked for something easy and non-controversial. This is the last trip I have scheduled for this year, and I am hoping not to have to travel again for a while. Following Orlando, I will spend a few days at the family farm in Oklahoma, where Internet access has yet to make an appearance. Therefore, I will be slow to return e-mails and respond to comments. If all goes according to plan I will be back in Hawaii on November 21st (after having missed my wife’s birthday for the 4th… Continue»