Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Biofuel Industry Malaise

Renewables, energy efficiency measures and the smart grid are all important parts of the facilities energy solution, but what's going to help vehicles? The Army recently contracted for thousands of low speed electric vehicles, and hybrid electrics are improving every year, but for most transportation requirements, fuel remains the fuel of choice (sorry).

Hence, it's unfortunate that current efforts to create non fossil based fuels are foundering.  This dispatch is from a recent gathering of biofuels experts in San Francisco:
Many at the conference expressed concern and discouragement. Companies that were once darlings of Wall Street have gone bankrupt. Dozens of ethanol plants have closed as oil prices dropped. Many promising second generation plants cannot get built due to lack of project financing. People with the money see the risk as too high. There continue to be zero commercial scale (20-million gallon per year and bigger) cellulosic ethanol plants, despite past glowing press releases that declared that they would now be running.
All I can say is: Go DARPA. Go DOE/NREL-Chevron CRADA. Go MIT et al. Don't give up on this please.

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