Acting Program Manager Valerie Reed provides her thoughts on the state of the industry and the Bioenergy Technology Office's efforts to help the nation secure a clean energy future.
Earlier this year, I came across an article from AOL Energy where BP Biofuels North American President Sue Ellerbush is quoted as saying “The cellulosic ethanol and advanced biofuels industry is on the cusp of an increase in scale that will prove biofuels critics wrong. We know the technology works and very soon we will be saying, “I told you so!”
I started working with the Bioenergy Technologies Office 19 years ago and people within the Department, and even within the Office, shared with me the concerns that we wouldn’t see that kind of technology “in my lifetime.” Well, the last time I checked I am still alive and WE ARE seeing it! Four commercial-scale biorefineries have already broken ground, with the backing of strong companies that have the potential to make them successful. We have also successfully validated technologies across the entire value chain to show that cellulosic ethanol will indeed be cost competitive with petroleum.
These successes are due to the diligence of the team here at the Bioenergy Technologies Office, our partners in other agencies, our national laboratory network, and the strong commitment of our industrial partners who see the true potential that diversifying our transportation energy supply can mean to this country—the potential for less greenhouse gas emissions, stable pricing at the pump, and a sustainable supply, so we don’t have to worry about what our children will use in the future. Not to mention jobs for Americans, as these fuels are home grown and made in the USA.
But the work’s not done. Cellulosic ethanol is only the first in a line of possible advanced biofuels that we will need to continue to reduce the nation’s need for petroleum. Where will the industry go from here and how will the dynamic political landscape affect the path we have set? It remains to be seen, but the Bioenergy Technologies Office remains engaged in roadmapping and committed to developing the necessary technologies to produce other liquid biofuels, as well as diesel and jet fuel.
As the Bioenergy Technologies Office continues our strategic planning and research and development efforts, I invite you to join us here on our blog and engage with us in a discourse about this very important topic. As part of our inaugural post, we invite you to comment about where you see the future of the industry headed and we invite you to join us and industry leaders at our fifth annual Biomass Conference for a lively open forum on the path forward.
Acting Program Manager
Bioenergy Technologies Office