2007/08/17

Investing In Agriculture Conference

At the Investing In Agriculture Conference in Pewaukee, Wisconsin, on 16 August 2007, it was estimated that commercial cellulosic ethanol is only five years away.

At the same conference, it was pointed out that for the past thirty years commercial cellulosic ethanol has been only five years away. It appears there are significant challenges to full scale commercial cellulosic ethanol, both political/economic and technological, at least in the US. With current ethanol technology, the less expensive oil-based fuels and relatively low energy efficiency of US renewable feedstocks such as corn, soybeans and trees, cellulosic ethanol will primarily be a topic of conversation in Wisconsin rather than a choice for vehicle fuel.

However, there are signs pointing to a bright future for bioenergy and biofuels in Wisconsin:
  1. Recent $125 million five year grant from DOE for the UW-Madison led Great Lakes BioEnergy Research Center.
  2. Wisconsin Bioenergy Initiative, to encourage and facilitate research and training and support companies involved in bioenergy.
  3. Conferences in Wisconsin related to biomass and renewable resources.
  4. Programs and courses at Wisconsin colleges and universities related to renewable resources and the biorefinery sector.
  5. Wisconsin investments and start-ups in the biorefinery sector.
Two types of opportunities are found in Wisconsin biorefinery area:
  1. Short-term projects which take advantage of grants, low-cost loans and government price supports for the biorefinery segment, due to rising oil prices, a focus on clean-tech and the biorefinery tie to biotech and nanotech.
  2. Long-term projects, with a focus on sustainable technologies and products which make sense regardless of short term grants or government price supports.
Upcoming weeks will be filled with research on cellulosic ethanol and background work on the broader topic of biorefineries, along with making new connections in this economic sector. If interested in this topic, please contact me add your comments on this blog.

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