Bioenergy Reports Call for Congressional Support

Reports released by the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the Ag Energy Working Group of the Energy Future Coalition help to outline plans to encourage Congressional support for the bioenergy industry.

Brent Erickson, the vice president for Industrial and Environmental Technology and the Biotechnology Industry Organization, said the reports point to a bright energy future for America if Congress acts on the recommendations. “A new type of biotechnology called industrial biotechnology is so innovative that now companies in this area have the means to convert straw to gold,” Erickson said. “By using advanced biotech enzymes to convert crop residues to sugars and then to ethanol and other products, farmers can harvest and sell two crops from every field planted — a food crop and a biomass energy crop.” The NRDC report, “Growing Energy: How Biofuels Can Help End America’s Oil Dependence,” provides shows how America can reduce its dependence on foreign oil while adding $5 billion annually to farm profits by 2025, if production commitments are made now. The Ag Energy Working group report, “25 by 25: Agriculture’s Role in Ensuring U.S. Energy Independence” shows how America’s farmers can contribute 25 percent of the total energy consumed in the United States by 2025, and not at the expense of producing abundant, safe and affordable food and feed. Farmers need to focus on energy production as a primary objective, according to the working group. Benefits to growing crops for energy could include added income, added value for crops and byproducts, diversification to alternative enterprises, productive use of marginal land, reducing pollution, reducing reliance on government payments and creating new jobs in rural areas. Other tasks outlined in the report include crafting new public policy, developing production and marketing strategies, creating alliances, securing capital, building commercial-scale plants, and solving processing, transportation, transmission and distribution challenges. “Farmers and those in the ethanol and biotech industries need to pull together to get the federal government to develop new policies that reward the construction of ultra-modern biorefineries that can employ industrial biotechnology to convert corn stover, wheat straw and other crop residues to ethanol. If we do that, in a few short years, the United States could be producing tens of billions of gallons of ethanol more than we are producing today and the farm economy would get a real boost,” Erickson said. Using biomass for ethanol production could result in $5 billion in added farm profits, according to the NRDC report. The prediction is based on $40 per dry ton and 200 million tons of biomass, which is less than one-sixth the total amount of biomass that farmers could produce by 2050. The result of a two-year study by agricultural, engineering and environmental experts, the “Growing Energy” report focuses on what bioenergy technologies can do when commercially mature and operating on a large scale. In addition to adding to farm profits, biofuels have the potential of being cheaper than gasoline and diesel. This could save about $20 billion per year on fuel costs by 2050 while reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 1.7 billion tons per year. “What must be overcome is our lack of focus on harnessing agriculture’s renewable energy opportunities, lack of vision, and lack of action plans,” Erickson said. “Congress and the administration are not doing enough to help us make the farm belt the energy fields of tomorrow and to kick the addiction of foreign oil. We should do more tilling for energy and less drilling for energy.”
Previous articleWind Development in Sweden Grows by 10 MW
Next articleAustralia RE Firm Taps Scottish Wind Potential

No posts to display