Sunday, June 22, 2008

First Generation Biofuels Crucial to Second Generation

abengoa bioenergy corn ethanol cellulosicThe recent attacks upon corn-based ethanol are well-funded attacks against all biofuels.

Without the first generation, there will be no "second" generation cellulosic ethanol.

For these "second-generation" biofuels to become a reality, U.S. policymakers cannot abandon "first-generation" biofuels from corn and soybeans, according to biofuel developers at a recent Congressional hearing.

In testimony before the committee (pdf), Dr. Robert Wooley, process engineering director of Abengoa Bioenergy, said this of the crucial link between first and second generation ethanol production:
"The launching of the second-generation cellulosic industry will only be possible through first-generation starch-based cash flows, know-how and infrastructure,"
Dr. Wooley also discussed the perception that current ethanol processes are impacting world food prices:
"Regarding the impact of biofuels on world food prices, the current starch ethanol has little impact and production from cellulosic materials will have no impact (if residues of current starch production are utilized) or little impact if dedicated energy crops are used.

Many other factors, such as growing demand in developing countries, dietary changes, commodity funds, and energy prices have contributed most. Energy prices have a much bigger impact, as much as 3 times more.

Grain production in developing countries is considerably below that if the US and other leading countries. The potential productivity increases by improving agronomics practices in these countries could easily exceed the demands for food even while some less productive land is used for dedicated energy crops."
Wooley and other biofuel developers testified on the challenges facing the next wave of renewable fuels during the June 11 House subcommittee hearing.

Source: House Small Business Committee

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