As we approach a new year, America is getting closer to the RFS mandate of 100 million gallons per year (mgpy) of cellulosic biofuels by 2010. Many predict that the ethanol industry will fall short of that goal due to the majority of cellulosic plants in pilot stages. But critics are writing off the ethanol industry much too soon.
An interagency plan combining federal and industry efforts has been released by USDA Secretary Ed Schafer and DOE Secretary Samuel W. Bodman that outlines a strategy to develop the biofuels industry. A major focus of the plan includes economic incentives and initiatives to ensure that cellulosic research continues. Cellulosic research is much farther ahead due to the solidity of corn-ethanol technology.
On November 17, 2008, Coskata announced their planned partnership with U.S. Sugar Corp. to build a 100 mgpy cellulosic ethanol facility near Clewiston, Fla., that according to earth2tech, will convert leftover sugar cane into ethanol. The estimated $400 million ethanol plant could begin production as early as 2012. And today, Western Biomass Energy is in production in Wyoming and Shell is now blending cellulosic ethanol into America's transportation fuel through its partnership with Iogen and several more facilities will be producing cellulosic ethanol over the next two years.
The ingenuity of the American ethanol industry won't let us down.
It looks like we will be getting cellulosic ethanol for Christmas this year after all.