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1st International Biorefinery Workshop Emphasizes Role of Biofuels

The 1st International Biorefinery Workshop, organized by the Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, kicked off in Washington today, with Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman welcoming representatives from the EC, researchers, developers, policy makers and major industrial companies.

The workshop is designed to provide a forum for a technical review and evaluation of research leading to the development of biorefinery technologies, as well as to foster partnerships and spread information about activities in the area.

Secretary Bodman took the opportunity to refer to the DOE’s “Billion Ton Study” (earlier post)—an analysis that determined that biomass potential in the United States exceeds 1.3 billion dry tons per year—enough to produce biofuels to meet more than one-third of the current demand for transportation fuels. (Assuming the appropriate development of technologies such as the production of cellulosic ethanol.)

Bodman did not directly mention in his remarks at the workshop the recent controversial study from Cornell and Berkeley (earlier post) claiming that neither biodiesel nor ethanol are sustainable. He did tackle that topic, however, en route to Chicago to stump for the energy bill.

As he headed to Chicago for a Thursday speech to promote President Bush’s energy bill nearing completion in Congress, the secretary said in an interview that a study by two university researchers showing a net 29 percent loss of energy in ethanol production is contradicted by other research.

[...] But Bodman said he found that other research comes to opposite conclusions. He cited a recent Argonne National Laboratory study that concluded that ethanol generates 35 percent more energy than it takes to produce. (KRT)

Of the major energy companies, BP, Shell and Total are on the workshop’s agenda (although others may be in attendance. DaimlerChrysler, Volkswagen and Volvo (Ford) are presenting as well, representing an industry view.

Just a few weeks ago, Total announced a trial Biomass-to-Liquids project at one of its refineries in partnership with Neste Oy from Finland.



Somebody needs to audit the largest producers, as well as the "best of breed" producers. Academic studies are fine, but ultimately this is a problem for accountants ...

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