Survey says: RFS, biofuels R&D safe, loan guarantees out

November 28, 2012 |

In California, according to a survey of delegates attending Advanced Biofuels Markets, there is cautious optimism about Federal support for biofuels in 2013 and tangible optimism about the production of commercial quantities of cellulosic ethanol.

The conference, which took place October 29-31, brought together 400 attendees from across the advanced biofuels supply chain and featured 50 world-class speakers, including more than 30 industry CEOs.

About 60 percent of respondents predicted that Federal funding for biofuels next year will increase or stay the same as 2012 levels. Similarly, more than 67 percent believe that the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) will remain in its current form through 2013 (note: this survey was conducted prior to the Environmental Protection Agency’s denial of a request to waive provisions of the RFS for 2013). One area where leaders are more doubtful, however, is in the area of the Department of Energy’s loan guarantee program, with nearly 75 percent saying would be negatively impacted (55 percent saying it would be funded less and 20 percent projecting it will be discontinued altogether).

When it comes to cellulosic ethanol, respondents were bullish about the likelihood of commercial production next year, with more than 87 percent projecting the commencement of commercial production (25 percent said between 10 and 50 million gallons and 45 percent said between 1 and 10 million gallons). 2.5 percent predicted more than 50 million gallons. About 15 percent projected less than 1 million gallons and only 12 percent predicted no production at all.

In addition, when asked to predict which feedstock would produce the largest volume of biofuel in commercial markets by 2020, 60 percent of respondents chose cellulosic material.  The next closest were waste materials, including waste gases and municipal solid waste at slightly more than 22 percent combined.

“These survey results mirror the current state of affairs in the U.S. Congress, which is still very much divided on how to develop and fund new alternatives to imported oil,” said Claire Poole, Head of Biofuels at Green Power Conferences and co-organizer of ABM. “One thing is clear, however, and that’s the expectation of the respondents that 2013 will be a breakout year for cellulosic ethanol and that it will continue to be a dominant feedstock for advanced biofuels in the future.”


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