Leading producers of ethanol and biodiesel Friday says their industries face serious barriers to meeting the 2017 growth targets outlined this week by President George W. Bush to reduce dependency on gasoline.
Following up on prior pledges on energy policy, Bush Monday outlined additional measures to boost alternative energy development, limit gasoline consumption and comply with a recent Supreme Court ruling on global warming. Bush's plan included a goal to produce 35 billion gallons of renewable and alternative fuel by 2017, many times above current levels.
A Bush administration official Friday defended the viability of the president's goals, but the discussion at the
"I've yet to meet anyone who thinks more than half could be from ethanol and biodiesel," Pearce Hammond, an analyst at Simmons & Co. International, says of the targets. He says total production of ethanol and biodiesel could reach 17.5 million gallons by 2017.
But Hammond also warned that
Speaking with reporters after a luncheon address, Paul Dickerson, an Energy Department official, says the administration's goal is realistic. He pointed to other fuels under development, as well as to leading-edge technologies being funded chiefly by private-venture capital.
"We're more bullish on the output than some of the folks here," says Dickerson, the chief operating officer for the department's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.
"Looking at our new reality, what's really needed is to get our new technology off the shelf and to the businesses," he says. "The market can handle a lot of what we're trying to do."
Bill Spence, president of Standard Renewable Energy, which owns a stake in a
"Our basic problem is there isn't enough feedstock," says Spence, whose plant runs on soybean oil. Scientists are looking at genetically modified crops as a possible feedstock, but it will take a "game-changing" technological breakthrough to significantly boost output, he added.
Pamela Beall, a vice president at Marathon Petroleum Corp., pointed to industry statistics that show ethanol production rising from 5 billion gallons a day in 2006 to 8 billion in 2008 and potentially up to 15 billion by 2017.
Beall says that the industry's ability to grow beyond 15 billion gallons would be constrained by feedstock limitations and infrastructure concerns. Producing 15 billion gallons a year can be reached "easily" - even before the deadline, she says. But going beyond that requires identifying feed stocks other than corn, testing conventional automobile engines to identify the maximum amount of ethanol that can be successfully blended with gasoline and building infrastructure so that the southeastern
Source: Dow Jones Newswires