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Biofuels Update

March 27, 2010
By: Jeanne Bernick, Top Producer Editor

GM Calls for More Fueling Stations

A top General Motors (GM) executive says the U.S. must substantially build the infrastructure for delivering ethanol to consumers.

Tom Stephens, GM vice chairman of global product operations, used his keynote address at the 15th annual National Ethanol Conference in Orlando, Fla., to highlight the need to expand the ethanol fueling station network. "Two-thirds of the pumps are concentrated in 10 states and those states have only about 19% of the flex-fuel vehicles that are on the road,” he said.

Of the 160,000 gasoline stations in the U.S., only 2,200 carry ethanol blends. By GM's estimate, that number needs to increase by 10,000 to bring the blends within easy reach of the more than 8 million flexible-fuel vehicles on the road. GM and other automotive companies have been adding flex-fuel capability to their vehicles to help meet federal renewable fuel targets.


Agenda for Cellulosic Ethanol

The Biofuels Interagency Working Group warned in February that the U.S. is not on track to meet a federal mandate to add 100 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol to the fuel supply this year and 36 billion gallons of biofuels by 2022. Citing the recession and poor coordination among government agencies, the group, created by President Barack Obama and headed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator and the Secretaries of Agriculture and Energy, recommended that:

¡government research and loan programs be targeted to effectively support the industry. Energy Department loan guarantees, for example, can be difficult to win because the industry's economics don't fit neatly into traditional project finance models.

¡EPA lift the limit of ethanol in the gasoline supply to 10% if the Department of Energy validates the suitability of E15 or E20 in light-duty vehicles.

¡the biofuels industry focus on fuels that can leverage the existing multitrillion-dollar liquid fuels infrastructure. That would boost companies developing drop-in fuels—hydrocarbons made from plants—that are being tested in airplanes.

Acknowledging concerns about the ethanol industry causing a hike in food prices, the group called for strategies to get more production from the same amount of land. Care in feedstock production practices and location of biomass conversion plants will be required to avoid impacts on natural resources and food, feed and fiber markets, the group says.

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FEATURED IN: Farm Journal - Early Spring 2010

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