Ethanol panel addresses lack of US cellulosic production

23 February 2012 20:29  [Source: ICIS news]

ORLANDO (ICIS)--Industry representatives in a panel discussion acknowledged on Thursday the lack of US cellulosic ethanol production in 2011, but added that the market is still growing.

William Brady, chief executive of Mascoma, said back in 2006 and 2007 the industry was full of promises, which have created a credibility issue.

He made his comments at the National Ethanol Conference in Orlando, Florida.

That sentiment was seconded by ZeaChem chief executive Jim Imbler, who said there was nothing really behind the presentations many companies came out with as the cellulosic ethanol industry was first emerging.

And with the production of cellulosic ethanol in 2011 held to pilot plants only, Brady, Imbler and Abengoa Bioenergy executive vice president Christopher Standlee said development of the industry was still maturing.

“This is the era of construction,” Standlee said, citing that many projects were still in the works and are on target to have commercial-scale production in the next couple of years.

Standlee, Brady and Imbler agreed that the cellulosic ethanol sector is starting to see more partnerships with oil companies and consumer companies, which is a sign that the industry is growing.

ZeaChem announced a multi-year joint development agreement with Procter & Gamble (P&G) back in June 2011.

P&G said then that the agreement was part of its long-term environmental sustainability goal, under which it would use 100% sustainably sourced renewable or recycled materials for all production and packaging.

Mascoma has also recently entered into an agreement with Valero to develop and operate a 20m gal/year (76m litres/year) commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol facility in Kinross, Michigan.

The Mascoma agreement with Valero comes as the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM), the American Petroleum Institute (API), and the Western States Petroleum Association have asked the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to retroactively waive the 2011 cellulosic ethanol blending mandate because of no reported production volumes.

Standlee, Brady and Imbler all concluded that in order for the industry to continue growing, they needed clear market signals, long-term agreements and long-term policies from Washington.

The National Ethanol Conference in Orlando, Florida, runs from 22-24 February.

By: Brian Balboa
+1 713 525 2653

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