Schafer Expects Rapid Cellulosic Ethanol Growth

Current U.S. Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer says cellulosic ethanol output could explode in just a few years.

Ethanol production from wood chips, grass, and other plant material could "explode’" by 2012 if a commercialized facility to produce the second generation of biofuels is successful, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer said on Jan. 15, according to Reuters.

The Reuters article stated that Schafer told reporters he expected that by Jan. 20 USDA will award a loan guarantee to Range Fuels, based in Colorado, to build a commercial-size plant capable of producing 100 million gallons of ethanol annually from woodchips. It would be the first guarantee issued through a program created in the 2008 farm law to speed development of new biofuels. Schafer would not say how much the loan would be.

“If that investment is made and that facility gets up and running, it will jump, I believe, by two years the goal of producing on a commercialized basis ethanol from non-corn sources or non-food based sources," Schafer said. "If this first-commercialized production capacity works, then I think it will explode the opportunities in second-generation biofuels."

Currently, estimates say large-scale production of second-generation biofuels are five or six years away.

(Source: Reuters)

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