Bioenergy Takes Emphasis over Biofuel

By Mike Bryan | August 04, 2008
There are marvelous options opening up to the renewable energy industry. Ethanol has helped carve a path forward to a future based in bioenergy. It's an industry that expands far beyond the borders of ethanol and biodiesel.

Bioenergy covers such a vast array of new opportunities—anaerobic digestion, gasification, pyrolysis, algae, and combined heat and power, to mention a few. What is so exciting about these technologies is that many of them can be incorporated into the present ethanol industry to improve operating efficiencies, reduce production costs and improve our carbon footprint.

Some plants, such as Corn Plus LLLP in Winnebago, Minn., have already begun this process. General Manager Keith Kor and the board of Corn Plus have already incorporated a fluidized bed boiler, along with other advanced technologies, that will provide them with the ability to more effectively ride out the fluctuations in feedstock and energy commodity markets.

The development of smaller ethanol process systems that would provide fuel for individual communities is also in the near future. More states are demanding that landfill gas be captured and used to create power. Both federal and state programs are quickly being developed to help communities find ways to not only reduce their energy use, but to become more energy independent.

In short, the renewable energy industry has turned a corner, embarking on a new and exciting path, likely not fraught with as much opposition as we have most recently faced. The years ahead will see communities and private industry focused on greater sustainability and the capture of valuable carbon credits. The ethanol industry will no longer be judged strictly on its efficiency, but likely on a carbon number assigned to each production facility. This carbon number will be based on the type of feedstock used, the distance the feedstock is from the plant and how it's shipped.

To be sure, how we embrace and incorporate these new and evolving technologies—bringing us closer to carbon neutrality—will be a major part of our continued success.

That's the way I see it!

Mike Bryan
Publisher & CEO