'Fuel' speed ahead at 2008 CRFS

By Khalila Hammond | January 03, 2009
Web exclusive posted Dec. 4, 2008 at 11:11 a.m. CST

Delegates convened Dec. 1-3 for the 2008 Canadian Renewable Fuels Summit in Gatineau-Ottawa, Qubec, Canada.

The summit kicked off Dec. 1 with the Parliamentarian Reception. While threats of impending weather loomed, delegates from within the industry gathered once again to discuss the progress, challenges and opportunities facing the Canadian biofuels market and its continued expansion.

"We always look forward to the summit and being around people in the industry," said Gary Malone, general manager of Atlantec Bioenergy Corp. "It gives us the opportunity to interact with like-minded people who understand the benefits of ethanol."

Delegates networked and compared notes on how biofuels are viewed in the marketplace. While new research and developments in second generation biofuels were of great interest, conversations also surrounded corn-based ethanol, which continues to be regarded by many as the backbone of the industry.

"Corn ethanol still has a good future," said Paul Wheaton, president of Atlantec Bioenergy. "Contrary to public opinion, it will continue to be a good bridge fuel for many years and even decades before something takes its place. It not only helps local economies but also moves us away from foreign oil."

Following an uplifting political address on the second day of the conference by Gerry Ritz, minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and Minister for the Canadian Wheat Board, the three day event moved full speed ahead discussing the opportunities and challenges for ethanol and biodiesel in the upcoming year.

With the food versus fuels issue, the global economy and the current status of the Canadian government on the forefront of the agenda, this year's speakers presented a variety of information and knowledge pertaining to the present biofuels industry. While the opportunities for ethanol and biodiesel continue to be plentiful with the promise of second generation renewable fuels, speakers such as U.S. Renewable Fuels Association President Bob Dinneen, Chief Executive Officer for the U.S. National Biodiesel Board Joe Jobe, President of S&T2 Consultants Inc. Don O'Connor, as well as engineer and author Robert Zubrin informed delegates that there are still challenges ahead for the industry.

"Last year was food versus fuel, next year will be indirect land use," Dinneen said. Despite this, Dinneen, Jobe, O'Connor and others believe that 2009 could be a year of reinvention for the industry. As a luncheon keynote speaker, Zubrin stated it's imperative that North America finds a "new energy trump card" and biofuels could be the answer in the effort to grow beyond oil.

Other suggestions, such as closing the gap between the developed and developing countries in terms of agricultural productivity and implementing a cap and trade system, were also discussed as options.

During the Dec. 2nd Green Fuels Awards Reception and Gala, awards were presented to IGPC, Terra Grain Fuels, General Motors Corp. and Enerkem Inc. for their outstanding efforts in developing the biofuels industry.