Full Title: Cellulosic Ethanol is Getting a Big Boost from Corn, for Now
Author(s): Ryan Fitzpatrick
Publisher(s): Third Way
Publication Date: 04/2015
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The federal government has aggressively pursued cellulosic biofuels for well over a decade. Commercial production of cellulosic biofuels, made from fibrous, non-edible plant material, would give the U.S. a way to dramatically lower its greenhouse gas emissions, reduce its reliance on petroleum, and create new opportunities for growth in the agriculture and technology sectors.
Getting cellulosic technologies out of the lab and into large scale production has taken longer than expected and continues to be a challenge. A far-reaching biofuels mandate known as the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), along with billions of dollars in R&D and demonstration investment have brought cellulosic fuels to the cusp of success. Still, only a handful of companies have been able to squeak past technical and economic challenges to open commercial-scale plants. If these companies can replicate the success of their initial projects and drive down costs, the U.S. might have found a way to unlock the benefits of cellulosic fuels. That is, unless efforts to reform the RFS inadvertently stop this progress in its tracks.