23 May 2007 - 11:03
  • News Code: 105389

HOUSTON -- The US Department of Energy"s renewable energy office is working to accelerate technology transfer as part of an overall effort to improve its outreach to industry, a spokesman said at a recent wind and biofuels conference.

Paul Dickerson, chief operating officer of DOE"s office of energy efficiency and renewable energy, said the DOE hired three people having experience as venture capitalists to help accelerate technology commercialization and deployment.

 

The three visit DOE laboratories and talk with researchers and scientists about ways to provide technology to businesses, said Dickerson. Meanwhile, he schedules weekly meetings between himself and business leaders to discuss technology transfer.

 

"I have asked the DOE to think differently and to quicken our pace," Dickerson told reporters after he spoke at an energy conference in Houston sponsored by Haynes and Boone LLP on May 19.

 

"For the first time in our lives, being "green" is not a partisan issue," Dickerson said. "It is in our vital interests to diversify the United States" energy supply, and the way forward is through technology."

 

President George W. Bush promotes the use of ethanol in gasoline as a way to help reduce fossil fuel consumption. He has outlined a goal to produce 35 billion gal of renewable and alternative fuel by 2017.

 

Dickerson called that goal realistic. He said much of the leading-edge fuel technology is being financed by private capital rather than by DOE funding.

 

Simmons & Co. International analyst Pearce W. Hammond Jr. believes total production of ethanol and biodiesel together could reach only 17.5 million gal by 2017. Other fuel options also will be needed to fulfill Bush"s goal, Hammond told the conference.

 

Previously the US Energy Information Administration predicted that the nation"s ethanol use will grow to 14.6 billion gal/year by 2030, with corn ethanol accounting for 13.6 billion gal of the total. That projection was made assuming no changes in existing energy policy.

 

Under the same scenario, EIA predicted US consumption of biodiesel will reach 400 million gal/year in 2030. Last year, the US produced 91 million gal of biodiesel, made primarily from soybean oil.

 

Pamela Beall, Marathon Oil Corp. vice-president of business development, downstream, noted that Marathon is one of the nation"s largest blenders of ethanol.

 

Cellulosic ethanol is years away from commercial operations and will not replace corn-based ethanol, Beall said. Renewable fuels will not make energy cheaper, she added.

 

William Spence, chief executive officer of BioSelect Fuels, Houston, said the biodiesel industry is looking for more feedstock with which to produce biodiesel.

 

Scientists are researching how to improve crop yields, possibly through genetically modified crops, Spence said, and also are seeking to develop technology enabling a move from food crops for feedstock to nonfood crops.

 

BioSelect Fuels will operate a biodiesel production and distribution plant in Galveston, Tex. Chevron Technology Ventures LLC, another partner in the project, is part of a joint venture consisting of various investors. The plant is in the process of being commissioned, and it initially will use soy feedstocks.

 

The facility will have an initial production capacity of 20 million gal/year. Spence hopes the plant can be expandable to 470 million gal/year by 2010 through three sites near refining centers.

 

PIN/OGJ.COM

News Code 105389

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