Third Way : Corn Ethanol Needed For Development Of Cellulosic Ethanol

  • Friday, 10 April 2015 00:00

Corn ethanol is and will play an integral role in the development of the cellulosic ethanol industry, said centrist think tank, Third Way, in a report last week.

In a report titled, “Cellulosic Ethanol Is Getting A Big Boost From Corn, For Now,” Third Way said the cellulosic ethanol industry as envisioned by the RFS has yet to materialize but that all significant progress made has been courtesy of the corn ethanol industry.

It said large-scale cellulosic ethanol production has been carried out by established companies with a “sizeable presence in the corn ethanol industry as producers, suppliers, or service providers.”

“In fact, projects sponsored by three of these companies (Abengoa, POET / DSM, and Quad County Corn Processors) account for over 80 percent of total U.S. cellulosic ethanol capacity. That number will rise to 80 percent once a fourth company (DuPont) opens its cellulosic facility later this year,” Third Way said.

One of the key advantages the corn ethanol industry has, the report said, is its ability to leverage on existing R&D budgets and partnering with biotechnology companies to produce cellulosic ethanol.

Moreover, current ethanol producers have the resources to secure financing and capital needed to produce advanced biofuels, Third Way said

As such, it said recent proposals in Congress to remove corn ethanol from the RFS was akin to taking “the MVP ouf of the Cellulosic Game.”

“While proposals to gut only the corn section to the RFS may not be intend to endanger the development of cellulosic ethanol, this is exactly what would occur,” Third Way said.

It added that continued investment from corn ethanol in facilities and innovation would provide a needed jumpstart to cellulosic commercialization.

“But a number of proposed changes to the RFS, however innocuous they may seem, would remove any incentive for the first generation industry to continue supporting cellulosic ethanol. At this critical stage in their development, cellulosic fuels can hardly afford to lose the closest friend they have,” Third Way said.