Industry leader suggests ethanol can compete without U.S. tax credit

Source: Josh Funk • E&E  • Posted: Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Adam Monroe, president of Novozymes, a leading maker of the enzymes used to produce biofuels, says that declining support for ethanol subsidies hasn’t ruined long-term prospects for the industry to make competitively priced fuel from plants.

Next year, Novozymes plans to open a major enzyme plant in eastern Nebraska. Monroe says the region has “huge potential.” He added that the United States’ biofuels industry has grown exponentially in the past decade and that he’s not worried about the federal ethanol tax credit coming to an end next year. The industry “can now stand on its own two feet and compete,” he said.But government support should continue through policies like the renewable fuel standard, said Monroe. The standard requires that 36 billion gallons of biofuels be blended with gasoline by 2022, including 16 billion gallons of cellulosic ethanol. Monroe said the industry has the potential to provide far more fuel than the policy requires. “It’s a bigger solution than a lot of people realize,” he said.The biofuel industry currently produces around 13.7 billion gallons of ethanol, according to the Renewable Fuels Association. That amounts to about 10 percent of the 138 billion gallons of gas consumed in the United States last year.

Novozymes’ optimism for the future of biofuels is reflected in the design of its newest plant in Blair, Neb., where micro-organisms will be grown inside sterile tanks, creating the enzymes needed for ethanol production. The plant has the space to expanded fivefold, and the concrete foundations for future expansion are already being built (Josh Funk, AP/Delaware Online, Nov. 21). — JP