As recently as last summer, plants that make ethanol from corn were sprouting across the Midwest. But now, with motorists driving less in the economic downturn, the industry is burdened with excess capacity, and plants are shutting down virtually every week.
...In the meantime, plans are lagging for a new generation of factories that were supposed to produce ethanol from substances like wood chips and crop waste, overcoming the drawbacks of corn ethanol. That nascent branch of the industry concedes it has virtually no chance of meeting Congressional production mandates that kick in next year....
...Carlos A. Riva, president and chief executive of Verenium, a company working to produce ethanol from sugar cane waste, said that solving the technological hurdles for this type of fuel was “not a slam dunk.”
...“Cellulosic ethanol is something that is always five years away and five years later you get to the point where it’s still five years away,” said Aaron Brady, an energy expert at Cambridge Energy Research Associates, a consulting firm.
Thursday, February 12, 2009
NY Times reports: