Two key words in a presentation at the Transition To A Bio Economy Conference were flexibility and diversification. These are important to managing risk, especially in R&D for renewable fuels.
Our presenter was Gordon Rausser, University of California, Berkeley, who was here with his assistant Maya Papineau. I interviewed them both together after the presentation. Gordon says that we should be looking at R&D risk as a portfolio of opportunities. He says we should be managing the overall risk by recognizing the inter-relationships among the technologies and their ultimate commercialization. He also says that stand alone analysis will miss much of the opportunities that will arise.
When it comes to flexibility he suggests giving yourself options so that you can take advantage of new opportunities as they arise. He says that current ethanol plants are vulnerable going forward since they don’t have the flexibility to move to different feedstocks.
Maya talked about probably breakthroughs in renewable energy technology. She says that it’s important for how you use public and private R&D resources to maximize the investment.
You can listen to my interview with Gordon and Maya here: [audio:http://www.zimmcomm.biz/farm-foundation/ff-bio-08-rausser.mp3]
You can also download the interview using this link (mp3).