The Renewable Fuels Association held it’s winter meeting this week in Tucson, AZ – bringing some of the industry’s major movers and shakers together. Following the meeting, three industry leaders issued audio statements addressing the future of the industry – from continued growth to new technologies to the role of farmer-owned refineries. They are posted on the RFA website for your listening pleasure. The three are: RFA Chairman Ron Miller, President and CEO of Aventine Renewable Energy in Pekin, Illinois; Renewable Fuels Foundation chair Bill Lee, General Manager of Chippewa Valley Ethanol Company in Benson, Minnesota; and Tom Branhan, General Manager of Glacial Lakes Energy in Watertown, South Dakota.
Miller says 2005 was a great year for ethanol with passage of the Renewable Fuels Standard and 2006 holds just as much promise. “Currently there are 95 ethanol refineries capable of producing more than 4.3 billion gallons of ethanol every year,” he said, “in addition 29 refineries are under construction and nine plant expansions promise more than 1.5 billion gallons of additional capacity in the very near future.”
Lee talks about the development of cellulosic ethanol production in his comments. “There isn’t an ethanol refinery today that isn’t looking into new feedstocks, more efficient processing techniques and improved energy use.”
Branhan believes farmer-owned plants are the future of the industry. “Since 2002 ethanol production in this country has doubled largely due to the investment of farmers in rural communities across the country,” he said. “The largest ethanol producer has seen its share of the market decrease from 40 to 25 percent because of farmer-owned plants.”
These three guys and about 1250 other industry leaders and experts will be attending the 11th Annual National Ethanol Conference next month at the JW Marriott Las Vegas Resort & Spa in Las Vegas, Nevada. Meeting dates are February 20-22. Conference registration and information is available here.