More taxpayer-supported biofoolishness is coming up short.
Even with subsidies, ethanol made from crop waste or wood chips won’t be competitive with fuel made from corn until 2020 at the earliest, which is at the tail end of the most optimistic industry predictions, a new study said this week.
So-called second-generation ethanol faces significant extra costs due to the need for pre-treatment of the sturdy, cellulose-rich raw materials, as well as the more complex enzymes employed, says the study by the Department of Wood Science at the University of British Columbia.
“Production requires significant cost reductions and at least the same level of financial support that was given to the first-generation systems if second-generation ethanol is going to be fully competitive by 2020,” said the study’s lead author, Jamie Stephen…
POET says it now makes cellulosic ethanol for $2.35 per gallon and wants to drive that down to $2 per gallon by the time the commercial plant starts. Novozymes, the world’s largest producer of industrial enzymes, started selling an enzyme last year that it said could bring the cost of cellulosic ethanol to the $2 level.
As enzyme technology continues to improve, POET aims to produce cellulosic ethanol at a price competitive to that of the first-generation fuel between 2018 and 2020. Still, it will be a challenge to compete with regular ethanol produced from sugar cane in Brazil, which costs as little as 73 cents per gallon today.