Even reduced second-gen ethanol targets too high

Speaking of ethanol, despite all of the whinging about the reduction in second-generation ethanol target from 250 million gallons to only 6 million, producers will by their own admission struggle to supply half of that.
As cellulosic refineries across the country are stuck in start-up phase, the U.S. presently has the capacity to refine only "a few million gallons" of that type of ethanol annually, said Matt Hartwig, spokesman for the Renewable Fuel Association industry group.
Not surprising - the "valley of death" between demonstration and commercial scale has not been successfully bridged by anyone to date. The industry complains a lot about lack of sufficient capital, but it seems like more of a chicken and egg problem.


  1. Love the valley of death phrasing. How have I not heard that phrase before!? Explain the chicken and egg part though.

  2. The chicken and egg problem is that second-gen ethanol ventures complain that lack of capital (especially debt) is the major barrier to scale-up, but from the point of view of most banks, the technology is too unproven and thus the loans would be too risky. Many people believe that it will only take one successful commercial-scale operation to break open the floodgates, but there aren't any yet. Believe me, banks would LOVE to underwrite something as undeniably green as breakthrough second-generation biofuels if they thought it were financially attractive.