Venture Capitalist and Business Analyst Predict Rapid Expansion of Biofuels Industry, Dramatic Reductions in Carbon Emissions
WASHINGTON--A top venture capitalist and a prominent biotechnology industry business consultant today both said that the biofuels industry is poised for exceptional growth and that ethanol from cellulose appears to be the most promising alternative fuel over the long-term. During keynote speeches at the World Congress on Industrial Biotechnology and Bioprocessing, Vinod Khosla of Khosla Ventures and Dr. Jens Riese of McKinsey & Co. also highlighted the significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions achievable with ethanol from cellulose. The fourth annual World Congress runs March 21-24 at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort in Orlando, Fla.
In a speech titled “The Role of Venture Capital in Developing Cellulosic Ethanol,” Khosla outlined the range of technologies currently being commercialized to convert cellulosic biomass to transportation fuels. Khosla said that the U.S. Department of Energy’s recent grants to cooperatively fund biorefineries that produce ethanol from cellulose is an acknowledgment that the technology is moving faster than expected. He said that a 100 percent replacement of petroleum transportation fuels with biofuels is achievable, and predicted that ethanol from cellulose technology will be cost competitive with current ethanol production by 2009.
Khosla also stated that ethanol from cellulose can significantly reduce carbon dioxide emissions, even achieving a net gain in greenhouse gas reduction. Khosla is the head of Khosla Ventures, a company that actively invests in breakthrough scientific work in clean technology areas, such as biorefineries for energy and bioplastics, solar, and other environmentally friendly technologies.
Dr. Jens Riese of McKinsey & Co. also addressed the World Congress plenary session with a speech titled “Beyond the Hype: Global Growth in the Biofuels Industry.” Riese predicted that global annual biofuel capacity would double to 25 billion gallons over the next five years and could reach 80 billion gallons – meeting 10 percent of world transportation fuel demand, enough to replace the annual oil production for fuel of Saudi Arabia – by 2020. According to McKinsey & Company’s model, biofuels can economically replace 25 percent of transportation fuel with crude oil above $50 per barrel. He concluded that the race is on to build a biofuels industry and that companies should invest now.
Further, Riese pointed out that ethanol from cellulose is the most cost-effective way of achieving greenhouse gas reductions, following measure to reduce demand for energy. Riese is a partner at McKinsey & Co., a leading global management consulting firm and is a top expert in industrial biotechnology.
“We are excited to see industry leaders echo our long-held enthusiasm and optimism about the exciting opportunities presented by ethanol from cellulose,” said BIO’s Brent Erickson. “Indeed, we are optimistic about the opportunities presented from multiple sources of ethanol as a means to reduce reliance on fossil fuels and our environmental footprint.” BIO supports the production of ethanol from all feedstocks. Agricultural biotechnology is helping to increase corn yields, while industrial biotechnology is helping to convert corn starch and crop residues into ethanol more efficiently. With ongoing advances in biotechnology, biofuels can help America meet nearly half its transportation-fuel needs by the middle of this century.
The World Congress is hosted by the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), the American Chemical Society, the National Agricultural Biotechnology Council, the European Federation of Biotechnology, BIOTECanada and EuropaBIO.
BIO represents more than 1,100 biotechnology companies, academic institutions, state biotechnology centers and related organizations across the United States and 31 other nations. BIO members are involved in the research and development of healthcare, agricultural, industrial and environmental biotechnology products. BIO also produces the annual BIO International Convention, the world’s largest biotechnology conference and exhibition.
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