POET VP speaks on renewable energy at Bio Conference
WORTHINGTON — Renewable energy was the main focus during Doug Berven’s presentation at the Worthington Bio Conference on Friday.
“We produce 1.6 million gallons of ethanol a year and four million tons of dried distiller grain,” Berven said. “POET is also involved in 35 projects in the state from human nutrition trials, chemical building blocks, work in our RND department and our biggest project, which is the building of POET’s cellulosic ethanol plant.”
Berven addressed the growing issue of the country’s use of oil, and how the nation’s resources are depleting.
“In 2001 we were paying roughly $22 a barrel for oil, but when the terrorist attacks struck the country, the price of oil shot up to over $100 a barrel, and that’s where it has stayed,” Berven explained. “Our country just can’t afford that.
“These traditional energy sources are losing their availability, and we’re finding out that these sources are bad for our health and the environment,” he added. “This country is spending a billion dollars a day in protecting our assets in foreign oil. We’ve got to find a solution to this because if we don’t, then we’re going to have big problems.”
Berven stated that ethanol is that solution.
“Harnessing the sun through all different types of forms is a great way for us to find solutions to our energy need in the future,” Berven said. “In the last 10 years or so, we have really grown in the ethanol industry. We have a production capacity today of about 15 billion gallons as an industry — that’s more than 10 percent of the U.S. fuel supply available.”
Right now we are supplying 10 percent in the U.S. gasoline pool and we hope to go much farther with it,” he added.
Berven said ethanol is a growing source of energy, and that other entities are starting to respond positively to its use.
The Environmental Protection Agency received a letter from the Auto Alliance stating: “To help reduce the emission of greenhouse gases, we should commence the increase in use of ethanol in the fuel supply. Adding ethanol to gasoline increases its octane rate. To obtain necessary octane levels, it’s important for refineries not be permitted to reduce base gasoline octane ratings in light of additional octane contributions from higher ethanol.”
Berven explained the auto industry needs to meet certain federal standards, and that ethanol is playing a major role in helping it accomplish that.
“The auto companies are facing Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFÉ) standards — by 54.5 miles per gallon fleetwide by the year 2025 — and they’re saying we need a better fuel to achieve that,” Berven said. “Ethanol is one of the key components in getting there.”
Berven offered a message of optimism and hope for the ethanol industry.
“We’ve reduced our dependence on foreign oil from 60 percent to 45 percent in the last few years,” he said. “The ethanol industry supports over 400,000 jobs in the country both directly and indirectly, and we’re making annual leadership and technology innovation in this country.”
Daily Globe Reporter
Erin Trester may be reached