Georgia Bioenergy Industry Emerging

2 09 2008

By Brad Haire | Southeast Farm Press

With abundant biomass, cutting-edge research and a strong agricultural base, Georgia is becoming a U.S. alternative fuel leader, said Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue at a recent conference in Tifton.

The state must continue to find better ways to grow, convert and use alternative energy sources, he told the 400 bioenergy experts, industry representatives, businessmen and enthusiasts gathered at the third annual Southeast Bioenergy Conference at the University of Georgia Tifton Campus Conference Center.

“If you will do anything in your own hearts today, and I won’t give an altar call, but if you all will promise this won’t be a fad and that you will maintain passion and interest about this, this is the way solutions come about,” Perdue said. “It’s way too important just to be cool about this.”

Forbes magazine recently ranked the state No. 3 in the U.S. for future alternative energy production. Reasons, he said, were entrepreneurial-friendly policies, recent legislation to reduce taxes on biosciences energy companies and an executive order to expedite environmental permits for biofuel plants in the state.

Over the past three years, he said, $700 million was invested in Georgia bioenergy projects.

The three-day conference drew 60 national and international bioenergy experts along with several state and federal legislators to talk about how the Southeast can grow its alternative energy policy and industry.

Seeking new energy sources is crucial for the environment, economy and national security, said Gale Buchanan, U.S. Department of Agriculture undersecretary and a headline speaker.

He placed the current energy crisis in a historical perspective. During the 1970s oil embargo, the U.S. got only 28 percent of its oil from other countries. Today, the U.S. gets 60 percent of its oil from foreign countries.

Oil-producing countries in the 1970s were working at 65 percent of their capacities, he said. Today, the capacity is 98 percent. “For several years, we’ve been using two barrels of oil for every new barrel of oil we find,” he said.

Right now, the U.S. is riding an ethanol wave. The alternative fuel is made primarily from corn in the U.S. Corn prices have soared to record prices based largely on speculation and ethanol demand.

Read on here.

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