A positivist study on the future of ethanol, called Ethanol 2020: A Global Market Survey (PDF), was released yesterday by William Thurmond as part of the ethanol conference in St. Louis. The upshot (based on the Renewable Energy Access write up) is that Thurmond thinks that in the next decade, "investors in traditional ethanol facilities will face the inevitable prospects of increased ethanol imports, non-food crops for feedstocks, and the imminent maturation of cellulosic ethanol as a competitive ethanol fuel." The big ethanol markets are, no surprise here, the U.S., China and India.

Thurmond there are/will be three generations of biofuels (including biodiesel), which he defines as follows:
  • First generation. "Based on traditional domestic production, economics and feedstocks-generally grown and sold near geographically agricultural areas."
  • Second generation. "Based on the increasing transition of ethanol production facilities from traditional agricultural areas to new areas in coastal regions in order to take advantage of import, export, multi-feedstock and refinery co-location advantages."
  • Third generation. "Based on emerging technologies and production processes such as cellulosic ethanol, biobutanol, and dimethylfuran that promise higher fuel production and investment returns per acre at lower costs."
[Source: Renewable Energy Access]

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