Today, you can’t pick up the newspaper or watch the news without hearing about layoffs, bankruptcies and recession.
The ethanol industry, too, has had it share of gloomy reports.
When we started in this industry in the 1980s, ethanol was going through a similar struggle. The industry was young, and others were skeptical. Knowing it was a risk, we bought an ethanol plant out of bankruptcy because we understood that this country desperately needed a renewable fuel. Then, as today, we were committed to finding a solution to our country’s energy needs through ethanol.
Now, the industry has traveled almost full circle. Ethanol’s gold rush mentality has come to an obvious close, and it is being felt throughout most of the industry. Although the industry and the economy are facing unprecedented times, I have never been more excited about our future.
We haven’t slowed down. This year, five new POET plants were opened and are running at full capacity. Our experience and longstanding commitment to research has given us the highest ethanol yields and energy efficiencies in the industry. And we are exploring several acquisition opportunities.
I believe now more than ever that ethanol has a bright future. As the only available and renewable replacement for gasoline, ethanol is already providing more gasoline equivalent BTUs than that of every single OPEC nation, including Saudi Arabia. And that will only continue to increase. We have recently completed construction on an $8 million pilot-scale facility that will produce ethanol from corn cobs, advancing cellulosic ethanol toward commercial viability. In the next 20 years, the combination of cellulosic and corn-based ethanol has the potential to replace more than 90 percent of our nation’s gasoline supply. Now that’s good news for our economic future and our energy independence.
But while we continue to increase production, we’re nearing a regulatory cap. Only able to include a base blend of 10 percent in our nation’s gasoline supply limits the incredible opportunities ethanol presents. Scientific research shows that higher blends can be used in conventional automobiles. We need to make a change to a higher blend, and we need to make it soon.
I cannot deny that 2009 will bring with it many challenges. At POET, we stand ready to meet these challenges and turn them into opportunities to create positive change for our industry and our nation.