A new biofuels demonstration plant will be go online near Butte, MT later this year. The plant will be built by AE Biofuels of California, and will use proprietary enzymes to convert starch to sugars at ambient temperatures, eliminating the cooking process normally used in corn ethanol plants. The plant will produce ethanol using a variety of non-food cellulose starches from straw, corn stalks, and switch grass.
The Associated Press is reporting that a new research study claims that widespread ethanol production will lead to more global warming, due to an increased amount of land converted from forests and grassland into crop production. Researchers from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs estimated that using corn to produce ethanol will lead to an increase in greenhouse gases of 93%. The impact of using switchgrass to produce ethanol is less, but still significant. A spokesman for the Renewable Fuels Association called the study “simplistic.”
The Montana Electric Cooperatives Association, which represents 29 coops and 250,000 customers, has a plan to cut carbon dioxide emissions back to 1990 levels using alternate energy, increased efficiency, carbon capture, clean coal plants, and light-water nuclear reactors.