Center showcases industry growth, careers at North Carolina State Fair

The Biofuels Center showcased industry growth and current and future careers in the biofuels sector at the North Carolina State Fair's "Cultivate a Career" tent in Raleigh (13-23 October 2011). “Cultivate a Career” was a new exhibit where visitors could go on career personality scavenger hunts and interact with organizations to learn about the wide variety of jobs in the agriculture industry.

Thousands of visitors also stopped by the Center's exhibit booth to learn about how biofuels are made, where to find alternative fuels in their communities, and how they could become involved in this emerging sector.

Outreach, education, and information are how the Biofuels Center implement Strategy 8 of North Carolina's Strategic Plan for Biofuels Leadership. The “Cultivate a Career” project assisted visitors with career development while helping grow the message of choosing and using locally produced biofuels.

Although the State Fair has concluded, tools provided by the "Cultivate a Career" project can still be found here.

Students gather around a blender pump (above) located in the Biofuels Center’s exhibit booth at the North Carolina State Fair “Cultivate a Career” tent (18 October 2011). Blender pumps offer consumers more fuel choices, including biofuels blends such as E20 and E30.

Center hosts North Carolina Working Lands Group

In late October, the Biofuels Center hosted a meeting of the North Carolina Working Lands Group. The Working Lands Group is a collaboration among a number of state agencies, military institutions, and non-governmental  organizations. The mission of the collaboration is to preserve and enhance farms, forests, and other working lands for the mutual gain of conservation of natural resources, increased economic benefits for landowners, and the protection of military training needs.

The Center participates in the collaboration because its efforts to develop new biomass markets and promote farm and forest land retention are central to meeting the state’s biofuels policy goal. Some of the other organizations represented at the October meeting were the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, N.C. Farm Bureau, Environmental Defense Fund, the Fort Bragg Regional Alliance, and representatives from the Marine Corps Installations East.

During the meeting the group heard presentations on the work of the Center, including its Eastern Biofuels project, which is focused on producing biofuels to serve North Carolina’s military bases. The group concluded its meeting with a tour of the Center’s demonstration trials of biofuels feedstock crops, including Switchgrass, Giant Miscanthus, and Eastern Cottonwood trees.

Center participates in western North Carolina clean energy partnership

On 17 October in downtown Asheville, after several months of collaboration and analysis, a new energy partnership in western North Carolina was unveiled to over 100 interested people. EvolveEnergy Partnership—which led by the Land of Sky Regional Council and Advantage West—is intended to brand the western part of the state as a clean energy hub and a destination for renewable energy companies.

Part of the marketing strategy includes an emphasis on clean vehicles and biofuels. The Center has been a member of the leadership group helping to shape the initiative. Biofuels already have a strong presence in western North Carolina with Blue Ridge Biofuels in Asheville and Foothills Bio-Energies in Lenoir. With this new initiative, the expectations are that the state will see more growth in the biofuels sector and that more biofuels-related jobs will be created.

For more information on EvolveEnergy, click here.

Freedom movie premiere - 25 October 2011

A documentary called Freedom, about America's dangerous dependence on oil and how biofuels are reducing that dependence, was aired in a special screening in Raleigh at the North Carolina Museum of History at 7PM on October 25th.  The documentary was viewed by more than 70 people and was made by the filmmakers of the Sundance award-winning movie Fuel.  Louisiana native Josh Tickell began shooting Freedom after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico when he began examining the true cost of America's addiction to oil and the billion dollars a day it takes to keep crude flowing from places like the Middle East to the U.S.  Tickell also investigates alternatives to petroleum, including corn and cellulosic ethanol as well as biofuels made from municipal solid waste.  In the panel discussion after the movie, he said that he chooses E85 deliberately to support U.S.-produced fuel over imported oil.  "At least with E85, I know where 85% of my dollars are going."  He said fuels like E85 can break the oil monopoly by providing a choice to American motorists. 


Steven Burke, President and CEO of the Biofuels Center, said during the Q&A session that North Carolina was providing leadership to the United States with its working approach to creating cellulosic biofuels at scale from feedstocks other than corn in locations other than the midwest, something that was critically needed for the U.S. to move beyond 1st generation biofuels. 


A recurring theme among questions and comments from the audience was where to find filling stations selling biofuels to the public, something that is answered by the Fill Up map of stations at the NC Biofuels website.


NC panel after screening of the documentary, Freedom

The panel after the screening, right to left: Josh and his wife Rebecca; William McDow for the Environmental Defense Fund; Steven Burke (speaking); Adam Monroe, President of Franklinton, NC-based Novozymes North America; and Dennis Leong, Executive Vice President of Marketing and Business Development at the Wilmington, NC-based Chemtex International.

Novozymes is the largest supplier of enzymes to the biofuels industry in the U.S. and a leader in enzyme technologies for advanced biofuels.  Chemtex International is a global leader in the engineering and construction of advanced cellulosic biofuels and biomaterials production facilities. McDow specializes in rural land management, with an emphasis on biomass energy, Farm Bill programs, tax policy and new market incentives. 


The trailer of Freedom is below.


Four NC-based producers receive federal funding for biofuels expansion

In September 2011, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced federal funding for energy producers in 41 states. The payments are authorized under the 2008 Farm Bill’s Bioenergy Program to support the production of biofuels and assist in expansion of the industry. Payments are based on the amount of biofuels produced from renewable biomass other than corn kernel starch.

In North Carolina, four biofuels producers received funding under the program:
  • Blue Ridge Biofuels, Asheville ($10,848)
  • North American Bio-Energies, Lenoir ($18,492)
  • Piedmont Biofuels, Pittsboro ($15,894)
  • Triangle Biofuels, Wilson ($245,973)