In previous posts in this Genera Energy blog series, we covered some of the more oft-cited benefits of advanced biofuels: they are renewable, sustainable, and economically competitive on a market basis (i.e., without additional subsidies).  Today we dig deeper and consider how advanced biofuels manufacturing is really a diverse product platform that goes way beyond ethanol; the fungible and compatible nature of advanced biofuels; and the on-demand availability and storability of cellulosic biofuels.

Diverse Product Platform We don’t just produce gasoline from oil. Each barrel of crude is also used to make diesel, jet fuel, heating oil, a wide range of chemicals, plastics, and a whole suite of products. Other types of renewable energy—even those that can meet our renewable, sustainable, and economically competitive requirements—typically only address one specific type of energy demand. Solar and wind, for example, can be useful tools for domestically producing clean renewable power, but they don’t address the demands for transportation fuels, chemicals, and other products in the oil refinery product portfolio. We really need a clean, domestic, renewable platform that maintains the industrial balance that works today.  The good news is that everything (yes, I said everything) that is made from crude oil today can also be made from biomass. You can actually think of every field of switchgrass as an oil well that never goes dry, a platform to replace the whole barrel.
Fungible & Compatible We already have a valuable and sophisticated infrastructure in place today designed and optimized to work for fossil-based fuels.  An ideal renewable biofuel is a drop-in, direct substitute for petroleum-based products, or at least a compatible complement to existing petroleum fuels.  We’re still going to use fossil fuels for a long time.  To have a smooth transition to a more sustainable energy future, we need clean, domestic, renewable, affordable fuels that work with gasoline and other fossil based energy sources, not against them.