o Stephen Schneider from IPCC, who shared the Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore in 2007, is a former biofuels enthusiast now turned skeptic (judging only from comments he made as an aside during his very compelling global warming talk). He seemed to not be groking the "not all biofuels are created equal" point that Eric makes in this post. I worry that this is a sign that local biofuels proponents have a significant uphill battle to distinguish our vision from the "big agriculture" model.
o Bernardo Lopez, head of BMW Research, gave an interesting presentation in a "clean transportation" breakout session that I participated in. The good news was that BMW had some incredibly cool diesel hybrids on the way -- I got very excited about the idea of a hybrid running biodiesel. The bad news was that BMW is much more focused on what, in my view, is a pie-in-the-sky hydrogen vision for alternative fuel, and seems skeptical about and at best only mildly supportive of biofuels. I had a good discussion with Bernardo and his colleagues, though, and I hope to have more dialogue with them about this.
o Generally the folks at the conference with whom I had a chance to discuss the DBI project were quite supportive and interested. I noted that the overall level of knowledge about biofuels was fairly low, however, even among this 'green tech'-savvy crowd.
o One of the giveaways at the forum was a book by Pernick and Wilder called The Clean Tech Revolution. It has a good chapter on biofuels. The chapter notes several "breakthrough opportunities," one of which is "go local":
A number of biofuel pioneers are taking a contrarian approach to the way we process fossil fuels. Rather than ship raw feedstock thousands of miles to refineries, and then ship processed fuels hundreds or thousands of miles to end users, why not make the entire process more local? In this new energy model, you grow your crops regionally and process or refine the oil or feedstock near the point of use. ... [W]e do believe there are opportunities for farmers, local agriculture groups, universities, lawyers, policy makers and of course entrepreneurs to play a role in helping to establish regional production of biofuels. It's happening in places as diverse as Seattle and Pune, India--and will become a growing movement in years to come.