Towards balanced abundance.

America’s  $2 billion dollar-a-day oil habit actually costs an additional $4 billion in indirect costs, to the total of $6 billion dollars a day, or 16% of our Gross Domestic Product. That’s $1.5 trillion a year Americans pay in additional costs varying from supply-side economics, oil-price volatility, and the cost of our military engagements in the Gulf region.

Our way of life is soon to be shocked by the geologic reality that the Earth’s oil supply is finite. The petroleum industry is certainly spending tremendous sums in search of a triumvirate of new; new technologies, new supplies, and new political allies. Peak oil has come and gone. Although news of North Dakota boomtowns like Williston seemingly herald an end to our immediate supply woes; even if these fields produce 24 billion barrels of oil they will be dry in ten years at our current rate of consumption. The United Nations recently released revised projections that our global population will increase through 2050 upward from our currently near 6.8 billion global inhabitants to as high as 10.5 billion.

As oil prices go up, America pays through businesses forced to pass along higher fuel costs to their customers, higher fuel prices at the gas station, and increased reliance on foreign oil. .  We also send billions of dollars to foreign countries, as well as maintain a considerable debt load, to feed our addiction to gasoline and foreign oil. Although oftentimes we look to the Middle East as our major supplier of oil of foreign origin, in reality 55% of it is supplied by Canada. Saudi Arabia supplies approximately 30%, and Venezuela and Mexico provide an additional 10% and 5% respectively.

2011 has been a banner year for biodiesel, with production soaring. The planets have aligned, and the industry is enjoying a tremendous amount of support.

The biodiesel tax credit is set to expire and many believe that because the demise of the ethanol tax credit seems a near certainty for 2012 the end of one spells doom for the other.

I believe the best calls to action are simply stated but broad in vision. In this moment lies our opportunity to take control of our destiny and fulfill our obligation as environmental stewards. More importantly, our actions now will have an effect on climate change, which is an issue that is already threatening the survival of several species which may in the long term be a set inclusive of humanity.

The economics alone may not be sufficient to change our behavior. The threat that climate change poses to the way we live, if at all, may not be sufficient, or simply sufficiently grasped in time.

One of our goals at Promethean is to try and educate that sustainability is about balance, not about sacrifice.

We are striving to create a world of balanced abundance. We are working on technologies that increase the efficiency related to what we do here at our scale; we know our efforts are being pursued by others in the renewable fuels sector, from a myriad of directions. All of these efforts are in the end working towards life enhancement. Their commercial success depends upon it.

At the end of the day we must avoid as a nation the temptation to not invest in our energy infrastructure given the current state of the economy. Our renewable energy capacity will prove a critical component of our future as a global leader. Our future is counting on it.

Make it a better place!


Some thoughts on the passing year and the year ahead.

On a recent trip to the north of Mexico I was asked to speak to a group of businessmen and governmental leaders about the opportunities that exist in latin America to create and mature a biofuels industry. I had developed a short version of a much longer presentation to discuss with them the various lessons that the United States had to offer in its recent attempts to support a sustainable, national, biofuels sector.

I was scheduled to speak for a mere 45 minute but, by the time I was forced to end the discussion to make a scheduled flight leaving that afternoon, nearly 3 hours had passed.

A large portion of my talk had centered on what I affectionately call the American Biofuels Fiasco. As most in the biofuels sector can tell you, for the majority of producers, distributors, and marketers, things in the last two years have not gone acording to plan.

There are many reasons the sector has struggled , some forseeable, some not so, but all agree that uncertainty around congressional renewal of the credit subsidy has been a contributing factor in deterring investment in new and existing projects, feedstock limitations will continue to be an industry concern, and many facilities built have capacities far in excess of their hopes to secure adequate capital or feedstock to run efficiently.

The next year will likely bring new models to production, some changes to production technology emphases, and hopefully changes to the longevity of credit subsidies. These are all good things.

But most importantly the next year provides those of us still standing with the opportunity to implement changes to the way we do things based upon the lessons learned and wisdom gained from the past year.

For those of us at Promethean this past year has flown. The lessons have been plentiful, and some have come harder than others.

Small is better; wherever you plan to place a 90 you’re better off with a ‘T’; you can’t build a plant that is dependant upon subsidies for its continued operation; good interns are a precious gift (and difficult to find); most quality problems can be solved economically.

The list goes on.

For all of you industry insiders out there I wish all of you the best of luck and much success in the coming year.

Make it a better place!