The Countertop Chronicles

"Run by a gun zealot who's too blinded by the NRA" - Sam Penney of

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Advancing Renewable Energy

OK, sorry for the bit of a blackout. THings are spotty when your posting on a blackberry.

I just got a power recharge and can get back to it now.

Some short updates, with more later.

I mentioned Vinad Khosla, the co-founder of Sun Microsystems, earlier. Thought I would give you some more thoughts.

1. He's very passionate and full of energy
2. He's worth a fricken fortune. Maybe the wealthiest person here. Maybe.
3. He's a computer geek in a black turtleneck, doesn't fit in with the farmer crowd assembled here.
4. While he might have a point, and be speaking to a friendly audience, personally insulting the head of the American Petroleum Institute when that individual has no forum left on the program to respond, is silly and sophmoric. You can debate the policy, but personal insults should be kept out of it.
5. Vinad might have billions, but Red Cavaney has many more friends in DC. And its not as if his industry doesn't have a lot of money either. Insulting someone who is better known, has more chits hanging out there, and ultimately has more money behind him, isn't the way to win in Washington.

Sitting at a breakout session on supply issues right now. Its being moderated by Joe Jobe from the Biodiesel board. He's a fairly entertaining moderator, though the discussion itself is rather dry.

Don Endres, of Verasun (largest ethanol refiner around, they own a bunch of gas stations too) is talking about distribution for consumer use while Amory Lovins of the Rocky Mountain Institute is talking about the need to get away from Saudi Oil (big theme here).

The head of Monsantos research lab is also on the panel. One of the big concerns - bigger even than the energy efficincy concern - that overrides discussions on swithching to an ethanol economy, is whether we can even grow enough corn and what that will do to our existing food supplies. I mentioned this earlier.

Monsanto has been in development of some new grains that seek to overcome that hurdle by increasing grain yields, and in one specific case achieving a 40% increase in yeilds from drought prone areas.

If successful, that will go a long way to ensure environmental protection (think CRP lands) as well as protection of exisitng food supplies. However, I'll believe it when I see it.


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