There's good news and bad news in the nation's rush to replace oil with renewable energy.
Philip Madson is a worldwide expert on converting sugars and starches to bio-fuel. He says while there have been technical breakthroughs in ethanol conversion in the past thirty years we, unfortunately, will be relying on petroleum based fuel for the foreseeable future.
Madson, speaking at a bio-fuel conference in Madison, says that doesn't mean we should give up on turning plants into fuel. But he says as fast as the industry is growing nationwide, there will be speed bumps along the way.
As for the current fear of an ethanol glut, Madson says as much as the industry has overbuilt in the past few years, serious retrenchment and dislocations are inevitable. He says it happened in the eighties and nineties and will happen again.
As for individual state goals such as Wisconsin's target of twenty per cent renewable by 2020, Madson says that may be possible because Wisconsin is an agriculture state.
Nationwide he says bio-fuel made from conventional starched-based crops doesn't even account for ten per cent of the country's energy needs.