Biofuels focus of energy conference in Minneapolisby Stephanie Hemphill, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — At a conference in Minneapolis Tuesday, bio-energy researchers will join an international effort to lay out a clearer future for biofuels.
It's billed as a continental convention on bio-energy, the use of corn, algae, and other plant materials and animal wastes for energy. The conference is designed to get people thinking longer-term about where we're going to get our energy as we run out of fossil fuels.
One of the organizers, John Sheehan at the University of Minnesota, said easy access to high-energy fossil fuels isn't going to last forever.
"Now we have to actually rely on our natural ecosystems, on the land around us to provide that source of energy on a much broader, less dense scale," Sheehan said.
Sheehan said people have been confused and disappointed by overblown promises of quick progress on replacing fossil fuels with bio-energy.
"As soon as we wake up to an understanding of getting to work on this and building a plan that allows for the kind of 2030 horizon that it's going to take for these kind of fuels to really take hold, then we'll start getting somewhere," he said.
The conference features a Wednesday night speech by Roger Thurow, author of "Enough: Why the World's Poorest Starve in an Age of Plenty."
Sheehan said a grassroots group has held similar conferences in Asia, Europe, Africa, and Latin America. They hope to persuade policy-makers to plan and fund research on a sustained basis.