Over seven years of effort and about $603 million in expenditures by the Department of Energy has failed to result in a single commercial-scale integrated biofuel project, according to an audit by the DOE’s inspector general.
The report finds that the DOE has demonstrated the successful operation of three integrated refineries, but these are all pilot-scale projects. The IG also says the department is behind on its biofuel production capacity goal, which is to validate the production of 100 million gallons of advanced biofuels, derived from 10 demonstration-scale and commercial-scale projects, by 2014. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 mandated that the DOE demonstrate commercial application of this technology, the Hill says.
In a response letter (included as an appendix to the report), the DOE says production schedules slipped because of the economic downturn, and resulting loss of private cost-share commitments.
This is not the first biofuel target the department has missed. Back in 2001, an inspector general audit found that the department had failed to meet a goal of building a commercial biomass production facility by 2000.
Tamar Wilner is Senior Editor at Environmental Leader PRO.