This article discusses the record breaking cold snap that occurred in Florida over the past few weeks and cites how this will have devastating effects on the plan to expand Florida’s energy portfolio. The article begins with a brief history of Florida’s emergence into the field of ethanol and biofuel production in 2005 under Jeb Bush with the resulting Renewable Energy Technologies Plan to incentivize in-state development of biofuels production and distribution. The article then proceeds to analyze the immediate problems contributing to Florida’s dearth of enthanol production. Developers such as INEOS New Planet BioEnergy are hoping to capitalize on the available feedstock and biomass in their waste-to-ethanol plant which is projected for completion in 2011 with the aid of government grants. Interestingly, Florida contains 7-10% of the country’s available biomass which could be used (without detriment to crop prices) for renewable energy production. The list of feedstock crops projected for biofuels research includes sweet sorghum, citrus, and sugarcane, but not corn, which will hopefully open the door to biofuels more advanced than the popular, firmly established ethanol. These plans could be easily crushed, however, as nearly 30% of all feedstock crops were killed in Florida as a result of the longest stretch of cold weather in 60 years. This unfortunate turn of events has resulted in crop prices going through the roof and eliminating any chance of Florida developing any in-state large scale biofuel production for the foreseeable future. This was an interesting glimpse into what state governments are doing at a more local level to further the alternative energy movement- this article pointed out that shipping ethanol in from the Midwest is almost as detrimental as just using 100% gasoline in the first place which is why it’s so important that this technology is developed across the country.
Florida was considered the “new Iowa” in terms of potential Biofuels production… until 4 weeks ago =(