This morning, the 2008 National Biodiesel Conference and Expo started the day with a general session, where NBB CEO Joe Jobe briefed attendees on the state of biodiesel and the direction he sees it heading.
During a quick break between the numerous events at the conference (including his time with Agritalk this morning as pictured here), I caught up with Joe to get some of his thoughts.
He said biodiesel had an excellent year in 2007, gaining the Renewable Fuels Standard that will see biodiesel grow to a billion gallons a year in this country in the next few years. In addition, he says public recognition and acceptance of biodiesel continues to grow as well. “We went from 45 percent awareness to 65 percent awareness in just one year,” Jobe says.
But the tremendous growth has not been without its challenges. Among those, the biggest has been the simultaneous instabilities in the ag commodities and energy markets… both of which the biodiesel is extremely dependent on. “For every penny a pound soybean oil prices rise, the price of biodiesel rises 7.5 cents per gallon. And we’ve seen prices rise by nearly 30 cents in just the last 18 months,” said Jobe. He says the rise came as many producers had refineries and projects in the works.
Jobe is still very optimistic, however. On the horizon, he sees research finding more, sustainable, higher-yielding feedstocks that will continue to help the industry grow. Legislatively, he is hopeful the federal tax incentive for biodiesel will be extended. But he admits with 2008 being a presidential election year, it will be challenging to keep biodiesel in the front of lawmakers’ and the average citizen’s minds. “So we’ve got to really energize folks… to get them engage in government policy to get that done,” Jobe said.
He says this conference is an opportunity for the industry to get together to take on these challenges facing it.
Listen to my whole interview with Joe here: [audio:http://www.zimmcomm.biz/nbb/nbb-08-jobe.mp3]