Senators John Hoeven and Kent Conrad and Governor Jack Dalrymple today joined local, state and energy industry leaders to kick off the 6th annual Renewable Fuels Action Summit on the campus of Bismarck State College to highlight North Dakota's renewable energy industry and explore new opportunities to develop renewable energy technologies.
The senators and governor highlighted the progress North Dakota has made with a comprehensive, all-of-the-above approach, advancing both traditional and renewable energy sectors together with effective partnerships. The North Dakota leaders highlighted that back in 2001, the state had less than half a megawatt of wind power generation. By the end of 2011, however, North Dakota had grown to more than 1,400 megawatts, and today ranks 9th among states in wind-generated electricity. Further, North Dakota now produces 12 percent of its electricity from wind annually, ranking the state second in the nation.
Similarly, a decade ago, the state produced only about 30 to 40 million gallons of ethanol a year at two small facilities, and no biodiesel at all. Today, North Dakota has five ethanol plants with a rated capacity of more than 400 million gallons, as well as one large diesel facility with a capacity of 85 million gallons a year. That's a 10-fold increase in biofuels production.
"Because of Empower North Dakota, the comprehensive state energy plan that we launched a decade ago, our state is driving an energy agenda that is more diversified than at any other time in our history -- not just North Dakota's history, but the history of the United States," said Senator Hoeven. "North Dakota is now the second largest oil producing state in the nation, but we have also made real strides in developing our renewable energy resources, including wind, ethanol, biodiesel, biomass and other renewable fuel sources."
"North Dakota is leading the nation in the development of both traditional and renewable energy sources and is on the forefront of researching new technologies and opportunities for continued growth," said Gov. Jack Dalrymple. "By expanding our renewable energy industry, we will create jobs and strengthen our economy both locally and nationally, while reducing America's dependence on foreign energy."
Senator Hoeven also discussed the Domestic Fuels Act, bipartisan legislation that he introduced in the U.S. Senate to help develop the fuel stations of the future. Currently, legal and infrastructure obstacles, such as cost of entry for retailers, inconsistent standards, and other regulatory factors limit the amount of renewable fuels that can be sold through existing motor fuel retail outlets. The Domestic Fuels Act takes a market-based approach, driven by supply and demand, and makes it easier to market all fuels and give consumers more choice at the pump.
Highlights of the conference were keynote addresses by Dr. Dana Christensen, Deputy Laboratory Director for Science and Technology at the U.S. Department of Energy National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), and Phyllis Cuttino, Director of the Clean Energy Program at Pew Environment Group.
Dr. Christensen is one of the world's leading experts on energy technology, energy materials and chemistry, and energy systems. As NREL's Deputy Director for Science and Technology, he is responsible for the science strategy, focused on positioning the Laboratory for delivering on high impact solutions to the nation's energy challenges and goals, with particular focus on renewable energy development and the integration of energy efficiency for buildings, industrial, and transportation sectors into the energy grids.
As the director of Pew's Clean Energy Program, Phyllis Cuttino advocates for national policies that promote the economic, environmental and national security benefits of the clean energy economy. She joined the Pew Environment Group in 2007 as project director for the Pew Campaign for Fuel Efficiency. She also served as vice president of public affairs for the United Nations Foundation (UNF) and the Better World Fund.
Featured breakout sessions included:
Wind Energy: A pathway to sustainability Speakers: Beth Soholt, Executive Director of Wind of the Wires, and Todd Wahlund, Vice President of Renewable Energy Development and Power Services at Otter Tail Power Company This invisible energy source has seemingly endless potential. Policymakers, researchers and industry leaders are working together to make wind energy viable and long-term.
Geothermal Energy: Underground technology for the future: Speakers: Tim Reinhardt, Physical Scientist/Program Analyst; Technology Manager for Low Temperature and Coproduced Resources, Department of Energy Geothermal Technologies Program, and William D. Gosnold, Jr., Chester Fritz Distinguished Professor, Department of Geology and Geological Engineering at University of North Dakota. We are familiar with small-scale, geothermal home heating systems, but this session will explore how we can tap into this intriguing underground source for large-scale energy projects.
Ethanol: Fuel for today and tomorrow: Speakers: Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy, and Greg Ridderbusch, Vice President of Business Development and Strategy of Great River Energy. North Dakota has an established and prolific ethanol industry. This session will explore ethanol's role in filling and meeting long-term energy needs in the U.S.
Biomass: Leaving no potential energy source unturned: Speakers: Mack Traynor, CEO of Ultra Green Inc., and Dr. David Archer, Research Agricultural Scientist, USDA-ARS Northern Great Plains Research Laboratory. Scientists are making use of a variety of resources to create energy. This session will provide an update on exciting beet, wheat straw and switchgrass research projects happening in North Dakota.
The event was sponsored by Bismarck State College, the Great Plains Energy Corridor, Kadrmas, Lee & Jackson and the North Dakota Alliance for Renewable Energy.