SEC Symposium to address role of Southeast in renewable energy

Athens, Ga. – In late January, just days after a federal appeals court ruled that the 2012 EPA mandate for cellulosic biofuels was overly optimistic, the EPA issued a new renewable fuel production requirement for 2013. The new standard, 14 million gallons, almost doubles the 2012 standard of 8.7 million gallons of biofuels made from grasses and woody material.

Renewable energy experts from the Southeastern Conference’s 14 universities, industry and government will gather in Atlanta Feb. 10-12 to address renewable energy topics at the inaugural SEC Symposium, “Impact of the Southeast in the World’s Renewable Energy Future.” The event is organized by the SEC and led by the University of Georgia and the UGA Bioenergy Systems Research Institute. Discussions will address whether the new EPA mandate is realistic, given that production of cellulosic biofuels was almost zero in 2012. The role for the Southeast in meeting the mandate, where biofuels made from abundant pine trees and switch grass, rather than wind or solar energy, will also be discussed.

While biofuels discussions will take the forefront at the symposium, other sessions will address the spectrum of renewable energy technologies, including: solar, wind, marine wave/flow technologies and nuclear.

Keynote speakers addressing the new energy economy in the Southeast, the U.S. and the world are: Sam Baldwin, chief science officer at the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, U.S. Department of Energy; Steven J. Mirshak, global business director for DuPont Cellulosic Ethanol; and Susanne Shine, ambassador with The Royal Danish Embassy.

A panel discussion of government, university and industry experts will discuss renewable energy policy and practice. Panelists are: Kenneth Chacey, program manager of Ameresco, Savannah River Site, location of the largest federal biomass facility in the country; Paul Gilna, director of the BioEnergy Science Center at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, a 10-year research project focused on understanding and overcoming the difficulty in cost effectively converting cellulosic feedstocks into biofuels; Martin Keller, associate laboratory director of energy and environmental sciences, responsible for the energy, biological and environmental research programs at Oak Ridge National Laboratory; Laurel Harmon, vice president of government relations for LanzaTech, a biofuel production facility in Soperton, Ga.; and David Hess, professor of sociology, associate director of the Institute for Energy and Environment, and director of Environmental and Sustainability Studies, Vanderbilt University.

Biofuels experts at the symposium will discuss recent advances in biomass feedstocks, including woody plants, grassy plants, microalgae and waste/byproducts, and technologies for producing biopower, biofuels and biomaterials.
Other expert panels will discuss energy advances in the transportation sector, advanced materials for energy applications, and renewable energy in K-12 education and higher education, and workforce development.

For more information about the SEC Symposium, see http://www.secsymposium.com/. A complete list of speakers is available at http://www.secsymposium.com/speakers.php.