Corn ethanol in growth stage

by Kavi Turnbull

As a University of Minnesota alum and an entrepreneur who recently raised angel capital to help consumers find alternative fuel stations (including ethanol), I am disappointed in The Minnesota DailyâÄôs skin-deep Dec. 7 editorial against ethanol. Corn ethanol is not perfect; it is a first-generation biofuel. With corn ethanol, the United States is establishing a market and distribution system for ethanol as a gasoline replacement. From corn, the United States will move to second-generation biofuels produced from a variety of feedstocks as they become commercially feasible. It was just two weeks ago when Poet, the nationâÄôs top ethanol producer, announced it has reduced its cellulosic ethanol production cost during the past year from $4.13 per gallon to $2.35 per gallon. It is these types of advancements that have driven venture capitalists, like Vinod Khosla, to cellulosic ethanol. Khosla is one of the most successful venture capitalists of all time and in the past five years has invested tens of millions of dollars of his own money into ethanol. In June, Khosla announced he raised a $1 billion cleantech fund, with $750 million going to existing companies to scale up and commercialize their products. There isnâÄôt one magic bullet that will solve the United StatesâÄô addiction to fossil fuels; itâÄôs going to take a number of alternatives working together, and it is clear that second-generation ethanol is part of the solution. Minnesota is leading the countryâÄôs transition away from fossil fuels with nearly 400 E85 fuel stations in the state, a network that cannot be built overnight. And soon some Minnesota corn farms will be transitioning to new ethanol feedstocks, and weâÄôll be thankful for an ethanol market that corn made possible. Kavi Turnbull, CEO,