Reexamining Outdated U.S. Energy
Policy Through Alternative Fuels
By Robert Johnsen, CEO, Primus Green Energy
THE abundance of natural gas brought about by new drilling techniques has led to a profound
shift in the North American energy mix,
enabling a new era of energy independence by reducing reliance on petroleum and coal.
The natural gas boom has been em-
braced by the governments of both the
United States and Canada, with the
United States in particular positioning
natural gas as the centerpiece of an “all
of the above” energy strategy that pro-
motes a balanced mix of energy sources.
While this strategy has been welcomed
by the oil and gas industry, it has led to
some unease in the renewable energy
sector, which fears that support for natural gas could stunt the administration’s
focus on the adoption of clean energy
In reality, however, the administration
has continued to support both traditional and renewable energies, believing that
natural gas can serve as a “bridge” to
renewable energy that enables a reduction in carbon emissions while buying
time for the renewable energy sector
to improve economics and effciencies.
This all-of-the-above strategy is personi-fed by Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz,
a staunch believer in renewable energy
who has also promoted the use of natural gas to curb carbon emissions.
Unfortunately, however, some ar-
eas of U.S. energy policy are lagging
behind this all-of-the-above strategy.
One sector in which this phenomenon
is very apparent is alternative fuels.
Alternative fuel technologies pro-
36 billion gallons by 2022.
duce fuels from any non-petroleum
source, such as biomass, natural gas,
municipal solid waste, coal or other
carbon-based feedstocks. The main
policy related to alternative fuels is the
Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), a pol-
icy dating back to 2005 that mandates
minimum requirements for how much
alternative fuel must be blended into
commercial transportation fuels. The
amount of alternative fuel to be blended
increases each year, with an end goal of
In its frst few years, the RFS successfully encouraged the development of alternative fuel technologies, leading to a
cleaner transportation fuel mix. For example, ethanol comprises 10 percent
of most fuels sold in gas stations today.
But, the RFS was created in the context
of the alternative fuel technologies that
were available in the mid- to late-2000s,
which were primarily frst-generation biofuels that used corn as the feedstock and
produced ethanol as the end product.
In recent years, advanced alternative
fuel technologies have been introduced
that open up new feedstock and end product opportunities, but the RFS has not
been modifed since 2007 to accommodate them. An example is Primus Green
Energy’s STG+ technology, which can
convert a variety of feedstocks, including biomass and natural gas, into drop-in transportation fuels that can be used
directly in vehicle engines without the
“blend wall” that is required for the use of
frst-generation biofuels such as ethanol.
The limitations of the current RFS
are apparent in the biofuel industry’s fail-
ure to meet minimum mandates. The in-
dustry’s continued inability to produce