North Carolina on Friday adopted a law requiring utilities to get 12.5 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2018. Now, a plan is afoot to make the state's transportation even greener.
In July, the state established a new nonprofit corporation, the Biofuels Center of North Carolina, to help grow its biofuels industry.
After its first board meeting Tuesday, the center came out with a strategic plan to have 10 percent of the liquid fuels sold in North Carolina come from biofuel sources within the state by 2017.
That will translate to nearly 600 million gallons of biofuel annually. To produce all that capacity, the center plans to use wood waste, animal wastes, plants and grasses, as opposed to food crops such as corn.
The nonprofit center was funded with a $5-million grant from the North Carolina General Assembly last year. One of its main strategies will be to get help from researchers, growers, production-facility owners, educators and policy-makers to increase ethanol in the state.
The center, located at a recently established North Carolina Biofuels Campus in Oxford, on the site of a former U.S. Department of Agriculture tobacco-research facility, is patterned after the North Carolina Biotechnology Center in Research Triangle Park, which grew into a hub of biotech development.
Its board is made up of leaders from the biofuels facility, including W. Steven Burke and Norris Tolson of the North Carolina Biotechnology Center; Billy Ray Hall, president of the North Carolina Rural Economic Development Center; Ghasem Shahbazi, a professor and director of bioenvironmental engineering at North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University; and Johnny Wynne, dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at North Carolina State University.
The center plans to soon add an executive director and staff.
It also is setting up programs to fund research on strategic crops, build the state's biofuel-growing and production capacity, begin training the work force, encourage public awareness, create policies and attract federal funding.