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New Energy Economics: A Wrap on Biofuels

Cole Gustafson, chair of the Department of Agribusiness and Applied Economics at NDSU. Cole Gustafson, chair of the Department of Agribusiness and Applied Economics at NDSU.

By Cole Gustafson, Chair of the Department of Agribusiness and Applied Economics and Biofuels Economist

NDSU Extension Service

Three years ago, I authored the first article of this news release series, “New Energy Economics.” Unfortunately, this is going to be my last article for a while as I have just taken a new administration position as chair of NDSU’s Agribusiness and Applied Economics Department.

Writing this biweekly article has brought more visibility to my biofuel educational program than I ever expected.

At the outset, I never imagined how popular this series of biofuel and wind power articles would become. Not only are the stories carried by many local and regional papers, they are archived on the Web so people across the globe have enjoyed my research and biofuel updates.

For example, just last week, I had two requests from international researchers, one in Finland while the other was from France, for more information on biomass handling costs.

In Extension, we are asked to document how our educational programs change people’s lives and behavior. It is a tough question to answer with my news stories because they are sent out and it is difficult to tell who reads them or what lasting impact my writings have. However, I am convinced they have had a significant impact.

Just one example was one of my stories on biomass densification. In the article, I mentioned a machine John Deere used to manufacture called the 425 Hay Cuber and how I would like to see one someday because they are quite rare. Last winter, I was in western North Dakota doing a series of workshops, and a producer made a special trip to the meeting just to see me and provide me with the contact information of someone who has one.

I hope to keep researching, delivering educational programs and writing news releases on biofuel topics as time allows. They just won’t be on a regular basis as in the past.

More importantly, I have been given approval by NDSU administration to hire a replacement biofuels economist to fill the void I am leaving. It is going to take several months to advertise the position, interview and eventually move the selected person to NDSU. This will be a national search for the top person in our profession. Therefore, I am confident that NDSU is going to have an excellent program in biofuel economics for years to come.

North Dakota still has great potential for renewable energy from both wind and agricultural feedstocks. Even though the recent financial crisis, national recession and pending loss of ethanol subsidies have slowed industry growth, development interest in several projects across the state remains high. NDSU looks forward to continuing partnerships with farm groups, rural communities and the biofuels industry to move these projects forward.

Thanks for taking a few minutes to read my biofuel articles and, more importantly, to offer your thoughts and ideas in return.

It has been a fun ride!

NDSU Agriculture Communication – July 19, 2011

Source:Cole Gustafson, (701) 231-7096,
Editor:Rich Mattern, (701) 231-6136,
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The news media and others may use these news releases in their entirety. If the articles are edited, the sources and NDSU must be given credit.

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