The Northwest Wood-Based Biofuels + Co-Products Conference wrapped up earlier this month in Seattle WA. NARA played a lead role in developing this conference, and based on the 200 + attendance and enthusiasm displayed by the attendees, this first time event was a success.
The meeting rooms were full as the agenda matched the diversity of the audience. Students, scientists, surveyors, business owners and managers, engineers, extension agents, tribal members, educators, foresters, economic development specialists and environmental activists all came to share their interest in a developing wood to biofuel industry.
Figure 1 partitions the conference attendees according to their area of interest.
The conference provided a mix of industry and academic representatives followed by a large student and government presence. This mix fits well with NARA’s mission to provide multiple stakeholders with analysis and data that facilitates a wood to biofuels and co-product industry. In addition, the sizable student presence complements NARA’s goal to enhance bioenergy literacy for a sustainable work force.
A closer look at industries represented (Figure 2) reveals that interests throughout the NARA supply chain were represented. Companies, consultants and associations involved with forestry (mills, trucking, forest landowners, equipment manufactures) had 36 persons attending. Twenty-six participants were involved with conversion technology companies (Gevo, BacGen Technologies, Sundrop Fuels, BASF SE) while eight representatives were affiliated with end users (airlines, utility companies).
A breakdown of academic interests (Figure 3) also shows a diversified mix. A relative large number of “outreach” personnel were present. Outreach defined in this case primarily includes university employees involved in communications, extension services or fostering industry/university partnerships.
Various government levels were represented (Figure 4). The US Department of Agriculture and federal government laboratories had representatives present at the federal level. Representatives from state departments of ecology, commerce, natural resources and energy were present as well as a number of county economic development representatives.
This level of diversity illustrated at this conference mirrors the diversity associated with all aspects of the NARA project. Student demographics involved in NARA’s educational efforts, engaged stakeholders on the NARA mailing list, and members within the NARA team bring a broad array of talents and interest to the effort of facilitating the development of a Pacific Northwest Industry that uses sustainable wood resources to supplement the use of fossil fuels.
The Seattle NPR radio station interviewed NARA Co-Director Michael Wolcott at the conference. You can read or hear their report here. For those who missed the conference, the proceedings can be obtained here.
NARA will help coordinate another conference similar to this one in 2016. By that time, this project will be finishing up and many new developments will be ready to share.