Summit Launches Renewable Energy Focus in Ohio

November 16, 2006

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The vision of a renewable energy-supported Ohio is coming closer to reality with an energy summit on Nov. 20 that launches a state initiative to work towards a more sustainable energy future.

Ohio State University Extension and research specialists, industry representatives, agricultural and forestry leaders, environmental and renewable energy advocates and business leaders are gathering at Ohio State University's Fawcett Center to launch a state-supported "25X25" initiative.

25X25 is a national working group, endorsed by Congress and picking up state-level steam across the country, that envisions by the year 2025 America's farms, forests and ranchers will provide 25 percent of the total energy consumed in the United States, while continuing to produce safe, abundant, and affordable food, feed and fiber. The 25X25 group is sponsored by the Agriculture Working Group of the Energy Future Coalition -- a nonprofit organization whose central purpose is to advance energy efficiency and renewable energy initiatives.

The Ohio Renewable Energy Summit, which runs from 8 a.m. until 3:30 p.m., marks the kickoff for the Ohio 25X25 initiative. The summit will explore research, production and utilization of such renewable energies as biomass, biofuels, wind and solar power, hydropower and geothermal production.

"The Ohio Renewable Energy Summit is an opportunity for those groups and individuals who have an interest in renewable energy to come and hear what the initiative is, what it means, and to discuss the possibilities and technologies that exist to take us to 25 percent by 2025," said Matt Roberts, an Ohio State University Extension agricultural economist and Ohio State's representative to the 25X25 Ohio planning committee. "The purpose of the summit is to identify where Ohio is now, how we can achieve 25X25 and what role we can play in the national 25X25 initiative."

U.S. Department of Agriculture Under Secretary for Rural Development Tom Dorr will be headlining the event, along with Governor Bob Taft. Dorr and Taft will talk of using the 25x25 blueprint to harness the state's vast resources, including the sun, the wind, its rivers and its vast supplies of crop feedstocks, not only to produce renewable energy, but create jobs and manufacturing in rural Ohio. The summit will also explore how 25x25 boosts the nation's energy security by decreasing dependence on foreign oil, improving farm income and enhancing the environment.

The launching of the Ohio 25X25 initiative places the state in a strategic position to be a leader in renewable energy production.

"In many ways Ohio is very uniquely well-positioned to lead the renewable energy industry. Ohio already has some of the leading research in battery and fuel cell technology and we have strong manufacturing and agriculture bases and a strong engineering industry," said Roberts. "There are very few states that can match that entire portfolio, but it's difficult to be a leader if we are not also a leader in using and adopting these technologies."

Topics of discussion during the Ohio Renewable Energy Summit include a 25X25 overview; the future of renewable energy in Ohio; fuel cell technology; a review of the ethanol industry; panel discussions on wind, solar, biodiesel and cellulosic ethanol energies; Ohio's biomass inventory; and future renewable technologies.

Currently 20 governors and four state legislatures have endorsed 25X25 in an effort to place agriculture in a crucial role of producing more sustainable energy that not only could improve the environment, but also lead to economic development of rural areas.

"For Ohio, there's a real possibility that there could be a tremendous rural development boon under the 25X25 initiative, in addition to the environmental stewardship that goes along with it," said Roberts. "There are a lot of people who believe that renewable energy matters. In their eyes, production of energy with fossil fuels has a side effect on the environment and those side effects make those sources less attractive. Renewable energy reduces or eliminates those side effects."

Proponents of Ohio's 25X25 initiative include Ohio State University, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Ohio Farm Bureau, Ohio Corn Growers Association, Ohio Soybean Association, and the Ohio Department of Development.

For more information on 25X25, log on to http://www.25X25.org, or e-mail info@25X25.org. For more information on the Ohio Renewable Energy Summit, contact Mike Wagner, executive director of Buckeye Renewable Fuels Association, at (740) 383-2676 or e-mail mwagner@ohiocorn.org.

Author(s): 
Candace Pollock
Source(s): 
Matt Roberts