I’ve packed my warmest jacket, Sorels, and a pocket full of business cards. All of my arrangements are made to attend Harvesting Clean Energy in Helena, MT next week. Clean energy practitioners and rural economic development advocates will gather to talk about opportunities for clean energy to benefit Northwest farms, ranches, forests, and rural businesses.
I’m especially interested in the conference’s take on how renewable portfolio standards and other policies that help spur investments in the renewable energy technologies that will provide economic, social, and environmental benefits far into the future. Recent news from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that the agency will again consider rolling back production targets under the federal Renewable Fuel Standard means we need to sharpen our messages and recruit more voices for good policy.
Here is a taste of what’s in store at Harvesting Clean Energy 2014:
- Gary Strobel of Montana State University will speak about "Mycodiesel" – fuel from fungi. Cineole extracted from fungus is of special interest because it can serve as a gasoline substitute. Sustainable? Advanced? I’ll report back on fuel from fungus after the conference.
- Teresa Koper of The Climate Trust will participate on a panel on ecosystem services, exploring environmental service market opportunities available to rural landowners through a variety of conservation and land management activities that are a win-win for all. Teresa also serves on the steering committee for Climate Solutions’ Northwest Biocarbon Initiative.
- Leif Elgethun of Site Based Energy, a good friend and ally in Boise, will lead a panel on getting a commercial energy efficiency project started. I’m eager to see what he has up his sleeve. Leif has been starting companies, inventing products, and getting real projects off the ground for several years—all with an eye towards clean energy.
- Dr. Jon Van Gerpen of Idaho State University has been investigating the production and use of biodiesel since 1992. He will join biofuel producers on a panel that looks at the technology that is available for someone starting a biorefinery today. If anybody understands the chemical reactions happening in a biorefinery it’s Dr. Van Gerpen, and I’m anxious to hear where he thinks advanced biofuels are heading.
There are many more good colleagues on the agenda, climate warriors working to accelerate the transition to a clean energy economy and make clean energy an on-the-ground reality and, importantly, an economic driver here in the Northwest. Climate Solutions created and organized the conference for 12 years. The National Center for Appropriate Technology took the reins this year. I’ll be representing Climate Solutions at the event with both pride in our history and eager anticipation of the good work that NCAT and the steering committee will start through this and future Harvesting Clean Energy conferences.
For more information, or to register www.harvestcleanenergy.org