MN Ag Commissioner on year of challenges and opportunities for renewable energy

The commissioner of agriculture for Minnesota considers the last year full of tremendous challenges but also opportunities for renewable energy.

Thom Petersen says he frequently communicates with officials at ethanol and biodiesel plants across the state.

“I might have on one hand a company or industry that’s really failing and really needs help, but on the other hand I do a meeting or a call with an industry or part of an industry that had a great idea and wants to really expand in Minnesota.”

He says even before the COVID-19 pandemic slashed domestic fuel consumption, ethanol had run into some trade obstacles and suffered demand destruction caused by EPA small refinery exemptions.

“But then quickly pivoting to a hand sanitizer (which) really showed resilience and the importance of the industry.”

During a renewable energy virtual roundtable hosted by the Minnesota Agricultural Utilization Research Institute Thursday, Petersen also highlighted ethanol byproduct CO2 as an emerging value-added market for the ethanol industry.

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