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This weekend's Collective Biofuels Conference

Associate Editor Bryan Sims is making the trip to Vancouver Island this weekend for the Collective Biofuels Conference.
By Ron Kotrba | August 03, 2011

Biodiesel Magazine is headed to Vancouver Island this weekend, Aug. 5-7, for the Collective Biofuels Conference. Formerly called the Collective Biodiesel Conference, the conference took a year off and retooled the name to allow for more inclusion from the ethanol, biorefining and straight vegetable oil segments. However, the event is still predominantly about community-scale biodiesel.

Associate Editor Bryan Sims is making the trip. Sims is no stranger to the importance of community. He’s in the North Dakota National Guard and has helped several local communities with flooding this year. “Without our communities, we have nothing,” he says. Sims adds that he is looking forward to seeing author and activist Josh Tickel and keynote speaker Lyle Estill of Piedmont Biofuels, along with everyone else in attendance. The conference will feature 20 workshops on small-scale biofuel production. Sims is also very interested in the tour of the Cowichan Biodiesel Cooperative’s new community-scale biodiesel plant, which just recently held its grand opening.

In the early years of Biodiesel Magazine, we gave little coverage to small-scale operations, and almost none to plants producing less than 1 MMgy. After I took over editorship in spring 2009, however, we made a concerted effort to not only cover community-scale biodiesel production, but to embrace it. Of course, we certainly still report on the big guys, the global and national players, and we always will, but we’ve broadened our scope to represent the true breadth of biodiesel.

There is no cookie-cutter model in this industry as there is in, for instance, the corn ethanol business in which most plants are Fagen/ICM built. The biodiesel industry does have its ADM, Cargill, and REG plants, along with refineries built by the big builders such as Crown Iron Works and others—and they play an important role in expanding this industry to the next level—but we should never forget about the local biodiesel producers who built their plants with their own two hands, using technology and equipment purchased from the hardware store or recycled from a shuttered business. These plants face even tougher challenges than the big ones because they lack the benefit of scale. They also have to meet the same quality standards on much tighter budgets, so efficiency and ingenuity are amplified in successful small-scale biodiesel endeavors. So as this industry evolves, let’s continue to embrace its eclectic nature.