NBB In Sight

2005 shaping up as the year for biodiesel
By Joseph Jobe | November 01, 2005
"There's nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come."
- Victor Hugo
The author of the Les Misérables and the Hunchback of Notre Dame liked to write about struggle and the journey to overcome enormous odds. Biodiesel has had a long and challenging journey, but as was predicted in February at the National Biodiesel Conference, 2005 has become the year of its arrival.

Our nation's energy situation was reaching critical pressure points before Hurricanes Katrina and Rita took their toll on the petroleum network. The Gulf Coast of Louisiana and Texas serve as the heart of the nation's energy complex. It is where much of the country's crude oil is shipped in, refined and pumped into the veins of the nation's pipeline system. The recent disasters did much to illustrate the vulnerability of our energy supply.

In a recent interview on "Meet the Press," journalist Tom Friedman of the New York Times spoke about energy as the underpinning of our future. He said that Americans have a proven ability to solve problems when enough effort and priority is applied. Finding a solution to our energy situation, he said, should be the "Moonshot" of our generation. He is right.

The recent energy crunch seems to have finally splashed cold water on the face of American attitudes and awakened some concern about energy. Over the last four years, the energy debate seems to have been missed by a very large chunck of the general public. But now when gasoline prices hit a mark that was almost double of what it was just a year ago, it is finally starting to hit home for many people.

I do believe that a shift is beginning to occur. Fuel prices are finally causing Americans to once again think about fuel economy and conservation in a way that hasn't happened in a quarter century. This shift is likely to contribute to the increase in market penetration for light-duty diesel vehicles. Combined with the unexpectedly high popularity of the Liberty CRD and the surprisingly peppy performance of today's diesels, it is finally time Americans gave diesel cars a second look in a significant way. It is the most immediate way we can make an impact on fuel usage. J.D. Power recently projected that diesel passenger vehicles will climb from a 3 percent market share to a 7.5 percent market share by 2012, but I tend to think even more optimistically.

It is fortunate that biodiesel is positioned to address this shift that is occurring by helping to supplement our immediate supply issues, while gearing up to make an even bigger impact in the near future. America is finally ready for biodiesel, and it is our greatest challenge and most important task yet to answer that call.
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