The Biofuels Center of North Carolina is showcasing the career opportunities in the biofuels industry in the Cultivate a Career tent at the North Carolina State Fair. Shane Reese, Communications Manager, for the Biofuels Center of North Carolina explains:
SR: We're a state-wide, private, non-profit corporation funded through the North Carolina General Assembly with one main task and that's to help the state replace 10% of its liquid fuel consumption with home-grown and produced bio-fuels by the year 2017. That's about 600 million gallons of fuel every year. And, we're not going to be basing this industry on food base crops. In fact, we want our agricultural production for biofuels to augment current agricultural production, not replace it. And one of the misconceptions out there is that we're going to base this on corn. But once again, it is non-food based industry in North Carolina. It's going to be from energy grasses and woody bio-mass and municipal solid wastes.
When do I mean when by energy grasses? I'm talking about switch grass, miscanthus, and something called Arundo donax (a type of perennial cane). When I'm talking about woody bio-mass, I'm talking about farmed trees. Those are eastern cottonnwood trees and fast growth loblolly pine trees. In the cities and towns, we're looking at muncipal solid wastes that can be turned into ethanol. In the long run, over the next 15, 20, 25 years, once we can harness the capabilities of things like algae and duck weed, those will bring us brand new fuels into the 21st Century; make us more secure here at home; create jobs in North Carolina; and make us more environmentally sustainable.
SFN: You have a flow chart here of all the careers that, not necessarily putting a plow in the soil, that are available in biofuels industry.
SR: That's right. Over the next 5... 10 years we're talking about everyone from a soil scientist to an algae technician to a military fuels analyst to an entomologist. And somebody might say, "What would an entomologist , somebody who's studying insects, have to do with biofuels?" Well obviously, we need people well-versed and knowledgeable on the full life-cycle and all of the effects that growing new crops in this state might have. Or you might end up having somebody like me who is talking about marketing and communications!
Photo: Students fill 'er up at the Biofuels pump!