The 2014 EIA Conference addressed the state of energy in the US and foreign markets with policy analysis, projections and plenty of line graphs. We caught up with a few of the panelists to discuss a variety of topics. The renewable energy panel featured a healthy dose of optimism for solar and wind growth, though panelists noted the high price of offshore wind would remain a deterrent. Panelist Edward Randolph, California Public Utilities Commission energy director, emphasized that California remains a laboratory for energy innovation with aggressive state renewable portfolio standards that try to think ahead of national standards. Even with gains in renewables, coal is expected to be a major part of our energy picture for years to come. Perhaps most interesting is the discussion surrounding China as it takes steps to limit its carbon emissions, with massive amounts of solar installations expected.
The biofuels panel focused on policy as a means for stabilizing the production side by establishing a national standard. Representatives from Mercedes Benz and Monsanto noted the standards of other countries like Brazil, where they blend higher amounts of ethanol in their fuel. The biofuel industry pushed back against public criticism of using food for fuel, claiming that you can do both without wasting land or crops, while also exploring different feedstocks for max efficiency.