Growing our own fuel


Jim Frederick: What we are trying to do is see how well switchgrass, sorghum, sugarcane can grow in South Carolina and what is the potential for using them for biofuels in the state. There are a number of factors you have got to take into consideration: one is the cost to grow the crop, how much fuel you can get out of them and what other benefits they have, in terms of like, are they good for the wildlife, good for the soil, just protect the environment overall. Switchgrass is probably one of the most economical as well as one of the most environmentally friendly crops that we can grow. Growing the grasses, there is a lot of benefit to that. A: We are not relying on a foreign country for the grasses to make the fuels. It is something that we can grow here, it is going to help the rural economies and it is carbon neutral. These plants take the carbon out of the air, we harvest the plants and then we burn them, put the carbon back in; so there is no increase in carbon like there is when you use fossil fuels like gasoline or when you burn coal. A lot of these grasses do quite well under droughty conditions which is kind of the name of the game for South Carolina; do actually better on our soils than more of our traditional crops like corn and soybeans. A lot of it comes down to the economics of it all. Coal and a lot of our fossil fuels, our oil and stuff are very cheap and we have got to make the production of these grasses and their conversion to the fuel equally as cheap.