Policy & Community Engagement

Session Title

Traversing the Abyss: Commercializing Biochar

Location

CC 162

Start Date

14-10-2013 3:15 PM

End Date

14-10-2013 5:00 PM

Session Description

Panelists will explore in depth the root causes of the dearth of funding available for biochar production financing; and we will discuss feasible responses and solutions. Our industry is now safely beyond the RD&D stage, but well short of the true commercialization phase. How do we get through this gap? We will examine why the biochar industry has not yet attracted major investor funding, nor major government subsidies, nor major foundation grants. Perhaps biochar has “too many faces!” -- the combination of so many different technologies and production scales and the lack of an established biochar market and biochar price is overly confusing to many investors. Based on the review of underlying causes, panelists will suggest and discuss with the audience feasible ways to turn this situation around.

Bio and Photo

David Morell, PhD, a specialist in global environmental and energy policy, retired in 2007 as co-founder and CEO of an environmental consulting firm Specialty Technical Consultants (www.stcenv.com). Dr. Morell previously served as a senior official of the US Environmental Protection Agency in both Washington, DC and in San Francisco; in California state government; and as Special Assistant for Toxics Management for Santa Clara County, California. He has had consulting assignments for the World Bank and USAID (in Mexico, Russia and Thailand). He is a co-founder and Board member of the Sonoma Biochar Initiative; a Board member of the Sonoma Ecology Center; and a Board member of Gardens for Health International. Dr. Morell has many years of experience in university teaching and research, including at Princeton University, Stanford University, Claremont Graduate School, Mae Fah Luang University (Thailand), and the University of California-Berkeley and Santa Cruz. His PhD is from Princeton.

Chris Pollatos, Biochar Central

Jeff Wallin, The Biochar Company

Jon Niedzielski served as an aide to Congressman John Olver for twenty years, most recently as his District Director and Deputy Chief of Staff in Holyoke, Massachusetts. In addition to leading the Congressman’s constituent services and economic development teams, Jon acted as his principal district representative to community organizations, local businesses, educational institutions, labor unions, municipalities, government agencies, and elected officials. During his years of public service, Jon assisted Congressman Olver in coordinating various regional economic development activities, including the Northern Tier Action Plan which led to extensive federal and state investment in projects along the struggling Rte. 2 corridor of Massachusetts. In addition, Jon acted as the Congressman’s liaison to UMass Amherst, working closely with administration and faculty to identify research initiatives deserving of federal support. Jon received a B.A. in History from Ithaca College and an M.A. in Foreign Affairs from the University of Virginia.

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Oct 14th, 3:15 PM Oct 14th, 5:00 PM

Traversing the Abyss: Commercializing Biochar

CC 162

Panelists will explore in depth the root causes of the dearth of funding available for biochar production financing; and we will discuss feasible responses and solutions. Our industry is now safely beyond the RD&D stage, but well short of the true commercialization phase. How do we get through this gap? We will examine why the biochar industry has not yet attracted major investor funding, nor major government subsidies, nor major foundation grants. Perhaps biochar has “too many faces!” -- the combination of so many different technologies and production scales and the lack of an established biochar market and biochar price is overly confusing to many investors. Based on the review of underlying causes, panelists will suggest and discuss with the audience feasible ways to turn this situation around.