July 21, 2014 – The Enterprise Holdings Foundation donated $2 million to the University of Missouri last year to establish an endowment for sustainability energy research. Today, university researchers have already achieved promising results, specifically in the field of biofuels.
This spring, representatives from Enterprise Holdings along with plant science researchers, industry leaders and government officials gathered at the University of Missouri Biofuels Stakeholders Meeting to discuss the progress made in biofuels research and the challenges that lie ahead.
One of the stakeholders attending the meeting was Claire Carstensen, sustainability specialist for Enterprise Holdings who serves on The Nature Conservancy board as well as the Global Business Travel Association sustainability sub-committee. Carstensen recently blogged about the event on the Enterprise Holdings corporate sustainability website, DrivingFutures.com:
As millions of Americans hit the road this summer, they are paying the most expensive gas prices in six years. This gasoline sticker shock was one more reminder of the need to develop an abundant and sustainable supply of alternative fuels.
That’s an issue that Enterprise has championed for nearly a decade. Since 2006, our owners, the Taylor family, and the Enterprise Holdings Foundation have given more than $35 million to the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center and its Enterprise Rent-A-Car Institute for Renewable Fuels to help fund development of the next generation of alternative fuels. More recently, Enterprise established an endowment for sustainable energy research at the University of Missouri, where researchers also are achieving promising results in the field of biofuels.
This spring, I participated in a University of Missouri’s Biofuel Stakeholders Meeting. This gathering brought together plant science researchers, industry leaders and government officials to discuss our progress so far – and the work yet to be done – in creating a holistic approach to addressing energy needs through biofuel production.
During the meeting, Dr. Shibu Jose, director of the Center for Agroforestry at the University of Missouri, shared the progress he and his team are making on this front. Dr. Jose is the leader of the Mississippi/Missouri River Advanced Biomass/Biofuel Consortium (MRABC). It’s a team of more than 40 academic institutions and agricultural and energy companies that is working to turn the Missouri and Mississippi rivers into a “biomass corridor.”
Dr. Jose’s preliminary research indicates that approximately 116 million acres of land along the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers are unsuitable for traditional food crops but ideal for growing biomass. He estimates that planting biomass crops on just five percent of this land could yield enough raw materials to produce seven billion gallons of biofuel. Enterprise’s endowment will provide essential funding as Dr. Jose takes the next steps toward a prototype bio-processing facility that will begin producing that fuel.
The demand for this type of technology came through loud and clear during the stakeholders meeting. For example, Chris Tindal, director of operational energy for the U.S. Navy, said his organization has set a goal of having 50 percent of the Navy’s energy needs met by alternative sources by 2020. And Larry Pionke, an associate technical fellow at Boeing, told us how volatile jet fuel costs are hurting the airline industry and underscored the growing need to develop sustainable jet fuel at a more stable price.
At Enterprise, we believe in the major role biofuels have to play in reducing both our carbon footprint and our dependence on foreign sources. The University of Missouri’s Biofuel Stakeholders Meeting is just one more example of how we are collaborating with outside partners to make transportation more sustainable. We look forward to sharing the results of that collaboration in the future.
About Enterprise Holdings
Enterprise Holdings and its affiliate Enterprise Fleet Management together offer a total transportation solution. Combined, these businesses – which include extensive car rental and car-sharing services, commercial truck rental, corporate fleet management and retail car sales – accounted for $16.4 billion in revenue, employed 78,000 and operated 1.4 million vehicles throughout the world in fiscal year 2013. Enterprise Holdings, through its regional subsidiaries, operates the largest fleet of vehicles in the world through a global network of neighborhood and airport locations under the Enterprise Rent-A-Car, National Car Rental and Alamo Rent A Car brands. Enterprise Fleet Management provides full-service fleet management to companies and organizations with medium-sized fleets. Other transportation services marketed under the Enterprise brand name include Enterprise CarShare, Enterprise Rideshare, Enterprise Car Sales and Enterprise Commercial Trucks. Enterprise Holdings is the largest car rental company in the world as measured by revenue, fleet and employees.