|Common grasses can be an excellent biofuel feedstock.|
U.S. U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack have announced the selection of 19 integrated biorefinery projects to receive up to $564 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to accelerate the construction and operation of pilot, demonstration, and commercial scale facilities. The projects — in 15 states — will validate refining technologies and help lay the foundation for full commercial-scale development of a biomass industry in the United States. The projects selected today will produce advanced biofuels, biopower, and bioproducts using biomass feedstocks at the pilot, demonstration, and full commercial scale. The projects selected today are part of the ongoing effort to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil, spur the creation of the domestic bio-industry, and provide new jobs in many rural areas of the country.
“Advanced biofuels are critical to building a cleaner, more sustainable transportation system in the U.S.” said Secretary Chu. “These projects will help establish a domestic industry that will create jobs here at home and open new markets across rural America.”
Joining Secretary Chu, Agriculture Secretary Vilsack noted that USDA Rural Development has selected San Diego, California based Sapphire Energy to receive a loan guarantee for up to $54.5 million through the Biorefinery Assistance Program to demonstrate an integrated algal biorefinery process that will cultivate algae in ponds, and will use dewatering and oil extraction technology to produce an intermediate that will then be processed into drop-in green fuels such as jet fuel and diesel. The actual project will be constructed in Columbus, New Mexico.
“The development of renewable energy is a critical component of our efforts to rebuild and revitalize rural America,” said Secretary Vilsack. “This Farm Bill program is instrumental in increasing our energy independence and expanding new technologies and markets for agricultural and environmental waste material.”
The Biorefinery Assistance Program, authorized through the 2008 Farm Bill, promotes the development of new and emerging technologies for the production of fuels that are produced from non-corn kernel starch biomass sources. The program provides loan guarantees to develop, construct, and retrofit viable commercial-scale biorefineries producing advanced biofuels. The maximum loan guarantee is $250 million per project. The loan guarantee will be subject to the availability of funds and contingent upon Sapphire Energy meeting the conditions of the loan agreement.
Of the nearly $564 million in Recovery Act funding announced today, up to $483 million will go to 14 pilot-scale and 4 demonstration-scale biorefinery projects across the country. The remaining $81 million will focus on accelerating the construction of a biorefinery project previously awarded funding. Collectively, these projects will be matched with more than $700 million in private and non-federal cost-share funds, for total project investments of almost $1.3 billion.
The biofuels and bioproducts produced through these projects will displace petroleum and accelerate the industry’s ability to achieve production targets mandated by the federal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). These investments will help close the gap between the production from the small number of biorefineries currently in operation and the aggressive Renewable Fuel Standard goals for cellulosic and advanced biofuels.
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