Moving Forward: USDA Awards Additional Loan Guarantees for Refineries

The Agriculture Department has announced additional money for loan guarantees to support construction of new advanced biofuel biorefineries.

The Biorefinery Assistance Program, part of the 2008 Farm Bill, provides loan guarantees to entrepreneurs seeking to take advantage of the growing interest and opportunities in advanced biofuels. The effect of this legislation is two-fold as it lets the biofuels industry carve out a piece of the energy market, as well as creating thousands of jobs and bustling economic activity.

The Biorefinery Assistance Program provides loan guarantees to develop and build commercial-scale biorefineries or to retrofit existing facilities using eligible technology for the development of advanced biofuels. These developments are a boon for rural areas that need a jumpstart economically.

“Growing biomass for biorefineries can produce hundreds of thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in economic activity, primarily in rural areas where economic development is greatly needed,” notes Brent Erickson, executive vice president of BIO’s Industrial & Environmental Section. “This can help the United States maintain its leadership in developing a biobased economy, using renewable resources for energy, fuels, chemicals and materials.” 

The recent announcement of additional funding by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack included $405 million in guaranteed loans for three projects.

The first went to Coskata, which received $250 million to construct and operate a cellulosic ethanol biorefinery facility in rural western Alabama. The plant aims to produce 55 million gallons per year using woody biomass.

Enerkem was selected to receive $80 million to build a biorefinery in Pontotoc, Miss., capable of producing 10 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol per year using 100,000 metric tons of dried and post-sorted municipal sold waste using a thermo-chemical cellulosic refining process.

Finally, INEOS Bio in Vero Beach, Fla., received $75 million to construct and operate a biorefinery capable of producing 8 millions gallons per year of cellulosic ethanol and gross electricity production capacity of 6 megawatts. The feedstock process at the plant will include primarily vegetative waste, yard wastes, wood waste and municipal solid waste.

“This funding will create green jobs and help America become more energy self-sufficient,” Vilsack pointed out. “These investments will help spur new technologies that will enable us to reduce reliance on fossil fuels and build a strong renewable energy industry in rural America that will enable our nation to ‘out-innovate’ its competitors.”