DOE pours $385 million into cellulosic ethanol production

The U.S. Department of Energy has dug into its coffers once again for alternative energy research, this time putting up to $385 million forward to fund six cellulosic ethanol over the next four years. DOE Secretary Samuel W. Bodman made the announcement, going on to say that when fully operational, the six biorefineries will produce more than 130 million gallons / 492 million litres of ethanol per year. The funding is part of President Bush's Twenty in Ten Initiative which aims to reduce America's petrol consumption by 20 percent in ten years.

"These biorefineries will play a critical role in helping to bring cellulosic ethanol to market, and teaching us how we can produce it in a more cost effective manner," Secretary Bodman said. "Ultimately, success in producing inexpensive cellulosic ethanol could be a key to eliminating our nation's addiction to oil. By relying on American ingenuity and on American farmers for fuel, we will enhance our nation's energy and economic security."

Cellulosic ethanol is seen by the current administration as the best way to achieve their goal of increasing the use of renewable and alternative fuels in the transportation sector by 35 billion gallons of ethanol a year by 2017. Industry will have to more than match the DOE's contributions leading to a total of more than $1.2 billion that will be invested in these six biorefineries.

The following six projects were selected from the many proposals:
  • Abengoa Bioenergy Biomass of Kansas, LLC of Chesterfield, Missouri, up to $76 million.
  • ALICO, Inc. of LaBelle, Florida, up to $33 million.
  • BlueFire Ethanol, Inc. of Irvine, California, up to $40 million.
  • Broin Companies of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, up to $80 million.
  • Iogen Biorefinery Partners, LLC, of Arlington, Virginia, up to $80 million.
  • Range Fuels (formerly Kergy Inc.) of Broomfield, Colorado, up to $76 million.
Analysis: What a great way to spend federal funds! I really think the DOE is on the right track with their funding of alternative energy production and research such as into cellulosic ethanol, next-generation batteries and hydrogen. Not only will a huge amount be learnt about cellulosic ethanol by building and running these six facilities, but they will produce valuable fuel and earn back their grants over time.

For the record, anyone who voted in our last poll - Best way to spend the DOE's money - for anything but cellulosic ethanol, well, I'm afraid you and I were both clearly wrong.

[Source: Department of Energy]

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