New life infused into proposed Danish cellulosic ethanol plant

By Staff Report | April 10, 2017

Prospects for a cellulosic ethanol plant to be built as part of the Maabjerg Energy Center in Denmark have achieved a breakthrough, according Jorgen Udby, chairman. London-based investment firm Pioneer Point Partners has confirmed in a letter of intent they are ready to investment up to 160 million euro in the plant. “However, they have made it a precondition that the political framework and long-term government support is settled first,” the company news release said.  

Announced several years ago, the project to build a cellulosic ethanol plant alongside a biogas facility and biomass-fired cogeneration plant involved a consortium of local utility companies, enzyme-firm Novozymes and DONG Energy. Cellulosic ethanol developer Inbicon is a subsidiary of DONG Energy.

In 2014, Maabjerg Energy Center received 39 million euro in funding from the NER300 Program, but two years later,  the consortium put the project on hold “as a consequence of not being able to find a political majority that would support the idea of providing public guarantees for the investment.”  Instead, the consortium was encouraged to find private investors.

“The project was very beneficial to the region, and also very important as part of the politically required green transition,” Udby said. “It felt wrong to just abandon the project, and so we decided to do what we were encouraged and instructed to and split the biorefinery into two parts: A nonprofit part consisting of the two existing plants: The central heating plant and the biogas plant, and a commercial project consisting solely of the future 2G bioethanol plant. This led to contact with investors such as the Private Equity Investor, Pioneer Point Partners. We have had a really good impression of this company, which has a long track record of investing in renewable energy, working on energy, water and environmental projects across Europe. We are very optimistic about the opportunities and possibilities in this cooperation,”

The news is received with great enthusiasm among the mayors in Holstebro and Struer – the home towns of the projected 2G bioethanol plant.

Before making the decision to invest, the regulatory framework for the revitalized project must be settled. Maabjerg Energy Center has resumed negotiations with the Danish Government.

MEC plans to increase biogas production and rebuild the biomass-fuel cogeneration plant. Current plants call for 80 MMly ethanol, 50 million cubic meters of biogas, and electricity and district heat production capable of serving 25,000 households. MEC will process 300,000 tons of straw, 800,000 tons of biomass for biogas and 100,000 tons of waste. The project will create 1,250 jobs during the two-year construction phase and is expected to provide 1,000 permanent jobs once operational.