Ineos first to close USDA loan guarantee for cellulosic ethanol

By Kris Bevill | August 18, 2011

Shortly after a visit to the facility by Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, the USDA and Ineos Bio announced that Ineos New Planet BioEnergy LLC’s $75 million federal loan guarantee application has been finalized. The final approval comes approximately seven months after the USDA announced a conditional commitment to Ineos in order to assist in the commercialization of its cellulosic ethanol process. At that time, the USDA also issued a conditional commitment to provide Enerkem Corp. with a $50 million loan guarantee and provided a letter of intent for a $250 million guarantee to Coskata Inc. Ineos is the first of three to close the deal.

“We want to commend the USDA on its partnership with us in advancing this bioenergy technology and making it commercially available,” Peter Williams, Ineos Bio CEO and chairman of Ineos New Planet BioEnergy, said. “The Vero Beach BioEnergy Center is the first of its kind in the world and provides a template for a technology that can make a real contribution to energy independence and job creation, while also reducing greenhouse gas emissions and diverting wastes from landfill and lower value users.”

The 8 MMgy Indian River BioEnergy Center will be located in the center part of Florida’s east coast, near Vero Beach, Fla., and will utilize vegetative waste and municipal solid waste to produce 6 megawatts of power annually in addition to cellulosic ethanol using a combination of gasification and fermentation technologies. The plant will be used to demonstrate the economic conversion of various feedstocks using Ineos’s technology, according to the company, including locally available citrus trees that have been lost to disease or otherwise destroyed. Construction of the facility is about 20 percent complete, according to Ineos Bio Vice President Dan Cummings, and is expected to be operational by the end of next April. The construction of the facility and related activities are expected to provide 380 direct and indirect jobs over the next 12 months and will supply 50 full-time jobs when the center becomes operational. Ineos said some of the jobs created through the construction and operation of the facility will go to skilled workers who were recently laid off from the nearby NASA Space Center’s recently concluded Shuttle Program.

Vilsack said the Ineos project represents the Obama administration’s goal of out-competing the rest of the world in terms of biofuels. “This cutting-edge facility in Florida, and others like it across America, represents the kind of innovation we need to continue to build a competitively priced, American-made, homegrown biofuels industry that helps to break down our dependence on foreign oil and moves our nation toward a clean energy economy,” he said in a statement.

In the future, Ineos plans to license its technology to other producers in the U.S. and other countries.