Senior DOE official visits Novozyme's biofuels enzyme plant

By Holly Jessen | February 14, 2012

A dedicated biofuels enzyme plant under construction in Blair, Neb., was visited by U.S. DOE Senior Advisor Peter Gage on Feb. 10. The Novozymes facility, which is expected to be complete midyear, will manufacture enzymes for first generation ethanol, such as corn and wheat ethanol, as well as second generation ethanol, for cellulosic feedstocks such as waste paper and cardboard, wood chips and corn stover.

Gage met with Adam Monroe, president of Novozymes North America, and later toured Metropolitan Community College’s Washington County Technology Center with Monroe and Bill Owen, associate vice president of the college. Gage made a point of highlighting the president’s efforts to extend the Advanced Energy Manufacturing Tax Credit. “As part of his blueprint for an American economy built to last, President Barack Obama called for an all-out, all-of-the-above energy strategy that’s cleaner, safer, full of new jobs and develops every available source of American energy,” said Gage. “Extending the Advanced Energy Manufacturing Tax Credit will encourage further investment in clean energy manufacturing here in Nebraska and across the nation, ensuring new windmills, solar panels and biofuel products are produced and assembled by American workers.”

Novozymes was awarded a tax credit of $28.4 million for the project in Blair. The company broke ground on the enzyme facility in March 2009. It is expected to create about 400 construction jobs as well as 100 enzyme plant jobs including chemical and electrical engineers, information technology specialists and equipment operators. “Renewable energy is real. Novozymes is proud of our successful investment in manufacturing here in Nebraska, helping to diversify our nation’s energy portfolio,” Monroe said. “We are creating jobs here in Blair and more economic opportunity to our farmers and rural communities.”

The enzyme facility is being built on 30 areas of land at the Cargill Inc.-owned Biorefinery Campus in Blair, 25 miles north of Omaha. Also located at the campus are a 195 MMgy Cargill ethanol plant and Natureworks LLC, a biopolymers company, according to information from Evonik, another tenant at the campus and producer of a specialized form of lysine.

Just a few days after Gage visited the Blair facility, Novozymes applauded Obama for including renewable energy programs in his fiscal year 2013 budget request. “Even as he focuses on debt reduction, we appreciate the president’s targeted commitments to jobs and economic growth through renewable energy,” Monroe said. “We look forward to working with the President and ensuring we have policies in place, like the Renewable Fuels Standard and a strong Farm Bill, to meet his goal.”

Novozymes pointed to three specific points in the budget request:

* $6.3 billion to the DOE for clean energy research development, demonstration, and deployment activities.

* $550 million for the Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy.

* $6.5 billion for the USDA work in the area of renewable and clean energy projects.