EPA approves SIRE’s D6 RIN pathway

By Matt Thompson | January 08, 2020

Southwest Iowa Renewable Energy in Council Bluffs, Iowa, has received approval for a pathway for D6 renewable identification numbers (RINs) generated from non-grandfathered ethanol. The U.S. EPA approved SIRE’s pathway in late November last year.

According to Eric Dreessen, plant engineer at SIRE, the plant uses steam from a nearby power plant in its ethanol production process. The application was necessary as SIRE “didn’t really fit into any of the predetermined pathways with the EPA when we started our process,” due to its use of steam generated at MidAmerican, the coal-fired power plant.

SIRE’s use of steam mirrors that of Dakota Spirit in Spiritwood, North Dakota. Dreessen said EPA used data from that plant in its analysis of SIRE’s pathway. “They recalculated the emissions for our steam based on a little bit more so how Dakota Spirit did their pathway,” Dreessen said. EPA approved SIREs pathway in November of 2019.

“EPA previously evaluated a dry mill ethanol plant called Dakota Spirit that also imports steam from a nearby coal-fired power plant,” EPA said in SIRE’s pathway approval. “[EPA] applied the same work potential methodology in our analysis of the SIRE Council Bluffs Process, the only difference being the evaluation of different process efficiencies.” Its analysis, EPA said, determined that SIRE benefits from at least a 20 percent reduction in GHG emissions, as compared to the baseline lifecycle GHG emissions. This is a requirement to produce ethanol above the grandfathered amounts under the Renewable Fuels Standard.

When the current iteration of the RFS was established, it grandfathered in the production volume of existing corn ethanol plants. New production beyond the grandfathered amount requires a 20 percent greenhouse gas reduction compared with the gasoline baseline.

And Dreessen says his predictions are in line with EPA on the GHG reductions. “Based on some of the numbers that I’ve been doing as of late, those numbers are pretty well in line with what I had predicted as well,” Dreessen said.

SIRE is a 130 MMgy plant facility.