Rising through Partnership: Summit Carbon Solutions

Summit Carbon Solutions announced a plan to build the world’s largest carbon capture pipeline last year. The project will connect ethanol biorefineries across five states in the Upper Midwest—Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota.
By Summit Agricultural Group | March 14, 2022

As the sun rises over Kelly Nieuwenhuis’ farmland, a gold glow radiates off his 2,800 acres of row crops. Nieuwenhuis and his brothers have been farming in O’Brien County Iowa for 39 years. “There is something peaceful about being out in the field harvesting corn knowing that you’re feeding and fueling America,” explains Nieuwenhuis.

However, for the past several years, he, like other farmers across the Midwest, have faced uncertainty when it comes to the corn and ethanol industries. When Nieuwenhuis heard about Summit Carbon Solutions’ proposed carbon capture pipeline, his uncertainty faded and was replaced with hope. “It is critical that we embrace this project and the substantial boost it will provide to ethanol and corn growers here in Iowa and across the country. Doing so will help ensure future generations of farmers are able to be successful and prosperous,” he says.

Summit Carbon Solutions announced its plan to build the world’s largest carbon capture pipeline last year. The project will connect ethanol biorefineries across five states in the Upper Midwest—Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota. The proposed project will capture carbon dioxide emissions from ethanol plants, compress it, and transport it to North Dakota to be permanently and safely stored more than a mile underground.

By capturing and permanently storing carbon dioxide emissions from partner ethanol biorefineries, Summit Carbon Solutions will cut the carbon footprint of the pipeline participants’ ethanol in half, which will ensure the environmental and economic sustainability of the facilities for the long term by opening new markets and improving profitability.

“This project will be transformational for the ethanol industry and, by extension, the agriculture industry. Farmers and landowners in Iowa understand that ethanol production consumes over 50% of our corn crop every year, which is a big reason why we’ve had early success signing hundreds of pipeline easements with farmers who have a vested interest in our success,” says Bruce Rastetter, CEO of Summit Agricultural Group.

Summit recently filed applications for permits in Iowa and South Dakota and will continue its permit application process with other states and jurisdictions in the coming months.

“We’re pleased to have begun the permitting process for Summit Carbon Solutions, which keeps us on schedule to be operational in the first half of 2024,” says Rastetter. “Our team knows the challenges many farmers and landowners face daily. We are working with the agriculture community to create a long-term beneficial partnership.”

The ethanol industry plays a critical role across the United States. It supports 360,000 jobs, contributes more than $45 billion to annual U.S. GDP, utilizes approximately 40% of corn produced in the U.S., and provides a $14 billion boost to grain markets.

“Summit Carbon Solutions’ project will benefit farmers across the state by maintaining a strong corn market while supporting ethanol producers. The project will also provide tax revenue for the counties along the route and help the environment,” says Walt Wendland, CEO of Ringneck Energy, one of Summit Carbon Solutions’ ethanol plant partners in South Dakota.

Thirty-two facilities are signed on to the project; by participating, ethanol producers will be poised to offer a net-zero fuel by 2030. The project will allow these plants to access new and emerging markets that have adopted low carbon fuel standards.

“Siouxland Energy is proud to be part of a project that is transforming the ethanol industry. The Summit Carbon Solutions’ project is necessary to strengthen the future of the agriculture industry. Without a reliable, competitive ethanol industry, corn prices will plummet,” explains Jeff Altena, operations director at Siouxland Energy.

Once completed, the project will have the capacity to capture and permanently store up to 12 million tons of carbon dioxide every year. Summit aims to have the project completed and operational by 2024.