Green Plains to break ground on clean sugar project in August

By Erin Voegele | August 02, 2022

Green Plains Inc. operated its facilities at 97 percent capacity during the second quarter of 2022 and expects to break ground on its first commercial-scale clean sugar facility this month, according to comments made by President and CEO Todd Becker during the company’s second quarter earnings call, held Aug. 2.

“Years of planning on our modernization and optimization plan have enabled us to run at 97 percent of operating capacity in the quarter, the highest since Q4 of 2013,” Becker said, stressing the company believes it can push that utilization rate higher as it continues to optimize its plants. Green Plains’ facilities operated at approximately 80 percent capacity during the second quarter of 2021.

Consolidated ethanol crush margin was $65.3 million, or 28 cents per gallon, for the second quarter of 2022, compared to $70.2 million, or 37 cents per gallon, reported for the same period of last year. Green Plains currently expects the consolidated crush margin to be in the mid-teens per gallon during the third quarter, with stronger margins projected for the final quarter of the year. Continued strong corn oil pricing and the startup of additional MSC systems are expected to support those projected margin levels for the remainder of the year.

Green Plains sold 231.413 million gallons of ethanol during the third quarter, up 21.2 percent when compared to the same period of last year. Distillers grains sales reached 593,000 tons, up 20 percent. Corn oil sales were at 72.232 million pounds, up 31.6 precent. Becker noted that the company achieved 1.3 pounds per bushel of oil yield in June.

Green Plains is seeking strong interest for its 50 percent and 60 percent protein products from Latin America and Southeast Asia, as well as domestically and in other locations worldwide, according to Becker. Production of those high-protein products is expected to ramp up over the next year as Green Plains brings several MSC systems online.

Becker said the MSC system at the company’s ethanol plant in Central City, Nebraska, is currently undergoing commissioning and startup activities. Commissioning on the MSC systems at the facilities in Mount Vernon, Indiana, and Obion facility in Rives, Tennessee, is expected to begin in late August and early October, respectively. “Construction on these projects is nearing completion,” Becker said.

Engineering is underway on the MSC project planned for Superior, Iowa, with groundbreaking currently scheduled for November. The facility in Madison, Illinois, will be the next to add MSC technology, with that project expected to break ground in early 2023. Becker also noted that Green Plains has made some progress with permitting in Minnesota, which may lead to MSC systems being added to those plants earlier than initially expected.

Construction is also underway on the MSC turnkey joint venture (JV) at Tharaldson Ethanol’s facility in Casselton, North Dakota, with commissioning of that project expected to begin in mid-2023, Becker added.  

Green Plains is expected to break ground on its first commercial-scale clean sugar facility in August. That project, located in Shenandoah, Iowa, is currently on track for startup in 2023, according to Becker. Once operational, the facility will produce multiple grades of dextrose and glucose for food and industrial applications.

Green Plains reported second quarter net income of $46.4 million, or 73 cents per diluted share, compared to $9.7 million, or 20 cents per diluted share, during the same period of last year. EBITDA was $84.4 million, inclusive of a USDA COVID-19 relief payment of $27.7 million, compared to $50.9 million during the same period of 2021.