Construction starts at Ineos Bio JV's commercial cellulosic plant

By Luke Geiver | February 09, 2011

Ineos Bio JV got the gold shovels out Feb. 9 and broke ground at the future home of a first-of-its kind facility that will produce 8 MMgy of cellulosic ethanol and six megawatts of electricity. The Indian River BioEnergy Center will put Ineos-based technology that uses a gasification fermentation approach to work after construction is complete some time in 2012, turning local yard, vegetative and other household wastes sourced from a landfill visible from the site. The unique facility is also the first of four biorefinery projects that were funded with $50 million from the U.S. DOE in 2009 to begin construction at a commercial scale.

The groundbreaking ceremony included several members of the Ineos team, government officials, investors in the project, and other prominent members of the community, totaling well over 200 people. David King, the joint venture director between Ineos and New Plant Energy, led the ceremonies and read personal letters from Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., the U.S. DOE Secretary Steven Chu and other government officials from Florida who were not in attendance.

Tex Carter from New Planet Energy followed King after his opening statements telling the crowd sitting under the shade of a large white tent that “today we are actually starting a major move into converting something that nobody wants into something everybody needs.” Following his opening remarks, Carter proceeded to point out the important groups involved in the project and ended his sentiments by stating that the project also effects those that use electricity or motor fuel. “The emphasis here is that we are trying to build a new vista for the people that are buying motor fuel and who are buying electricity by taking the stuff that no one wants and converting it,” adding that, “if you are a taxpayer, you are invested in this project.”

Once a former grapefruit processing plant, and now a massive site still featuring some of the structures from the old plant, the BioEnergy Center will create roughly 380 direct or indirect jobs through the process of construction and eventual operation. With the sun at his back, Peter O’Bryan, Indian River county commissioner told the crowd that “I think it’s fitting that we are here on such a brilliant day to groundbreak the beginning of a bright future for bioenergy in Indian River County.” Florida Department of Agriculture deputy commissioner Jay Levenstein, described past efforts similar to Ineos Bio that were unsuccessful and told the crowd he was proud to be a part of this facility’s success.

“Welcome to the future,” said Richard Mechak, Florida’s state director for the USDA’s rural development program, to open his remarks from the podium. “You should turn around and shake each other’s hands and let each other know that you are here for the new beginning of the state of Florida and across the nation.”


Note: This story first appeared in Biorefining magazine.