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Sweet Sugar Ethanol Coming Stateside

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The American ethanol industry, the world’s largest, is about to get a little sweeter. Louisiana Green Fuels (LGF), an international investment group, says it is on schedule to open up the first commercial sucrose-to-ethanol plant in America. LGF, which is 80 percent owned by Inverandino, a Colombian business group, tells Earth2Tech it plans to have four ethanol plants and three sugar mills in operation in Louisiana in the next 10 years pumping out 100 million gallons of sugar-based ethanol a year. (Hat tip Miami Herald, via Green Car Congress)

In the wake of hurricanes Katrina and Rita, LGF has been buying up shuttered sugar mills and dormant equipment in the devastated Gulf region, and now owns three mills in Louisiana. Prices were probably pretty good for those hurricane-ravaged mills and LGF says that a sucrose-based ethanol industry could help revitalize the area.

Louisiana seems to agree, and has done lots to help LGF. The state sold the company one of its mills in September 2007 and just last month issued $133 million in industrial development revenue bonds via the Louisiana Public Facilities Authority, $100 million of which is tax-exempt.

The initial funding for the projects came from the Santacoloma family of Colombia, which controls Inverandino. The company has not disclosed how much it plans to invest in the projects, but it was reported it paid $60 million for the state-owned mill in Lacassine, La.

LGF, which is 20 percent owned by the sugarcane farmers of the Lake Charles Cane Cooperative, says it plans to buy as much sugarcane and sweet sorghum locally but will import high-test molasses, refined sugar and common molasses, likely from the Caribbean, as needed.

This is a good experiment for the American ethanol industry, which has come under heavy fire for using so much corn for fuel. Sugar can give an eightfold return on the fossil energy used to make it while corn only yields 1.3 times the fossil energy used. Count sugar in as a potential major player in U.S. biofuels market. Who thinks America will see a commercial-scale cellulosic or sugar ethanol plant here first?

11 Responses to “Sweet Sugar Ethanol Coming Stateside”

  1. william celeita

    quiero trabajar con louisiana green fuels
    soy electricista de maquinaria pesada conosco las cosechadoras john deere 3510 muy bien estudie en thibodaux louisiana en la john deere

  2. Brian J. Donovan

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

    For More Information Contact:
    Brian J. Donovan
    Renergie, Inc.
    Direct Tel: (352)328-7469
    E-mail: [email protected]

    Louisiana Enacts the Most Comprehensive Advanced Biofuel Legislation in the Nation

    Advanced Biofuel Industry Development Initiative Benefits Consumers, Farmers and Gas Station Owners with Localized “Field-to-Pump” Strategy

    Baton Rouge, LA (September 8, 2008) – Governor Bobby Jindal has signed into law the Advanced Biofuel Industry Development Initiative, the most comprehensive and far-reaching state legislation in the nation enacted to develop a statewide advanced biofuel industry. Louisiana is the first state to enact alternative transportation fuel legislation that includes a variable blending pump pilot program and a hydrous ethanol pilot program.

    Field-to-Pump Strategy
    The legislature found that the proper development of an advanced biofuel industry in Louisiana requires implementation of the following comprehensive “field-to-pump” strategy developed by Renergie, Inc.:

    (1) Feedstock Other Than Corn
    (a) derived solely from Louisiana harvested crops;
    (b) capable of an annual yield of at least 600 gallons of ethanol per acre;
    (c) requiring no more than one-half of the water required to grow corn;
    (d) tolerant to high temperature and waterlogging;
    (e) resistant to drought and saline-alkaline soils;
    (f) capable of being grown in marginal soils, ranging from heavy clay to light sand;
    (g) requiring no more than one-third of the nitrogen required to grow corn, thereby reducing the risk of contamination of the waters of the state; and
    (h) requiring no more than one-half of the energy necessary to convert corn into ethanol.

    (2) Decentralized Network of Small Advanced Biofuel Manufacturing Facilities
    Smaller is better. The distributed nature of a small advanced biofuel manufacturing facility network reduces feedstock supply risk, does not burden local water supplies and provides for broader based economic development. Each advanced biofuel manufacturing facility operating in Louisiana will produce no less than 5 million gallons of advanced biofuel per year and no more than 15 million gallons of advanced biofuel per year.

    (3) Market Expansion
    Advanced biofuel supply and demand shall be expanded beyond the 10% blend market by blending fuel-grade anhydrous ethanol with gasoline at the gas station pump. Variable blending pumps, directly installed and operated at local gas stations by a qualified small advanced biofuel manufacturing facility, shall offer the consumer a less expensive substitute for unleaded gasoline in the form of E10, E20, E30 and E85.

    Pilot Programs
    (1) Advanced Biofuel Variable Blending Pumps – The blending of fuels with advanced biofuel percentages between 10 percent and 85 percent will be permitted on a trial basis until January 1, 2012. During this period the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry Division of Weights & Measures will monitor the equipment used to dispense the ethanol blends to ascertain that the equipment is suitable and capable of producing an accurate measurement.

    (2) Hydrous Ethanol – The use of hydrous ethanol blends of E10, E20, E30 and E85 in motor vehicles specifically selected for test purposes will be permitted on a trial basis until January 1, 2012. During this period the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry Division of Weights & Measures will monitor the performance of the motor vehicles. The hydrous blends will be tested for blend optimization with respect to fuel consumption and engine emissions. Preliminary tests conducted in Europe have proven that the use of hydrous ethanol, which eliminates the need for the hydrous-to-anhydrous dehydration processing step, results in an energy savings of between ten percent and forty-five percent during processing, a four percent product volume increase, higher mileage per gallon, a cleaner engine interior, and a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

    Act No. 382, entitled “The Advanced Biofuel Industry Development Initiative,” was co-authored by 27 members of the Legislature. The original bill was drafted by Renergie, Inc. Representative Jonathan W. Perry (R – District 47), with the support of Senator Nick Gautreaux (D – District 26), was the primary author of the bill. Reflecting on the signing of Act No. 382 into law, Brian J. Donovan, CEO of Renergie, Inc. said, “I am pleased that the legislature and governor of the great State of Louisiana have chosen to lead the nation in moving ethanol beyond being just a blending component in gasoline to a fuel that is more economical, cleaner, renewable, and more efficient than unleaded gasoline. The two pilot programs, providing for an advanced biofuel variable blending pump trial and a hydrous ethanol trial, established by the State of Louisiana should be adopted by each and every state in our country.”

    State Agencies Must Purchase or Lease Vehicles That Use Alternative Fuels
    Louisiana’s Advanced Biofuel Industry Development Initiative further states, “The commissioner of administration shall not purchase or lease any motor vehicle for use by any state agency unless that vehicle is capable of and equipped for using an alternative fuel that results in lower emissions of oxides of nitrogen, volatile organic compounds, carbon monoxide, or particulates or any combination thereof that meet or exceed federal Clean Air Act standards.”

    Advanced Biofuel Price Preference for State Agencies
    Louisiana’s Advanced Biofuel Industry Development Initiative provides that a governmental body, state educational institution, or instrumentality of the state that performs essential governmental functions on a statewide or local basis is entitled to purchase E20, E30 or E85 advanced biofuel at a price equal to fifteen percent (15%) less per gallon than the price of unleaded gasoline for use in any motor vehicle.

    Economic Benefits
    The development of an advanced biofuel industry will help rebuild the local and regional economies devastated as a result of hurricanes Katrina and Rita by providing:
    (1) increased value to the feedstock crops which will benefit local farmers and provide more revenue to the local community;
    (2) increased investments in plants and equipment which will stimulate the local economy by providing construction jobs initially and the chance for full-time employment after the plant is completed;
    (3) secondary employment as associated industries develop due to plant co-products becoming available at a competitive price; and
    (4) increased local and state revenues collected from plant operations will stimulate local and state tax revenues and provide funds for improvements to the community and to the region.

    “Representative Perry and Senator Gautreaux have worked tirelessly to craft comprehensive advanced biofuel legislation which will maximize rural development, benefit consumers, farmers and gas station owners while also protecting the environment and reducing the burden on local water supplies,” said Donovan. “Representative Perry, Senator Gautreaux, and Dr. Strain, Commissioner of the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry, should be praised for their leadership on this issue.”

    About Renergie
    Renergie was formed on March 22, 2006 for the purpose of raising capital to develop, construct, own and operate a network of ten ethanol plants in the parishes of the State of Louisiana which were devastated by hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Each ethanol plant will have a production capacity of five million gallons per year (5 MGY) of fuel-grade ethanol. Renergie’s “field-to-pump” strategy is to produce non-corn ethanol locally and directly market non-corn ethanol locally. On February 26, 2008, Renergie was one of 8 recipients, selected from 139 grant applicants, to share $12.5 million from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Renewable Energy Technologies Grants Program. Renergie received $1,500,483 (partial funding) in grant money to design and build Florida’s first ethanol plant capable of producing fuel-grade ethanol solely from sweet sorghum juice. On April 2, 2008, Enterprise Florida, Inc., the state’s economic development organization, selected Renergie as one of Florida’s most innovative technology companies in the alternative energy sector. By blending fuel-grade ethanol with gasoline at the gas station pump, Renergie will offer the consumer a fuel that is more economical, cleaner, renewable, and more efficient than unleaded gasoline. Moreover, the Renergie project will mark the first time that Louisiana farmers will share in the profits realized from the sale of value-added products made from their crops.

  3. DORA HERNANDEZ

    COMO COLOMBIANA ME GUSTARIA SABER MAS DE USTEDES, PUES ES UN ORGULLO VER A MIS PAISANOS HACIENDO EMPRESA AQUI EN LOS ESTADOS UNIDOS, Y SABER COMO VA A SER LA GENERACION DE EMPLEO Y SI LOS COLOMBIANOS PODEMOS CLASIFICAR PARA TRABAJAR CON USTEDES, GRACIAS Y A TRABAJAR CON VERRAQUERA.

  4. There is a new cain of businnes in the world, principaly for the sweet sorghoum, the Indian people has a big experience in this crop and we need some leader in America about this crop

    Please continue growing, we need to use this cain of products to diversify the ethanol crops producers

    Regards

  5. eideard

    Plus – the northern tier states already growing sugar beets [a la northern Europe] are sitting on surpluses they can’t think of anything productive to do with.

    And – bagasse leftover from sugar/molasses production in Louisiana can also be used for cellulosic production.

  6. It’s amazing that it took so long for someone to seize this opportunity in the southeast US. Brazil has been running the majority of its cars on ethanol from sugar for decades. The Gulf Coast region is suitable for growing sugar, and post Katrina, this will be a big boost to the local economy.