DOE celebrates new ethanol plant

Source: By Timothy Cama, The Hill • Posted: Monday, October 20, 2014

Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz traveled to Kansas Friday to open a new ethanol plant that uses non-edible feedstock.

Moniz promoted the plant and its cellulosic ethanol technology as a key step toward the Obama administration’s goal to reduce carbon emissions in energy production and use.

The plant, developed by Spain-based energy firm Abengoa, relied partially on Department of Energy loans for construction.“Every gallon of cellulosic ethanol produced and used to fuel our vehicles reduces the impact of harmful greenhouse gas emissions by greater than 60 percent as compared to conventional gasoline,” Moniz said in a statement.

“As part of the administration’s all-of-the-above approach to homegrown American energy, the production of cellulosic ethanol creates economic opportunities for rural communities, helps diversify our energy portfolio, and moves us closer to a low-carbon energy future,” he said.

Cellulosic ethanol is considered a second-generation biofuel and uses non-edible feedstock, such as corn stalks, stems or leaves. Some environmentalists have criticized traditional ethanol because it results in carbon emissions higher than gasoline production and use.

When the Abengoa plant in Hugoton, Kan., is running at full capacity, it will produce 25 million gallons of fuel a year, avoiding 132,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide, equivalent to 28,000 cars’ emissions in one year, Energy said.

It is the third commercial-scale cellulosic biofuel plant to open in the United States.

The plant received a $132 million loan from the Energy Department in 2011, and previously received a $97 million cost-sharing grant.