Poet, world’s largest ethanol producer, joins Navigator CO2’s $3 billion carbon capture pipeline project

Source: By Donnelle Eller, Des Moines Register • Posted: Tuesday, June 7, 2022

Poet, the world’s largest ethanol producer, said Tuesday it’s joining Navigator CO2 Ventures’ $3 billion carbon capture pipeline, one of three developers propose building through Iowa and neighboring states.

Texas-based Navigator said it will transport 5 million metric tons of liquefied carbon dioxide annually from 18 Poet plants in Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota, where the biofuels company’s headquarters are located.

Elizabeth Burns-Thompson, Navigator’s vice president of government and public affairs, said Tuesday the company expects to build the pipeline to Poet’s plants in two phases, with the system fully operational by 2025.

Poet has 12 ethanol plants in Iowa, the state that produces the largest quantity of the biofuel as well as corn, from which it is primarily distilled. About half the state’s corn crop goes to ethanol production.

“We recognize that now is the time to take bold action to preserve our planet for future generations,” Jeff Broin, Poet founder and CEO, said in a statement. “This project is another significant step in utilizing bioprocessing to accelerate our path to net-zero.”

Navigator, Summit Carbon Solutions and Archer Daniels Midland, in partnership with Wolf Carbon Solutions, propose building pipelines across Iowa to capture carbon dioxide from ethanol, fertilizer and other industrial agriculture plants, liquefy it under pressure and transport it to locations where it will be sequestered permanently a mile underground.

Navigator and ADM plan to sequester carbon in Illinois; Ames-based Summit Carbon in North Dakota.

The projects are controversial, with hundreds of Iowa residents filing objections with state regulators, questioning whether the pipelines are needed, are safe and should be allowed to cross valuable farmland.

The companies say the projects will enable ethanol to remain viable as the nation seeks to cut net greenhouse emissions in half by 2030. By federal law, ethanol is blended into most of the nation’s gasoline supply.

With the addition of Poet, Navigator said its 1,300-mile Heartland Greenway pipeline is slated to collect about 10 million metric tons of carbon dioxide annually from 33 plants across Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska, Minnesota and South Dakota.

Navigator’s pipeline will be designed to have the capacity to capture 15 million tons of carbon annually, the equivalent of removing 3.2 million vehicles from the road.

It has proposed to build 900 miles of the pipeline across 36 counties in Iowa and has conducted a series of meetings with residents in the pathway. After making some changes to the route, Navigator will be required to hold additional meetings with residents added to the pipeline’s path, Burns-Thompson said.

Following those meetings, Navigator’s next step will be to file a petition with the Iowa Utilities Board for a permit to build the pipeline. It also will need to request an additional permit for the second phase of the pipeline construction.

Summit Carbon Solutions already has filed a permit request for its planned $4.5 billion, 2,000-mile pipeline across Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Nebraska.

A third company, Wolf Carbon Solutions, proposes building a 350-mile pipeline serving ADM’s ethanol plants in Cedar Rapids and Clinton. ADM has yet to say how much the project would cost or outline its path through Iowa.

Donnelle Eller covers agriculture, the environment and energy for the Register. Reach her at deller@registermedia.com or 515-284-8457.