Construction on what is expected to be the nation’s first commercial cellulosic ethanol plant in southeast Georgia is making good progress, according to plant officials.
“We expect to be producing ethanol next year,” Schafer said of the plant that will use woody biomass as a primary feedstock.
Schafer says they have been experiencing many of the usual construction-related delays with the project. “Everything costs more and takes longer than you thought it would,” he said. “It’s nothing exceptional, it’s the things you would expect. But anything that constitutes a delay is a real disappointment for us because we really want to get this up and going as quickly as we can.” Range Fuels received a grant from the Department of Energy for the project, as well as private financing.
In addition to using woody biomass as a feedstock, they are experimenting with energy crops that can be grown in the region. “We have test plots we have established with Ceres on our Soperton site,” he said. “We intend for the site to be a showcase for some of the technologies we see in the future feeding this industry.”
Schafer noted that the restrictions on woody biomass that can be harvested from federal lands that are included in the energy bill passed by Congress last year concern them when it comes to the development of cellulosic ethanol. They support legislation proposed by Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D-SD) that would broaden the definition of cellulosic ethanol within the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) to include more biomass gathered from federal lands.
Listen to an interview with Schafer from the ACE conference here: