Rural America Will Provide Energy Solutions

Joanna Schroeder

There are advanced biofuels on the horizon and one such fuel will be algae fuels produced from the waste streams of a first generation corn-ethanol plant. In the future, many believe that more co-located biofuel refineries are on the way and the model will be the Green Plains Renewable Energy (GPRE) / BioProcess Algae plants. BioProcess Algae is in the final stages to commercialization and last week dedicated its Grower Harvester bioreactors and announced plans for its algae farm. On hand for the event was USDA Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack, who gave the keynote speech during the event.

Vilsack stressed several key issues and one was the need to revitalize rural America and create innovative and creative jobs to bring our bright, young people back home. Today, 16 percent of our country’s population comes from rural areas like Shenandoah, Iowa, the home of the biofuels project, and 44 percent of our military comes from these areas.

“I am a great believer in American ingenuity,” began Vilsack. “I’m a great believer in the capacity of the American farmer and rancher to literally meet any challenge.”

Vilsack believes that projects such as BioProcess Algae will spread across the country and rural communities. “There’s phenomenal innovation and phenomenal growth opportunities to be able to do something for your country that needs to be done and that’s to wean ourselves off of our dependence on foreign oil,” continued Vilsack. “It’s an opportunity for us to create jobs in small towns. It’s an opportunity for American agriculture to continue to respond to the challenges it has met time after time in the country.”

Vilsack highlighted that rural America is the source for our food, most of our water and an ever increasing amount of our fuel. The algae component of the biofuels project uses carbon dioxide, waste heat and waste water from the corn ethanol plant, recycling nutrients and resources in a more efficient way. Both the corn ethanol process and soon the algae fuel process will provide food, feed and fiber.

There are four components that Vilsack believes are the secret for success in revitalizing the rural economy: significant investment dollars, innovation, networking, and a sense of place. Vilsack said these are the reasons why the USDA was supporting this project.

He concluded, “I want to congratulate the folks at BioProcess Algae and I want to congratulate the ethanol industry and the advanced biofuels industry for coming together in this operation because it’s a model for the rest of the country and it sends a strong unmistakable message the ethanol industry and the biofuels industry is here to stay and is going to play an important role in shaping not just opportunity for America but very specifically a wonderful opportunity, an unlimited opportunity for the bright young people who want to live, and work and raise their family in the greatest part of America.”

Click here to view the Flickr photo album from the BioProcess Algae/GPRE Grower Harvester event.

advanced biofuels, algae, biofuels, corn, Ethanol, Video