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Advanced biorefinery projects in USA get US$564m

The US Department of Energy (DoE) has selected 19 integrated biorefinery projects to receive up to US$564 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to accelerate the construction and operation of pilot, demonstration, and commercial scale facilities for bioenergy.

The bioenergy projects spread across 15 states, will validate refining technologies and help lay the foundation for full commercial-scale development of a biomass industry in the United States.

The biorefinery projects will produce advanced biofuels, biopower, and bioproducts using biomass feedstocks at the pilot, demonstration, and full commercial scale, DoE says.

“Advanced biofuels are critical to building a cleaner, more sustainable transportation system in the US,” says Energy Secretary Steven Chu. “These projects will help establish a domestic industry that will create jobs here at home and open new markets across rural America.”

Agriculture Secretary Vilsack notes that USDA Rural Development has selected San Diego, California based Sapphire Energy to receive a loan guarantee for up to US$54.5m through the Biorefinery Assistance Program to demonstrate an integrated algal biorefinery process that will cultivate algae in ponds, and use dewatering and oil extraction technology to produce an intermediate that will then be processed into drop-in biofuels such as jet fuel and diesel. The actual project will be constructed in Columbus, New Mexico.

“The development of renewable energy is a critical component of our efforts to rebuild and revitalize rural America,” said Secretary Vilsack. “This Farm Bill program is instrumental in increasing our energy independence and expanding new technologies and markets for agricultural and environmental waste material.”

Of the nearly US$564m in Recovery Act funding, up to US$483m will go to 14 pilot-scale and four demonstration-scale biorefinery projects across the country. The remaining US$81m will focus on accelerating the construction of a biorefinery project previously awarded funding.

Collectively, the bioenergy projects will be matched with more than US$700m in private and non-Federal cost-share funds, for total project investments of almost US$1.3 billion, DoE says.

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