DuPont picks Iowa for (cellulosic) ethanol plant

(article BY DAN PILLER • DPILLER@DMREG.COM • DesMoines Register Newspaper, see full article at http://www.desmoinesregister.com/article/20110113/BUSINESS/101130339/-1/PRINCIPALGOLF/DuPont-picks-Iowa-over-Nebraska-for-ethanol-plant)

Iowa beat out Nebraska last Wednesday for an ethanol plant to be built by DuPont in either Story County or Webster County that would use corncobs, leaves and stalks as feedstock rather than corn.

The plant will join a proposed Poet facility at Emmetsburg as Iowa’s two next-generation refineries, to go along with 40 corn-fed ethanol plants in Iowa, the nation’s largest ethanol producer.

The Iowa Power Fund board approved a $9 million grant – $10 million less than DuPont’s original request, for the facility that DuPont and partner Danisco hope to have in service by 2013.

“We had an attractive offer from Nebraska,” said Jennifer Allison Hutchins, spokeswoman for the DuPont/Danisco partnership. “But Iowa’s offer was good as well, and we felt that Iowa offered a better source of feedstock and rail availability.”

The plant will employ about 60 people when operational, Hutchins said.

DuPont, which also owns Pioneer Hi-Bred seed company of Johnston, hasn’t specified where the plant will be built….

Roya Stanley, director of the Iowa Office of Energy Independence, which administers the (Iowa Power) fund, noted the contrast with the $14.25 million grant given Poet for the Emmetsburg plant.

“Poet will share licensing fees for other plants with the state,” Stanley said.

The Poet and DuPont plants are considered Iowa’s bid to remain in the ethanol game when the biofuel moves beyond its first-generation stage of corn-fed production.

The federal government has decreed that half of the 36 billion gallons of biofuels to be produced by the next decade come from cellulosic sources, which includes not only corn residue but also grasses such as switchgrass and miscanthus.

Our Take:
Attention Gov. Dayton and the Republican leaders of the Minnesota Legislature–Minnesota needs a power fund if it hopes to stay in the ethanol game. Sixty new high paying jobs and millions of economic activity for many years to come in exchange for a nine million dollar investment.

Cellulosic ethanol is not just where RFS is requiring the next half of the nation’s 36 billion gallons of renewable fuel to come from by 2022–it also represents the future for grain ethanol plants. It is likely that the successful corn-ethanol plant of the future will have side-by-side processing of both starch and cellulose into energy. To have both capabilities will give Midwestern ethanol companies a decided edge in the competition with new next generation cellulose plants being planned in places like Tennessee, Georgia and Florida.

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