U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu today announced the offer of a conditional commitment for a $105 million loan guarantee to support the development of the nation's first commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol plant. Project LIBERTY, sponsored by POET, LLC, will produce up to 25 million gallons of ethanol per year and will be located in Emmetsburg, Iowa. POET estimates the project will generate approximately 200 jobs during construction and 40 permanent jobs at the plant. POET estimates the project will also bring approximately $14 million in new revenue to area farmers.
"This project will help decrease our dependence on oil, create jobs and aid our transition to clean, renewable energy that is produced here at home," said Secretary Chu. "The innovations used in this project are another example of how we are seizing the opportunity to create new economic opportunities to win the clean energy future."
POET CEO Jeff Broin said he's excited POET is about to achieve its goal of bringing new renewable fuel technology to commercial scale.
"Financing has been one of the biggest challenges to scaling up cellulosic ethanol and the offer for a conditional commitment for a loan guarantee from DOE's Loan Programs Office brings us one step closer to commercial production," Broin said. "We are pleased DOE has offered to support the development of cellulosic ethanol."
"Cellulosic ethanol holds tremendous promise for America," Broin continued. "There is more than one billion tons of biomass available each year that could be used to make enough cellulosic ethanol to completely displace oil imports. Today's announcement brings us closer to making that promise into a reality."
Unlike many conventional corn ethanol plants, Project LIBERTY will use corncobs, leaves and husks – sources provided by local farmers – that do not compete with feed grains. The project's innovative process uses enzymatic hydrolysis to convert waste into ethanol and will produce enough biogas to power both Project LIBERTY and POET's adjacent grain-based ethanol plant. Project LIBERTY will displace over 13.5 million gallons of gasoline annually and fulfill more than 25 percent of the projected 2013 Renewable Fuel Standard Requirement for biomass-based cellulosic ethanol. POET plans to replicate their unique process at 27 of their other corn ethanol facilities, which would have a projected combined annual capacity of one billion gallons per year of cellulosic ethanol. The company estimates that 85 percent of Project LIBERTY will be sourced with U.S. content.