Goldman Sachs & Co. Invests in Cellulose Ethanol

The buzz this week in the promising but elusive field of cellulosic ethanol, came in the form of a major Wall Street firm acquiring an equity position with a Canadian company hopeful for commercial success.

Goldman Sachs & Co. has invested C$30 million [USD$27 million] with Iogen Corporation. The funds will be used to accelerate Iogen’s commercialization of cellulose ethanol technology. Goldman Sachs’ investment gives it a minority stake in Iogen, the only company to be operating a demonstration facility that converts agriculture materials like straw, corn stalks, and switchgrass to ethanol. “Goldman Sachs is the first major Wall Street firm to make a commitment to cellulose ethanol,” said Brian Foody, Iogen CEO. “Renewable fuels like cellulose ethanol are one of three options President Bush recently highlighted to reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil.” Cellulose ethanol encompasses a range of technologies that allow a wide variety of biomass resources and waste streams to be converted into ethanol. Currently, corn is the more economical approach in the U.S. Successful commercialization of cellulose ethanol production would allow an expansion of U.S. domestic alternative fuel supply due to a substantial, and previously untapped, existing biomass resource. A joint study by the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Energy (USDA and DOE) has concluded that the land resources of the U.S. could produce a sustainable supply of biomass sufficient to displace 30% (60 billion gallons of renewable fuel per year) of the country’s present petroleum consumption.