Massachusetts, United States [RenewableEnergyWorld.com] Verenium Corporation announced plans to build its first commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol facility in Highlands County, Florida. The company has entered into long-term agreements with Lykes Bros. Inc., a multi-generation Florida agri-business to provide the agricultural biomass for conversion to fuel. Verenium also announced that the Highlands Ethanol project has been awarded a US $7 million grant as part of Florida’s “Farm to Fuel” initiative.Verenium’s planned commercial facility will be the first in the State of Florida to use next-generation cellulosic ethanol technology to convert renewable grasses to fuel, rather than processing food crops. The plant will be constructed on fallow land, and is expected to produce up to 36 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol per year and provide the region with 140 full-time jobs, once commercial operations begin.
The comany anticipates breaking ground on the facility in the second half of this year, and said that it expects to start producing fuel in 2011. Additional jobs will be created during the 18-to-24 months of construction on the plant, which is estimated to cost between US $250 and US $300 million to build.
“This plant, the first of many we anticipate building in the years ahead, will help fulfill the U.S. government’s mandate for advanced, sustainable biofuels to meet America’s energy needs,” said Carlos Riva, Verenium’s president and CEO. “The facility will serve as a blueprint for how we develop future projects. This milestone is just the beginning.”
Last August Verenium announced a strategic partnership with BP, to speed the development of its cellulosic ethanol technology. Verenium and BP are currently focusing on a second phase of collaboration surrounding the development and deployment of commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol production facilities.