This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

September 27, 2006

USDA Awards $5.8 Million for Biofuels, Biomass, and Wind Power

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced on September 13th its selection of 46 projects in 21 states that will receive nearly $5.8 million in grants for the production and marketing of ethanol, ethanol by-products, and biodiesel and for feasibility studies of energy production from biomass and wind power. The funds are part of a larger package of Small Minority Producer Grants and Value-Added Producer Grants, the latter of which generally go toward marketing agricultural products, but can also go toward farm-based renewable energy projects. While most of the funds will go toward ethanol-related projects, the projects also include efforts to market heating fuels derived from wood pellets, wood chips, sugarcane biomass, and corn and from methane produced from an anaerobic digester on a dairy farm. The on-farm renewable energy projects are all wind power projects, but two grant recipients plan to supplement their wind power with biomass power, one using corn and the other fueling a microturbine with wood chips. The projects will be located in the states of Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. See the USDA press release and the full recipient lists for the Small Minority Producer Grants (PDF 57 KB) and the Value-Added Producer Grants (PDF 268 KB). Download Adobe Reader.

The USDA is also offering $5.4 million for research in biobased products and bioenergy production, to be awarded in fiscal year (FY) 2007 (for the federal government, the new fiscal year starts on October 1st). The funds are part of the National Research Initiative's Competitive Grants Program, run by the USDA's Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service. The research priorities include the development of biocatalysts for converting cellulosic biomass into fuels and products; improved pretreatment and conversion of biomass for conversion into fuels and products; and innovative non-food uses of biomass residuals and co-products from the production of biofuels and bioproducts. Interested parties should submit a letter of intent to the program by November 8. The USDA cautions, however, that the FY 2007 appropriations have not yet been passed by Congress, and the actual appropriation levels could change the funding or even cancel parts of the program. See pages 1 and 52 of the request for applications (PDF 1.0 MB). Download Adobe Reader.

The USDA's heavy involvement in renewable energy has led DOE and the USDA to co-sponsor a new national renewable energy conference, "Advancing Renewable Energy: An American Rural Renaissance," to be held October 10th to 12th in St. Louis, Missouri. On Monday, the agencies updated their list of speakers for the conference, adding Steven L. Johnson of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; Jim Talent, a U.S. Senator from Missouri; S. Richard Tolman of the National Corn Growers Association; and Randall Swisher of the American Wind Energy Association. S. Richard Tolman and Randall Swisher will serve as Masters of Ceremonies. The agencies also released a list of conference panelists, many of whom are leaders in their field, including Dr. Dan Arvizu, director of DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory. See the DOE press release and the full conference program.