Florida Helps Fund Commercial Cellulosic Ethanol Project
Verenium Corporation, a developer of cellulosic ethanol and high-performance specialty enzymes, announced it will build its first commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol facility in south central Florida. The project was awarded a $7 million grant as part of Florida's Farm to Fuel® initiative.
Verenium has contracted with Lykes Bros. Inc., a Florida agricultural business, which will provide grasses as feedstock for conversion to fuel. The grasses will be grown on approximately 20,000 acres adjacent to the plant, which is roughly 100 miles east of St. Petersburg. Verenium says the facility will be the first in the Florida to use advanced enzyme technology to convert the grasses to cellulosic ethanol, 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. It is also expected to provide the region with about 140 full-time jobs, once commercial operations begin. Verenium says additional jobs will be created during the 18 to 24 months of construction.
The company plans to break ground in the second half of 2009 to start producing fuel in 2011. Construction is estimated to cost between $250 and $300 million. The company recently received a special use permit from Highlands County for the facility, and is in the process of finalizing other necessary permit applications.
The $7 million grant from Florida's Farm to Fuel initiative is part of a $25 million effort overseen by the Agriculture and Consumer Services Commission. The initiative provides matching grants to bioenergy firms for demonstration, commercialization, and research and development projects that use Florida-grown biomass or crops.
The grant award follows Verenium's success at its pilot and demonstration plants in Jennings, Louisiana, where the company has been developing and testing processes to optimize production and lower the cost of making cellulosic ethanol.
"The message today is that Florida's agricultural industry can produce fuel crops on a major commercial scale without sacrificing food crops," Commission Chairman Charles H. Bronson said. "This is a major step forward for our Farm to Fuel program and hopefully will serve as a catalyst for additional investment by companies interested in producing renewable energy in Florida."
To read more about renewable energy and energy efficiency projects in Florida, see:
- Florida news published on the EERE Web site.
- Brief project descriptions from the Florida Energy Office published in the EERE State Energy Program newsletter, Conservation Update.
- Florida publications listed in the EERE State Publications Database.