USDA awards Ensyn $70M conditional loan guarantee for 20 million gallon cellulosic biofuels project in Georgia

December 10, 2015 |

EnsynIn Washington, US Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced that Ensyn has received a conditional loan guarantee commitment for $70 million for a 20 million gallon cellulosic biofuels facility to be located in Georgia. Financing will be provided by Citi.

The project is slated to be built in Dooly County, 50 miles south of Macon, Georgia. Ensign had previously indicated that it expected to start construction on its next commercial project in 2016.

In an exclusive interview with The Digest, Secretary Vilsack noted that the conditional loan guarantee represented the 10th investment by the USDA as part of the Section 9003 program in the Farm Bill, and said that this advanced Rapid Thermal Process project, which will utilize woody biomass as its feedstock, “demonstrates the commitment of the US government to help this industry move forward.”

US Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack briefs The Digest

USDA Racism ResignationVilsack told the Digest that, from the BCAP program, to working on increasing exports and working to expand the market for higher-blend fuels and leading trade missions, the USDA was working hard to support the deployment of advanced biofuels and chemicals projects.

The announcement comes just days after the EPA’s release of final volume obligations for renewable fuels in 2015 and 2016, volumes that drew sharp criticism from cellulosic fuels advocates who have termed the volumes a “gut punch to advanced biofuels.” Vilsack described the timing of the loan guarantee as coincidental, noting that “it takes a long time to put these loan guarantees together.”

But Vilsack also noted that changes in the USDA’s process in the Obama Administration had greatly sped up the process and  expanded the field of banks. He noted that previous rules had required the bank to sign off on the technology before the issuing of a loan guarantee.

“That makes no sense at all, Bankers are bankers, not engineers or scientists. Changing that rule [to have sign-off by scientists) is expediting the process.”

Vilsack also praised Congress for expanding the scope of the loan guarantees to include chemicals, so that integrated biorefineries could be included for loan guarantee considerations.

“We’re very interested in woody biomass,” said the Secretary, “but he noted that the loan guarantee program structure had helped projects in the Northwest, the Southwest and the Midwest, as well as the woody biomass-replete Southeast.

Asked if he found it interesting that US companies are saying they are having a hard time developing projects in the US — but here was a Canadian company, Ensyn, moving forward, he told The Digest, “it’s not the passport of the company that as important to us as the passport of the feedstock. And it’s vitally important that this will bring well-paying permanent jobs to rural America as well as a number of shorter-term construction jobs.

“We continue to see that our natural resources here give projects an advantage,” he said. “There are a lot of entrepreneurs and innovators out there that can use that resource, and we’re agnostic about the type of feedstock they use, and we’re generally agnostic about everything except using our excess capacity of woody biomass, agricultural residues and municipal solid waste to make valuable fuels and chemicals we need.”

Only two weeks ago we reported that Ensyn has been granted a key regulatory approval from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for its renewable gasoline product, RFGasoline. This approval, pursuant to Title 40 CFR Part 79 promulgated under the Clean Air Act, is required for the sale of RFGasoline into U.S. commerce. This approval follows the recently announced Part 79 approval of Ensyn’s renewable diesel product, RFDiesel.

Ensyn’s RFO is produced by processing non-food solid biomass, including wood residues, with Ensyn’s RTP technology. Technology licensing, engineering services and supply of equipment is being provided to RTP projects by Honeywell UOP through Envergent Technologies, a joint venture between Honeywell UOP and Ensyn.

Last June, Ensyn Fuels signed a contract with Ohio’s Youngstown Thermal for the supply of RFO, Ensyn’s advanced cellulosic biofuel. Ensyn Fuels is to provide Youngstown Thermal up to 2,500,000 gallons of RFO per year, with deliveries to begin as soon as the fourth quarter of 2015, in time for the 2015-2016 winter season. Youngstown Thermal will use the RFO to displace up to 50% of its fuel needs in their natural gas fueled boiler. This five-year contract follows a series of successful RFO combustion demonstrations carried out at Youngstown Thermal in 2014.

The Ensyn backstory

The Digest’s 2015 8-Slide Guide

The Digest’s 2015 5-Minute Guide

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Category: Top Stories

Thank you for visting the Digest.