New Energy Spirit Biomass Refinery, LLC, a registered North Dakota special purpose company, plans to develop, build, own, and operate a biomass refinery in Spiritwood Energy Park, Jamestown, ND. New Energy Blue, LLC owns the project company.
The refinery is expected to annually produce 16 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol and 109,000 tons of lignin pellets from 230,000 tons of crop residue. It will convert locally harvested wheat straw, barley straw and corn stover into sugars, and ferment the sugars into cellulosic ethanol for renewable automotive fuel, while separating out the lignin for offsite renewable energy production. Other outputs are a biogas for producing process steam and a potassium-rich nutrient for fertilizing farm fields.
With New Energy Spirit, we intend to create a national showplace for producing both liquid and solid bio-energy that is exceptionally low-carbon, high-value, and sustainable. We plan to co-locate the biomass refinery with the Dakota Spirit AgEnergy ethanol plant and the coal-fired power plant operated by Great River Energy. Integration is expected to produce synergies which should improve the efficiency and reduce the carbon intensity of those two operations, making their energy products more valuable, while further reducing the capital and operating costs of the biomass refinery. Marketing ethanol to California as the lowest carbon transportation fuel in order to receive a premium from LCFS policy mandate there. Low Carbon Fuels Standard (LCFS in California) pays on the reduction of carbon emissions from production, to refining, to end-user from the base line of gasoline. We expect ours to be 100% to 130% lower than gasoline – LCFS pays up to $200 per ton of carbon saved. Our intent is to supply the California low carbon fuel market that is demanding to replace a billion gallons of higher carbon fuels annually (more than 70 New Energy Biomass Refineries) and to enable our facility to receive financial incentives.
As complementary technologies are commercialized, we expect added flexibility in revenue generation. When it’s more profitable to do so, we intend to divert some of our production streams to higher-value biochemicals for producing renewable plastics, personal care products, and other low-carbon, fossil-free products.
Farmers will love us. We give them a second source of revenue and improve their soil conservation. Our biomass refinery businesses can add $15 to $30 million annually back to the local farmers and aggregators for collecting and transporting 30-50% of the grain straws and corn stover left on the field after harvest. New revenue to the farmer can be as much as $30 per dry ton of biomass before transportation. Recent university and ag industry studies have demonstrated that taking off 50% of the agricultural residue with today’s no- or light-till farming practices can increase next year’s yield. Still more revenue can come from the conservation practice of growing cover crops like barley and selling us the straw.
Today low commodity prices make the need for additional revenue greater than ever. Farm returns for biomass can run about 2.5 times as much as what is expected from a corn ethanol plant. The removal of a percentage of the straw and stover can affect yield potential substantially through improved soil health.
New Energy Spirit Biomass Refinery is currently completing development and is expected to break ground the second quarter of 2019. Construction will take about 20 months. We expect to be commissioning the operation in 2021 and operating at full capacity mid-year.
We anticipate multiple benefits flowing to the local and state economy—and to local investors as well.
Economic impact created:
- 400+ well-paying construction jobs for 24 months
- 100+ well-paying full-time jobs, 42 of them at the refinery
- $15+ million paid by the refinery for biomass acquisition. Local farmers can see a windfall second cash crop from the same harvest, an ongoing financial boon. Farm and ag businesses that emerge to gather, store, and transport the biomass can profit as well
- $80+ million in annual revenue generated by the refinery; much of it paid back to the local community for plant operation
- Anticipated synergies in the Spiritwood Energy Park include
- integration with CHP and steam off-take from existing power station;
- sell-back of clean water from water-positive process to existing water users in the energy park;
- lignin biofuel sale to reduce carbon footprint of steam and power production among local users;
- magnet attracting additional companies to the operation to expand their own technologies utilizing our commercial sugar and lignin streams and expanded cooperative laboratory;
The New Energy Spirit Biomass Refinery is expected to attract government, industry, and financial leaders from around the world to witness and learn a new way of making a difference by making clean energy. New Energy Blue is already exploring feasibilities of other sites in North Dakota and neighboring states with plans to scale-up two times from the Spirit project to large commercial refineries like this across North and South America, and then the world.