By Karen E. Thuermer, AJOT
Perhaps the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is a keen reminder of this country’s need to embrace alternative sources for energy such as ethanol and biofuel.
With increased demand for ethanol and biofuel, the importation and exportation of feedstock is increasing around the world as is its production.
The Green Circle Bio Energy Inc., for example, operates the world’s largest pellet production facility in Cottondale, FL. The company started production in May 2008 with an annual capacity of 560,000 tons. Located on 225 acres in the heart of the North Florida wood basket, much of the company’s wood pellets are exported to Germany via the Port of Panama City, which is about 60 miles way.
A benefit to Green Circle’s plant is the fact it is adjacent to U.S. Highway 231 (north/south) and Interstate 10 (east/west) as well as close to CSX rail (east/west).
Green Circle’s business, which is aimed at supplying pellets to the power generating industry for co-firing in coal based power plants, however, is just the tip of the iceberg. Mammoth work is underway in the world of biofuel and ethanol as a transportation fuels source at levels we have not yet realized.
Global Effort
Enter Abengoa Bioenergy, one of 93 shippers who received the BNSF Railway Company’s (BNSF) Annual Product Stewardship Award for the safe transportation of hazardous materials by rail during 2009.
“We are one of the five business units of a Spanish holding company called Abengoa SA,” reports Chris Standlee, executive vice president, Abengoa Bioenergy, from the company’s corporate office in Chesterfield, MO. “Abengoa SA has a presence in approximately 80 countries and operates more than 250 companies. All of those 250+ companies are broken down into five business units.”
The Chesterfield office controls the company’s facilities in the United States, Brazil, Spain, France, and the Netherlands.
“From here we control assets in bioenergy, primarily ethanol, biodesiel, research and development facilities and have facilities both here in the United States and in Europe, and are in the process of looking at a facility in Germany,” Standlee says.
The company also has facilities in Brazil.
Today Abengoa Bioenergy is the largest ethanol producers in both Europe and the United States. In 2009, its sales totaled approximately $5 billion.
With two recently acquired production facilities in Brazil, Abengoa Bioenergy is the only worldwide bioethanol manufacturer with production and access to markets on three continents: South America, North America and Europe.
The company operates six facilities in the United States: two in Nebraska, one in Kansas, one in New Mexico, and two just recently opened facilities in the Midwest. One of those facilities is across the river from St. Louis in Illinois. The other is in Evansville, Indiana.
Abengoa Bioenergy also operates six facilities in Europe, three in Spain, one in France, one in the Netherlands (Rotterdam) and another two in Brazil.
Abengoa Bioenergy is building a bioethanol facility in the Port of Rotterdam, which is expected to be completed this year and is considered the company’s flag ship. Abengoa Bioenergy also operates two cane and sugar bioethanol production plans in Pirassununga and São João, Brazil, with a total installed capacity of 115 million liters and 530,000 tons per year, respectively.
The majority of the European facilities are corn-based, with the exception of Spain’s, which is mostly wheat or barley. The facilities in Brazil are sugar cane based. Overall U.S. facilities are either corn or grain based.
When the new Midwest facilities are combined with the five operating facilities in Europe and the new sixth facility in Rotterdam, Abengoa Bioenergy’s total production capacity will exceed 800 million gallons per year.
“What distinguishes us from our competition is our investment in new technologies from the standpoint of making existing technologies more efficient and effective, and comin