U.S. Government Spends $105 Million on New Trash Biofuel Facility
August 7, 2012 3:44 PM
(Source: Universal Pictures)
The Fulcrum Sierra BioFuels project will convert common garbage into ethanol for fuel
The U.S. government has backed the development of a
new biofuel production
facility in Nevada, which will convert trash into ethanol.
The initiative is called the Fulcrum Sierra BioFuels project, and it is a subsidiary of Fulcrum BioEnergy Inc. from Pleasanton, California. The new biofuel facility, which will be built in the Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center in Storey County, will use common trash normally sent to landfills for the creation of ethanol for vehicle fuel. The idea is to use cleaner energy and reduce the country's dependence on foreign oil.
The project is expected to turn 147,000 tons of garbage into 10 million gallons of ethanol for fuel. Approximately 10 percent of fuel for cars and pickups is made up of ethanol while the other 90 percent is made up of gasoline.
The Fulcrum Sierra BioFuels project received a $105 million federal loan guarantee from the Obama administration for its green efforts. The loan guarantee is being issued under the USDA's Rural Development Biorefinery Assistance Program, which was a portion of the 2008 farm bill.
"Today's announcement will mean hundreds of good-paying jobs and a continued commitment by Nevada to help reduce our dependence on oil," said Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.). "[It's] another important step in the right direction toward making Nevada and our country more energy dependent."
The new facility is expected to open up 430 construction jobs and 53 permanent jobs.
The difference between the Fulcrum Sierra BioFuels project and other biorefineries is that the others have to grow corn, algae or use woody biomass while the Fulcrum uses the already-plentiful amount of trash available. Landfills are packed with garbage, and with 20-year contracts with Waste Connections Inc. and Waste Management, it won't take much for Fulcrum to get its hands on the amount needed to produce a hefty amount of ethanol. With agriculture, time is needed to grow the source, and it is
also more expensive
After grabbing the garbage from these two waste companies, Fulcrum will then convert it to ethanol and sell it to Tenaska BioFuels LLC, where it will be marketed it to blenders in Nevada and California for fuel.
The facility is expected to be complete by 2015.
While it looks like the facility could offer a couple of great benefits, like reduced oil dependence and more room in landfills,
the project could take some heat
from those that feel more energy-related loans are the last thing this country needs.
Over the last year, several energy companies went bankrupt after receiving hundreds of millions of dollars in loans from the Department of Energy (DOE).
In September 2011, solar panel company Solyndra filed for bankruptcy after receiving a
$535 million loan
from the DOE in 2009. From there, Beacon Power, a company that creates flywheels to store power and increase grid efficiency by preventing blackouts, filed for bankruptcy after receiving a
$43 million loan guarantee
from the DOE in August 2010. Continuing on, battery maker EnerDel's Ener1 subsidiary filed for bankruptcy in January 2012 after winning an
$118.5 million grant
from the DOE in August 2009. Ener1 was supposed to develop batteries for electric vehicles.
Automakers have had issues when it comes to green loans, too. Fisker Automotive, for example, received $529 million in loans from the DOE, but the
government froze the remaining $340 million
last year after the Karma plug-in failed to meet certain milestones.
"Nowadays you can buy a CPU cheaper than the CPU fan." -- Unnamed AMD executive
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