This biorefinery demonstration project will produce advanced biofuel ethanol from energy beets grown in Fresno and Merced counties. It’s an innovative use for a crop that has been grown in the area for more than 100 years, and the first domestic energy beet project to reach this stage.
The demonstration plant will be built in Five Points, about 40 miles southwest of Fresno in Fresno County. Plans call for a commercial-scale biorefinery center to be eventually built in Mendota in western Fresno County. Public-private collaboration drives this project. Dozens of beet farmers formed the Mendota Advanced Bioenergy Beet Cooperative after a local sugar plant closed in 2008. They are working closely with scientists and staff at California State University, Fresno, and the University of California, Davis. Another essential public partner is the California Energy Commission, which awarded nearly $5 million to the project in February 2013 through the Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program, created by Assembly Bill 118.
The demonstration plant is expected to convert 10,000 tons of energy beets harvested throughout the year into 285,000 gallons of advanced and cellulosic ethanol.
The plant will create about 30 jobs during construction and operation.
The commercial-scale biorefinery is slated to produce 15 million gallons of biofuel annually.
The refinery is expected to create approximately 150 construction jobs to build the facility. About 25 jobs are expected at the biorefinery, 15-20 in harvest and transportation, and another 25 in support roles within the local community.
Type of Project
Ninety-three of 250 acres of energy beets were planted in January 2013 to be ready for harvest for the pilot plant. The remaining 157 acres will be planted in the spring of 2014.
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