Groundbreaking Nears for Proposed Plant

Construction is expected to begin on new Iowa biodiesel plant this summer
By Erin Voegele | July 15, 2011

After several years of delays, it seems that Growth Design Energy’s proposed biodiesel plant will finally become a reality. In May, the Iowa Power Fund Board awarded the company $1.5 million to support the project.

According to Kristin Hanks, program planner for the Iowa Office of Energy Independence, which serves as the administrative agency for the Iowa Power Fund, Growth Design Energy applied for the funding during the spring of 2009. The project was put on hold several times as the company worked to securing financing.

Hanks notes the process to secure funding is ongoing. The $1.5 million obligated by the Iowa Power Fund will be provided once certain benchmarks are met. “We do not provide funding until they can verify that they have all of their matching funding in place,” Hanks says.  Information published by the Iowa Power Fund states that $7.805 million in matching funds are needed for the project.

Growth Design Energy has 120 days to finalize its financing, Hanks says, noting that they could ask for an extension, if necessary. It’s unlikely, however, that Growth Design Energy—or any other company—could reapply for funding. “Our appropriations sunset at the end of [June], and there is no pending legislation that would grant further appropriations,” Hanks says. She also stresses that Growth Design Energy is not the only company currently in this position. There are several other companies working to secure necessary financing under the same time constrictions.

According to the contract the Iowa Power Fund has with Growth Design Energy, construction on the proposed plant is scheduled to begin during the third quarter of this year, with the plant achieving full operation by September 2012. The facility, which is slated to be located near Forest City, will have an annual production capacity of approximately 3 million gallons and produce biodiesel from waste oil feedstocks.

Hanks says there are several reasons the Iowa Power Fund has chosen to support this biorefinery project. “The Mcgyan process that Growth Design is using for this biorefinery uses less energy, uses less water, and uses a different type of catalyst,” she says. The project will also reduce emissions. In addition, construction of the plant and the commercialization of the Mcgyan processing technology is expected to provide a boost to the renewable and sustainable energy industries within Iowa.

During its history, the Iowa Power Fund has invested more than $65.2 million directly into 45 competitive projects, leveraging more than $576 million in energy research and development, early stage commercialization and education. This includes providing support to several biodiesel-related projects, including those pursued by BioProcess Algae, Renewable Energy Group Inc., Novecta LLC, and the Iowa Biodiesel Board.

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