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Burst of Recent Biodiesel Plant Startups is a Positive Display of Confidence in the Industry

A bad economy and poor blend economics, among other major issues facing biodiesel, has been a downer but recent news on biodiesel plant openings is a welcomed sign of a more positive outlook.
By Ron Kotrba | July 22, 2009
With all of the negative press facing the business of biodiesel recently, real or perceived, the flurry of recent domestic and international plant startups and deal-making is a welcomed injection of positive news.

About a month ago the Austrian biodiesel plant builder, BDI-BioDiesel Industries, contracted to build a plant in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, which would be like the 30th biodiesel refinery in the world built by BDI. Also, another BDI-built facility just started operating in Norway.

Tomorrow, July 23, in Foam Lake, Saskatchewan, Canada, Milligan Bio-Tech is celebrating the official grand opening of its crush and biodiesel production facility. The plant is using off-spec (non-food grade) canola and developed a crush and refining process specifically for this off-spec canola. The biodiesel production capacity is 10MMly (2.6MMgy), and is what the company is referring to as its "optimization plant."

Crimson Renewable Energy LP is commissioning its large, 30MMgy multifeedstock plant in Bakersfield, Calif. While the company doesn't plan to produce at capacity yet, executives told Biodiesel Magazine that once the California Low Carbon Fuel Standard goes into effect, they will ramp up production to meet the demand.

Arkansas SoyEnergy Group also recently came online with its 10MMgy crush plant and biodiesel refinery in DeWitt, Ark.

And in related news, a very recent, interesting development is that a small biodiesel plant in Sedgwick, Kan., Healy Biodiesel, signed a letter of intent with a company, Cetane Energy, to convert its transesterification process over to hydroprocessing, to no longer make methyl esters but instead to produce green diesel. Owner Ben Healy told Biodiesel Magazine he hopes the switchover to begin in November with work lasting through the winter to be completed in April 2010.

In Winnsboro, S.C., Midland Biofuels LLC, a small-scale, 300,000 gallon-per year facility recently started operations. It uses WVO as feedstock. According to Brandon Spence with Midland Biofuels, "we're small but we have a lot going on."

Good luck Midland Biofuels, and to all of the new plants starting up. Thanks for your continued support of the biodiesel industry.