2007 Proposed Biodiesel Plant List

By Lindsey Irwin, Craig A. Johnson, Jerry W. Kram, Susanne Retka Schill, Michael Shirek, Bryan Sims, Jan Tellmann and Dave Nilles
By | May 25, 2007
For Biodiesel Magazine, the saying, "The third time's the charm," may hold true as we unveil the third annual Proposed Biodiesel Plant List. This year featured the largest number of staff calling the largest number of proposed projects in the three years the magazine has compiled the list. As usual, the results depict a rapidly growing industry. Biodiesel Magazine started off with more than 380 proposed projects from its internal database. Those were eventually narrowed down to the 94 projects highlighted here.

While three years typically isn't considered an ideal data set to draw historical trend lines, it does allow us to create some general conclusions about the industry. For example, perhaps the most startling statistic was the total capacity represented on the list. Of the plants reporting a proposed capacity, there is more than 2.2 billion gallons of annual production represented here. In terms of total capacity, that's a 152 percent increase from the 2006 Proposed Biodiesel Plant List. Last year's list featured 65 plants representing 1.46 billion gallons. The 2006 list represented a 293 percent increase from our first list compiled in 2005.




The 2 billion-gallon threshold is striking considering the National Biodiesel Board estimates 2006 production levels in the area of 250 million gallons. At the time the Spring 2007 U.S. & Canada Biodiesel Plant Map was compiled, there was approximately 849 MMgy of capacity on line with another 1.3 billion under construction. At the same time in 2006, there were approximately 400 MMgy of capacity on line and 320 MMgy under construction.

What do these capacity figures say about the industry? Feel free to draw conclusions, but it obviously shows people are still jumping into biodiesel.

While overall capacity continues to grow, the average plant size remained relatively steady. In 2005, 36 plants averaged 14 MMgy. In 2006, the number jumped to 65 plants averaging 24 MMgy. However, this year's 94 proposed facilities averaged 23.5 MMgy, and this includes a few more massive facilities. The largest is Imperium Renewables' proposed 100 MMgy plant in Hawaii. The company is already nearing completion of its 100 MMgy plant at the Port of Grays Harbor in Washington. Other notable large-scale proposals include a 75 MMgy plant in Clovis, N.M., four 60 MMgy plants in Iowa, an 86 MMgy project in Louisiana and numerous 30 MMgy plants throughout the United States.

Biodiesel's proposed footprint continues to grow in the areas where it already exists. It's also slowly spreading to other regions of the country. The number of states and provinces proposing plants continues to grow. In 2005, 24 states and provinces were on the list. In 2006, the figure increased to 29. This year, 37 states and provinces reported biodiesel projects. Of those, Iowa once again dominated in the number of projects and capacity. The state featured 10 plants with 370 MMgy of proposed capacity. Iowa recently celebrated the opening of its 10th biodiesel plant. Central Iowa Energy LLC held a grand opening ceremony for its 30 MMgy project in Newton.

For the first time, Illinois matched Iowa with 10 proposed projects with a proposed capacity of 285.5 MMgy.

This year's state legislation may play an important role in the development of these proposed plants. At press time, Missouri, Montana, Florida and Oregon were considering various forms of an in-state biodiesel requirement. New Mexico, which landed two plants on this year's list, recently passed a biodiesel requirement. In late April, Gov. Bill Richardson signed a bill into law that requires all diesel fuel sold in the state to be at B5 by 2012.

The massive amount of proposed capacity on this list also raises several concerns-not the least of which is feedstock. Where will these and existing projects get affordable feedstock? While we don't attempt to answer that question here, we can pull some interesting statistics that provide a cross-section of potential demand. Soy oil was again the predominant feedstock with 598 MMgy of proposed capacity from 22 plants. It's also assumed that soy oil will comprise much of the multi-feedstock capacity. Twenty-one plants said they would use multiple feedstocks for a total capacity of 560 MMgy. An additional nine plants said they would produce 328 MMgy of biodiesel from soy oil in combination with some other feedstock, such as animal fats or cottonseed oil.

Approximately 20.2 billion pounds of soy oil were produced in the United States in 2006, according to the American Soybean Association. If every pound of that soy oil was converted to biodiesel, it would create approximately 2.8 billion gallons of fuel. As expected, a majority of the soy-oil-based plants are located in the North Central-West and North Central-East regions of the United States, where most soybeans are grown. This year's list is the first to feature a project specifically touting oil derived from algae as feedstock. While algae has been a feedstock in the laboratory, it hasn't been used on a commercial scale in the United States or Canada. Cetane Energy in Carlsbad, N.M., plans on using algae oil in its planned 3 MMgy facility.

At least 16 plants from last year's list have moved past the proposed stage and have either started construction or already reached production. Due to the nature of business it can be surmised that several-if not most-of the projects listed here won't come to fruition for a variety of reasons.

Finally, it's important to consider the criteria used to compile the list. Our staff attempted to contact every proposed plant-between concept and construction-that we became aware of through other news sources or by word of mouth. Each project listed here was verified by at least one reliable source either directly associated with the project, or a government official, in many cases someone associated with an economic development group.

For various reasons, some proposed plants chose not be included. Others proved impossible to reach. Still others are undoubtedly flying below our radar. If you don't see your project listed here, give us a call. We'd love to hear from you.

As usual, this isn't intended to be an all-encompassing inventory of every proposed biodiesel project in the United States and Canada. It's merely a snapshot of what is happening in the industry right now.

The list is organized by regions: Pacific, Mountain, North Central-West, South Central-West, North Central-East, South Central-East, New England, Middle Atlantic, South Atlantic and Canada. Click on the sidebar articles to view the individual regions.
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