SGP BioEnergy adds green hydrogen to proposed Panama biorefinery

By SGP BioEnergy | October 11, 2022

SGP BioEnergy announced today the addition of green hydrogen production to the largest planned advanced bio refinery in the world allowing the facility to operate with net-zero emissions. In May, SGP BioEnergy announced the plan for Biorefineria Ciudad Dorada (Golden City Biorefinery), located in Colon and Balboa, Panama.

Facility construction is on schedule for Phase 1 production to begin in 2025, with all land rights secured to allow for the groundbreaking of physical construction in 2023.  Once fully operational the biorefinery will produce 180,000 barrels per day (2.6 billion gallons per year) of biofuel and 405,000 metric tons of green hydrogen annually.

"This facility is truly a model of the future of the energy transition," said Randy Delbert Letang, CEO of SGP BioEnergy. "We will not only produce the fuel that will decarbonize transportation but do so in a way that is also decarbonizing the manufacturing process itself.  It is the first time both advanced biofuels and green hydrogen will be produced together at this scale, and we are excited to be bringing this innovation to Panama."

Multiple partners are working together to make the refinery a reality and many of them joined SGP BioEnergy today to conduct the groundbreaking. Attendees included Gustavo Cienfuegos from engineering firm Topsoe, Yasser Williams from Corporacion CSN, S.A., Minister of Commerce and Industries of Panama Federico Alfaro, and Secretary of Energy of Panama Dr. Jorge Rivera Staff.

"It is exciting to see the progress on this facility that will bring more than 1,000 jobs to Panama," said Minister Alfaro.  "The addition of green hydrogen to this facility is further evidence of Panama's role as a source of innovation and real solutions to address climate change," said Secretary Staff.

Over the last few months, SGP BioEnergy has convened political and industry leaders to ensure this massive project stays on schedule and can meet the growing demand for advanced biofuels to produce Sustainable Aviation Fuel, as well as Renewable Diesel for ground transportation and lower carbon marine fuel. 

In addition to establishing these foundational elements, SGP BioEnergy has worked with Topsoe to incorporate its HydroFlex™ and H2 Bridge™ technologies to produce green hydrogen from the waste carbon and renewable fuels by-products produced during the refining process.

The HydroFlex™ technology is Topsoe's proprietary technology for taking a wide range of biofuel feedstocks including soy, camelina, canola/rapeseed, and hazelnut and refining them into advanced biofuels.  The H2 Bridge™ technology captures waste propane and carbon off gas from the refining process, converts them into green hydrogen and provides that back to the refining facility to power facility operations. 

"We have seen great success with the HydroFlex™ and H2 Bridge™ technologies in renewable fuels applications for other plants," said Henrik Rasmussen, Managing Director, The Americas, Topsoe. "We are excited to bring these proven technologies together for what will be the largest renewable fuels plant in South America to not only produce a product that decarbonizes transportation but to produce it in a way that decarbonizes the manufacturing process as well.  It is a true model for a low carbon energy future."  

To finance the project, SGP BioEnergy partnered with Goldman Sachs to identify investors that shared the company's vision for a better energy mix that includes renewable biofuel. The country of Panama was an ideal partner to support the financial potential of the project given its free zones, commitment to clean energy innovation and global platform to transport the fuels all over the world.

The production of renewable energy at a large scale is necessary now more than ever. All over the globe decarbonization, corporate commitments, and regulatory initiatives are taking place and the existing Panama free zones offer a unique opportunity to develop a scalable, logistically superior, and flexible way of collecting, processing, and distributing sustainable biomass feedstocks into renewable products. It also provides a global platform to transport the fuels all over the world to customers committed to decarbonizing their operations. 




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