Louisville Clean Energy receives Kentucky funding

By Ryan C. Christiansen | August 08, 2008
Web exclusive posted August 11, 2008 at 4:41 p.m. CST

Louisville Clean Energy LLC plans to build five regional facilities across Kentucky that will use multiple feedstocks and processes to produce biodiesel, ethanol, and electricity. The $5 million Kentucky Alternative Fuel and Renewable Energy Fund Program recently awarded $250,000 in investment capital for the biodiesel portion of the project.

Within the next few weeks, the Louisville, Ky.-based company hopes to select a location in either Henry County, Ky., or Shelby County, Ky., for the biodiesel facility, which it plans to begin building within six to eight months. Bill Bivins, chief executive officer and founder of Louisville Clean Energy, said the primary feedstock for the first biodiesel plant will be yellow grease.

The biodiesel plant will be the first step in the construction of a much larger facility. The company plans to build an anaerobic digester and an ethanol plant on the same site.

"Each plant will be built in phases," Bivins said. "Our plants will never be larger than 10 MMgy ethanol, 10 MMgy biodiesel, and 10 megawatts electricity in capacity. We will be building multiple plants instead of huge plants. You bring on the biodiesel and then you bring on the anaerobic digestion and the electricity generation and then you bring on the ethanol. And the reason you do that is because it's fast-to-cash. Each process can stand on its own profitably and so, instead of 28 months waiting on revenues to come in [during construction for a larger facility], every six months we will bring on a new revenue stream."

Bivins said while the company plans to use yellow grease as feedstock for the first biodiesel plant, all of the company's plants, including the ethanol plants, will be capable of consuming multiple feedstocks. The anaerobic digesters will consume organic materials from mixed solid waste, as well as whole stillage from the ethanol plants and glycerin from the biodiesel plants.

"I think we have the first true definition of a biorefinery because we will simultaneously produce gas, electricity, and both biofuels, solely independent of fossil fuel," Bivins said. "We will take any organic material � anything that you would put into the compost heap � and we will turn that into gas; any starch, whether it is a tuber, or a grain, or cellulosic material such as sweet sorghum, or sugarcane, we turn that into ethanol; and any yellow grease, brown grease, animal fat, or vegetable oil, we convert that into biodiesel."

Bivins said the company plans to use only existing, proven, commercial technology.

The Kentucky Alternative Fuel and Renewable Energy Fund Program was created in 2007 by the state's general assembly for investment in promising renewable and alternative energy companies in the state. According to John Hindman, secretary of economic development for the state, a company must demonstrate that its technology is commercially viable and that it can lead a successful business venture to receive funding from the program.
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