Task Force, new projects propel biodiesel in Minnesota

By | March 01, 2004
After the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association announced in November its plans to build a 30-mmgy biodiesel plant, other projects are moving forward in the state, according to project revelations at the most recent Minnesota Biodiesel Task Force meeting.

Agricultural Marketing Specialist Ralph Groschen, who serves on the Minnesota Biodiesel Task Force, told Biodiesel Magazine that at least two projects were announced at the Task Force's Jan. 15 meeting. Central Byproducts has proposed a 3-mmgy plant, which would be built north of Redwood, Minn., and use recycled vegetable oil as its feedstock. In addition, SoyMor has proposed a 25-mmgy plant near Albert Lee, as reported in the Jan./Feb. issue of Biodiesel Magazine. Both of these projects are scheduled to produce biodiesel by July 2005, when Minnesota is expected to implement a blend requirement of 2 percent biodiesel in regular diesel fuel.

According to Groschen, Minnesota uses 800 million gallons of diesel fuel per year, which roughly translates into a demand for 16 million gallons of biodiesel per year to meet the 2 percent mandate. The state legislature hopes to meet at least half of that demand with Minnesota-produced biodiesel.

Gov. Tim Pawlenty assigned the Task Force last year; the group's primary function is to make sure there is ample biodiesel production in the state by July 2005. Also, the Task Force is concerned with minimizing any adverse impact the use of biodiesel may have on the state's marketplace, Groschen told Biodiesel Magazine. The Task Force plans to solve as many problems-and answer as many questions-as it can, gathering recommendations along the way that will help the program operate successfully.

"This project is similar to ethanol," Groschen said. "If you handle it properly, it works out quite well. But there are similar issues. What if we run out? Then we won't be able to sell diesel fuel. But those are the kinds of things the industry will take care of. You never expect to run out of ethanol, [and we won't] run out of biodiesel."
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