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Aemetis signs long term lease for cellulosic ethanol plant site in California

US-headed advanced renewable fuels and biochemicals company Aemetis Inc., has announced that its Aemetis Advanced Products Keyes subsidiary has signed a 55-year lease at a facility located in Riverbank, California. The lease enables the construction of a cellulosic ethanol biorefinery with proprietary process technologies developed by Aemetis, Lanzatech, and InEnTec, near the existing Aemetis biofuels plant in Keyes. The plant that will use waste orchard wood and nutshells.

English walnut (Juglans regia) was introduced to California (CA)  in the 1770’s. CA growers now produce 99 percent of the commercial US supply and account for around 75 percent of the global trade (photo courtesy Markku Björkman).

According to a statement, Aemetis Advanced Products Keyes subsidiary signed a 55-year lease at a former US Army munitions facility near the existing Aemetis biofuels plant in Keyes, California. The long-term lease provides for the construction of a cellulosic ethanol biorefinery using patented and proprietary process technologies developed by Aemetis, Lanzatech, and InEnTec to convert waste orchard wood and nutshells into low carbon cellulosic ethanol.

The project could generate over 1 900 direct and indirect jobs and will lower greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the Central Valley by significantly reducing the current practice of openly burning waste orchard wood. In addition, the low carbon cellulosic ethanol transportation fuel produced at this site will also lower GHG emissions in the state as it can run up to 80 percent cleaner than conventional gasoline.

As part of Phase 1, Aemetis plans to produce more than 10 million (US) gallons (≈ 37.9 million litres) of cellulosic ethanol annually to help meet cellulosic ethanol production requirements under the federal Renewable Fuel Standard and the increasing demand for low carbon biofuels under California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS). The current market price of cellulosic ethanol sold in California is estimated to be more than US$4.50 per gallon, which is approximately US$3.00 more per gallon than conventional ethanol.

The Central Valley of California produces more than 1.6 million tons of orchard waste and nutshells annually from around 1 million acres of almond, pistachio and walnut orchards. (Above) walnut shells for disposal (photo courtesy Markku Bjökman).

The existing Aemetis biorefinery in Keyes, California produces more than 60 million (US) gallons (≈227.2 million litres) of ethanol annually. Aemetis plans to construct multiple phases of cellulosic ethanol production and add more than 40 million gallons (≈ 151.4 million litres) per year of cellulosic ethanol capacity at the Riverbank, CA site.

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