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Grand opening of VERBIO Nevada Biorefinery held

Grand opening of VERBIO Nevada Biorefinery held
At a ribbon-cutting ceremony held on May 6, 2022, VERBIO welcomed several of the state’s political leaders, including Governor Kim Reynolds, Senator Chuck Grassley, and Congressional Representatives Randy Feenstra and Mariannette Miller-Meeks along with Alliant Energy executives and Nevada Mayor Brett Barker (photo courtesy Alliant Energy).

In the United States (US), VERBIO North America Holding Inc, a subsidiary of Germany-headed independent biodiesel, ethanol, and biogas major VERBIO Vereinigte BioEnergy AG (VERBIO) has hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony in Nevada, Iowa (IA) marking the official inauguration of VERBIO Nevada Biorefinery.

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The VERBIO Nevada Biorefinery, which was originally built as a cellulosic ethanol plant and subsequently idled by DuPont, was acquired by VERBIO in late 2018.

Following rebuilds and retrofits, the plant began producing renewable natural gas (RNG) on an industrial scale in December 2021.

The facility is on track to achieve full-scale production of 7 million ethanol gallons equivalent (EGE) of RNG annually by mid-summer 2022.

In early 2023, the site will begin operating as a biorefinery, producing 19 million EGE (≈ 71.9 million litres) of RNG and 60 million gallons (≈ 227 million litres) of corn-based ethanol, annually.

This plant is a game-changer. With the right biofuels policies in place, we believe Iowa and the United States have immense potential and we are committed to working with those of you in this audience and others to create conditions where we can grow and everyone benefits, said Claus Sauter said Founder and CEO of VERBIO.

Integrated production

Perhaps unique to VERBIO is the integration of RNG and ethanol production. It incorporates advanced operational technology to build on the company’s successful experiences in Europe.

Collaboration between VERBIO and Alliant Energy Corporation led to the opening of the facility, which Alliant Energy serves with both natural gas and electric service.

RNG from the VERBIO Nevada Biorefinery is injected into an Alliant Energy pipeline before being distributed across the country.

Alliant Energy delivers the energy from the production at the facility to its natural gas customers in Iowa.

The innovative commitment to sustainability by Alliant Energy and VERBIO ensures the safe and cost-effective delivery of renewable natural gas for customers, said Terry Kouba, SVP at Alliant Energy and President of the Iowa Utility company.

Furthermore, the company helped to develop standards and regulations for RNG as well as constructed interconnection options for the site, allowing VERBIO to comply with requirements established for the sale of RNG in other states.

 We’re excited to welcome VERBIO to Iowa and proud to support economic development in the state. It’s all part of Alliant Energy’s purpose to serve customers and build stronger communities, Terry Kouba said.

Closing the RFS advanced biofuels gap

Aerial view of VERBIO Nevada Biorefinery
An aerial view of VERBIO Nevada Biorefinery. Currently producing RNG only, the plant will begin operating as a biorefinery producing ethanol in 2023 (photo courtesy VERBIO).

VERBIO announced this is a “good start“ as the RNG production from this first plant will equal 3.3 percent of total US RNG production last year, but there are still opportunities for growth.

While the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) has been a great success, the portion from the Advanced Biofuels category related to Cellulosic Biofuels, including RNG, has greatly underperformed.

By 2022, the RFS envisioned 16 billion gallons (≈ 60.6 billion litres) of advanced biofuels. However, production to date has not exceeded 0.6 billion gallons (≈ 2.27 billion litres), less than 4 percent.

VERBIO sees its mission as working with all relevant parties to close this gap as quickly as possible.

Iowa has always been one of the country’s leading renewable energy advocates, said Greg Northrup, President, and CEO of VERBIO North America Holdings.

Plans for technology rollout

Today, there are over 200 ethanol plants operating in the United States that could benefit from the efficiencies offered by VERBIO‘s operating technology.

The company expects to be operating 5-10 biorefineries within the next five years, producing 15-30 percent or more of the total RNG produced in 2021.

Our decision to locate in Nevada has been well-rewarded and we look forward to joining with the state’s other renewable energy producers to support our national and state political leadership at a time when energy supply and diversity are of increasing importance nationally and globally, Greg Northrup said.

Further, the facility offers a significant opportunity to the state’s growers. VERBIO offers farmers a new source of income.

In the first year of operation, the plant will use up to 100 000 tonnes of corn stover as feedstock to produce RNG.

The removal of the corn stover mitigates the emission of greenhouse gases, resulting from the degradation of the ag residues on the field, said Ron DeJongh, President of VERBIO Agriculture.

Following the production cycle, humus, a soil amendment similar to compost, is returned to the fields to restore the nitrogen and phosphates, along with some of the carbon contained in the corn stover.

Job creation and retention

VERBIO has hired 54 highly skilled technicians and operators for the combined operations in Nevada.

In addition, a significant number of indirect jobs will be created by the plant in the surrounding community and across the state.

With dedicated support from our local partners. our employee team is grateful for the opportunity to create real value here in Nevada, and we look forward to a long and successful future, said Greg Faith, President and General Manager of VERBIO Nevada Biorefinery.

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