US biomass rules not inclusive enough – cellulosic firm

24 February 2009 18:23  [Source: ICIS news]

SAN ANTONIO, Texas (ICIS news)--US regulators should broaden the rules on biomass to give cellulosic ethanol proponents a chance to follow a range of business models, an official at renewable energy firm Range Fuels said on Tuesday.

"The definition needs to be inclusive, not exclusive," Bill Schafer, senior vice president of Range Fuels, based in Broomfield, Colorado.

But the company acknowledged the concerns that some environmental groups have about extending the biomass definition too widely, he told the National Ethanol Conference in San Antonio.

Range Fuels broke ground in November 2008 on the first US woody biomass cellulosic ethanol plant, at Soperton, Georgia.

The plant is expected to be running in early 2010 at an initial capacity of less than 10m gal/year, with an eventual target of 100m gal/year.

Soperton is located in a heavily forested area and the plant will take advantage of declining demand for wood from the local paper and pulp industries, Schafer said.

It would also benefit from the plantation forestry practice of cutting down some young trees to create space for others.

Those so-called thinnings, which are currently not used for anything, could be useful as feeedstock for the ethanol plant, he said.

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By: Stephen Burns
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