(Raleigh, N.C.) North Carolina Governor Bev Perdue presented the inaugural Biofuelist of the Year award to Hoke County-based ethanol facility Clean Burn Fuels today (24 May 2010) at the North Carolina Farm Bureau in Raleigh. Initiated by the Biofuels Center of North Carolina, the Biofuelist of the Year award recognizes pioneers of this new industry and key advancements toward the state’s goal of producing 600 million gallons of biofuels every year by 2017. Biofuels Center president and CEO Steven Burke said, “Clean Burn Fuels has brought to North Carolina a facility significant in vision, capital investment, new jobs, and impact on a rural county.” He continued, “It further affirms North Carolina’s smart policy commitment to gain large capacity for alternatives to imported petroleum-based liquid fuels.”
The facility is located in Dundarrach near Raeford, North Carolina. Clean Burn Fuels currently employs 41 people, and is expected to employ over 100 people. It will bring millions of tax dollars to the mostly rural Hoke County. Facility workers earn on average almost double the county average in wages. “Biofuels are the future,” said Gov. Perdue. “We’re on the cusp of something gigantic that, in time, will change the energy platform of North Carolina.” The $100 million Clean Burn Fuels facility—the largest on the East Coast—will initially produce approximately 60 million gallons of ethanol per year, and has potential room for expansion to 240 million gallons per year.
Clean Burn Fuels CEO Jack Carlisle said, “This award is not for me and not for Clean Burn Fuels, it is for the state of North Carolina.” He encouraged the state to invest in E85 infrastructure to service the hundreds of thousands of flex-fuel vehicles North Carolina motorists already own. While ethanol production is its main focus, the plant will also produce and sell co-products: DDGS (Dried Distillers Grains with Solubles) and CO2. DDGS are rich in cereal proteins, minerals and vitamins, and are an excellent source of digestible protein and energy for hog, poultry and cow farms. The facility will capture and compress food-grade level carbon dioxide gas to a liquid form. The majority of the CO2 will be sold as a liquid and the balance as dry ice. The plant will produce 170,000 gallons every day and will operate 355 days per year, 24 hours a day.
Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy, emphasized Clean Burn Fuel’s significance on the national scene in his keynote address. The Washington D.C.-based group, a coalition of biofuels producers, is committed to the promise of agriculture and growing America’s economy through cleaner, greener energy. “North Carolina’s comprehensive approach to biofuels development sets an example for the rest of the nation,” said Buis. “The U.S. spends $1 billion a day on its oil addiction. We have to move forward. Investments in ethanol are an investment in America.”
North Carolina’s biofuels industry has already made significant strides toward economic viability in just a few years. In 2007, a handful of small-scale biofuels companies were producing somewhere between one and two million gallons of biodiesel a year. In 2010, two-and-a-half years after the Biofuels Center was initially staffed, more than 400 people statewide are actively involved in biofuels research, biomass growing, feedstock development, production, distribution, workforce development and education, or other supportive roles. In April of this year, the Biofuels Center assisted the recruitment of HCL CleanTech, an Israeli biofuels technology company, to North Carolina.
Attendance at the event represented North Carolina’s agricultural, forestry, environmental and biofuels sector. In addition to the award, state Sen. Charlie Albertson received special recognition for his leadership in bringing biofuels to the statewide agricultural community. As early as 2006, Albertson was integral to initiating “North Carolina’s Strategic Plan for Biofuels Leadership,” which provides the roadmap for the state’s biofuels future. “Senator Albertson has been the leading voice for biofuels in the Senate,” said state Sen. Josh Stein.
Biofuels Center board chairman Norris Tolson congratulated Clean Burn Fuels on its award and said, “This plant is important for the future of North Carolina. With the state’s goal of replacing 10% of its fuel consumption with home-grown biofuels, we’ve made a big start and created jobs.”
The Biofuels Center is a private non-profit corporation funded by the North Carolina General Assembly to develop large capacity for biofuels statewide in coming years. The Center implements sustained state policy, assists companies and all parties within the biofuels community, and works to meet North Carolina’s goal: by 2017, 10% of the state’s liquid transportation fuels will come from biofuels grown and produced within the state.