BlueEarth Biofuels, Inc., and Maui County, Hawaii, officials recently announced plans to build a new biodiesel refining plant that will eventually fuel Maui Electric Company’s (MECO) diesel generators. The plant, which will be known as BlueEarth Maui Biodiesel, LLC, is designed to continue the promotion of biofuels in Hawaii.

The plant is expected to begin operation sometime in 2009, and it will initially use imported palm oil from around the Pacific Rim and South America to produce 40 million gallons of biodiesel per year. Second and third phases are expected to raise production to 120 million gallons annually and will begin by 2011. BlueEarth Biofuels, Inc., is hopeful that the plant will eventually use Hawaii-grown feedstock including local palm oil, jatropha, kukui nut, and coconut.

Jatropha plant

BlueEarth Maui Biodiesel, LLC, intends to use Hawaii-grown feedstock including jatropha, pictured here. Credit:

“BlueEarth will work diligently with other local biodiesel and ethanol producers to encourage increased local biofuels production, greater efficiency, and lower pricing. Potentially, shared raw materials purchasing, joint land use, and using locally produced ethanol and methanol in our own process are a few of the ways we can further stimulate the local biofuels industry. We intend this to be a win-win for Maui, the state, and our company,” said Bob Wellington, BlueEarth Managing Partner.

“We welcome BlueEarth Biofuels’ commitment to build a plant here, and I commend Maui Electric Company and Hawaiian Electric Company’s willingness to work with them,” said Maui County Mayor Charmaine Tavares.

BlueEarth Maui Biodiesel, LLC, has requested the authorization of a special purpose revenue bond to fund the $61-million project.

oranges growing on a tree

Citrus waste will be used to produce ethanol in the State of Florida.Credit:

In a related story, the State of Florida will soon produce ethanol by utilizing its large amount of citrus waste left over from orange and grapefruit juice production. Florida’s unsuitable climate for growing corn or other conventional feedstock has hindered the state’s ethanol production; however, recent discoveries suggest that ethanol produced from citrus waste is actually more cost-effective.

Citrus Energy, LLC, based in Boca Raton, Florida, is among eight recipients sharing a $15-million grant to advance Florida’s renewable energy production. The company received $2.5 million from the Renewable Energy Technologies Grants Program and announced plans to construct a plant in the Clewiston area that will produce 4 million gallons of ethanol per year. The plant will use only citrus waste, with 85 percent coming from orange peels.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has been researching the conversion of citrus waste to ethanol for more than a decade. Dr. Bill Widmer, research chemist with the Agricultural Research Service’s Citrus and Subtropical Products Research Laboratory in Winter Haven, Florida, said that if all of Florida’s citrus waste was used to produce ethanol, the state would produce 40–50 million gallons per year.

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