NEVADA, IOWA, US — The recently constructed VERBIO Nevada Biorefinery is on track to achieve full-scale production of 7 million ethanol gallons equivalent (EGE) of renewable natural gas (RNG) by mid-summer 2022, according to the Germany-based company.
In early 2023, the site will begin operating as a biorefinery, producing 19 million EGE of RNG and 60 million gallons of corn-based ethanol, annually. The integration of RNG and ethanol production, unique to VERBIO, incorporates advanced operational technology to build on the company's successful experiences in Europe.
“This plant is a game changer,” said Claus Sauter, founder and chief executive officer of VERBIO, during the plant’s grand opening last week. “With the right biofuels policies in place, we believe Iowa and the US 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.”
Collaboration between VERBIO and Madison, Wisconsin, US-based Alliant Energy led to the opening of the facility, which Alliant Energy serves with both natural gas and electric service. Renewable natural gas 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. Further, 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.
“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, senior vice president at Alliant Energy and president of the Iowa Utility company. “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.”
VERBIO described the opening of the new plant as a “good start” as the RNG production from this first plant will equal 3.3% of total US 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.
Greg Northtrup, president and CEO of VERBIO North America Holdings, said Iowa, which leads the United States in corn production, was the perfect location for the plant.
“Iowa has always been one of the country’s leading renewable energy advocates,” he said. “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 is of increasing importance nationally and globally.”
In the first year of operation, the plant will use up to100,000 tons of corn stover as feedstock to produce RNG.