Controversial Wood-to-Ethanol Plant May Finally Get under Way in Upper Peninsula
by Katherine Yung (Detroit Free Press) After a lengthy delay, construction of what could be the nation’s first large-scale wood-to-ethanol plant in the country is to start this year in Michigan’s eastern Upper Peninsula.
If successful, the $232-million biorefinery in Kinross Charter Township would transform the production of ethanol and spawn dozens of other facilities like it.
…It’s one of a number of projects around the country that are racing to become the first to produce large quantities of ethanol from non-food materials, such as trees, garbage and algae.
…Initially, the plant plans to produce 20 million gallons of ethanol a year, using small trees harvested from a 150-mile area around the plant. But annual output is expected to double to 40 million gallons, and possibly reach as much as 80 million.
All of the ethanol will go to Valero, which plans to sell most of it and blend the rest into its own gasoline.
…According to the assessment, 71,000 acres of timber, mostly from the Upper Peninsula, would be harvested annually for the plant if it produces 40 million gallons of ethanol a year. That’s similar to the amount of wood utilized by several paper mills in the region that closed in recent years, the agency said. READ MORE