Feasibility Study for an Arkansas BiorefineryRATIONALE
Potlatch Corporation has announced its intent to establish a commercial-scale biorefinery in southeastern Arkansas that will convert cellulosic biomass feedstocks into a variety of bioenergy products, including liquid fuel. As part of this initiative, Potlatch seeks to secure funding support from the U.S. Department of Energy through the DOE's solicitation focused exclusively on supporting deployment of commercial-scale biorefineries.
Winrock's role is to assist Potlatch with a comprehensive feasibility assessment—needed to maximize Potlatch's competitive position vis-a-vis the forthcoming solicitation—and to help Potlatch prepare the proposal for submission to DOE. This activity is being funded with monies directly from Potlatch to Winrock and from the Arkansas Energy Office through the University of Arkansas.
Beginning with a kick-off meeting to clarify objectives and the scope of work, Winrock will assist with project mobilization, management support, and administration, and will undertake various feasibility-assessment tasks such as feedstocks analysis, process analysis (including technology selection and analysis), products and markets analysis, economic analysis, and other assessment components such as environmental considerations and implementation timeframe.
Potlatch, with the assistance of Winrock International, the Arkansas Department of Economic Development, and the University of Arkansas at Monticello, has completed the first phase of a feasibility study for the development of a commercial-scale, fully integrated biorefinery facility at its Cypress Bend pulp and paperboard mill. Although noteworthy technical risks are involved, the first phase of the study concluded gasification of lignocellulosic biomass for the production of liquid transportation fuels and other energy products shows promising results and attractive financial returns are possible. A second and final phase of the feasibility study is underway and is expected to be completed by Spring, 2007. Potlatch is pursuing the Cypress Bend biorefinery through solely private partnerships with technical and financial entities. Company officials have met with a wide range of potential partners and will continue those discussions while the final phase of the feasibility assessment is completed. Potlatch's primary objective in pursuing the bio-refinery project is increased energy efficiency at its Cypress Bend facility. The company continues to explore alternative options to reduce energy costs. In addition, publicity surrounding the project led to the formation of a public policy committee made up of representatives from state and private entities, and Winrock International. The Committee has completed recommended policy changes for consideration during the 2007 Arkansas Legislative Session. In part, The Arkansas Bioenergy Promotion Act recommends Production and Utilization of Biofuels by developing a Renewable Fuel Standard, an Alternative Fuel Infrastructure Program, certain Consumer, Retail Dealer, and Supplier Incentives, along with Alternative Fuel Producer Tax Credits and Alternative Fuel Processor Tax Credits. Other recommendations include set aside funding for Research and Market Development, Public Education, and certain Mandates for usage by state fleets.