Energy beets for ethanol
The BeetsAll Energy project came about in 2010 after initial discussion as far back as 2007. The latest website information from the group explains that plans are to begin construction on its first sugar-ethanol production facility in late 2013 or early 2014 and begin operation in the fall of 2014. The first crop of energy beets to support the plant should be grown in 2014. And success of the first energy beet ethanol plant could lead to the construction of another 11 plants.
NDSU FEASIBILITY STUDY
When NDSU conducted its feasibility study for constructing a production facility, the research found that for a 20-million-gallon a year facility, break-even price for energy beet ethanol was $1.52 per gallon. Beet payments to farmers was estimated to be $31.7 million ($42 per ton x 754,717 tons), and additional net farm income was estimated to be $13.9 million.
A 20-million-gallon per year plant will require about 30,000 acres of energy beets grown within a 20-mile radius of each plant, or a total of 360,000 acres across North Dakota to supply 12 plants.
The promoters of energy beet production see the potential for energy beets being part of nearly every farmer’s crop rotation in the Upper Plains east of the Rocky Mountains. And energy beet research outside of North Dakota is underway, but plans for ethanol facilities are behind the North Dakotans.