Verbio Buys South Bend Ethanol Plant, Plans $230M Renewable Natural Gas Expansion
LINCOLN, Neb. (DTN) – South Bend Ethanol LLC in South Bend, Indiana, has new ownership and is expected to see a $230 million investment in the plant to expand its operation into renewable natural gas production.
Verbio North America Holdings Corp. announced on Monday it has completed the purchase of the plant from Mercuria Investments U.S., Inc.
It will be Verbio's second ethanol facility following the commissioning of its first plant bought in Nevada, Iowa. The company also produces renewable natural gas at the Iowa plant.
"Integration of the ethanol production with the RNG production process, unique to the Verbio brand and developed successfully at the company's facilities in Europe over the past decade, will result in higher efficiencies and improved sustainability," Verbio said in a news release.
"The site will be developed over the next three years incorporating Verbio's advanced engineering and operating technology practices. Following commissioning, the production capacity of the plant will be at 85 million gallons of corn ethanol and 2.8 billion cubic feet of RNG per year."
The company said it expects to retain the assets of the existing ethanol plant and "seek to improve yields and reduce energy consumption" during the next several months.
"The investment will incorporate additional equipment and processes necessary to produce value-added by-products, such as liquid fertilizers," Verbio said.
"Further, the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, aiming to boost investments in climate protection and clean energy in the United States, offers provisions that will benefit the Verbio project."
ADDING MORE EMPLOYEES
Verbio said it will initially retain all current 61 employees at the plant.
"The company's goal is to increase to 69 full-time employees by the end of 2025," the company said.
"To support the construction project, a significant number of additional indirect jobs will be created in the surrounding community and across the state. Verbio is working on plans to start construction in the next several months, with commercial production of RNG for use in process industries and other end-use markets expected to begin in 2026."
Verbio said the plant's primary feedstock of about 28 million bushels of corn annually used to produce ethanol, would continue to be procured locally.
"We are excited about the opportunity to integrate the production of ethanol with renewable natural gas in the state of Indiana," said Stefan Schreiber, executive board member for North America of Verbio AG, the German-based parent company.
"We believe this transaction provides an excellent path for Verbio to further strengthen its North America business and growth strategy. The site offers a competitive location as well as existing infrastructure and meets our requirements for access to the natural gas grid, electricity, feedstock sources and water supply."
Verbio said the construction of anaerobic digestion tanks designed to produce RNG, will allow the company to use the stillage resulting from ethanol production as feedstock rather than producing dried distillers' grains with solubles as it is typical for other ethanol plants.
Biogas produced in the AD tanks will be upgraded to pipeline quality RNG for injection into the gas distribution system serving the site, Verbio said.
Following processing, liquid fertilizers and humus will be returned to the fields as soil amendments, completing the sustainability cycle, the company said.
"We see a continued strong demand for renewable energy solutions, especially in North American industrial process industries," said Claus Sauter, founder and CEO of the parent company Verbio AG.
"This opens up promising economic perspectives for us and supports Verbio's growth and internationalization strategy. Our renewable energy operations worldwide are built on our company's 20-years-plus commitment to sustainability and technological innovation."
Globally, Verbio produces about 3.5 billion cubic feet of RNG, 198 million gallons of biodiesel and 100 million gallons of ethanol annually.
In 2021, Verbio launched operations in Nevada, Iowa, at its first U.S.-based plant that is about to start ethanol production of about 60 million gallons annually later this year in addition to its large-scale RNG operations.
Todd Neeley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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