Ethanol plant nears production in Hopewell

By Heather Sullivan - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

HOPEWELL, VA (WWBT) – After nearly two years of construction, a new ethanol plant in Hopewell will start production in a matter of weeks. Osage Bio Energy is putting the final touches on its "Appomattox Bio Energy Plant."

Ethanol, a cleaner burning fuel, is usually made from corn. This will be the only commercial plant in the country to make ethanol from barley.

The first shipments of barley are starting to roll in at Appomattox Bio Energy. The company has persuaded local farmers to start growing barley on their fields when they're dormant in winter.

"It's an opportunity to put more fallow ground to work in the winter months, and therefore offer an incremental cash crop to the farmers as well as an opportunity to prevent nutrient runoff in the Chesapeake Bay system," said Craig Shealy, CEO of Osage Bio Energy.

The company expects to spend $100-million a year on barley, and local farmers are stepping up.

"There was a 57% increase in acres if winter barley planted in Virginia this year, that was according to USDA statistics that came out at the end of March," Shealy said.

It will take 30-million bushels of barley to make 65-million gallons of ethanol a year. The ethanol will then be sold and blended into gasoline fuels in Virginia, D.C., Maryland and North Carolina. The plant will also sell a co-product.

"Barley protein meal, which is one of our co-products, will be sold to local and regional livestock farmers," said Shealy.

The company has put hundreds of contractors to work, plus hired employees for the plant and an office in Glen Allen, and expects to pump millions into the community.

"That plant will be approximately one to two million a year of taxes directly into the city, we've hired, at full staff will have about 55 employees here on site," Shealy added.

The plant will start making some ethanol in late July, and start commercial production in August. Osage Bio Energy is looking at opening plants in Mecklenburg, Virginia and some nearby states.

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