two surviving ventures face high hurdles
Ask just about anyone involved in the effort to start a home-grown ethanol industry in Hawaii and invariably the word "challenging" comes up.
Challenging, it turns out, is an understatement.
Four years ago companies were lining up to build ethanol production facilities in Hawaii after the state launched a program that offered generous tax credits and set a mandate that most gasoline sold in the state must contain 10 percent of the renewable fuel. Soaring ethanol prices, which hit a record $4.23 a gallon in the summer of 2006, also spurred interest. On the mainland, dozens of corn-based ethanol plants sprouted up across the Great Plains.
In Hawaii, meanwhile, plans were moving forward to erect ethanol plants that would mostly use sugar cane or sugar cane byproducts as a feedstock. Before any of the companies could get their permits approved, however, the price of ethanol collapsed, falling as low as $1.40 a gallon in late 2008. In addition to falling prices, difficulty in securing land to grow feedstocks and dwindling investor interest have made it difficult to get any new processing facilities up and running.
There were plans in recent years to build at least six plants in Hawaii to produce ethanol, an alcohol-based renewable fuel that can be made from a variety of organic materials, including sugar cane. Of the original six that were planned, only two are still on the books, and neither has a target date to begin construction.
SAN DIEGO, Feb. 22 /PRNewswire/ — SG Biofuels, a sustainable plant oil company specializing in the development of Jatropha as a low-cost, sustainable source of oil, today announced the launch of JMax 100, a proprietary cultivar of Jatropha optimized for growing conditions in Guatemala with yields 100 percent greater than existing varieties.
JMax 100 is the first elite cultivar developed through the company’s JMax Jatropha Optimization Platform. The platform provides growers and plantation developers with access to the highest yielding and most profitable Jatropha in the world, the sequenced genome and advanced biotech and synthetic biology tools to develop cultivars specifically optimized for their unique growing conditions.
"The yields and profitability of JMax100 and the JMax platform far exceed what is currently available through existing varieties of Jatropha," said Kirk Haney, President and Chief Executive Officer of SG Biofuels. "In Guatemala, we have utilized the world’s largest library of Jatropha genetic material and our advanced genetic program to enable exponential increases in productivity and profitability, and establish Jatropha as a large-scale sustainable energy crop."