Oregon reaps slice of USDA biofuel incentive

Beaver Biodiesel is participating in a U.S. Department of Agriculture effort to increase the availability for feedstock for biofuels.

Beaver Biodiesel is participating in a U.S. Department of Agriculture effort to increase the availability for feedstock for biofuels.

U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced Tuesday the creation of four new Biomass Crop Assistant Program project areas — two of which will mean benefits for Oregon.

BCAP, as the program is known, sets out to address one of the biggest problems for biofuel producers: The availability of affordable biofuel feedstock.

One of the projects, which will get a share of the $45 million in total contracts for growers, concerns the growth of camelina.

Albany-based Beaver Biodiesel LLC, which produces about 100 million gallons of biofuel per year, will work with Oregon growers to collect high-grade camelina oil for biofuel production.

Daniel Shafer, principal manager for Beaver Biodiesel said camelina, a relatively new crop in the U.S., is drought tolerant and an easy rotation crop for wheat farmers. Its meal provides a solid feed for livestock and its oil is a great feedstock for biofuel.

"It's a premium product," Shafer said.

Beaver Biofuels will work with Willamette Biomass Processors in Rickreal to collect the camelina from farmers and separate out the oil. Farmers who grow camelina will receive subsidies from the USDA.

Backers of biofuels for the airline industry are promoting camelina oil-based biofuel as an ideal replacement for jet fuel.

ZeaChem Inc., which is building a biorefinery in Boardman, will also benefit from the USDA program.

A chunk of the USDA incentives will also go to growers of the hybrid poplar trees that the ZeaChem refinery will use to make cellulosic biofuels.

The goal is to enroll up to 7,000 acres into ZeaChem's hybrid poplar program, which is being included as part of the USDA’s Wood-to-Energy Initiative.

“ZeaChem is grateful to the USDA for designating the project area surrounding its biorefineries near Boardman, Oregon, for the establishment of renewable energy crops,” said Jim Imbler, president and CEO of ZeaChem, in a statement.


@SustainableBzOR | christinawilliams@bizjournals.com | 503.219.3438

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