VERBIO's Entry into the US Bioenergy Industry: Indiana Ethanol Plant Acquisition
- 08-Jun-2023 12:32 PM
- Journalist: Stella Fernandes
Germany: VERBIO's North American subsidiary, VERBIO North America Holdings Corporation, has recently acquired South Bend Ethanol, LLC from Mercuria Investments US, Inc. The plant currently produces 250,000 tons of Ethanol per year and marks VERBIO's second production site in the United States, following their successful commissioning of a biorefinery in Nevada, Iowa. VERBIO plans to convert the South Bend plant into a biorefinery that employs an innovative combined bioethanol-biomethane production model, inspired by the success of their German plants. This large-scale project is expected to require approximately $230 million in investment.
VERBIO AG's North American Executive Board Member, Stefan Schreiber, expressed enthusiasm for the company's forthcoming expansion via innovative biorefinery technology and bioethanol and biomethane production in Indiana. The acquisition of South Bend Ethanol marks an important milestone in VERBIO's global growth strategy aimed at boosting their production capabilities. The plant's strategically advantageous location provides ideal conditions for their biorefinery concept, including access to competitive feedstock sources and a robust infrastructure to support the worldwide marketing of their products.
VERBIO is set to overhaul South Bend's Ethanol plant over the next three years, transforming it into a biorefinery that mirrors the German plants operated by the company. Their innovative biorefinery concept enables the processing of various agricultural raw materials at a single site, resulting in greater economies of scale, more efficient raw material utilization, lower energy consumption, and superior sustainability. With over ten years of successful production in Schwedt/Oder (Brandenburg) and Zorbig (Saxony-Anhalt), VERBIO has already proven the efficacy of this approach. Following the conversion, the new plant's production capacity will be 250,000 tons of bioethanol and 850,000 MWh of biomethane per year, thereby enhancing efficiency, sustainability, and greenhouse gas balance.
After injection into the local natural gas grid, the South Bend plant's Biomethane output can be used as a renewable energy source or biofuel for industrial applications. Upon processing, the resulting residues, which include high-quality liquid fertilizers and humus, are then returned to fields, thereby closing the sustainability loop. VERBIO is committed to retaining all the current facility employees and creating a multitude of indirect jobs in the community and throughout Indiana via the construction project. Plans for a swift commencement of construction are already underway. The use of biomethane for transportation and industrial purposes is expected to begin in 2026.
At the Annual General Meeting held in February 2023, VERBIO AG's Managing Board reiterated its plan to increase investment in the United States. The company had already recognized the US as an attractive market for their internationalization strategy in 2018, much before the IRA. Currently, there is a robust desire in the US to lead the world in emerging environmental technologies. The IRA aligns perfectly with their business model and gives their North American development a significant boost through investment and production support. With government funding, low energy and raw material costs, well-established infrastructure, long-term planning, and reliability, the ideal environment for investment has been created, resulting in remarkable momentum. The construction of the new plant in Indiana opens fresh perspectives and underscores the company's growth and internationalization strategy," comments Claus Sauter, CEO of VERBIO AG.
According to Sauter, if Europe desires to retain its position in modern technologies globally, it must act fast and respond urgently to the IRA. As a German company, we have no option but to increase our investment in the US and leverage the opportunities presented by the IRA. Europe is presently oblivious to the next significant technology wave and the future. Therefore, it needs to awaken and take action.