Delta Biofuel is evaluating Iberia Parish for a planned $70 million renewable fuel plant.
According to an announcement Monday from Louisiana Economic Development, the planned production facility would produce biomass fuel pellets made from residual sugarcane fiber, known as bagasse. The Jeanerette facility would produce up to 300,000 metric tons of bagasse fuel pellets annually.
If located in Louisiana, Delta would create 126 new direct jobs with an average salary of $62,500, plus benefits. The production facility’s peak construction would generate up to 100 construction jobs.
Delta has secured long-term supplies of feedstock bagasse, which can be processed into biomass fuel pellets and used alongside, or in lieu of, standard industrial wood pellets in power generation. Bagasse fuel pellets are lower cost alternatives to typical wood pellets, and also result in greater reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
European and Asian power and industrial heating plants transitioning away from fossil fuels now use over 25 million metric tons per year of wood pellet biomass, primarily displacing thermal coal as a feedstock. The use of biomass fuel pellets results in a reduction of GHG emissions more than 100% versus the use of fossil fuel in these plants.
The company would source all excess bagasse from four nearby sugar mills in Iberia, St. Mary and St. Martin parishes. Sourcing from these mills allows alternative use of the mills’ unneeded waste. Additionally, Delta has engaged European and Asian energy production facilities for multi-year commitments to purchase the fuel pellets.
CEO Philip Keating notes the project will eliminate methane emissions from the discarded bagasse around the state while providing renewable energy.
“We see Louisiana and its sugar industry as a terrific and reliable source of biomass for alternative fuel production,” Keating said in making the announcement. “We have been able to collaborate with our partner sugar mills to produce a solution for their needs, while establishing a viable project that can deliver long-term economic impact for the region and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in electricity production.”
The company plans to locate the greenfield facility on 16 acres near U.S. Highway 90 in Jeanerette, near one of its bagasse suppliers, Enterprise Sugar Mill. Groundwork for the new facility would begin September 2021, with completion expected in September 2022. Hiring would begin in the spring of 2022.
Founded in 2019, Delta Biofuel is a wholly-owned start-up within Tasso Renewable Energy.
Louisiana Economic Development first began working with the company in December 2020. The package includes a performance-based grant of $1 million as a reimbursement for infrastructure improvement expenditures, subject to the company reaching specified investment and payroll benchmarks. Delta’s planned project is also expected to utilize the state’s Fast Start and Quality Jobs programs and, pending local approval, the Industrial Tax Exemption program.