New Energy Blue and ARCO/Murray partner to build biomass refineries

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Clean energy developer New Energy Blue and construction firm ARCO/Murray have announced a partnership to build out the New Energy Biomass Refinery-designed platform across the US Midwest.
ARCO/Murray will construct the flagship New Energy Freedom biomass refinery in Mason City, Iowa, to process corn stalks into second-generation fuel ethanol and clean lignin at large commercial capacity.
The partners have agreed to a $650 million (€606.4 million) construction contract.
Last year, New Energy Blue completed the design engineering, obtained local permits to proceed and conducted field trials of new harvesting methods and machinery. Earlier this year, the project entered the final investment decision (FID) phase. The partners plan to break ground later this year and start up the refinery in 2026.
The significant economic impact anticipated is comparable to that typically seen with first-generation ethanol facilities, according to the organisations.
The construction of the Freedom refinery in Mason City is projected to generate between 400 and 500 construction positions over a 20-month period.
Refinery operators and feedstock suppliers from New Energy Farmers aggregation team will hold about 70 permanent jobs.
The economic ripple effects will likely support another 5,000 jobs, added the businesses.
Local corn growers stand to benefit by not only selling their excess corn stalks to the refinery but also participating in profit-sharing through the New Energy Farmers business unit.
Patrick Hidder, executive vice president of ARCO/Murray's Green Infrastructure team, said: "We are excited to partner with New Energy Blue on this groundbreaking biomass refining project, reflecting our shared commitment to sustainability and innovation in the renewable energy sector. We welcome the opportunity to help launch a nascent industry dedicated to decarbonising this country's fuel and chemicals."
James Foster, vice president of construction for New Energy Blue, said the selection of ARCO/Murray as engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) contractor "has paid off immediately. Their involvement is letting us accelerate the project schedule, manage costs, and provide the necessary bonding capacity needed to satisfy finance. ARCO/Murray's expertise in process piping, water treatment, anaerobic digestion, and power solutions has already added significant value."
Following Freedom's successful completion, New Energy Blue and ARCO/Murray have agreed to extend their partnership to four more New Energy biomass refineries in the next five years, clustered near the first.

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