From Beer to Biofuels

A few days ago in his essay extolling the virtues of Syracuse, NY, as a location that could readily adopt to the challenges of peak oil, Steve Balogh made mention of the area’s beer-brewing capacity as a mark in it favor. It turns out that Syracuse breweries can do more than just produce beer, according to this article from RenewableEnergyAccess.com:

A defunct beer brewery north of Syracuse, New York will soon start churning out more booze. This time, it’s a clean fix for cars all over the Northeast.

A new $157 million dollar ethanol production facility called Northeast Biofuels (NEB) will be one of the largest ethanol producers in the nation and part of a growing shift in the biofuels industry beyond the traditional Midwest….

Developers and the project’s supporters alike believe the new facility, located at the Riverview Business Park, will be a major part of ethanol’s expansion beyond the Midwest corn-states. NEB estimates to use 41 million bushels of corn, much of it to be purchased from New York farmers, to produce 100 million gallons of ethanol a year. The ethanol will be marketed for use primarily in New York State and the Northeast as a clean burning, oil saving gasoline additive.

While the overall value of ethanol and biofuels for reducing the US’ dependence on foreign oil is still under debate (this post from the Commons Blog, for instance, brings up some important questions about the energy used to produce ethanol), home-grown fuels, for now, can certainly jump-start our move to cleaner energy sources. And we’ve certainly got to appreciate these developers’ ability to look at a defunct brewery and see an opportunity like this…

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