Sunday, July 19, 2015

Spiritwood, Jamestown, North Dakota Update; Ethanol Plant, Power Plant Up And Running -- July 19, 2015

Updates

November 1, 2015: MDU cancels 96-mile pipeline that would have provided natural gas for the fertilizer plant. 

August 12, 2015: cooperative cancels plans for fertilizer plant.

July 25, 2015: a reader alerted me to two links regarding the Spiritwood:
This may explain another huge manufacturing facility in western North Dakota; more on that later if I remember.

July 25, 2015: finally, the definitive answer to what's going on in Jamestown, the link to this story sent by a reader:
Midwest AgEnergy Group started operations on the company’s new 65 million-gallon-per-year biorefinery located next to Great River Energy’s Spiritwood Station near Jamestown, North Dakota.
The Dakota Spirit AgEnergy biorefinery uses steam from the combined heat and power plant and corn from local farmers to produce ethanol, distillers grains and fuel-grade corn oil. The plant will produce 65 million gallons per year of ethanol, 198,000 tons of distillers grains for livestock feed and 6,900 tons of fuel-grade corn oil for products like biodiesel.
The ethanol produced at Dakota Spirit AgEnergy amounts to about 20 percent of North Dakota’s annual fuel demand. The biorefinery will purchase 23 million bushels of corn annually from farmers and employs 38 people.
The cost of the project was $155 million.
As an incentive, the state provided nearly $40 million in grants and loans for the renewable fuel project, including funding for feasibility studies, construction and jobs training. The state’s investment includes loans from the Bank of North Dakota and the North Dakota Department of Commerce’s Development Fund, along with grants from the North Dakota Industrial Commission and the NDDOC’s Agricultural Products Utilization Commission and Community Development Block Grant programs. Funding for new jobs training was provided by Job Service North Dakota. 
You know, this really is a big story, regardless of how one feels about ethanol. I think of the decades Mark Rodgers spent trying to cobble together that huge off-shore wind farm that came to naught. Here in the midwest, with similar tenacity, the developers never gave up, and came up with $155 million cobbled together from numerous sources. Whether this project thrives, survives, or dives, it must be quite a feeling of exhilaration right now for the folks who hung in there.

Original Post
 
Just a few days ago I posted that much of the activity planned for the Spiritwood site in Jamestown, North Dakota had not come to fruition.

Moments ago, a reader from Fargo wrote to tell me:
I am thrilled to hear this.

I mentioned to the reader that he/she probably knows my feelings about government-mandated ethanol. However, if the government is going to mandate ethanol, I am thrilled that folks in North Dakota are taking advantage of the opportunity.

This is wonderful for all the folks who invested time, money, human resources, to see these projects up and running.

More information:

The Jamestown Sun has more information on the ethanol plant:
Another factor in the local corn market is Dakota Spirit AgEnergy at Spiritwood. The ethanol plant will begin buying corn in April and start testing equipment and operations in May. Plans call for the plant to be fully operational this summer.
Dakota Spirit will accept corn under contract on a controlled basis this month, Brown said. As the plant staff gain experience and some of the testing is complete, the plant will begin buying corn on a cash basis.
“When we become more comfortable we’ll open things up,” Brown said. “We aim to support the local producers by offering another market for their corn.”
Once in full production, the plant will use about 2 million bushels of corn per month. This exceeds the 2014 Stutsman County corn production of 18.6 million bushels.
I missed the power plant story when it opened; it began operations back in November, 2014, according to The Bismarck Tribune:
Great River Energy's Spiritwood Station, North Dakota’s newest coal-fired power plant, started operations this week.
The plant, located near Jamestown, produces between 35 and 40 megawatts. At full capacity, it can pump 99 megawatts of power into the grid, said GRE spokesman Lyndon Anderson.
The plant employs 24 people and cost $425 million to build.
In addition to supplying electricity, the plant will also use steam energy to power an adjacent malting company and a 65 million gallon-per-year ethanol plant.

According to GRE, most conventional coal-fueled plants are 30 to 35 percent efficient. Spiritwood’s combined heat and power plant will be 60 percent efficient.
The plant will do so by using GRE's patented DryFining technology, which uses waste heat from GRE's Coal Creek Station near Underwood to dry lignite coal. The dry coal produces more energy with less raw material. It will be transported to Spiritwood via covered railcar.
$425 million / 99 MW = $4 million / MW. Either I did the math wrong or I am misreading something or comparing apples and oranges, but $4 million/MW for a coal-powered plant seems expensive. Or maybe that's what it costs now for a "clean coal power plant." But if that's accurate, ....

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Additional Background To Spiritwood

On another note, this article at Prairie Biz Magazine may help explain the "confusion." The plant was completed in 2011 but then sat idle until recently.
The 99-megawatt coal-fired electric generating plant was completed in August 2011. The plant went through a testing and commissioning process and then was shut down because of lack of demand for electricity in Minnesota. The plant has sat idle since.
Construction on the Spiritwood Station generating plant, which is being built near Spiritwood, N.D., began in 2006. The plant cost about $350 million to construct and was intended to produce steam for use at the Cargill Malt plant and electricity for the Minnesota markets.
Likewise, The Bismarck Tribune did quote an official who stated that plans for the ethanol plant had been "scrapped" but that was a long, long time ago (2009):
A Jamestown business leader says plans for a nearby ethanol plant have been scrapped and the city-county development corporation is getting its money back.
Connie Ova, the chief executive officer of the Jamestown-Stutsman Development Corp. She says developer Harold Newman was given a deadline of June 1 to start construction on the 100 million gallon ethanol plant in the Spiritwood Energy Park. The project has been on the drawing board since 2006.
Ova said changes in the ethanol industry hurt its chances.
The Jamestown-Stutsman Development Corp. committed $6 million to the project. Ova said the corporation will get its money back with interest. She said it has purchased the land from the Newman Group.
Biomass Magazine provides the rest of the story, 2011:
A new industrial park under development by GRE near Jamestown, N.D., features a combined heat and power (CHP) plant designed specifically to supply process steam to adjacent industrial processors. The project, known as Spiritwood Station, was originally intended to host a 100 MMgy corn ethanol plant. Plans have since changed, and a new 20 MMgy cellulosic biorefinery is expected to be built in its place.
“Back in the 2007-‘08 timeframe, when we were just breaking ground on the [CHP] plant, the conventional ethanol plant was cancelled,” says GRE’s Manager of Business Development Sandra Broekema. “That left us with a big hole of 350,000 pounds-per-hour of steam that we were planning to produce for sale that we now need to find a home for.”
Broekema says there are several reasons why a cellulosic biorefinery is a well-suited addition to Spiritwood Station. In addition to the plant’s high-steam usage requirements, the facility will also produce purified lignin pellets as a coproduct. “Our CHP is a fluidized bed combustion system which has some inherent fuel flexibility,” he continues. “By cofiring 10 percent lignin with DryFine (a refined North Dakota lignite), we would be able to reduce our carbon footprint even further.”
As a result GRE has stepped into the lead development role of the cellulosic ethanol plant. “The primary motivation for GRE’s involvement is to secure additional steam partners for the industrial park in order to achieve our original design efficiencies and economies for our cooperative membership,” Broekema says. “Because we are taking a ‘cooperative approach’ involving as many of the key stakeholders as we can, we have laid out a somewhat conservative five-year development plan beginning in 2010 through 2014 startup, if all goes according to plan.”
And then from this source:
Dakota Spirit AgEnergy Corn Ethanol Plant receives EPA Certification (Ind. Report).
Great River Energy, Dakota Spirit AgEnergy. Date: 2013-02-15.
Great River Energy, which operates a coal-fired plant near Underwood, has received federal renewable fuel certification for a 65 million gpy corn ethanol plant in the Spiritwood Park project near Jamestown.
Great River's Bismark-based subsidiary Dakota Spirit AgEnergy plans to build a plant that will utilize 23 million bushels of corn per year. The subsidiary hopes to complete financing this spring and break ground this summer (2013).
The facility will be co-located with Great River's coal-fired electric generating Spiritwood Station and will use the plants excess steam for ethanol production. The Jamestown plant will also produce corn oil, distiller's grains (DDGs), and meet the EPA's revised Renewable Fuel Standard, which requires cornstarch-based ethanol plants built after 2007 to have lifecycle carbon emissions 20 percent lower than conventional motor fuels.
So, hopefully this clarifies things.

Wow, I learn a lot from my readers. Again, a huge thank you to the reader who sent the information that the power plant and the ethanol plant were up and running.

It never ceases to amaze me how much activity is going on in a state with such a small population. Very, very impressive.

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