With its acquisition of South Bend Ethanol, Verbio North America Holdings Corp. plans to invest $230 million into the plant’s expansion.
The South Bend ethanol plant will be the company’s second production facility in the U.S., according to a press release. Verbio plans to turn the ethanol plant into a “modern biorefinery.”
“We are excited about the opportunity to integrate the production of ethanol with renewable natural gas in the state of Indiana,” said Stefan Schreiber, executive board member for North America of Verbio AG, the Germany-based parent company. “We believe this transaction provides an excellent path for Verbio to further strengthen its North America business and growth strategy.”
Schreiber also said the location was a key factor for the purchase.
“The site offers a competitive location as well as existing infrastructure and meets our requirements for access to the natural gas grid, electricity, feedstock sources and water supply,” Schreiber said.
Verbio plans to keep all 61 employees with a goal to add eight full-time employees by the end of 2025. The company also plans to employ many other workers during the construction phase at the plant, which will span three years.
Verbio said it has developed a production process that integrates ethanol production with the renewable natural gas process. Verbio has integrated the process at its European facilities during the past decade.
Once the South Bend plant’s upgrade is complete, it will be able to generate 85 million gallons of corn ethanol and 2.8 billion cubic feet of renewable natual gas each year.
Construction should start in the next several months, with commercial production of renewable natural gas beginning in 2026.
In the meantime, Verbio plans to reduce energy consumption at the existing ethanol plant with upgrades during the next several months.
Verbio also plans to take advantage of climate and clean energy provisions in the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, which will benefit the South Bend project.
Verbio will continue to buy the 28 million bushels of corn annually used to produce ethanol in South Bend from local farms.
Verbio’s first biorefinery in the U.S. is in Nevada, Iowa. Renewable natural gas production began there in December 2021. The second phase of the Nevada plant’s upgrade should be complete sometime this summer. It then should operate as a biorefinery, producing 60 million gallons of corn-based ethanal and 19 million ethanol gallons equivalent of renewable natural gas.
“Our renewable energy operations worldwide are built on our company’s 20 years-plus commitment to sustainability and technological innovation,” said Claus Sauter, founder andCEO of the parent company Verbio AG. “We look forward to further expanding our business within North America as well as internationally in the coming years.”
Verbio North America has plans for five to 10 more U.S. biorefinery plants in the next five years. It also operates a biodiesel plant in Canada.