NFR BioEnergy will make a $312 million capital investment to install biorefineries at more than 10 sugar refining hubs in South Louisiana, subject to completing lease and biomass agreements with sugar mills.
The firm plans to convert sugar cane waste, known as bagasse, into hardened energy pellets for use as fuel at global power plants. NFR BioEnergy has begun development of the first biorefinery in White Castle, Louisiana, where it is co-locating the facility with the Cora Texas Sugar Mill.
As it completes the first part of the project, a demonstration biorefinery will begin operations soon at the Cora Texas Sugar Mill, where NFR BioEnergy is leasing 15 acres. As NFR BioEnergy scales up its Louisiana production sites, significant hiring will begin in 2016 with a target of 127 jobs by the end of that year. The company, which also plans to relocate its headquarters to White Castle, estimated it will reach a capital investment of $312 million by the end of 2018 and employment of 450 by the end of its fifth project year in 2019.
A larger, commercial-scale biorefinery also is being developed at that site with a targeted completion in time for the 2015 sugar cane growing and refining season. NFR BioEnergy plans to negotiate long-term supply agreements with energy customers – chiefly electricity providers in Europe, but also secondary commercial and residential markets that employ energy pellets in heating units.
“NFR is choosing to invest in Louisiana due to the dynamic sugar industry, hard-working people and business-friendly community,” Chief Operating Officer Frank Randazzo said. “The State of Louisiana and its people have welcomed us with open arms and we look forward to contributing as active members of the community. NFR’s plant at Cora Texas in White Castle will be the first step toward revolutionizing both the energy pellet market and the disposal by Louisiana sugar mills of the excess waste produced in the refining process. Our goal is to build similar plants at additional sugar mills in Louisiana, which will create many quality jobs for the hard-working people of this state.”
Pending the sugar mill agreements, NFR BioEnergy will construct a series of biorefineries across South Louisiana’s sugar cane-growing region and create 450 new direct jobs. The conversion of sugar cane biomass into energy pellets through a torrefaction process has been aided by research at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s Energy Institute.
Governor Bobby Jindal said, “We are proud to have attracted – for the second time this month – an innovative manufacturer that will be supporting and helping to grow the sugar cane industry here in our state. This project not only will create a new source of sustainable energy, but it will also create additional sources of fertilizer and lower waste and disposal costs for our sugar cane growers.”
Louisiana Economic Development began working with NFR BioEnergy on the potential project in March 2013. To secure the project, the State of Louisiana offered the company a competitive incentive package that includes a performance-based, $500,000 Economic Development Award Program grant and the comprehensive workforce solutions of LED FastStart. NFR BioEnergy also is expected to utilize Louisiana’s Quality Jobs and Industrial Tax Exemption programs.
“We are excited to have their facility co-located on our property at the mill and look forward to the benefits this project will bring to the mill and the growers,” said Chief Operating Officer Charles Schudmak of the Cora Texas Sugar Mill. “NFR is offering us an excellent opportunity to venture into new markets, along with capital to improve our efficiency in the production as well as the quality of sugar. The removal of leaves and soil before it enters the mill will allow us to produce more sugar and at a higher quality than was previously possible.”
“BRAC welcomes NFR BioEnergy to the Baton Rouge area,” said President/CEO Adam Knapp of the Baton Rouge Area Chamber. “The energy production sector within the region remains strong, which NFR’s selection of Iberville Parish underscores. While BRAC assisted with site selection and permitting, the cooperation with Iberville Parish demonstrates how collaborative efforts yield tangible economic results.”