News

Research Triangle Regional Partnership Participates in Grant Project to Identify Sites for Biofuels


July 18, 2011

Research Triangle Region, N.C. – The Research Triangle Regional Partnership (RTRP) will participate in a statewide project of the Biofuels Center of North Carolina to identify prime sites on which to build new advanced biofuels production facilities.

The $23,700 grant project seeks to identify dense areas of woody biomass in the 13-county Research Triangle Region of North Carolina and industrial sites within a 50-mile radius of them that offer the land, transportation routes and infrastructure to support a successful advanced biofuels production plant.

“Gaining 10 percent of our liquid fuels from biofuels by 2017 will require that we carefully identify, use and sustain forest resources,” said Biofuels Center President and CEO Steven Burke. “In doing so, we will gain much fuel, new forest markets and economic benefit in rural areas.”

RTRP President and CEO Charles A. Hayes said, “We see this project as a great example of innovation that leverages our region’s key assets for economic growth; that is, leading-edge knowledge in clean technology, rich agricultural land in our more-rural areas, and a skilled workforce to produce both the woody biomass feedstock and new biofuels.”

The project is among a range of strategies RTRP is pursuing to promote growth in the region’s CleanTech cluster. One of 11 regional priority cluster targets, it already comprises more than 200 companies and a range of support organizations that are accelerating economic and technological growth in smart grid, advanced transportation and alternative energy.

For the grant project, RTRP and other participating economic development partnerships in the state will each choose two industrial sites in their regions, based on their proximity to feedstocks and the availability of infrastructure needed by a biofuels facility. An engineering company chosen by the partnerships will assess the needed infrastructure; identify infrastructure that is not in place; and determine the costs, timelines and permit issues required for a new company to begin construction of a new facility.

The Biofuels Center’s goal is to end the project with 14 potential sites identified and assessed, providing key information it can use to market those sites to prospective biofuels companies. The assessment is expected to be completed in March.

The Biofuels Center, based in Oxford in Granville County, is located on North Carolina’s Biofuels Campus. The 426-acre campus is a partnership project with the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to create the nation’s only large-acreage site for biofuels trial growing, company incubation and partnerships, demonstration facilities and public education. The center is responsible for implementing North Carolina’s Strategic Plan for Biofuels Leadership to comprehensively develop a new biofuels industry sector in the state.

RTRP is the public-private organization that leads economic development for the Research Triangle Region of North Carolina, home to The Research Triangle Park and the 13 north-central N.C. counties of Chatham, Durham, Franklin, Granville, Harnett, Johnston, Lee, Moore, Orange, Person, Vance, Wake and Warren. For information, visit www.researchtriangle.org, call (919) 840-7372 or e-mail rtrp@researchtriangle.org.