Proposed GJ ethanol project is suspended

The companies that proposed to turn beetle-killed wood into cellulosic ethanol in a Grand Junction plant are suspending the project.

Lignol Energy Corp. and Suncor Energy Inc. cited unstable energy prices, uncertain capital markets and “general market malaise.”

It’s unlikely that the project will be revived, Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce President Diane Schwenke said.

Based on conversations she had with company officials, “I just think it’s probably not something we’re going to see in our community,” Schwenke said.

The $80 million demonstration project was to proceed with a $30 million U.S. Department of Energy grant.

Even with that amount of money from the federal government, the project was still expensive, Schwenke said.

“It still required considerable private investment in a demonstration at a time when credit is very tight,” she said.

“It shows that all sectors of the energy industry, including potentially clean energy, could become victims of the recession.”

Officials of both companies were “fortunate that this decision was reached at an early
stage in the development of the project and, as such, Lignol and Suncor have not incurred significant costs,” Lignol Chief Executive Ross MacLachlan said.

Lignol, a Canadian company, is developing biorefining technologies for fuel-grade ethanol and other biochemical products from non-food cellulosic biomass feedstocks.


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