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Aemetis awarded $14 million to carry out upgrades at California biofuel plant

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Aemetis subsidiary Aemetis Advanced Fuels Keyes has received two grants from the California Energy Commission worth a combined $14 million (€12.7 million) to implement upgrades at its advanced biofuel plant.

The upgrades are expected to reduce natural gas use, lower greenhouse gas emissions, decrease operations costs and reduce the carbon intensity (CI) of fuel grade ethanol produced at the Keyes plant in the US state of California.

The cost reduction and revenues increase associated with the upgrades are expected to improve operating cash flow by $13 million (€11.8 million) annually.

Aemetis intends to install a 1.56MW photovoltaic microgrid solar array with integrated battery energy storage, as well as an AI-driven power distribution control system, which is expected to reduce the volume of natural gas currently used in generating electricity on-site,

The company also plans to upgrade the facility’s evaporation and distillation units with a mechanical vapour recovery system (MVR) to further reduce the use of natural gas. This, in turn, will lower CI and increase plant production capacity by around 25%.

The AI-driven distribution control system is expected to improve operational efficiency, assist data collection and analysis, and support employee training. The upgrades are also expected to create new construction and full-time jobs at the biofuel plant, and within the surrounding Californian communities.

“Aemetis is implementing technologies that allow the traditional biofuels industry to enter a new era of improved operational efficiency and lower carbon intensity renewable fuel, which we expect will result in a significant reduction of carbon content in renewable energy,” said Eric McAfee, chairman and CEO of Aemetis.

“When fully implemented at the Keyes plant, these projects are planned to result in a double-digit reduction in the carbon intensity of our ethanol and significantly improve our operating cash flow by more than an estimated $13 million [€11.8 million] per year, all while lowering greenhouse gas emissions and creating new jobs. We are grateful to the California Energy Commission for their support and confidence, and we look forward to implementing these upgrade projects.

Aemetis will also introduce a scholarship programme that will fund 10 scholarships every year, worth $3,000 (€2,726) each, aimed at mentoring local students in STEM-related careers.