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World’s first advanced biofuels facility opens

Beta Renewables world leading plant in Italy to start “new era for advanced biofuels”

The world’s first advanced biofuels facility
The facility is the world’s first plant built to produce bioethanol from agricultural residues

The world's first advanced biofuels facility has opened which is set to present a "leap forward" for the bioenergy sector. The facility in Italy has been developed by Italian cellulosic biofuels firm Beta Renewables. The company said it is set to see the beginning of a "new era for advanced biofuels."

Situated outside the city of Crescentino, the facility is the world's first plant to be designed and built to produce bioethanol from agricultural residues and energy crops at commercial scale using enzymatic conversion.

The plant uses wheat straw, rice straw and arundo donax, a high-yielding energy crop grown on marginal land. Lignin, a polymer extracted from biomass during the ethanol production process, is used at an attached power plant, which generates enough power to meet the facility's energy needs, with any excess green electricity sold to the local grid.

Beta Renewables is a global leader in cellulosic biofuels and part of the Mossi Ghisolfi Group, and Novozymes, the world's largest producer of industrial enzymes. The two companies formed a strategic partnership in October 2012, making Novozymes the preferred enzyme supplier for Beta Renewables' current and future cellulosic biofuel projects.

Beta Renewables' chairman and CEO, Guido Ghisolfi, said: "The advanced biofuels market presents transformational economic, environmental and social opportunities, and with the opening, we pave the way for a green revolution in the chemical sector. We will continue to commercially expand Beta Renewables' core technology throughout the world, and we are very confident at this stage given the demand we see around the globe."

Peder Holk Nielsen, CEO of Novozymes, added: "The opening today presents a leap forward and is truly the beginning of a new era for advanced biofuels. Here, at this plant, enabled by Novozymes' enzymatic technology, we will turn agricultural waste into millions of litres of low-emission green fuel, proving that cellulosic ethanol is no longer a distant dream. It is here, it is happening, and it is ready for large-scale commercialisation."