Abengoa Bioenergy’s planned 23 million-gallon-per-year cellulosic ethanol plant in Hugoton, KS, is now under construction.

The company recently received the required PSD air-quality permit from the state. In August, it was offered a $133.9 million loan guarantee from the U.S. Department of Energy, and in July USDA selected the area around the plant as a Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) project area. BCAP helps farmers with start-up costs of establishing non-food energy crops.

Up to 20,000 acres of switchgrass will be grown to supply feedstock for the plant. The balance of the 315,000 tons of biomass processed annually will be corn stover and wheat straw, also purchased from area farmers.

When completed in 2013, the plant is expected to provide 65 full-time jobs. In addition to the ethanol production, it will annually generate 25 megawatts of electricity, enough to power the ethanol conversion process.

"The construction of this first-of-a-kind commercial-scale biorefinery facility will allow us to utilize our proprietary technology that has been developed and proven over the last 10 years to produce renewable liquid fuel from earth's most abundant organic feedstock source – plant fiber, or cellulosic biomass," says Manuel Sánchez, Abengoa’s CEO. "Our company is excited to begin the commercial implementation of this technology, and ultimately to expand this technology and incorporate it into many of our other production facilities around the world."