The year was 2008 and a man who made himself out to be the savior of the nation promised to create at least five million green jobs and at the same time usher in a green way of life and economy. Americans would be benefitting from green cars, green energy and more green in their wallets.
In the past year, the death toll of federally funded green companies has been steadily increasing. Though Solyndra has stolen the media spotlight, other lesser publicized green companies that have received federal funding have been biting the economic bullet.
One of those lesser publicized green companies was Range Fuels. Located in southeastern Georgia, Range Fuels goals were to produce ethanol from wood. The ethanol would be used as an alternative fuel. I couldn’t help but wonder what made using trees to produce an energy source any more green than using any other natural resource? To be very profitable, you would think that they would need a substantial supply of timber, thus more forests would be cut down. Doesn’t that sound like good green technology to you?
It must not have been that sound to others either because after receiving $64 million in federal funds and another $6.2 million from Georgia taxpayers, Range Fuels began running out of gas.
But wait, rescue is on the way.
LanzaTech, a New Zealand based company that specializes in biofuels recently purchased the Range Fuels plant for a whopping $5.1 million dollars. The plant initially cost $225 million to build so basically the sale to LanzaTech was pennies on the dollar. What’s more, LanzaTech is receiving financial backing from Vinod Khosla, a California entrepreneur, who also was a financial backer for the failed Range Fuels plant.
Unlike Range Fuels and other green companies, LanzaTech is boasting that they have not received the same type of financial loans or funding from the federal government as Range Fuels and Solyndra had. It turns out that they have only received $7 million from the departments of Energy and Transportation.
But I say let’s watch and see how much federal funds they do get now that they’ve bought the Range Fuels plant. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to hear about them receiving many more millions of taxpayer dollars in the near future.
LanzaTech is planning on using the facility to convert wood products into useable fuels and chemicals, as well as producing ethanol from carbon monoxide. They are also under contract to produce a low carbon jet fuel for Virgin Airways.
I guess LanzaTech figures they can succeed where Range Fuels failed and make a questionable process into a profitable one. Or will they end up like Range Fuels in a couple more years and start looking for someone to bail them out for pennies on the dollar.