Commercial production of ethanol in the San Luis Valley, Colorado. Final Report Page: 25 of 222
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Based on these assumptions a conceptual design for a geothermal-ethanol plant is
provided which uses grains and potatoes as feedstocks. 'These feedstocks were selected
because both are grown locally. The principle grains grown in the area are barley and
winter wheat. The total valley production of these two grains'for a recent typical year
could produce about 90 M liters (23 MM gallons) of ethanol annually. In addition, the
total potato crop for a recent typical year could produce another 60 M liters (16 MM
gallons) annually for a net potential of 150 M liters (39 MM gallons). However, since
only a fraction of the total would be expected to be available and since the total is
insufficient to support the maximum sized facility under study, importation of grains
has been assumed. Corn, wheat and feed barley were identified as the grains that could
be imported at a price competitive with local crops and are used in making cost esti-
A net savings in fossil fuel is realized from two sources: (1) energy otherwise
used to provide heat and (2) the energy required to refine 189 M liters (50 MM gallons)
of gasoline. The total amount of fossil fuel that would be replaced by the production of
189 M liters (50 MM gallons) of ethanol using geothermal energy as the primary heat
source is estimated to be the equivalent of 975,000 barrels of oil.
Project capital cost estimates for the assumed resource characteristics and feed-
stocks totalled $177,000,000 for a 189 M liter (50 MM gallon) facility. Cost estimates
for a range of annual production capacities were conducted. The results indicated that
there is an economy of scale with higher plant capacities but no optimum size. The
cost per liter (gallon) of annual production capacity should decrease with size and
higher resource temperature and flow rates. The rate of change of this decrease will be
much higher at lower temperatures and flow rates due to the effects of the cost of the
geothermal well system on the overall cost of the project.
The discounted cash flow rate of return (DCFROR) of a geothermal-ethanol proj-
ect was evaluated throughout a range of plant capital costs and feedstocks. Mixes of
potatoes and grains as feedstocks are highly desirable because potatoes are net water
producers due to their high water content. By comparison, the production of ethanol
from grains consumes water. A production mix which results in about 12 percent pro-
duction from potatoes and 88 percent production from grains results in a non-consump-
tive water balance for the fr.cility. In this region this is a highly desirable situation due
to the criticality of water supplies. However, the analysis indicates that, even with a
very optimistic assumption about ethanol price escalation, ethanol can only be produced
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Hewlett, E.M.; Erickson, M.V.; Ferguson, C.D.; Sherwood, P.B.; Boswell, B.S.; Walter, K.M. et al. Commercial production of ethanol in the San Luis Valley, Colorado. Final Report, report, July 1, 1983; United States. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc874948/m1/25/: accessed March 18, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.