Building on the momentum of Florida's new green wave, Florida Power & Light announced today that it will start building an ethanol production plant in Hendry County this year using citrus waste.
Orange peels, seeds and membrane will be converted into 4 million of ethanol every year and blended with gasoline to produce 60 million gallons of fuel and supply what is expected to be a growing demand for the alternative biofuel. The company made the announcement at the Farm to Fuel Summit hosted by Agriculture Commissioner Charles Bronson in St. Petersburg.
The ethanol plant will be operated by FPL Energy. using technology developed by Citrus Energy, a Boca-Raton based company. Citrus waste now is converted into animal feed at a cost to citrus producers, said David Stewart, CEO of the company. But, because the ethanol technology uses yeast to help the citrus waste ferment, it converts the waste to energy and does it more efficiently and with less cost than corn-based ethanol, he said.
"We're turning a liability for the citrus industry into an asset,'' he said.
Gov. Charlie Crist, who attended the conference, said FPL's announcement is more proof that Florida "has reached the tipping point'' and will soon become "a national leader as it relates to ethanol.''