Trestle Energy gets low carbon intensity rating for ethanol in BC

By Susanne Retka Schill | December 02, 2014

A new approach to driving down the carbon intensity of corn ethanol has received approval from the British Columbia Ministry of Energy and Mines. Three pathways from Trestle Energy LLC were given approved carbon intensities of 29.10, 29.68 and 35.66 grams CO2 equivalent per megajoule (CO2e/MJ). That compares with an average rating of 55 CO2e/MJ for the 15 Midwestern ethanol producers who have received carbon intensity ratings under British Columbia’s Renewable and Low Carbon Fuel Requirements Regulation. And, it favorably compares with the 33.31 CO2e/MJ carbon intensity rating given to Peruvian sugarcane-ethanol producer, Maple Biocombustibles.

“We think of ourselves as a bolt on option for virtually any ethanol plant in North America,” Trestle Energy president Jamie Rhodes told Ethanol Producer Magazine.  “The approval from British Columbia is great because it validates the proposal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the agriculture sector that’s supplying feedstock.”

Rhodes explained that Trestle Energy has worked on the approach for several years, and demonstrated it in a partnership with a Midwestern ethanol plant.  “We worked upstream in their supply chain and demonstrated our ability to drive down emissions and the interest in the agricultural sector to participate in that. It was very successful across the board,” he said.

The British Columbia approval clears the way for Trestle to begin selling its low-emissions biofuel in the province, and the company will now begin partnering with existing ethanol plants in Iowa, Minnesota and across the Midwest to ramp up production of its low-carbon biofuels.

Rhodes, who is based in California, declined to give details on the approach at this time, but did give a high-level overview. “We looked at lifecycle analysis for biofuels and it seemed liked there was a lot of leverage to be had in the agricultural sector. That’s where we focused our efforts in the last few years. How do we demonstrably drive down emissions there to affect the lifecycle?  We developed a number of strategies that can be used in the agricultural sector and those emissions benefits flow down through the ethanol plants and to the ethanol product.”

The company has a pathway petition pending with the U.S. EPA and has applied with the California Air Resources Board for a carbon intensity rating under the Low Carbon Fuel Standard. Rhodes added that how Trestle Energy proceeds with commercialization may be affected by those regulatory decisions.