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Seed Money for Clean Energy

Grant-funded biofuels pilot project could result in new cash crop for farmers.

A $130,000 grant from The Biofuels Center of North Carolina to a group of public and private partners led by AdvantageWest is providing “seed money” aimed at developing the clean energy industry in Western North Carolina. The Field to Fryer to Fuel (F3) project will pilot a new business model for the production of biodiesel from locally grown feedstocks that will reduce the region’s dependence on imported fuels. The project has also received $64,000 in federal economic development funds.

For the pilot program, 60 acres of canola have been planted at Biltmore – one of several project partners – that will be pressed into food-grade oil for area restaurants. The used fryer oil will then be converted to biofuel for motor vehicles and home heating. Ron Townley, formerly of Land-of-Sky Regional Council, is helping administer the project for AdvantageWest in a grant-funded part-time position.