Growing Camelina Could Bring $80 Million To Colorado’s Economy

Blue Sun Biodiesel Nets Grant to Commercialize Camelina, Replace Petroleum Oil

GOLDEN, Colo., July 21 – Oil hit a record $147 earlier this month, further indicating the need to move away from reliance on the troublesome energy source. In a step toward U.S. energy independence, Blue Sun Biodiesel has earned an ACRE grant from the state of Colorado to commercialize a non-food energy crop, camelina, for use in biodiesel. The crop could bring $80 million to Colorado’s economy.

The Colorado Agricultural Value-Added Development Board administers the Advancing Colorado's Renewable Energy (ACRE) Program, which provides funding to promote energy-related projects beneficial to Colorado's agriculture industry.

The $41,059 ACRE grant supporting camelina research will be joined by an additional $12,910 from Blue Sun. Blue Sun is using the grant to develop camelina production practices by conducting water use efficiency trials, fertility experiments, date of planting studies and observing on-farm production. The culmination of the grant will result in a spring camelina production guide.

Blue Sun is actively breeding spring and winter camelina, through traditional breeding practices, to develop superior regionally adapted camelina cultivars for the region. Blue Sun has a spring camelina variety Cheyenne commercialized and available for sale.

“Camelina is part of the next step for biodiesel,” said Sean Lafferty, VP of Technology at Blue Sun Biodiesel. “It is a non-food crop, and it can be grown on land unsuitable for most other crops. Camelina is a good rotation crop as well and it can survive low and variable rainfall conditions, reducing risk for the farmer.”

By introducing camelina to farmers with expert agronomic support, this project will establish a non-food crop from which the U.S. can derive its own energy. Moving camelina from an experimental oilseed crop to commercial deployment as a key biodiesel fuel source can have significant impacts on the Colorado economy and sustainable energy options in the U.S.  Data from a federal energy lab projects an additional $2.67 in rural economic activity for every additional gallon of biodiesel capacity. Colorado’s dryland farming regions have the potential (in rotation with winter wheat) to add nearly 30 million gallons of capacity—or about $80 million in rural economic activity.

“Blue Sun’s Fusion™ B20 biodiesel represents the highest level of quality in biodiesel, and the characteristics of oil from the camelina seed match perfectly with the attributes Fusion requires,” said Mike Miller, President and COO of Blue Sun Biodiesel. “We’re excited that we can lead the change to the next-generation of biodiesel sources, making biodiesel a permanent part of the energy solution in the U.S.”

Crops such as camelina support local farmers by expanding crop options and reducing risk for marginal land with low and variable rainfall. The camelina plant can withstand cold temperatures and produce good yields when planted early (February 1 to March 30). Camelina has the additional benefit of low cultivation costs.

Blue Sun is an agriculturally-focused biodiesel company that already has four years of direct experience with the tasks required to commercialize oilseed crops in Colorado.

Return to News & Events Home