September 9, 2013
Follow-up Audit of the Department of Energy's Financial Assistance for Integrated Biorefinery Projects
The Department of Energy's Bioenergy Technologies Office (Program) supports the development of biomass resources into commercially viable biofuels, bioproducts and biopower. The Program provides financial assistance for integrated biorefinery projects to assist in building and operating facilities at each scale of development: pilot, demonstration and commercial.
Despite over 7 years of effort and the expenditure of about $603 million, the Department had not yet achieved its biorefinery development and production goals. Specifically, the EPAct mandate to demonstrate the commercial application of integrated biorefineries had not been met and the Department was not on target to meet its biofuels production capacity goal.
We found that the Department had not successfully achieved commercial-scale operations even though the FOAs issued in 2006 and 2007 indicated that the proposed projects should be operational at the commercial scale within 3 to 4 years. Further, the 2009 FOA indicated proposed demonstration projects would be operational as soon as possible after award and proceed rapidly to commercial-scale operations. Additionally, we found that the Department was not on target for achieving its 2014 production capacity goal of 100 million gallons of advanced biofuels. Program management concurred with the recommendations and initiated corrective actions that are generally responsive to our recommendations.
TOPIC: Management & Administration