Sapphire Energy, a California-based technology firm, has confirmed fulfilment of a $54.5 million USD loan from the Department of Agriculture.
In late 2009, the company won government money through the Bio-refinery Assistance Program, managed by the USDA Rural Development-Cooperative Service, to focus more efforts on completing an effective algae-to-oil commercial demonstration facility in New Mexico.
Just four years later, Sapphire has managed to pay the government back in full. Tim Zenk, Sapphire’s VP for Corporate Affairs noted that, “It just makes sense to pay it off, if you have the ability to do so, and save on the interest and debt expense.” The goal for the still-developing project is to be able to produce 100 barrels of crude oil per day by 2015, and reach commercial scale three years after that.
“Sapphire Energy is very grateful to the USDA for supporting algae crude oil as an alternative source of energy as well as our vision to make this industry a reality,” said Cynthia ‘CJ’ Warner, CEO and chairman of Sapphire Energy. “With their backing, we did exactly what we set out to do. We grew our company, advanced our algae technologies, and built, on time and on budget, the first, fully operational, commercial demonstration, algae-to-energy facility that delivers a proven process for producing refinery-ready Green Crude oil. We could not have built this first of a kind facility without the support of the USDA.”