Valero Renewables-Welcome is located near Welcome, Minn., about four miles west of Fairmont and 100 miles southwest of Minneapolis. The bio-refinery sits on approximately 300 acres and started ethanol production in June 2009. The facility uses a dry-grind production method and state-of-the-art technology to maintain industry-leading standards in production, safety, product quality and environmental stewardship. The Welcome plant annually processes nearly 43 million bushels of corn into 120 million gallons of denatured ethanol and 400,000 tons of distillers grains co-products. The bio-refinery has a nameplate capacity of 110 million gallons of ethanol per year and employs more than 70 full-time personnel.
The entire kernel of corn is converted to ethanol or distillers grains. Ethanol is an environmentally friendly, high-octane renewable fuel produced by fermenting converted corn starch with yeast. It is used as a blending agent with gasoline. Distillers grains are the co-product left after the ethanol is removed from fermented corn mash, and are sold as a valuable livestock feed. Distillers grains are high in protein, fat, vitamins and minerals, making an excellent feed supplement for beef and dairy cattle, swine and poultry. The Welcome plant markets both dried distillers grains with solubles (DDGS) and modified (or wet) distillers grains with solubles (MDGS).
The plant timeline:
- December 2003 – Began working with community leaders on plans for the facility and land acquisition
- September 2005 – Announced land purchase and plans for an ethanol facility in Martin County
- November 2006 – Construction began
- May 2007 – Groundbreaking celebrated
- June 2008 – Construction largely completed
- April 2009 – Valero Renewables closed on purchase of the plant from VeraSun Energy
- June 2009 – Valero completed construction and began production