Throughout my 34 years in the biofuels industry, there has never been a dull moment.
At POET, there’s always something to be done: a breakthrough to be made, another regulatory hurdle to overcome, an opportunity for growth on the horizon. Things seem to move quickly, and we don’t often have the luxury of kicking back and being satisfied with the status quo.
That’s why I often have to remind my team — and myself — that, while our tenacity, work ethic and never-satisfied mentality are core to our success, it is equally important to pause and celebrate our victories. We are working each day to forge new paths and, sometimes, move mountains. We know where we’re headed, but if we don’t stop to measure our progress every now and then, we could lose sight of just how far we’ve come.
And in 2021, we sure covered a lot of ground.
Despite the impacts of recent global challenges, POET has been blessed with a season of prosperity. We navigated through volatile corn markets, we saw fuel demand return to pre-pandemic levels, and we continued to grow our line of plant-based bioproducts.
In June we grew by 40% virtually overnight with the acquisition of six world-class bioprocessing facilities in Iowa and Nebraska, bringing our annual production capacity to 3 billion gallons of bioethanol, 14 billion pounds of DDGS, and 975 million pounds of corn oil. Those are numbers I never could have imagined as a 22-year-old running a one-million-gallon-per-year bioethanol plant in the late 1980s.
In September we released our inaugural sustainability report featuring a pledge to achieve carbon neutrality across our facilities by 2050. Throughout the year we completed the construction of environmental improvement technologies at several of our facilities to make inroads toward that goal, including steam turbine technology at POET Bioprocessing – Mitchell, renewable CO2 capture at POET Bioprocessing – Portland, and the first POET Solar Farm at our headquarters in Sioux Falls.
Other internal and external accomplishments throughout the year were, quite frankly, too numerous to list; however, a few other key achievements included:
• A study by Environmental Health & Engineering (EH&E) finding that the carbon intensity of corn bioethanol is 46% lower than traditional gasoline
• Joining the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers in Action (USFRA) Decade of Ag movement
• Multiple regulatory victories, including the veto of an anti-E15 bill in Indiana as well as E15 approval in Oregon and Nevada
• An international feature in the BBC StoryWorks short film series “Nature’s Building Blocks”
• Completion of our second POET Pure purified alcohol facility at POET Bioprocessing – Alexandria
• Breaking ground on the POET Bioproducts Institute at the Research Park at South Dakota
• The launch of the Gradable platform across all 33 POET facilities to encourage climate-smart farming practices
This is an exciting time for POET and, most importantly, for the global bioeconomy. We are on the cusp of a new era, where the world is beginning to recognize what we’ve known all along: the best near-term solution to ending our addiction to fossil fuels and restoring harmony between human and nature can be found in biofuels and bioproducts created from agriculture.
I believe this is the beginning of an agricultural revolution. The scope of achievements made this past year was nothing short of remarkable — but from where I’m standing, our future looks even brighter.