Xethanol changes name, energy focus

By Kris Bevill
Web exclusive posted Oct. 31, 2008 at 10:10 a.m. CST

The self-proclaimed discredited cellulosic ethanol company Xethanol Corp. relaunched itself on Aug. 28 on the New York Stock Exchange as Global Energy Holdings Group Inc. and is ushering in what company executives hope will be new life for the company.

Xethanol was previously planning various ethanol projects but was also named in several lawsuits. The company repeatedly reported extensive losses and, while it successfully closed deals to develop ethanol sites, with the exception of its Blairstown, Iowa, facility, never began operating those plants. The Blairstown plant produced some ethanol but was never profitable. It was forced to close earlier this year.

Rather than continue down an unwinnable path, the company's Chief Executive Officer David Ames orchestrated an entirely new mantra for the company, complete with a new cast of executive members, and will now work towards becoming a "diversified energy company" focusing on various waste feedstocks for the production of energy and natural gas.

"We're moving on from ethanol and the reason is - the business model doesn't work," Ames said. "With the price of corn and energy...we've lost a lot of money doing that. We've spent a lot of money in cellulosic research and nothing out there is really fruitful and will make a major economic impact on producing ethanol."

One Xethanol project that will continue under Global Energy is the citrus peel-to-ethanol work being conducted in Florida under a partnership with the USDA. The project was one of the most promising sciences undertaken by Xethanol and while ethanol in general may not be profitable, Ames said he believes that feedstock makes a difference and the use of citrus waste offers unique benefits. Ethanol will continue to be used a blending fuel, but he has lost confidence that it will ever amount to more than that and there is no need to expand production of the fuel.

Global Energy Holdings is comprised of two subsidiaries. Global Energy Systems will develop renewable energy projects while Global Energy Ventures will invest in early-stage energy companies. The company is located in Georgia and plans to utilize the abundant woody biomass available in the Southeast as a feedstock source for energy projects, Ames said. Global Energy also plans to process methane from landfills into usable products. Waste is the most abundant feedstock source out there, according to Ames, and Global Energy plans to use as many types as possible.

Ames expects to make development announcements on several company projects by the end of the year.