The South Carolina Department of Agriculture, in cooperation with the South Carolina Energy Office, has announced the first round of South Carolina Renewable Energy Infrastructure Development Fund awards.

Administered by the Department of Agriculture, the South Carolina Renewable Energy Infrastructure Development Fund was established in June of 2007 to provide funding for renewable energy demonstration projects, research and development projects, and planning grants to organizations, businesses and research institutions in the state.

Qualified renewable energy projects include wind, solar, and biomass energy.

“The idea for these grants is to encourage the production and use of renewable energy,” Commissioner Hugh Weathers said. “At $100 a barrel for crude oil, developing cleaner, cheaper, more reliable alternative energy sources is essential. I believe South Carolina is on the threshold of incredible advances. Applying the talent and innovative spirit we have here in the state, we can foster economic growth and expansion, protect our environment, and make our dependence on foreign oil a thing of the past.”

A total of 13 grants totaling $1.36 million were awarded in the first round selection process. Eight of the major grant projects funded were related to the production of energy from common farm biomass wastes; offshore wind research; compacted wood fuel for export markets; poultry litter for on-farm energy; the use of switchgrass, sweet sorghum and sweet potatoes for ethanol production; solar energy for dorm facilities; and assistance for a bio-gasification facility. In addition to the major grants, five planning grants totaling $50,000 were awarded to businesses and research entities to assist with the development of federal grant applications and other external funding.

For those interested in applying for South Carolina Renewable Energy Infrastructure Development Funds, the next deadline is April 18, 2008.

For more information about the grant recipients or the selection process, contact Erika Hartwig, South Carolina Energy Office, ehartwig@energy.sc.gov, 803-737-7951, or Larry Boyleston, South Carolina Department of Agriculture, 803-734-2210.