Following completion of the pre-feasibility study, a conclusion must be reached regarding the practicality of ethanol production under the circumstances considered. The steering committee may conclude that the project is simply not feasible at that time in that area. This may be an accurate conclusion and the steering committee should be prepared to accept this result.
During the assessment, those who are working on the study may wish to identify specific factors that can change the conclusion. For example, if targeted ethanol production incentives become available, what impact will these and other incentives have on the proposed project? If infrastructure exists in a specific location, thereby substantially reducing the capital cost of the proposed project, will this factor substantially change the conclusion of the study? If feedstock materials have little or no cost of acquisition, will this materially affect the conclusion? What is the impact of combining the proposed project with an existing asset like low-cost waste generation steam? These and other factors should be considered. An awareness of these potential resource assets will also be valuable during the next step if a feasibility study is conducted. Such a study should begin to focus on optimum sites and factors noted above that may play an important role in the economics of ethanol production in some situations.
If the pre-feasibility study conclusion supports a more detailed economic and site assessment, the steering committee may wish to work with state or local economic development organizations. Such organizations often have a data base of sites that meet specific infrastructure requirements. Utility companies often have business development divisions that can provide similar assistance. In addition, there are consulting groups that have experience in leading the feasibility study process while working closely with the project organizers. While there are a variety of approaches that can be employed during the feasibility study, the steering committee should clearly understand that this next step requires a commitment of time and money. Resources are available to support the project sponsors during this process. However, the experiences of the past decade clearly point to the higher success rate of projects in which the steering committee is active and able to attract financial support and expertise during the feasibility study phase.