London-based oil giant BP is teaming up with the biotech firm Verenium in Cambridge, Massachusetts, to build a biofuels plant in Highlands County, Florida, that will produce 136 million litres of ethanol a year from non-food crops such as grasses, the companies announced on 18 February.

The commercial-scale plant, which will begin production in 2012, is one of the largest cellulosic-biofuel initiatives to be announced, and will cost up to US$300 million to build. Around 8,000 hectares will be planted as feedstock.

The partners — who have each put $22.5 million into the joint venture to date — say that they plan to build other full-scale cellulosic-biofuel facilities in the Gulf Coast region of the United States.