The community of Gothenburg, Neb., is celebrating the recent announcement of a $750 million liquid fertilizer facility coming to the community, expected to generate 50 full-time jobs and nearly 250 indirect jobs. The project is billed by the developers as the biggest single private investment west of Lincoln in recent years.
In contrast to the traditional method of using natural gas, the new Meadowlark Plant will use renewable electricity and wastewater to create the hydrogen that’s needed to make fertilizer. Nebraska Public Power District is investing $100 million to make the renewable project work.
"Transitioning to a carbon-free world, it seems like everybody is doing that,” said Meadowlark founder Josh Westling. “If we can be thought leaders in that, we want to do it.”
The plant will generate more than 500,000 tons of fertilizer and 20 million gallons of diesel exhaust fluid annually. It’s expected to be sold to farmers within a 150-mile radius of the plant, which is good news according to Gov. Jim Pillen.
“Everything we can do to decrease our costs, everything we can do to reduce the use of a gallon of diesel or fossil fuels, it’s good for the planet and it’s good for business,” Pillen said.
Gothenburg was chosen because of the city’s location near critical resources. "And then when we came and talked to the people of the city of Gothenburg, their energy was infectious,” Westling said. “We said, ‘gosh, this is the kind of place you want to do business.”
The idea for the operation grew from a desire to address challenges plaguing farmers.
“They shouldn’t have to be faced with finding, or sourcing or utilizing fertilizer,” Westling said. “That they could go get fertilizer and have it available to them locally and hopefully save some money in the process, that was important to us.”
Meadowlark says the plant is scheduled to be completed towards the end of 2025.