Book Review: Renewable Energy- Following the Money

Rainy Iowa days make it a nice time to spend the night reading and this week I finished “Renewable Energy- Following the Money,” by Craig Shields who is the editor of 2GreenEnergy.com, a great “greencentric” blog. I had mixed emotions on the book and let me explain why.

follow_the_money-front-coverThe book consists of a series of interviews with various energy expects infused with comments and commentary from Shields. I enjoyed this aspect of the book. It was very interesting to hear how various expects in various fields from electric vehicles to climate change to energy to investments felt about renewable/green energy, sustainability and policy as well as how they predict the renewable energy landscape will look like in the future. Oftentimes the experts disagreed with where energy was going and often Shields disagreed with the experts. I respect him for pushing on them in areas he didn’t agree and for explaining why and what he thought.

So the purpose of the book was to follow the money and this is where I struggled. I didn’t have a good handle on where the money was in fact, going. It would have been helpful for Shields to have created a roadmap based on the expert interviews and his own insights.

One of the interviews I found particularly interesting was with Tom Konrad, Ph.D. with Alternative Energy Stocks. Shield’s interview focused on Konrad’s ideas associated with the migration to renewables vis-a-vis finance, mathematics and more. Shields first noted in the interview that is a tough conversation because there are great and vocal fores that oppose renewable energy and they are spending millions of dollars, “convincing people that global warming is a hoax, renewable energy is a job killer, and there is nothing the matter with fossil fuels, i.e. that there is nothing wrong with ‘business as usual’.” Konrad agreed.

But what really struck me (and I happen to agree with) is that Konrad said the world needs both a physiological change and cultural change. “I think certainly in America, we have a culture of waste- a culture opposed to the economics of Rifkins….I don’t agree technology will save us. I do believe in the potential of efficiency on and changing structures of how we do things. There are much more effective ways…”

He noted that people don’t like change and they liken it to capitalism. “And it doesn’t have to be anti-capitalist. Much of what we need to do is improve markets. Improving markets is about as capitalistic and you can get…The problem is that the way most Republicans seem to view capitalism is really a confusion between ‘capitalism’ and the ‘status quo’. This is wrong in many, many ways. First of all, markets in and of themselves are not efficient because humans are not rational actors. Second of all, we have all these structures that are built up over time that interfere with market efficiencies such as companies doing regulatory capture.”

I believe this supports not only the crutch of the problem across the board for renewable energy but also supports the industry-wide campaign that consumers need choice and when choice is given, markets will work properly or to use Konrad’s term, capitalism. And when capitalism is working, then the investment work and the winning technologies will come to the surface. I challenge people as they follow this industry to note how many companies and associations stress the need for choice and for hijacked markets to be set free.

I believe there is much more work to be done in the area of “following the money” and that Shields is on his way. In this context, I recommend the book. However, if you are simply looking for an outline, or white paper on the issue, then this book is not for you. You can purchase Renewable Energy- Following the Money by clicking here.

Summit Group Building Brazilian Corn Ethanol Plant

Alden, Iowa-based Summit Group announced a project to build the first modern corn ethanol plant in Brazil during the 2014 Farm Progress Show. The project will consist of a US$140 million ethanol plant near Lucas do Rio Verde in Mato Grosso, a leading agricultural state in west central Brazil and the country’s largest producer of corn and soybeans. The project is being financed by Summit Group’s private equity group U.S. Farmland Fund and the company partnering with Fiagril and will be developed by ethanol technology company ICM and built by agribusiness company Marino Franz.

Bruce Rastetter Summit GroupI asked Rastetter “Why Brazil” and he answered that outside of the U.S. they believe this country will play the biggest role in feeding the world. “One of the interesting parts in particular about Mato Grosso is because of improved genetics they’re able to double crop. So they are able to raise the first crop of soybeans and the second crop of corn or cotton so they have increasing corn production in the middle of the continent where it is difficult to get it out. So they are embracing value-added agriculture,” explained Rastetter.

So what is the difference between the early U.S. ethanol plants and the modern corn ethanol plant that will be based in Brail? Rastetter said they are partnering with Colwich,Kansas-based ICM and CEO Dave Vander Griend has been traveling to Brazil with Rastetter and his team for a few years. While the majority of the technology will be the same with an improvement on high protein low fiber DDGs (dried distillers grains) – a just patented process for livestock feed.

The ethanol will stay in Brazil since the Government in Brazil wants to increase the ethanol blend from 25 percent to 27 percent. I also asked him about the environmental footprint of growing corn in Brazil and Rastetter said the country is very sustainable and the farms they are purchasing from have a large percentage of trees, and if they don’t, they are planting trees.

To learn more about Summit Group’s corn ethanol plant in Brazil, listen to my interview with Bruce Rastetter: Interview with Bruce Rastetter

I also had the opportunity to speak with Eric Peterson who is the president of Summit Group who talked more specifically about the value-added opportunities the corn ethanol plant will provide the community of Mato Grosso. Peterson explained the area has difficulty getting corn exports out of the region and ethanol into the region. With the new ethanol plant, the corn will be purchased locally and the ethanol and DDGs produced will then stay local – overcoming the export/import barriers of the region. This has made the project and partners very accepted in the community.

Eric Peterson Summit GroupSince the technology will provide a different type of DDGs than used in the U.S. a part of the project and because Brazilians are very used to using soy meal, they will be able to complement the soy meal with a high protein product. In addition, with the high fiber feed product they are going to run feed trials with a University of Nebraska nutritionist to learn how to best utilize the co-product.

Peterson believes there is a great opportunity to create synergistic relationships between U.S. farmers and Brazilian farmers. “When we go there we are impressed with some of their technology and how they adapt to large scale agriculture and they are quickly adopting precision technologies that we have here in the U.S. and there is no better place for people to assimilate technology than in Brazil and so I think we can learn a lot from each other.”

The plant is to break ground the next six months and to be operational 16 months from groundbreaking which will occur before the rainy season in Feb/March and will produce 50 million gallons of ethanol per year.

To learn more about the agribusiness aspect of the Summit Group’s Brazilian ethanol plant by listening to my interview with Eric Peterson: Interview with Eric Peterson

View the Farm Progress 2014 Flicker photo album.

Arrayan Wind Farmed Commissioned in Santiago

The 115 MW El Arrayan Wind farm located 400 km north of Santiago on the coast of Chile has officially been commissioned. El Arrayan Wind connects to the Sistema Interconectado Central’s 220kVm transmission system and is located on approximately 15,320 acres of coastal land on a long-term lease with a single landowner. The President of Chile, Michelle Bachelet, together with Jean-Paul Luksic, Chairman of Antofagasta Minerals SA (AMSA) and Mike Garland, CEO of Pattern Energy Group Inc. officially opened operations in a ceremony.

The President of Chile, Michelle Bachelet, said during the ceremony, “I’m very happy to be here today because this project is important for our present and future energy needs. El Arrayan is the biggest wind farm in Chile and we are pleased at what we can achieve when we use the natural resources the earth has to offer. This project is another step toward meeting our energy agenda objectives. We want to have 45% of our energy come from clean energy resources by 2025.”

El Arrayan Wind Farm -ChileAccording to the World Bank, The El Arrayan Wind facility, which completed construction in June, will generate clean, renewable power equal to the needs of approximately 200,000 Chilean homes each year. The facility is utilizing 50 Siemens 2.3 MW wind turbines, which Pattern Energy is also using at other wind projects in Canada and the United States.

“Through this partnership, we have combined our financial and management skills to be part of the solution to one of the major challenges facing our country and the mining industry, which is the generation of clean energy sources,” added Jean-Paul Luksic, Chairman of Antofagasta Minerals SA.

Pattern Energy operates and owns 70 percent of the El Arrayan Wind facility. AMSA owns the remaining 30 percent minority stake. The project sells approximately 70 percent of its output to Minera Los Pelambres through a long-term fixed-for-floating hedge. The facility sells its remaining output into the Chilean spot market at the prevailing market price at the time of sale. In addition to its minority interest in the facility, AMSA is the controlling party of Minera Los Pelambres.

Mike Garland, CEO of Pattern Energy added, “We are honored to be joined at the project site by Madam President as we celebrate the opening of the country’s largest wind facility. Chile is a great market because of the President’s strong support for renewable energy policies, the country’s strong, stable economy and excellent natural wind resources, which can supply domestic energy to the country. We are also especially pleased to be here with our strong partner AMSA, which is demonstrating to the world that a global mining company can be a leader in clean, domestic energy.”

American Ethanol a Winner for Corn Growers

fps14-ncga-robThe American Ethanol NASCAR program is in its fourth year now and the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) considers it to be a big success.

NCGA incoming Vice President Rob Elliott of Illinois says American Ethanol began its partnership with NASCAR in 2011 supporting the transition to 15% ethanol. “NASCAR in its three levels has run over six million miles (on E15) which is the same number of miles EPA drove to prove E15 to be a good fuel,” Elliott said during an interview at Farm Progress Show this week. “The feedback we get is that 80% of NASCAR fans are now more likely to be very supportive of the use of ethanol in their own cars.”

The challenge still remains in getting more E15 into the market. “The ready availability of E15 at a broad number of stations, we’re just not there yet,” said Elliott, but he believes promoting through NASCAR is having an impact for the long term. “We’re moving the needle with 100 million NASCAR fans and we’ve seen the great benefit in the synergy created with NASCAR itself at a high level.”

American Ethanol is a partnership between NASCAR, NCGA, Growth Energy, New Holland with a number of individual ethanol producers and state corn grower groups.

Listen to an interview with Rob here: Interview with Rob Elliott, NCGA

2014 Farm Progress Show photo album

BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDFOfficials from Xcel Energy, the EPA, and the Colorado State Land Board joined community solar developer Clean Energy Collective to officially open Denver County’s newest community solar facilities — two state-of-the-art 500 kW solar arrays that make affordable, locally-made clean power available to all Xcel Energy customers, residential or commercial, in Denver County. Developed on a 5-acre site at the Evie Garrett Dennis School campus in northeast Denver, the two medium-scale solar PV arrays, consisting of more than 4,000 panels, are the eighth and ninth arrays CEC has brought online as part of Xcel Energy’s Solar Rewards Communities program.
  • ScottMadden, Inc., one of North America’s leading energy consulting firms, recently joined forces with Energy Central to present an interactive webinar, “State of the Energy Industry: A Mid-Year Review.” This session, moderated by Stuart Pearman, partner and energy practice leader at ScottMadden, was based on ScottMadden’s latest Energy Industry Update, a semi-annual publication featuring our view of recent significant events and emerging trends that is received by more than 10,000 industry leaders.
  • Park Avenue Coffee has opened their newest and greenest cafe, located at 5105 Columbia Avenue on The Hill (Washington, DC). Microgrid Solar installed 200 solar panels to enable Park Avenue Coffee to operate the cafe and roasting facility at net zero, providing all electricity for the building. The Microgrid Solar turnkey solar installation provides the energy equivalent to powering 206 personal computers and 1547 CFL light bulbs, along with saving 126 barrels of oil.
  • Ecuador has formally joined as a member country of the World Energy Council in a ceremony in Quito last Friday 22 August. In the ceremony, hosted by Dr Esteban Albornoz Vintimilla, Minister of Electricity and Renewable Energy, the World Energy Council formally welcomed Ecuador into its global energy leadership community.

Corn Farmers Concerned About RFS and Low Prices

gps14-ncga-chipCorn farmers are concerned about the impact lower volume requirements under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) could have on growers ready to harvest a record corn crop this year.

“We’re keeping a close eye on corn prices and are greatly concerned about efforts in Washington that may reduce or stifle demand for corn and raise the cost of production,” said National Corn Growers Association First Vice President Chip Bowling during the Farm Progress Show in Boone, Iowa this week. “As thrilled as we are with a record crop, we know it has its challenges.”

Bowling says it will be detrimental if the EPA moves forward with its proposal to lower volume requirements for corn ethanol to be blended into the nation’s fuel supply. “Reducing the demand of corn for ethanol will significantly impact corn prices – at a time when prices are already too low,” said the corn farmer from Maryland. “We need stability and we need EPA to stick to the statutory amount of corn ethanol in the RFS.” Chip Bowling, NCGA comments on record corn crop
Interview with Chip Bowling, NCGA

2014 Farm Progress Show photo album

Grants for Biomass Energy Offered in Nebraska

TREES Heat Nebraska1The home state for Arbor Day, the national holiday honoring trees, is handing out some money to help develop woody biomass into energy. The Nebraska Forest Service is offering two cost-share assistance grants that could cut utility costs for private, for-profit and not-for-profit organizations.

Part of the new TREES Heat Nebraska program, these grants are designed to help establish woody biomass utilization markets, specifically for heating and cooling and for generating electricity…

Organizations that could benefit include municipalities, universities, colleges, schools, hospitals, correctional facilities, livestock and agricultural facilities and horticulture greenhouses.

“The grants will help cover the upfront costs of installing wood-fueled energy systems,” said Adam Smith, NFS forest products utilization team leader. “Historically there has been a lack of capital assistance for the development and installation of these energy systems, often derailing potential projects. Utilizing these grants will allow organizations to more quickly benefit from fuel savings—potentially realizing a 50 percent energy savings per month,” Smith said.

Two different types of grant funding are available:
1) cost-share assistance to public, private, for-profit and not-for-profit agencies or organizations located in Nebraska to purchase and install woody energy systems, including the construction of new systems and the renovation or expansion of existing energy systems;

2) cost-share assistance for contractual services for technical engineering feasibility studies that investigate the potential for wood energy use. NFS encourages facilities to engage with NFS early in the project planning process.

You can find more information at nfs.unl.edu/trees-heat-nebraska.

DF Cast: Ethanol Innovators Talk New Tech at ACE Conf.

Any manufacturer is looking to get more out of their operations, and it’s certainly no different for biofuel makers.

In this edition of the Domestic Fuel Cast, we hear from four innovators who talked about their operations and how they are on the cutting edge of biofuel producing technologies during the recent at the American Coalition for Ethanol conference. Among those who spoke were ACE president Ron Alverson of Dakota Ethanol; Ray Baker, general manager of Adkins Energy in northwest Illinois; Mike Erhart, CEO of Prairie Horizon Agri Energy in Kansas; and Delayne Johnson with Quad County Corn Processors.

Domestic Fuel Cast - Increasing Ethanol Blends

You can also subscribe to the DomesticFuel Cast here.

27th Annual Ethanol Conference photo album

Fuels America Celebrates Labor Day

Labor Day in America is this weekend and Fuels America is celebrating by highlighting  a recent reportFuels America Economic report on American workers in the U.S. biofuels industry. According to the organization, the renewable fuels industry has tremendously grown since the passage of the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS). Today, the sector supports more than 850,000 jobs and generates $46.2 billion in wages. Combined, the biofuels sector creates $184.5 billion each year in total economic activity.

But Fuels America says these numbers don’t represent the full picture. There are more than 840 facilities supporting renewable fuel production, distribution and research from coast-to-coast.

Did you know that:

  • In Iowa, the biofuels industry supports more than 73,371 jobs and $5.0 billion in wages each year.
  • In Nebraska, the biofuels industry supports 39,629 jobs, and $2.9 billion in wages annually.
  • In Colorado, the biofuels industry supports 10,619 jobs and $642.2 million in wages each year.
  • In Michigan, the biofuels industry supports 22,794 jobs and $1.1 billion in wages annually.
  • In California, the biofuels industry supports 59,665 jobs and $3.7 billion in wages each year.
  • In New Hampshire, the biofuels industry supports 2,156 jobs and $138.7 million in wages annually.
  • In North Carolina, the biofuels industry supports 13,687 jobs and $692.9 million in wages each year.

Find out how the biofuels industry impacts your community by reading Fuels America’s report.

Iowa GOP Under Fire on RFS Stance

image007The Iowa GOP is under fire this week from biofuel supporters including the pro-biofuel association, Americans United for Change for its stance on the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). The Iowa Republican Party published on its site that the “perfect world” is one devoid of the RFS and their site actually called for a repeal of the RFS, until today that is. As other organizations have published, including the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA), Iowa’s biofuels industry supports 73,000 American jobs.

Prior to the Iowa GOP’s site going down, under their “about section” they published their platform. This included:

  • 8.6: The use of biofuels, such as ethanol blended gasoline, biodiesel, and E-85 should be encouraged, but must not be mandated or subsidized.
  • 8.7: We oppose the use of any regulatory body to dictate the type of energy that will be produced and used. Energy production should be based on free-market economics…
  • 8.9: We should end the federal petroleum mandate and allow for consumer fuel choice.

According to a recent poll from the Des Moines Register, 77 percent of Iowa voters support extending the RFS. Americans United for Change Communications Director Jeremy Funk asked the question, “How out of touch are Joni Ernst and the Iowa GOP?

“Looks like Joni Ernst isn’t the only one in the Iowa Republican Party who is ‘philosophically opposed’ to the Renewable Fuel Standard – that’s now the formal position of her political party,” said Funk.  “What were they thinking including RFS repeal in their party platform? Obviously not much about Iowa jobs, and obviously too much about Big Oil money. From the Koch Brothers to the American Petroleum Institute to Exxon-Mobil, to the U.S. Chamber, to the Iowa Republican Party, it’s no coincidence that Joni Ernst is getting her strongest support from the strongest opponents of the RFS.”

Funk added, “While the Iowa Republican Party is clearly a flawed surrogate to defend Ernst’s misguided position on the RFS, it is not stopping them from trying. Earlier this week, the Iowa GOP promoted a news clip of a former Democratic Senator from Virginia echoing the same anti-RFS sentiments that Joni Ernst has voiced time and again. That the Iowa GOP would choose to highlight this news clip suggests that they believe Joni Ernst is above criticism for her anti-RFS views because they are shared by a former Senator from Virginia, a state which produces a tiny fraction of the biofuels that Iowa does. News flash for Iowa GOP: Virginia is not Iowa. News flash for Joni Ernst: you’re running to represent Iowa, not Texas.”

Non-Binding Renewable Target Questioned by IEA

iea-logoEurope has released it non-binding target for renewable energy at 27 percent by 2030 and in response the International Energy Agency (IEA) has raised the alarm and is asking for a clear and stable framework. According to the IEA’s Medium-Term Renewable Energy Market Report, the absence of a binding target raises questions about how effective the overall target can be. Questions arise because member states would be able to voluntarily define their commitment to renewable energy. The report adds that the framework overseeing these commitments lacks detail.

Justin Wilkes, deputy chief executive officer of the European Wind Energy Association, said of IEA call for stable, binding targets, “The IEA report hits the nail on the head when it comes to ambitious national targets for 2030. Not only is a 27% target too low but it doesn’t oblige member states to follow through. Europe’s Heads of State need to agree in October on a binding 30% renewables target if real progress is going to be made to improve Europe’s energy security, competitiveness and climate objectives.”

The report also recognized that binding national targets and National Renewable Energy Action Plans for 2020 have been key drivers in cost reduction and the mass deployment of renewables, particularly onshore wind. However, it highlights that challenges remain for EU member states to meet their commitments.

The IEA expects installed wind capacity to reach 162.9GW by 2018 based on data for European members of the Organisation for Cooperation and Development. The new figure shows a marginal increase of 2.4GW in the forecast from last year’s report.

“It’s imperative that national governments resist making abrupt changes to support mechanisms that can blindside investors and deter financing of wind power projects,” stressed Wilkes. “Political and regulatory risk is reflected in the cost of capital and a stable framework can go a long way to eliminating these risk premiums.”

Participate in the Annual Nat’l Electric Drive Week

If you haven’t had the experience of driving an electric vehicle, now is your chance. The 4th Annual National Drive Electric Week is September 15-21, 2014 and will take place in 115 cities in 35 states and oversees. The event allows consumers the opportunity to see the benefits first hand of driving an electric vehicle including clean-air and cost-savings, by participating in ride-and-drives.

National Drive Electric Week (formerly National Plug In Day) has quadrupled in size since its launch in 2011. This year organizers said it is expected to draw at least 35,000 attendees. Drive Electric logoMany cities are participating for the first time while other cities have participated since the event was founded. Just as U.S. plug-in vehicle sales are expected to reach their first quarter-million mark, cities will offer one-day activities or observe the celebration’s entire week, organized nationally by Plug In America, the Sierra Club and the Electric Auto Association.

“As we celebrate the first quarter-million plug-ins sold, these vehicles continue their inevitable march toward mainstream adoption,” said Plug in America President Richard Kelly. “Plug-ins offer the industry’s most efficient technology, freedom from gas stations, costly car repairs and reliance on foreign oil, and the option to drive on renewable energy, delivering tremendous public health and environmental benefits. National Drive Electric Week offers everyone the chance to learn this first hand.”

National Drive Electric Week events target people who have never driven EVs and offer ride-and-drives of every plug-in on the market. All the events are free.

“Don’t let Drive Electric Week zoom past without visiting an event near you. Electric cars take fuel efficiency and state-of-the-art technology to an exciting new level,” added Said Sierra Club’s Director of Future Fleet & Electric Vehicles Initiative, Gina Coplon-Newfield.

Here are some examples of what cities across the U.S. are planning:

  • Connecticut’s Dept. of Energy and Environmental Protection and the state’s Automotive Retailers Assn. will award the state dealership with highest plug-in sales.
  • The mayor of Huntington Beach is expected to appear at Surf City’s seaside event.
  • Stella, the world’s first solar-powered family car and winner of last year’s World Solar Challenge, birthplace of the storied EV1, will visit Cupertino, where organizers are attempting to break the Guinness world record for most EVs assembled.
  • Poolesville, Maryland’s event could draw 10,000, staged next to an annual fest replete with a town parade and marching band.
  • Houston will celebrate EVs at a solar-powered IKEA store, which will trumpet the event on its electronic billboard, visible from a major freeway intersection. Attendant mini-events will take place at EV charging stations around the sprawling city.
  • Scottsdale, Arizona’s event will bring EV efficiency to the site of one of nation’s longest running gasoline-car shows.
  • UCLA and Santa Monica High School will share the EV message with youth through lectures and other activities of the new National Drive Electric Week Ambassador School initiative.
  • 50 EVs in New Hampshire will scale Mount Washington, the northeast’s highest peak.

For more information about National Electric Drive Week and to find a city near you, visit www.driveelectricweek.org.

BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDFThe Maryland Energy Administration has begun accepting applications for its Natural Gas Refilling Station Grant Program. The Program is intended to boost the number of fast fill natural gas stations in the State that enable speedy refueling of natural gas vehicles at publicly accessible stations. This transportation program promotes greater energy independence throughout the state by encouraging investment in cleaner fuel and automobile technologies. The new program is funded through the Strategic Energy Investment Fund in partnership with the Maryland Energy Administration, Maryland Clean Cities Coalition, Maryland Department of Environment and Gladstein Neandross & Associates.
  • How can you reap the rewards available in the UK solar market? Robert Goss, Managing Director of Conergy UK answers this question and many more in a detailed white paper analyzing solar project development and financing in the UK, featured in the free Clean Energy Pipeline’s Clean Energy UK Finance Guide 2014.
  • SunEdison, Inc. and its affiliate TerraForm Power, Inc. have announced the completion and interconnection of a 2.6 megawatt (MW) DC system at the Coalinga State Hospital and a 1.6 MW DC system at the Pleasant Valley State Prison. The systems were installed for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) and California Department of State Hospitals, and together will provide enough electricity annually to power approximately 800 homes.
  • Alternative Earth Resources Inc. has announced that it has completed the sale of certain geothermal projects to Ormat Nevada Inc. pursuant to a Purchase and Sale Agreement dated August 5, 2014. Under the Transaction, Ormat also has the option, exercisable for 4 years, to acquire an additional geothermal lease. Shareholder approval for the Transaction was obtained at the annual and special meeting of shareholders held on August 22, 2014.

Wastes-for-Biodiesel Firm Gets Sustainability Certification

RSB-Logo1A company that turns waste materials into feedstocks for several products, including biodiesel, has earned an important sustainability certification. Switzerland-based MBP Trading SA earned the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials (RSB) sustainability certification for their waste material collection, trading and distribution activities.

“MBP Group was built on a sustainable background, adding as much value as possible to industrial by-products. Sustainability was – and still remains – a key ingredient of our business activities and its success. We are pleased to see that our company was certified according to the RSB scheme; this constitutes an important recognition of our continuous efforts for the sustainable management and trade of industrial waste and by-products,” David Magnussen, MBP Group CEO.

“We are very pleased that MBP Group has chosen RSB certification for their sites in the UK, Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland. MBP’s commitment to feedstock traceability throughout their operations, which supply a wide range of waste material to the biofuels and bioenergy sectors, fits very well with the robust RSB approach to waste verification,” said Rolf Hogan, RSB’s Executive Secretary.

RSB certification is considered a holistic approach towards sustainability assurance, covering social, environmental, economic and operational aspects in its analysis.

Besides the Swiss headquarters, MBP Group has production/process plants and tank terminals in Sweden, Norway, Denmark, the UK and Canada.

Kentucky Gets NSF, State Grants for Biomass

nsflogoA total of $24 million in National Science Foundation (NSF) and state grants will fund research efforts on biomass in Kentucky. This story from WKU Public Radio at Western Kentucky University says the five-year, $20 million NSF grant will be in addition to $4 million from Kentucky’s Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research.

“The focus of this $24 million dollar interdisciplinary multi-institution research effort will be to strengthen Kentucky’s bio-economy and develop new applications for established and emerging industries,” said [University of Kentucky President Eli] Capilouto.

There will be targeted investments at 10 Kentucky research and higher education institutions, including all of the comprehensive universities. Rodney Andrews, director of the UK Center for Applied Energy Research, is principle investigator. Andrews says a carbon material, found in most all energy storage, can be derived from biomass.

“Okay, so we’re looking at can we tailor that biomass so that when it is converted to carbon, it has a better structure than what we have now? Making those more effective, safer. But, we also have that component of how do we do large scale? How do we use this to implement into our grid system?” asked Andrews.

The overall goal of the project is to figure out and engineer bio systems for energy, environmental and industrial applications. In addition, it’s expected to create new opportunities for students in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) disciplines.