Former USTR to Keynote Ethanol Conference

kirkFormer U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk will be the keynote speaker at the upcoming National Ethanol Conference (NEC) in Grapevine, Texas.

Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) president and CEO Bob Dinneen says it’s appropriate for Ambassador Kirk to speak at the conference with the theme of Going Global. “As we look to new horizons and expand into new markets, Mr. Kirk gives us a peek behind the curtain of world markets and trade relations,” said Dinneen. “His valuable insight will help shine a spotlight on new opportunities for American-made biofuels and co-products all across the globe.”

rfa-nec-15Ambassador Kirk was appointed by President Barack Obama as the United States Trade Representative and served from 2009 to 2013. Born and raised in Austin, Texas, Kirk has close ties to the state as he gained his undergraduate and law degrees at Austin College and the University of Texas School of Law respectively. He joined Sen. Lloyd Bentsen’s staff before rising to the position of Texas Secretary of State and eventually becoming the Mayor of Dallas.

The 20th annual NEC will take place Feb. 18–20 and Kirk is scheduled to speak at 2:45 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 19. Also at the conference, RFA’s General Counsel Ed Hubbard will moderate a panel titled “Going Global: Building Ethanol Demand Internationally.” The panel will feature Eco-Energy’s Pedro Paranhos, Lakeview Energy’s Jim Galvin, Henrique Pacini of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service’s Mike Dwyer, and ePURE’s Robert Wright.

Registration and other information about the National Ethanol Conference can be found here.

BioEnergy Bytes

  • http://domesticfuel.com/category/bioenergy-bytes/Canadian Solar Inc. has announced the sale of the 10 MW AC Glenarm solar power plant (“Glenarm”) to an affiliate of DIF Infrastructure III. This solar power plant is valued at over C $60 million (US $49million) and utilizes Canadian Solar’s CS6X photovoltaic (PV) modules. The Glenarm plant will sell electricity pursuant to a 20-year Ontario Power Authority feed-in-tariff contract. The project reached commercial operation in November 2014.
  • Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) has announced the release of two in-depth case studies that reflect the innovation of the adidas Group and the Housing Authority of the City and County of Denver (DHA)—both of which employed EDF Climate Corps fellows to cut costs while reducing their energy use and carbon footprints. Conveyor Belt to Energy Savings is about the adidas Group’s efficiency strategy for material handling equipment and Public Housing: Let Your Roof Make it Rainabout DHA’s is about the company’s solar Power Purchase Agreement.
  • First Reserve has announced an agreement to acquire the Kingfisher Wind power project from Apex Clean Energy. Kingfisher Wind is a 298 MW wind power generation project located in Canadian and Kingfisher Counties in Oklahoma, scheduled to be completed in 2015.  Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
  • A partnership between Duke Energy, the Department of the Navy and the U.S. Marine Corps will lead to a 13-megawatt (AC) solar facility being built at the Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in Onslow County, N.C. The facility will be owned and operated by Duke Energy Progress (DEP) and is expected online in 2015. Covering 80 acres, the 13-MW solar facility (or 17 MW DC) will connect to the electric grid at a DEP-owned substation on military property. The power will be available to DEP customers.

New Propane Autogas Nozzle to Modernize Refueling

nozzle plus connector1A new nozzle for fueling propane vehicles is being touted as being able to “brings autogas refueling into the modern age at the fuel pump.” Staubli‘s new Autogas Nozzle is suited for new installations, as well as being able to be retrofitted for existing autogas vehicles.

Developed by Cavagna Group, the nozzle accessories feature Euro Nozzle-Acme adaptors as well as the current ACME Nozzle-Euro Fill valves. Adapters allow the transition to happen between the ACME nozzle and the new Euro Fill Nozzle and the old Acme fill valve that might be on the vehicle…

The Staubli nozzle is available from industry equipment distributors such as Superior Energy Systems, Bergquist Distributors, and others within the industry. Plans are for the distribution of the nozzle and accessory components are to begin this month. The Alliance AutoGas network will begin installing the new connector and using the new nozzle for all new autogas installations. According to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Alternative Fuels Data Center, there are 2,700 fueling stations in the U.S. alone, in addition to the Alliance’s 460 fleet locations.

Tucker Perkins, chief business development officer for the Propane Education & Research Council notes, “We want to move forward promoting this [European] connection to industry customers, and that means getting manufacturers of connectors and adapters involved such as Cavagna Group, as well as the propane industry’s equipment distributors in the United States and Canada.”

Biodiesel Pioneer Honored at Conference

Eye on Biodiesel PioneerLast year the biodiesel industry lost a pioneer who has had a huge impact. He was honored with this year’s Eye on Biodiesel – Pioneer Award. On stage at the National Biodiesel Conference & Expo to honor him were several people for whom he had a very personal impact and accepting the award was his brother Scott Hanks.

Dallas Hanks.

The biodiesel industry lost a true pioneer with the passing of Utah State University’s Dr. Dallas Hanks last June when he succumbed to cancer. For those that knew him, Dallas was a brilliant scientist, educator, humanitarian, entrepreneur, and all around good person. He spearheaded the visionary feedstock program Freeways to Fuels, was a huge supporter and contributor to NBB’s Next Generation Scientists for Biodiesel program, and had a hand in numerous oilseed test plots, biodiesel laboratories, and technology start-up business at the university and around the region. The respect he had from his peers was second to none, and he has left a truly lasting legacy in the biodiesel world.

You can listen to the remarks in honor of Dallas here: Remarks in Honor of Dallas Hanks

2015 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

John Deere Green Goes Well with Green Biodiesel

nbc-15-greg-grevingA Nebraska farmer who proudly admits he bleeds John Deere green also admits a pretty high affection for the green fuel, biodiesel. Greg Greving, who farms in Central Nebraska and is a board member of the Nebraska Soybean Board, told attendees of the National Biodiesel Conference & Expo that biodiesel is what powers his equipment.

“This fall, my two boys, two hired men and myself, harvested 11,000 acres in 56 days [all running on biodiesel], and the only time we shut down was when we were tired,” he said. “We have not had any trouble running biodiesel.”

But Greg was doing more than just bragging about his Deere equipment and biodiesel. He was invited to the showcase to show off his 1980 Oldsmobile 98 Regency with a 5.7 GM diesel engine, in which he also uses biodiesel. Whether it’s his car or the farm equipment he runs, fuel quality is of the utmost importance. That’s important to hear, as the National Biodiesel Board announced its new BQ-9000 Retailer Program to make sure consumers get the appropriate industry specifications when it finally goes into their fuel tanks.

You can hear to Greg’s remarks here: Greg Greving, Nebraska Soybean Board at Vehicle Showcase

2015 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

Biodiesel & Vehicles On Display at NBB Conference

nbc-15-steve-howellOne of the highlights of this year’s National Biodiesel Conference & Expo, as it is every year, was the Biodiesel Vehicle Showcase Event, where vehicle makers gave us a sneak peek at what’s coming from them that runs on biodiesel. Steve Howell, the National Biodiesel Board’s (NBB) senior technical advisor, said when the industry started more than 20 years ago, they had a very modest goal of producing 30 million gallons of biodiesel nationwide annually. Now, an average plant cranks out that much each. He credits working with partners in the automaking industry for the increase.

“We’ve done the work necessary to answer the questions that they have about biodiesel in the engines of vehicles,” he said. “Because if we answer their questions, we know we’ve answered customers’ questions.”

Steve said that close, working relationship is highlighted by the biodiesel industry’s constant outreach to the vehicle makers and the fuel industry to ask what can biodiesel do for them next, such as oxidation stability and metals content. “So that these new technology diesel engines that have better fuel economy and cleaner emissions work with biodiesel blends.”

He thanked the partners participating in not only this showcase, but the biodiesel industry, including John Deere, Ford, Volkswagen, Hino Trucks, General Motors, Peterbilt, and the Diesel Technology Forum, as well as funding they’ve received from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, United Soybean Board and state soybean boards.

“We’re doing efforts to educate engine companies, to educate dealers, and all that’s possible through that funding and the work done by NBB so we can all enjoy the benefits of biodiesel in our vehicles.”

You can hear to Steve’s remarks here: Steve Howell at Vehicle Showcase

2015 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

BioEnergy Bytes

  • http://domesticfuel.com/category/bioenergy-bytes/BayWa r.e. has announced that global investment firm Goldman Sachs acquired 100% of the shares in the Anderson wind farm. The BayWa r.e. project located in Chaves County, New Mexico, became operational on December 30, 2014 and the company will continue to manage its technical operation. It will sell power to the Western Farmers Electric Cooperative under a 20 year power purchase agreement.
  • Total and SunPower Corp. have announced the completion of the 70-megawatt PV Salvador project, one of the world’s largest operating merchant solar power plants. Chilean Minister of Energy Máximo Pacheco and executives from Total and SunPower attended an inauguration event in El Salvador in Chile’s Atacama Desert.
  • The Geothermal Resources Council (GRC) has announced the availability of the 2015 GRC Scholarship Awards. To qualify for one of these awards a student must be a GRC member (student memberships are only $5 per year) as well as a student in an accredited academic institution. Selection of recipients will be based upon a variety of factors, including the individual’s academic record, student activities, geothermal industry experience, and career goals.
  • Andalay Solar has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Hyundai Heavy Industries whereby Hyundai intends to license and manufacture solar modules using Andalay’s Instant Connect frame technology. The new Hyundai-branded TG-Series solar modules are expected to use 60-cell monocrystalline or polycrystalline technology (255w-280w) with a black Andalay frame, and will be manufactured in South Korea with an initial annualized capacity of over 50MW. The module is currently undergoing UL certification and is expected to begin shipping late in the first quarter of 2015.

Solar Net Metering Ends in Cali

Net metering in California is ending and solar customers are not happy. The billing arrangement that allows solar owners full retail credit for the energy they put back on the grid (aka net metering) is ending so consumers and businesses who wait until summer to install their solar systems will miss out on the program.

“The upcoming changes for solar producers will undoubtedly create an unprecedented demand,” said Daniel Sullivan, founder and president of Sullivan Solar Power. “Property owners Sullivan Solar Power Home installationthat wait until June to sign up to go solar may miss their chance to receive the full retail credit that current solar producers receive.”

As explained by Sullivan, net energy metering will end once a certain amount of solar is installed in each utility territory, and San Diego Gas and Electric (SDG&E) will be the first utility to reach its cap. Anyone that installs solar before the cap is hit will receive full retail credit for energy they produce, and will be grandfathered in for 20-years. Once net metering ends, new homes and businesses that install solar will receive less credit for the energy they produce.

“The period for going solar under the current net metering rules could end for SDG&E customers by December or even earlier, depending on how many people install solar this year,” said Bernadette Del Chiaro, executive director of the California Solar Energy Industries Association (CALSEIA). According to President Obama during his SOTU speech on Tuesday, today more solar energy is installed in the U.S. each week than in the entirety of 2008. Continue reading

First RFS Education Ad in Des Moines

AmRenewFuture adAfter kicking off the new America’s Renewable Future campaign on Thursday last week, the first ads starting appearing in the Des Moines Register on Friday as potential Republican presidential candidates began to gather for the Iowa Freedom Summit.

“We want to send an unmistakable message to both parties about the remarkable, bipartisan success story of the Renewable Fuel Standard in creating jobs and making America more energy independent,” said Eric Branstad, Executive Director for America’s Renewable Future. “Iowa’s renewable fuel production has more than doubled under the RFS, and now supports more jobs and families than ever before. Candidates who support the RFS has always done well in Iowa, but it will be an even bigger issue in 2015 and 2016.”

The Des Moines Register ad noted the RFS supports 73,000 Iowa jobs, more than 50 ethanol biodiesel refineries across Iowa and has helped put foreign oil imports at a 20-year low. It’s call to action is a pretty straightforward message to candidates and caucus goers alike: “Don’t put Iowa out of business. Support the Renewable Fuel Stand… Take a stand.”

RFS a No-Show at Freedom Summit

freedom-summitJust days after Iowa Governor Terry Brandstad kicked off a campaign to promote the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) as a “candidate” in the 2016 presidential race, it was basically a no-show at the conservative Freedom Summit featuring many presidential hopefuls.

Asked about the RFS in an interview with the Des Moines Register on Friday, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas said he would continue his opposition to the law as “a matter of principle.”

One of the potential candidates who received some positive reviews at the summit was Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, who was recently criticized by biofuels producers in his state for not joining the ranks of other Midwestern governors in support of the RFS. According to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinal, Walker says “he’s keeping a campaign pledge to not take a position in the debate that has pitted ethanol producers against Wisconsin’s small-engine industry, which opposes increased use of the fuel additive.”

Also attending the summit was former Texas governor Rick Perry, a long time opponent of the RFS who advocated a waiver of the law when he was governor.

Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush both skipped out on the summit which was organized by Iowa Republican Congressman Steve King. Speaking to members of the media on Saturday, Gov. Branstad said Iowa is still an important state for a presidential candidate. “This is one of the battleground states that’s going to, I think, determine who’s going to be the next president of the United States,” said Branstad. “I don’t think it’s wise to skip Iowa.” The governor also advised, “I think it would be a disadvantage in Iowa to not support the Renewable Fuel Standard,” Branstad said.

One friend of biofuels who can be counted among the potential candidates who attended the Freedom Summit is Rick Santorum, former Senator from Pennsylvania and candidate in the 2012 Republican primary. Santorum will be making a few other appearances in Iowa this week, including at the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association conference on Tuesday. He spoke at that same event in 2011.

New Quality Program Talk of Biodiesel Conference

nbc-15-scott-fenwickIt’s fuel quality that has brought the biodiesel industry to where it is today, and that standard looks to be extended all the way to consumers’ fuel tanks. Scott Fenwick, the National Biodiesel Board’s technical director told attendees of the recent National Biodiesel Conference & Expo that the National Biodiesel Accreditation Program (NBAC), better known as BQ-9000, a cooperative and voluntary program for the accreditation of companies that produce, test, and supply biodiesel fuel, serves as a key link between the industry, the producers, the blenders and marketers with the consumers.

“Up until today, we’ve had programs in place for producers, marketers and independent labs doing that testing. Today, a new program for BQ-9000 retailers will be the last remaining cog to that continuum of fuel quality,” Scott said.

He added that more than 90 percent of the biodiesel produced comes from BQ-9000 producers. NBB’s partners in the biodiesel industry wanted this new BQ-9000 Retailer Program to make sure consumers get the appropriate industry specifications when it finally goes into their fuel tanks.

The program will be forwarded to all NBB member companies for comments for 30 days, with a final review and release of the findings later in March.

You can hear to Scott’s remarks here: Scott Fenwick at Biodiesel Vehicle Showcase

2015 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

Grain Demand for Biofuels Expected to Stagnate

afbf15-westhoffA bumper crop has helped lower feedstock prices for grain-based biofuels, but the industry is still expected to stagnate. Patrick Westhoff, director of the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute, told attendees of the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 96th Annual Convention and IDEAg Trade Show that this year’s bumper crop and low prices is good news for those buying the green fuels’ feedstocks, but lower expected demand for biofuels will still hurt.

“We’ll have significantly smaller corn yields in 2015/16 caused in part by the low demand for ethanol. Yield numbers will change.”

Due to corn prices dropping to levels not seen in years, Westhoff said that farmers will plant less corn in the next two years. More than 90 million acres were planted in 2014 and he projected that only 87.9 million acres will be planted in 2015 and 89.7 million acres in 2016.

Westhoff said large corn and soybean crops will weigh on grain and oilseed prices in the short run, and that although average corn prices remain low by 2007-2012 standards, they are still above pre-2007 levels.

Livestock producers are expected to benefit from the big crop with lower prices for their animal feed. But we’ll need to see what happens to that industry if those smaller grain crops sizes driven by lower biofuels demand come to fruition.

2015 AFBF Convention photo album

Corn Growers: Not the Time to Cut RFS

ncga-logo-newTwo record corn crops and low prices for the grain – that’s not the time the U.S. should be cutting the amount of ethanol to be mixed into the nation’s fuel supply. That’s the message coming from the National Corn Growers Association, as the group laments the fact that altering the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) couldn’t come at a worse time.

“Corn ending stocks – the amount above and beyond current demand – are estimated at nearly 2 billion bushels this year, thanks to two back-to-back record harvests,” said NCGA President Chip Bowling, a corn farmer in Maryland. “And with corn selling at low prices, any legislative attempt to cut one of our key markets will drive prices even further below cost of production. We have a policy that works well not just for the environment and energy security – but for the rural economy. We need to support farmers, not bankrupt them.”

NCGA also shot back at an attempt in the U.S. Senate to attach an anti-ethanol amendment to the Keystone XL pipeline legislation, pointing out the many benefits ethanol brings and why it’s an important part of the fuel supply.

“Corn ethanol is better for the environment than fossil fuels and has historically lowered the cost of filling our tanks by nearly a dollar,” said NCGA Director of Public Policy Beth Elliott. “It has been proven that ethanol does not have an impact on the price of food. The Renewable Fuel Standard is working – creating clean, renewable, American-grown energy and good American jobs.”

NCGA says it wants to work with the new Congress to support the RFS.

First E15 Station Opens in South Florida

caraf-oilCaraf Oil in North Miami this week became the first retail fuel station in South Florida to offer 15% ethanol blended gasoline.

“We wanted to be the first in South Florida to offer E15 since we have had success with customers with E85,” said Edwin Flores, owner of Caraf Oil, who says they actually offer E85 at two locations in North Miami. “For drivers, it’s seamless – you can use E15 or gas if you’re driving a 2001 or newer model.”

The grand opening celebration for the new E15 pump on Wednesday featured officials from both Caraf Oil and Florida-based ProtecFuel, which managed the pump installation, as well as local dignitaries and representatives from Southeast Florida Clean Cities.

“We are excited to help introduce American-made ethanol into the fuel pool through E15 in our home state and city,” said Todd Garner, CEO of Protec. “With its higher performance at 88-octane, and environmental benefits, it just makes sense.”

“Clean Cities is all about reducing our country’s dependence on foreign oil and we’re proud that our region is one of the first in Florida to offer E15,” said Christine Heshmati, Southeast Florida Clean Cities Coordinator.

Currently, E15 is available at more than 100 stations across the nation in 15 states: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, North Dakota, Nebraska, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin.

Iowa Coalition to Promote RFS as Candidate

americas-futureIowa Governor Terry Branstad today announced a major new bi-partisan campaign called America’s Renewable Future that will promote the Renewable Fuel Standard in the 2016 Iowa Presidential caucuses.

“I’m very passionate about the Renewable Fuel Standard,” said Governor Branstad during a conference call to announce the effort. “It’s made a real difference for farm income and good jobs, reducing our dependency on foreign oil, improving the environment – so I’m really excited to see this strong, bi-partisan effort being made to educate people that come to Iowa and presidential candidates.”

America’s Renewable Future will be co-chaired by former Iowa State Representative Annette Sweeney, a Republican, and former state Lieutenant Governor Patty Judge, a Democrat, as well as Iowa renewable fuels industry leader Bill Couser.

Sweeney, who is a corn, soybean and cattle producer, says it’s important to educate lawmakers and the public about the RFS. “Once it’s explained, (they see) what a great thing renewable fuels are for this country,” she said.

Coordinating the effort will be Governor Branstad’s son Eric, a public affairs specialist and campaign operative. “We have partners coming in from all over the country and those partners have committed millions to fund this effort,” said Eric Branstad. “We are designing it to look like a presidential campaign and the RFS is our candidate.”

From now until the Iowa Caucuses, America’s Renewable Future “will wage a mulitimillion dollar, multi-platform effort” to educate presidential candidates about the benefits of the RFS and ask them to take a stand.

“It’s such a privilege to be able to be part of this grassroots organization and being able to bring these candidates to our farms and our feedlots,” said Couser, who is a livestock and crop producer and ethanol plant co-founder. “We’re very excited about meeting these candidates on a bi-partisan partnership, bringing them here and educating them.”

The group also intends to build a statewide campaign organization to educate Iowa caucus-goers in both parties about which candidates support the RFS. The campaign will include advertising, earned media, public opinion research, stakeholder engagement, digital and social media outreach.

Listen to the conference call announcing the effort here: America's Renewable Future campaign announced