NASCAR Races 6 Million Miles on E15

On Sunday, July 20, 2014 NASCAR drivers raced at the Brickyard in Indianapolis, Indiana and hit a historic milestone – 6 million miles raced using Sunoco Green E15. The feat was three years in the making and took place at one of the most famous racetracks in the world – Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

In 2011, NASCAR and American Ethanol partnered to bring E15 to the sport. Since the beginning of the 2011 season, Sunoco Green E15 has fueled every car and every truck in each of NASCAR’s national race series. According to NASCAR, the introduction of Sunoco Green E15 has been a pivotal part of the NASCAR Green initiative, and has successfully increased horsepower and decreased emissions for the sport.

NASCAR 6 Million Miles on E15Brian France, CEO of NASCAR, released a statement in response to the 6 million mile-milestone saying, “NASCAR conducted an exhaustive analysis before making the seamless transition to Sunoco Green E15, a race fuel blended with 15 percent American Ethanol. As we eclipse six million tough competition miles across our three national series, we can definitively say this renewable fuel stands up to our rigorous racing conditions while significantly reducing our impact on the environment. We are proud to celebrate this milestone at Indianapolis Motor Speedway along with our partners at the National Corn Growers Association and Growth Energy.”

The 6 million mile-mark is especially significant because it mirrors the 6 million miles of testing conducted by the U.S. Department of Energy to initially approve E15 for all light duty cars and trucks, model year 2001 and newer.

“NASCAR validates what a great performance fuel [E15] is, said Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy. “If you meet with the teams and talk with the owners – they’ve got increased horse power, they’ve got higher performance, and, as Richard [Childress] said, it’s cleaner.”

Through NASCAR, Buis said American Ethanol has proven that E15 is a high performance, low cost fuel option that is homegrown and better for our environment. It supports American jobs that will never be outsourced, bolsters rural economies and enhances our nation’s energy and national security.

Listen to the press conference here: NASCAR Races 6 Million Miles on E15

RFA to DOE: Update Your E85 Data!

Today the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) is calling on the Department of Energy (DOE) to accurately account for all stations selling E85. According to RFA, the DOE’s Alternative Fuels Data Center is missing a vast number of E85 stations – nearly 1,000- after comparing the list to the “crowd-sourced” website E85Prices.com that lists 3,449 retail locations offering E85.

RFANewlogo“The AFDC database is way off in its reporting of E85 stations, and this is negatively influencing discussions over the 2014 Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) blending requirements. It isn’t just a handful of stations that are missing; we are talking about the exclusion of hundreds of stations nationwide. In fact, they missed 40 percent of the stations that are included in other databases! That’s simply unacceptable,” said Bob Dinneen, president and CEO of the RFA.

In a letter sent to the DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, the RFA illustrates the central role of the database in crucial policy decisions, stating, “EPA’s mistaken belief that existing E85 refueling infrastructure is insufficient to distribute the 2014 RFS volumes specified in the statute is based in large part on information from the AFDC. As a result, the Agency wrongly proposed to reduce required renewable fuel blending volumes in 2014.”

Dinneen stressed the urgent need for updated, accurate information as the EPA decides the final 2014 RFS blending requirements. He noted, “Accurate data is the foundation of well informed decisions. The so-called ‘blend wall’ — the level at which oil companies claim they can no longer blend ethanol into gasoline — can be scaled through increased use of E85. Therefore, an accurate accounting of E85 stations distributing low-cost, renewable fuels is vital to informing the debate over RFS implementation.”

The letter concludes, “The correctness and completeness of the database has never been more important, as crucial policy and regulatory decisions are being informed by the information. Inadequate data leads to ill-informed policy decisions, which can have significant consequences for affected industries.

BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDFEmerging markets will play a major role in the expansion of global nuclear installed capacity, which will increase from 371 Gigawatts (GW) in 2013 to 517 GW by 2025, at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 2.5%, according to research and consulting firm GlobalData. According to “Emerging Nuclear Power Countries- Market Forecast, Key Companies and Development Analysis to 2030,” while the world’s nuclear power generation decreased in 2011 and 2012 in the aftermath of the Fukushima meltdown, the market is gradually recovering, with large-scale capacity additions expected in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region.
  • Legislative support is waning for biofuels blending requirements in the European Union (EU) and the United States, according to analysis in a just-released Platts Commodity Pulse video. During the video, Platts Agriculture Editors Tim Worledge, Guilherme Kfouri and Sean Bartlett review biofuels’ role in the global energy supply mix during the past decade and discuss the current legislative challenges in the biodiesel and ethanol markets in the U.S. and EU.
  • According to the report from Juniper Research, “Green Mobile: The Complete Guide to Vendor Strategies & Future Prospects 2014-2019,” charging mobile devices will generate more than 13 megatonnes CO2e (CO2 equivalent) of greenhouse gases per annum globally by 2019, against an anticipated 6.4 megatonnes this year. Nearly 50% of these 2019 emissions –equivalent to annual emissions from 1.1 million cars – will come from coal-fired Asian electricity grids powering growing smartphone use. The report also found there is low consumer awareness of renewable energy and sustainable habits in these markets. It is down to vendors to take the lead in making energy companies provide more green electricity for both industry and consumers.
  • Cheshire Medical Center/Dartmouth-Hitchcock Keene is the latest of NG Advantage’s customers to change its heat source from fuel oil to compressed natural gas (CNG). The Medical Center joins a growing number of large institutions and industrial sites not located on a gas pipeline in New England and northern New York State. These sites were referred to as “stranded properties” by the gas industry. NG Advantage LLC offers a new service of trucking CNG using its “virtual pipeline” – a fleet of high–tech carbon fiber trailers – to very large energy users not located on a pipeline.

ACE Announces Final Ethanol Conference Agenda

The 27th annual Ethanol Conference agenda is set and will include an update on the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) from the Environmental Protection Agency. The event is taking place August 4-6, 2014 in Minneapolis. In addition to the RFS update, Paul Machiele, director for fuel programs for the EPA will also be discussing other agency ethanol priorities. Registration is still available.

“As EPA and the White House close-in on a final decision about the 2014 RFS we’re pleased that Paul Machiele will be on hand to meet with our members,” said ACE Executive Vice President Brian Jennings.

ACElogo“Consistent with our conference theme of ‘Power by People’ we’re pleased that the 2014 conference will feature updates from ACE members and other speakers on the policy, marketing, and innovation initiatives that will help position the industry for future profitability,” Jennings added.

The ACE conference will also feature new findings from an economic study on “Eco-Performance Fuel,” an Innovators panel of four ACE-member ethanol producers who are adding new processes and technologies, a Retailer Roundtable involving gas station owners who are making money and attracting new customers by selling higher blends of ethanol fuel, and panel discussion focusing on international sales opportunities for ethanol and distillers grain.

Three breakout session tracks will be offered for ethanol plant board directors, mangers/CEOs, and operators focused on technology advances. Breakout session topics include risk management, the impact of proposed FDA regulations on plant operations, and technology to speed or increase yeast fermentation rates.

Kansas Ethanol Plant to Add Renewable Diesel Ops

EKAEA Kansas ethanol maker is going to integrate a renewable diesel operation into its facility. East Kansas Agri-Energy LLC (EKAE) says it will soon start building and hopes to complete construction within about a year of the 3 million gallon per year facility at its ethanol plant in Garnett, Kansas that will make renewable diesel from the corn distillers oil (CDO) already produced at the plant.

“This is about maximizing revenue, leveraging activities that we already do every day, and enhancing the value of products we already produce now,” said EKAE President & CEO Jeff Oestmann. “Adding renewable diesel capability aligns perfectly with our business strategy of diversifying our energy portfolio and creating additional enterprises that are sustainable on their own.”

“The main driver is to create greater value for our unit holders,” said EKAE chairman Bill Pracht. “We’ll be taking advantage of our experience and current facilities to create two biofuels out of one kernel of corn. Furthermore, we’ll be adding value to the corn oil we already produce.”

Oestmann said that EKAE already has a receptive market for this new fuel. “We have positive relationships with customers and within the biofuels industry that have come to know EKAE as a reliable and trustworthy supplier,” he said. “By using corn distillers oil we produce as the primary feedstock, we will have quality control that will underscore our reputation for quality in the marketplace.”

Company officials hope to double the 3 million gallon per year capacity sometime after starting operations.

White House Gathers Senate Dems on RFS Proposal

nbb-senatorsIn what could be seen as a sign that an unpopular decision is about to be rendered by the Obama Administration on ethanol and biodiesel, a select group of Senate Democrats have met with the White House. The Hill reports White House adviser John Podesta met with the group on Thursday to discuss the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) plans regarding the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

The senators said they wanted to discuss “urgent concerns” with the RFS, which requires that diesel and gasoline refiners mix a certain amount of renewable fuels such as biodiesel and ethanol into their traditional fuels each year. The Environmental Protection Agency proposed last year to keep the biodiesel volume in 2014 at least year’s level, despite an increase in biodiesel production, and reduce the ethanol volume.

The EPA has not yet finalized its 2014 volumes for renewables.

[Minnesota Senator Al] Franken and his colleagues took particular issue with the biodiesel mandate.

“Such a decision would not only harm the economic growth surrounding biodiesel production in our states, but would be a setback in our national efforts to continue boosting U.S. energy security while also reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” they wrote.

The National Biodiesel Board (NBB) seems concerned about the meeting as well and issued a statement from from Vice President of Federal Affairs Anne Steckel:

“While we are encouraged by these discussions, the biodiesel industry remains concerned that the Administration still appears to be considering a proposal that would backtrack from last year’s proven production and that threatens biodiesel plants around the country. The fact is that biodiesel is the most successful Advanced Biofuel under the RFS, yet it could see its production cut significantly. This meeting, which was originally requested by a diverse group of 14 Democratic senators from across the country, makes clear that there are serious concerns about the impact that the proposal would have on jobs and economic growth nationwide, in states from Rhode Island to Minnesota to Washington state. This is a critical decision, not just for the biodiesel industry but for the future development of clean, American-made renewable fuels that will help us reduce our dangerous dependence on petroleum.”

Many of those senators participating in this week’s meeting were also critical back in May on the Obama Administration’s proposal to cut the amount of biodiesel and ethanol to be mixed into the nation’s fuel supply, with some of the President’s staunchest backers calling it “disastrous” and a miserable failure of policy.

Rwanda Set to Commission Solar Plant

The first utility-scale solar PV power plant is set to go online in early August 2014 in East Africa. The 8.5 MWp solar farm will be commissioned by the Government of Rwanda and is currently in its testing phase. Today less than one in five households in Rwanda have access to electricity. The new solar project will increase the country’s production capacity by up to 8 percent.

rwanda state flagIn early July, Rwanda’s Minister of Infrastructure, Prof. Silas Lwakabamba led a high-level delegation which visited the Gigawatt Global Rwanda Ltd construction site, the utility-scale solar power plant located near Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village (ASYV) in Rwamagana District, eastern Rwanda.

“Generation and provision of electricity to all Rwandans is a priority for the Government of Rwanda. This initiative to produce 8.5 megawatts of clean energy is an important addition towards closing Rwanda’s current energy gap,” said the Minister at the site.

The Norwegian company Scatec Solar is the Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) company responsible for building the power plant, and Remote Partners is the local management and support firm. The project has been funded by Norfund (Norwegian Investment Fund for Developing Countries) and KLP. The Dutch company Gigwatt Global is the developer of the project. Once the plant is online, Scatec Solar will operate and maintain the plant which will feed electricity directly into the national grid. The price is lower than for electricity generated by diesel oil.

The Government is encouraging private sector involvement and private-public partnerships as part of its development policy. In addition, energy for all is an important goal in the fight against poverty. Energy must be affordable, energy supplies must be reliable, and last but not least, energy is ideally clean and renewable. Solar energy is an important part of the energy mix along with hydropower and other sources of renewable energy in Africa.

BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDFCBD Energy Limited has announced that its Westinghouse Solar subsidiary has finalized binding contracts for commercial solar installations in Australia totaling $1.3M. Additionally its bid pipeline has grown to $14.5M. This reflects the increasing price of energy in the Australian market which makes the Westinghouse Solar range of products and services competitive with fossil fuel generation.
  • Broadwind Energy, Inc. has announced $34 million in new tower orders from a U.S. wind turbine manufacturer. Broadwind will produce these towers in its Manitowoc, WI facility.
  • SunEdison, Inc. has announced its acquisition of the 156 megawatt DC Comanche Solar project from renewable energy developer Community Energy. SunEdison is partnering with Community Energy to complete the final development stage of the project by structuring the financing and providing procurement expertise for the project, following which SunEdison will manage the construction, operation, and maintenance of the solar power plant. Construction will begin in 2015 with commercial operation targeted for early 2016.
  • Sungevity, Inc., has announced that its Sungevity.org initiative has now provided more than $1.5 million to nonprofit organizations through a cause marketing program that rewards nonprofit partners and their members for solar installations. The program has added $500,000 to nonprofit coffers in the last year alone while simultaneously driving solar adoption to reduce U.S. dependence on fossil fuels. To mark the $1.5 million milestone, Sungevity.org has donated $50,000 to Alameda County Community Food Bank and welcomed the food bank to its partner roster.

USDA Selects 36 Energy Facilities for Biomass Deliveries

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has selected 36 energy facilities in 14 states to accept biomass deliveries as part of the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP). Biomass owners who supply these bioenergy facilities may qualify for BCAP delivery assistance beginning July 28, 2014. BCAP was reauthorized in the 2014 Farm Bill.

bcap_logo_368Of the total $25 million per year authorized for BCAP, up to 50 percent ($12.5 million) is available each year to assist biomass owners with the cost of delivery of agricultural or forest residues for energy generation. Some BCAP payments will target the removal of dead or diseased trees from National Forests and Bureau of Land Management public lands for renewable energy, which reduces the risk of forest fire.

“This program generates clean energy from biomass, reduces the threat of fires by removing dead or diseased trees from public forest lands, and invests in rural businesses and new energy markets,” said Tom Vilsack, USDA ag secretary. “The fires we are seeing right now in the west underscore the need for forest restoration and fire prevention. Pairing this effort with forest restoration on public lands will help guard against these fires while promoting economic opportunity for rural communities.”

Farmers, ranchers or foresters who harvest and deliver forest or agricultural residues to a BCAP-qualified energy facility may be eligible for financial assistance for deliveries. The USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA), which administers BCAP, will begin accepting applications from biomass owners from July 28 through Aug. 25. Deliveries of residues for approved contracts may be made through Sept. 26, 2014.

Spinach May Be Powerful Fuel for Biofuels

Spinach may have super strength to unlock some of the mysteries of biofuel production. Purdue University physicists are part of an international group using spinach to study the proteins involved in photosynthesis, the process by which plants convert the sun’s energy into carbohydrates used to power cellular processes.

“The proteins we study are part of the most efficient system ever built, capable of converting the energy from the sun into chemical energy with an unrivaled 60 percent efficiency,” said Yulia Pushkar, a Purdue assistant professor of physics involved in the research. “Understanding this sPushkar spinachystem is indispensable for alternative energy research aiming to create artificial photosynthesis.”

As Pushkar explains, during photosynthesis plants use solar energy to convert carbon dioxide and water into hydrogen-storing carbohydrates and oxygen. Artificial photosynthesis could allow for the conversion of solar energy into renewable, environmentally friendly hydrogen-based fuels.

In Pushkar’s laboratory, students extract a protein complex called Photosystem II from spinach they buy at the supermarket. The students then extract the proteins in a specially built room that keeps the spinach samples cold and shielded from light. Next the team excites the proteins with a laser and records changes in the electron configuration of their molecules.

“These proteins require light to work, so the laser acts as the sun in this experiment,” explained Pushkar. “Once the proteins start working, we use advanced techniques like electron paramagnetic resonance and X-ray spectroscopy to observe how the electronic structure of the molecules change over time as they perform their functions.” Continue reading

Cellulosic Ethanol – Innovation at it’s Finest

New Holland ZimmPollOur latest ZimmPoll asked the question, “What are your thoughts on cellulosic ethanol?”

As the possibility of cellulosic ethanol grows it looks like popularity will as well. We may be far from buying it at the pump, but people still seem to be excited about the technological innovation.

Here are the poll results:

  • Innovation making it happen – 43.2%
  • Very important renewable fuel – 21.6%
  • Still years away from commercial market – 27%
  • Will never work – 2.7%
  • What the heck is it? – 5.4%

Our new ZimmPoll is now live and asks the question, How can technology make farming even better?

We’ve been covering lots of precision farming conferences this summer, from the recent Precision Aerial Ag Show in Illinois, to this week’s International Conference on Precision Ag in California, to next week’s InfoAg Expo in St. Louis. Sometimes it seems like farming can’t get any more technological – but can it? What would you like to see on the farm that has yet to become commercially available?

Grains Council Working on Ethanol Exports

usgrainscouncil1The U.S. Grains Council (USGC) is working on promoting exports of U.S. ethanol through a partnership between USDA’s Foreign Agriculture Service, Growth Energy and the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA).

“We’ve been working since late March, early April to determine which markets we’re going to do market assessments in and then next year we’ll shift into market development activities,” said Ashley Kongs, USGC manager of ethanol export program. The Grains Council is planning three regional market assessment programs this year, going to Japan and Korea in September, Latin America in November, and southeast Asia in early December.

Earlier this year, USGC participated in a trade mission to China with USDA Undersecretary Michael Scuse where they were able to discuss the possibility of ethanol exports to that country. “They visited with a Chinese ethanol plant and they had meetings with the National Energy Administration in China,” said Kongs. “Currently ethanol can only be sold in six designated markets in China for blending with fuel, but the group had discussions about the possibility of expanding ethanol use nationwide.” Kongs says while there are challenges in the Chinese market, the Grains Council sees great potential for the future to open the door for U.S. ethanol exports.

USGC continues to build on its success in promoting exports of the ethanol co-product distillers grains and will be again this year joining RFA in hosting the Export Exchange, an international trade conference focused on the export of U.S. coarse grains and ethanol co-products held every two years. Early registration for the event is open until July 31 and USGC and RFA members are eligible for discounted pricing.

EPA Hears Corn Grower Concerns About RFS

Members of the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) meeting in Washington DC were able to share their concerns about the delayed rule on 2014 volume obligations under the Renewable Fuel Standard with EPA Deputy Administrator Bob Perciasepe.

epa-ncga“The number needs to be out, it’s really ridiculous,” said NCGA president Martin Barbre, pictured here on the right with Perciasepe. “He said ‘we’re behind time frame’ and we had some delegates stand up and say ‘you’re not behind time frame, you’re way late.’” The final rule was expected by the end of June but EPA officials say it is being delayed because of the massive volume of comments that need to be studied in order to make a decision.

Barbre says while they appreciate the fact that EPA is taking the time to make sure they make the right decision, delaying it until almost the end of the year causes problems in the market. “Sort of what has created this issue with RINS and that run up in the RINS price is the lateness of the oil companies getting the numbers,” said Barbre. “They’re supposed to have these number in the spring, they get them in the fall, and by the end of the year they have got to have met their obligations. So it puts them in somewhat of a bind.”

“We’re not usually on the side of defending the oil companies, but in this case they just need to get the numbers faster so they can get themselves where they need to be,” Barbre added.

Listen to Barbre’s comments here: Interview with NCGA president Martin Barbre

“Climate of Opportunity” Theme for Biofuels Conference

Screen Shot 2014-07-18 at 12.23.20 PMSome biofuels producers have had some profitable times in the last couple of years, and an upcoming conference will give attendees information on how to take advantage of the opportunities put before them. Nationally known accounting and consulting firm Christianson & Associates will host its 10th annual Biofuels Financial Conference with the theme “Climate of Opportunity,” Aug. 27-28, 2014 in Minneapolis, Minn. at the Bloomington Embassy Suites.

This year’s Biofuels Financial Conference is focused on the best ways to take advantage of the many opportunities to optimize financial health and stability in today’s changing biofuels industry. By understanding current policy and knowing all available options for improving and diversifying production, attendees will learn how to capitalize on current strengths, identify and shore up any potential weaknesses, and create a strategic plan for growth creates an ongoing climate of opportunity.

“It’s important for board members and financial decision-makers to understand the opportunities in the current liquid fuels marketplace,” said [John Christianson, CPA and Partner at Christianson & Associates]. “What is the impact of the latest legislation changes, what are the marketplace opportunities, what are the technology investments that will bring a plant successfully into the next generation?”

Those attending the conference will be able to network with and learn from biofuels professionals from across the industry. More information is available here.

Ethanol Report on Cost Analysis

ethanol-report-adA new analysis by the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) shows that over the past four years, ethanol has been the most economically competitive motor fuel and octane source in the world.

rfa-cooper-headIn this Ethanol Report, RFA Senior Vice President Geoff Cooper gives some of the major findings of the report, talks about why it has particular relevance in the California market, and how the study suggests that the cost of producing ethanol in the US will continue to fall.

Ethanol Report on Cost Analysis

Subscribe to “The Ethanol Report” with this link.