AMRC Looks at Ethanol Plant Profitability Projections

Don Hofstrand, retired agriculture extension economist with the Agricultural Marketing Resource Center (AMRC) located at Iowa State University, has recently published projections for ethanol plant profitability over the next several years. When the ethanol boom really took off, Hofstrand noted that most farmers purchased shares in ethanol plants as a way to hedge against low corn prices. So AMRC began to look track the monthly profitability of ethanol plants.

hofstrandfigure5_E2C7BA3AB4D47“We track the monthly profitability by using the current ethanol prices, the current corn prices, distillers grains (DDGs) and natural gas. Each month we compute that and have a record going back to 2005 of how the profitability of those systems have changed over that period of time to give a indication of the current economic status of ethanol production and biodiesel production,” explained Hofstrand.

Today it appears that there is a saturated ethanol market that may cause an excess of corn supplies. However, Hofstrand said that over the past few years corn prices have been high taking a bite out of ethanol production profits. He finds there will be substantial uncertainly surrounding the ethanol selling price and net returns to the ethanol supply chain. This could be affected by rising corn production costs and where they will trend in the future is uncertain. He also finds that although energy prices may soften, interest rates are expected to strengthen, and with continued improvement in genetics, seed cost may continue to rise, but the rise may be offset by higher yields.

Ultimately, Hosftrand said that what is certain is that corn selling prices need to stay relatively strong in relation to historic levels to continue generating farm operator net returns from the marketplace.

Short Rotation Woody Crops Ideal for Energy

Research from the University of Tennessee Center for Renewable Carbon has found that fast growing, short rotation wood crops (SRWC) are ideal as a biomass source to produce bionergy and biofuels. The research will be featured over the next three months as the Southeastern Partnership for Integrated Biomass Supply Systems’ (IBSS) Woody Crop Whistle Stop Tour that will feature Auburn University’s tractor-trailer scale mobile biomass gasifier. During the tour, the gasifier will demonstrate how to turn biomass into electricity on a small scale. Partners include North Carolina State University, ArborGen, University of Georgia, Auburn and UT.

On Tuesday, September 30, 2014 the tour will stop in Columbus, Miss., for an IBSS/Advanced Hardwood Biofuels (AHB) Field Day. Based on two years of successful experiments in the Southeast and Pacific Northwest with fast-growing cottonwood and hybrid poplars, IBSS, AHB, GreenWood Resources, and ArborGen have partnered to establish a 70-acre hybrid poplar plantation. Mississippi State University has also been an integral partner throughout the process, assisting in research and helping with field day activities. At this stop, visitors will get a close-up view of the SRWC system and learn about new research on genetics, stand establishment, disease problems, wildlife impacts and biomass harvesting logistics.

Cottonwood Tree (Istock photo)On Friday, October 10, the tour will stop at the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture East Tennessee AgResearch and Education Center in Knoxville for a half-day Woody Crops Field Day. Visitors to the event will learn first-hand about new energy crops like fast-growing hybrid poplar and their importance as a feedstock for the emerging biofuels industry. This event will coincide with the IBSS Annual Meeting, so many experts will be on hand to answer questions about bioenergy production.

Stops are also planned for September 13, 2014 at Auburn’s Ag Discovery Day and November 19 at the Alabama Joint Leadership Development Conference (JLDC). Details about each event can be found online at at the IBSS website.

The IBSS Partnership has also been involved in research to develop drop-in liquid fuels, such as gasoline, diesel and jet fuel for use as a replacement for grain (corn)-based ethanol. The project produced some 1500 gallons of a “green” diesel fuel from Southeastern-produced pine and poplar biomass and technology provided in part by industrial research partners.

Tim Rials, director of the UT Center for Renewable Carbon and a biochemist, contends that the U.S. should invest in the Southeast for the production of biofuels. “Our region can produce a variety of biomass feedstocks including dedicated crops such as switchgrass and sorghum, along with dedicated woody crops and forest residues,” he said.

The goal of the IBSS partnership is to demonstrate the production of advanced biofuels from sustainable sources of lignocellulosic biomass. Initially, the partnership has focused its efforts on perennial switchgrass and short-rotation woody crops like eucalyptus and poplar. Rials said each dedicated crop has inherent performance and cost advantages for specific conversion technologies. “We are working to match the economic and environmental performance of each feedstock with a preferred conversion platform so that the ultimate product, the particular biobased fuel, will be reliable, available and affordable.”

Valero Restarts Mount Vernon, IN Ethanol Plant

Valero Renewable Fuels Company has restarted its recently purchased ethanol plant located in Mount Vernon, Indiana. On hand for the Port Appreciation and Welcome Ceremony was Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann and other state and local officials. The Mount Vernon plant is the 11th corn ethanol plant in Valero Renewables’ system and its second in Indiana. It has an annual production capacity of 110 million gallons and uses Delta-T technology, similar to the process already in use at Valero Renewables’ ethanol plant in Jefferson, Wisconsin.

“The opening of Valero’s ethanol facility at the Port of Indiana-Mount Vernon is another economic development win for the State of Indiana,” Ellspermann said during the ceremony. “When the tenth largest Valero renewables_logo smallcompany in the U.S. decides to make such a large investment right here in Indiana, the company is confirming that we have a great business climate that includes our strong agriculture industry and our multimodal transportation infrastructure. Not only is Valero developing a partnership with the Ports of Indiana on this project, but the company is also making a significant commitment to support Mount Vernon and the entire Southwest Indiana community.”

Adding the Mount Vernon location gives Valero more than 1.3 billion gallons per year in ethanol production. The plant had been shut down for approximately two years, but Valero Renewables resumed production at the site earlier in August and now employs approximately 65 full-time workers.

“We pride ourselves in our operations and being a positive impact to the community,” said Martin Parrish, senior vice president, Valero Renewable Fuels Company LLC. “I’m confident you will find that our actions back this up.” During the event Parrish presented a donation of $20,000 on behalf of the Valero Energy Foundation to the United Way of Posey County to mark the beginning of Valero’s impact in the area.

According to Valero, the Mount Vernon ethanol plant’s logistical advantages include ready access to corn suppliers as well as strong rail, truck and barge transportation. The plant is at the Port of Indiana-Mount Vernon on a location leased from Ports of Indiana, the state port authority.

Masdar Completes First Samoan Wind Farm

Somoa has its operational first wind farm. The ‘cyclone proof’ project is located on the Samoan island of Upolu. Home to nearly 75 percent of the population the wind farm will supply 1,500 MWh of power per year, delivering U.S. $475,000 in annual fuel cost savings. Ariel view of Samoa's first wind farmThe pioneering project in Samoa includes two 55 meters high turbines that can pivot at the base, and be lowered and locked in place in less than 1 hour. This collapsible design helps to avoid damage from the region’s numerous cyclones.

The Samoan Prime Minister, the Honorable Tuilaepa Aiono Sailele Malielegaoi marked the event with an inauguration ceremony just days before the start of the United Nations’ Third Conference on Small Island Developing States, in Samoa’s capital.

“This UAE supported project, and others like it underway across the Pacific, unlock significant economic and social benefits across the region. By providing local sources of renewable energy and reducing reliance on imported fuels, the UAE is helping countries like Samoa realize its development ambitions, while also delivering valuable clean energy infrastructure,” said His Excellency Dr. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, UAE Minister of State and Chairman of Masdar. “Renewable energy has the potential to be a major contributor to the energy mix in developing countries, acting as a catalyst for greater socioeconomic opportunity. Today’s inauguration reinforces the UAE’s commitment to advancing and deploying renewable energy globally.”

The project was developed by Abu Dhabi-based Masdar and is the second completed under the United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) $50 million Pacific Partnership Fund that is managed by Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD). The UAE Pacific Partnership Fund supports the deployment of renewable energy across Pacific island One of the cyclone proof turbines in Soma's first wind farmstates and represents one of the largest-ever investments in clean energy across the region. The grant is managed by the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development, and coordinated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Directorate of Energy and Climate Change. Masdar partners with each nation’s government and leads the design and implementation process.

The Prime Minister of Samoa, the Hon Tuilaepa Aiono Sailele Malielegaoi, added, “The new wind farm delivered by Masdar and funded by the ADFD is a significant step forward in Samoa’s transition to a more sustainable energy future. This has been possible thanks to the support of Abu Dhabi and the United Arab Emirates, and their commitment to advancing sustainable development. Access to renewable energy is vital to our long-term economic development, even beyond the substantial gains realized by cutting our dependence on imported fuel.”

First announced during Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week in January 2014, the Samoan wind farm is the second project to be completed under the fund. Masdar is also currently progressing solar PV projects in Fiji, Kiribati, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu. A 512 kWe solar PV installation in Tonga, achieving nearly 70 percent grid penetration, was the first project to be completed.

Growth Energy’s Model Ethanol Plant

Growth Energy Model PlantDuring the Farm Progress Show last week several companies featured some cool technologies and displays featuring agriculture’s role in producing clean energy such as biofuels. One partnership that has been very successful is that between New Holland and Growth Energy. New Holland has very publicly shown its support for ethanol has developed equipment for farmers to more easily harvest their energy crops.

When visiting the New Holland booth not only could you see this amazing equipment, but you were able to see a model ethanol plant – thousands of Farm Progress attendees have never has the opportunity to visit an ethanol plant.

In this video with Kelly Manning, vice president of development for Growth Energy, you can get your own virtual tour of the ethanol plant. The educational display was under glass and the ethanol plant was built to scale demonstrating the role feedstocks play in the production process as well as how the products are delivered from the plant.

BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDFPacific Ethanol has announced it has purchased an additional 5% ownership interest in PE Op Co., the owner of the Pacific Ethanol plants, for a total cash purchase price of $6,000,000. The acquisition increased the company’s ownership interest in the Pacific Ethanol plants to 96%.
  • ReneSola Ltd has announced that it will develop a 13MW solar project in Dorset, England. The company expects the solar farm to be fully operational and connected to the national energy grid by end of this year. The company has identified a number of potential buyers for the project, which received planning consent in January 2014 and is eligible for the United Kingdom’s support scheme to promote renewable electricity-generating technologies. The project will feature ReneSola PV modules exclusively, specifically the Company’s top-rated Virtus II.
  • HelioSage Energy, a national developer of utility scale solar projects, has announced the sale of a 77 MWdc/60 MWac portfolio of development-stage solar facilities in North Carolina. The portfolio is comprised of 12 ground-mounted solar projects sited in eastern North Carolina. Once constructed, the projects will sell power under a Power Purchase Agreement with either Duke Energy-Progress or the North Carolina Eastern Municipal Power Agency.
  • Chint Power Systems America has announced an agreement with the non-profit organization, Wichita Falls Faith Mission, Inc., on behalf of its shelter for women and children, Faith Refuge, in Wichita Falls, Texas. The 24,000 sq. ft. homeless shelter that opened in May 2012 is partially powered by about 650 solar panels. Under the agreement, Chint will provide array services to maximize the site operation and energy harvest leveraging its research and development (R&D) and Service center based in Dallas, Texas. Under the agreement, Chint will use the 180kW array for monitoring, evaluating and testing solar inverters, accessories, data monitoring and field services.

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.”

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.

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.