Ethanol Discounted in Honor of Odyssey Day

In honor of the National Alternative Fuel Vehicle Day Odyssey, Farmers Union Oil of Southern Valley Cenex located in Wahpeton, North Dakota will be discounting ethanol fuel blends. On Friday, October 26, 2012, E85 will be discounted 85 cents per gallon, E30 will be discounted 30 cents per gallon and E20 will be discounted 20 cents per gallon. Odyssey Day is a biennial event that promotes the use of alternative fueled vehicles and the ethanol blends are only for use in flex-fuel vehicles (FFVs.).

The promotion will begin at noon and end at 3:00 pm. The retail station is located at 2019 9th Street North, Wahpeton, North Dakota.

Supporters of the Wahpeton event include the Farmers Union Oil of Southern Valley, National Alternative Fuels Training Consortium, North Dakota Corn Council, North Dakota Ethanol Council, North Dakota Ethanol Producers Association, North Dakota Clean Cities and the American Lung Association in North Dakota.

Biofuels Larger Part of Energy Mix

World and energy industry leaders are gathering this week in Dubai at the World Energy Forum. The major goal of the forum is to chart a roadmap for a sustainable energy mix. In light of the meeting, the Global Renewable Fuels Alliance (GRFA) renewed its call for the adoption of politices that will include biofuels as a significant part of the world’s future energy mix.

The World Energy Forum facilitates a conversation and an exchange of ideas between heads of state, national energy ministers, and energy industry leaders. The goal is to find solutions to the challenges facing a sustainable energy future through technological innovations, research and political will.

“2012 is the United Nations ‘International Year of Sustainable Energy for All’ and is the ideal time for World Energy Forum attendees to push for more biofuels friendly policies,” said Bliss Baker, who is the spokesperson for the Global Renewable Fuels Alliance. “We cannot continue to rely on our addiction to oil that continues to hamper economic growth, exacerbate climate change and drive up food prices.”

According to the GRFA, biofuels contributed $277.3 billion to the global economy and supported nearly 1.4 million jobs in 2010. This year ethanol production is forecasted to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 100 million tonnes globally. Last year the International Energy Agency released, Technology Roadmap – Biofuels for Transport, which stated that biofuels could make up 27% of the worlds transport fuels by 2050, eliminate 2.1 gigatonnes of CO2 emissions and not jeopardize food security. Recently the IEA called for biofuels production to double so their CO2 reduction goal could be met by 2020.

“World and energy industry leaders must follow IEA recommendations and adopt policies that ensures global biofuels production doubles in the coming years to meet CO2 reduction goals and reduce our dangerous reliance on crude oil imports,” said Baker.

Tractor Pulling with Biodiesel

The National Tractor Pullers Association (NTPA) is going to help promote biodiesel to its fans with the help of the United Soybean Board (USB). Beginning next season, all tractors will use B100 (100 percent biodiesel) in all pulling classes. The goal of the program is to increase biodiesel use among farmers, truck drivers and other diesel users who are a large component of the sport’s fan base.

“The NTPA has been a good partner with the soy checkoff,” says United Soybean Board (USB) Director Jim Willers, a soybean farmer from Beaver Creek, Minn. “We are pleased that tractor pullers will be able to use B100 and show off what biodiesel can do for their engines.”

A recent study by the Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council (MSR&PC) and the United Pullers of Minnesota (UPM) found that using B100 in a pulling tractor can add up to 4 percent more horsepower and torque compared with traditional diesel. Prior to testing of B100 and this partnership, NTPA fuel regulations limited the use of biodiesel to lower blends.

“We now have a reliable test to make sure it’s B100, so pullers can use it right out of the pump,” says Gregg Randall, NTPA office general manager. “The biggest thing is that this will be the ultimate proof that biodiesel performs well, which is what our partnership with the soy checkoff is all about.”

The United Soybean Board has partnered with the NTPA for the past six years to help increase biodiesel availability and use among pulling fans. And for the third year in a row, the checkoff sponsored the NTPA’s “Powered by Biodiesel” Light Pro Stock class, in which all competitors use biodiesel blends.

Soy Energy in Mason City Suspends Operations

Soy Energy, a 30 million gallon per year biodiesel plant in Mason City, Iowa announced it will be temporarily suspending production and that some employees will be impacted. Iowa has 13 biodiesel facilities with the capacity to produce 320 million gallons of biodiesel per year.

Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) Executive Director Monte Shaw made the following comment:

“First, our thoughts are with the employees of Soy Energy and their families. This is a tough time for biodiesel producers and a decision like this is never easy. This temporary stoppage in production highlights the need for Congress to quickly pass the tax extenders package, including the Biodiesel Blenders Tax Credit, during its upcoming lame duck session. Biodiesel is still a young industry confronted with a marketplace dominated by billions in tax subsidies for petroleum fuels, federal loan guarantees for petroleum infrastructure projects, and a petroleum distribution monopoly. Congress must create a level playing field so consumers can choose the fuel of their choice.”

Governors Decline Iowa Hospitality

Despite planned trips to Iowa, Texas Governor Rick Perry and Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell declined invitations to visit an Iowa ethanol plant and cattle operation from the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA). Both governors were part of a group that filed for waivers of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS2) for 2012 and 2013. At this time, the Environmental Protection Agency  (EPA) has not make a decision.

“Given that both governors made formal requests to abandon the RFS, one of the most successful energy policies in U.S. history, IRFA was very disappointed to learn that Gov. Perry and Gov. McDonnell have declined our invitation for a quick visit to an Iowa ethanol plant and family cattle operation while in the state,” stated IRFA Executive Director Monte Shaw. “IRFA respects the governors’ right to act in the best interest of their states as they see it, but given their national profile this would have been an excellent opportunity for them to hear the other side of the story – a side they’re not hearing from the special interests in their home states.”

Iowa is the leader in ethanol and biodiesel production with 41 ethanol biorefineries with the capacity to produce nearly 3.7 billion gallons of ethanal each year.

In the invitation to the Perry and McDonnell, who are both making political stops in Iowa this week, said, “IRFA would love to show you an ethanol plant in action as well as a neighboring cattle operation to demonstrate how these two important agriculture segments benefit each other, even during challenging times such as the current drought. We are certain this experience will respectfully challenge the sincere, but faulty assertions made to you regarding the need for an RFS waiver request.”

Kyocera Completes Large Solar Project in Australia

The Townsville RSL Stadium in North Queensland, Australia is now the site of the largest photovoltaic (PV) installation. The solar modules for the 500 megawatt hours system were supplied by Kyocera Solar. With the completion of the renewable energy project, featuring 1,800 solar modules, nearly two-thirds of the stadium’s energy needs will be met by solar energy. Ergon Energy installed the solar system and it is estimated to generate nearly 1,400 kilowatt hours each day, enough to fulfill the energy needs of 75 average sized North Queensland homes.

Federal Parliamentary Secretary for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, Mark Dreyfus, opened the Townsville RSL Stadium solar array. “These measures make the most of Australia’s natural resources and help us make the gradual shift to a modern, clean energy economy,” he said during his remarks.

The solar-powered stadium is a key component of the federally funded Townsville Solar City Program, which is already responsible for installing more than 1MW of solar energy in the city. The goal of the program is to help achieve objectives to better manage rising electricity demand in Northern Queensland using environment-friendly resources.

“Kyocera is proud to support Ergon, the leader of the Townsville Solar City Program, to help create renewable solar energy that will power the North Queensland region for decades to come,” added Steve Hill, president of Kyocera Solar, Inc. “Citizens attending basketball games and other events at Townsville RSL Stadium may enjoy themselves even more knowing that the stadium’s commitment to environmentally friendly renewable energy helps to protect Australia’s natural beauty.”

A world you like. With a climate you like.

Climate change is still front and center in the European Union (EU) with the European Commissioner for Climate Action Connie Hedegaard launching a new communication campaign called “A world you like. With a climate you like.” Supported by more than 70 organizations across Europe, the goal of the campaign is to put practical solutions at the center of the climate change debate. It also hopes to demonstrate to people how climate action can increase welfare while bringing economic benefits to European citizens.

“We have a choice: We can ACT on our knowledge about climate change. Or we can sit idly by and watch as things get worse. Both options come with a price tag. So why not create a world we like, with a climate we like – while we still have time? With this campaign we want to focus the debate on the solutions and find out what is holding us back from applying them,” said Commissioner Hedegaard about the campaign.

A portion of the campaign focuses on innovative climate solutions that reduce CO2 and also improve people’s lives through giving real-world examples of projects that are currently doing just this. The 70 plus organizations and educational institutes participating in the campaign will be able to upload their success stories to the website and Facebook page.

The campaign will run until the end of 2013 and hopes to help the EU achieve its short-term objective of lowering greenhouse gas emission by 20 percent, improve energy efficiency by 20 percent and increase electricity created from renewable energy by 20 percent. The second objective is to achieve the long-term goal of an 80-95 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Today, EU emissions are approximately 17 percent below 1990 levels.

USDA Funds 244 Agribusiness Projects

USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced the funding for 244 projects across the United States that are focused on helping agricultural producers and rural small businesses. The projects will help to lower energy consumption and costs using renewable technologies. The funding is part of USDA’s Rural Energy for America Program (REAP).

“As part of President Obama’s “all of the above” energy strategy, USDA has partnered with thousands of America’s farmers, ranchers and rural businesses to help them save energy and improve their bottom line,” said Vilsack. “This effort is helping to provide stable energy costs that create an environment for sustainable job growth in rural America.”

For example, grower Matthew Gabler, based in Augusta, Wisconsin, was awarded a grant to install a new 11 kilowatt wind turbine that is estimated to produced nearly 29,000 kilo-watt hours a year for his farm.

Another example is Edaleen Cow power LLC, located in Whatcom County, Washington, has awarded a REAP loan and grant combination of $2,638,000 to install an anaerobic digester. The renewable energy project is estimated to generate 4,635 megawatt hours per year with the dairy’s 2,450-head herd as the sole manure source. The agribusiness will sell the extra electricity to the local utility and will also benefit from the bedding byproduct the digester produces.

In combination, USDA announced over $16 million in investments across the 244 projects. For a full list of awards, click here.

Solar Efficiency Record Broken

According to Solar Junction, the company has set a world record for energy efficiency for a commercial ready production solar cell. The company says the power conversion efficiency of its photovoltaic cells was measured at 44 percent at 947 suns, surpassing their own record of 43.5 percent at 418 suns set in April 2011. Both records were verified by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).

“Breaking our own world record cements Solar Junction as an innovator and leader in the multi-junction cell space,” said Vijit Sabnis, VP Technology at Solar Junction. “We continue to push technological boundaries to further drive CPV costs down.”

The company has developed A-SLAM materials that provide CPV system manufacturers the ability to deliver efficience conversion of solar to electrical energy. CPV panels work by concentrating sunlight onto multi-junction cells that are manufactured at Solar Junction’s San Jose, California facility.

Soon Solar Junction will commission a 6″ production fabrication facility that was funded partially through a U.S. Department of Energy SUNPATH contract. Shipments are expected to begin in early 2013.

LS9 Top 10 Venture-Backed Company

According to the Wall Street Journal, LS9 has been selected as one of the 2012 Top 10 Venture-backed Green Companies. This is not the only award bestowed on LS9 this month, they also were named to the 2012 Global Cleantech 100, a list of the top private companies in clean technology and are best positioned to solve tomorrow’s clean technology challenges. LS9 is developing technology to produce renewable fuels and chemicals.

“We are honored to be named to these two distinguished lists from both the The Wall Street Journal and the Cleantech Group,” said Ed Dineen, President and Chief Executive Officer of LS9. “These awards are recognition for the diligence and hard work by all LS9 employees over the past year, and for the continued advancements of our technology platform and business plan.”

The Top 10 includes, beginning with the top ranked company: Recycle Rewards, Boston-Power, Opower, Tigo Energy, Sundrop Fuels, Envia Systems, Calxeda, EnVerv, LS9, and Hara Software.

Safety, Health Concern in Offshore Wind

Copenhagen is the home of the upcoming Offshore Wind Health & Safety Summit taking place December 5-6. Sponsored by Wind Energy Update (WEU), the conference wil discuss safety culture, access options and training. With the increase in offshore wind projects, such as the North Sea farm power plant, it will require a larger number of workers. Smart companies, says Wind Energy Update, will position themselves to protect their employees from hazardous environments posed by offshore wind construction and operation.

“I am truly delighted to be working alongside the industry to help them meet their health and safety objectives, not only for 2012, but for the long term” explains Carrianne Matta, VP Health and Safety, for WEU. “I am thrilled to be running this year’s Offshore Wind Health and Safety Summit which has such a fantastic speaker line up.”

Participating companies include: RWE Innogy, RES Offshore, Statoil, DONG Energy, Mainstream Renewables, Siemens, GE Energy, Vestas, Gamesa, REpower, and GDF Suez. The companies will share experiences and strategies and safety programs that will help the industry as a whole help reduce the frequency of health and safety incidents on offshore wind projects.

For more information on the event, speakers, agenda and workshop, click here.

LCFS Would Benefit Minnesota

According to a recent study from Political Economy Research Institute, a Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) in Minnesota would have a positive environmental and economic impact. The paper, “The Employment Impacts of a Low- Carbon Fuel Standard for Minnesota,” studied the employment impacts of three different scenarios both to 2021 and further to 2035. In each situation, employment is measured on the number of jobs that could be created in construction and manufacturing (CM) as the transportation infrastructure expands, as well as the number of jobs that would be created in harvesting, transportation, and production (HTP).

In each scenario, employment increases, the least in Scenario 1 and the most in Scenario 3:

  • Scenario 1: assume no change to the distribution of transportation fuel consumption.
  • Scenario 2: assume that the fuel mix will change in response to a national Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS2)
  • Scenario 3: outlines a more agressive change in the fuel mix in response to instituting a statewide Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS).

In addition to employment impacts, the study also looks at strategies within the ethanol industry to lower carbon intensity. These include: using renewable energy in place of fossil fuels; increasing the use of flex-fuel vehicles (Minnesota has the largest number of E85 pumps in the country); increasing the blend wall for low level ethanol blends; and increasing production of cellulosic ethanol. The study also looks at increasing the use of biodiesel blends (from B2 to B20) and increasing the number of electric vehicles (EV).

The key findings: Continue reading

Running on Empty

For those of you who watched the second debate between Governor Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama, you’ll have heard something that hasn’t come out of the mouth of a presidential candidate in quite some time: ethanol. During discussion on energy policy, candidates typically use the term biofuels – a seemingly less taboo word as criticism surrounds “ethanol”.

How much of the energy debate did you understand? Quite a bit if you read this blog and are an energy enthusiast like myself. However, I suspect, and I’m not alone, that the average American is bordering on energy illiterate.

Cassidy & Associates have a question themselves: do voters know the difference between renewable energy and fossil fuel? A new infographic show that Americans might be running on empty when it comes to basic facts relating energy and illustrates clear partisan perspectives on its production.

“There’s no election season gimmickry here. This should be a splash of cold water reality to boardrooms across America especially as Washington looks to smarter energy investments that deliver the best results for tax-payer dollars,” mused Cassidy & Associates CEO Gerry Cassidy when posting news of the new InfoGraphic to his LinkedIn profile.

Running on Empty pulls together information gathered from studies and polls from nonpartisan organizations such as Public Agenda and the Associated Press.

Cassidy added, “The uncertainty of understanding beyond the Beltway on this, and other priority issues, should be an abrupt reminder that managing your Washington risk has never been more important and the only successful way to do that is to be fully engaged in the public policy process.”

Biodiesel – The Fuel That Pays for School

For one lucky Minnesota high school senior, biodiesel is going to be the fuel that pays for school. The $1,000 Clean Air Choice Biodiesel Scholarship will be awarded to the student who writes the best 1,000 word essay about the benefits of biodiesel to Minnesota. The second place winner will be given a $500 scholarship.

The scholarship that was announced during the annual Education Minnesota Professional Conference in St. Paul is administered by the American Lung Association in Minnesota. The organization supports and promotes biodiesel as a clean air choice that reduces fuel emissions. The award is sponsored by the Minnesota Soybean Research and Promotion Council.

Rules and the online entry form can be found at www.cleanairchoice.org.

Five Things You Should Know About Solar

Inovateus Solar, based in South Bend Indiana, has proposed five things you should know about solar.  The free white paper, “The Good News About Solar: Five Facts You Should Know,” delves in to five areas about solar energy that demonstrates why solar energy should be a part of the energy mix. The five reasons:

  1. 1.  The U.S. Solar Industry Continues Strong Growth.
  2. 2.  The Cost of Solar Continues to Drop Dramatically.
  3. 3.  Solar Power Creates Jobs.
  4. 4.  Solar Incentives are Only a Fraction of Coal, Oil, and Gas Incentives.
  5. 5.  Solar is an Essential Part of the Energy Mix.

“We compiled this research to let people know about all the great things going on with the solar energy industry,” said Inovateus President T.J. Kanczuzewski. “The solar industry is growing at an exponential level. Out of a thousand success stories, a few solar companies have had a rough go of things because of increasing competition. But this competition is important, because it is weeding out weaker players. The majority of solar firms are thriving in a tough economy.”

“The attention these few companies get from the media sometimes puts a bad spin on solar,” added Kanczuzewski. “We’d like to let people know the truth about solar and how it fits prominently into the energy mix for our future.”