New Tool for Solar, Wind Projects on Contaminated Site

A series of “decision trees” are now available to help companies develop projects on contaminated lands owned by the Bureau of Land Management. Developed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) along with the Department of Energy (DOE), the decision trees can be used to evaluate sites for renewable energy development ranging from solar to wind to geothermal and everything in between.  There are nearly 490,000 sites and 15 million acres across America that may be options for renewable energy projects.

EPA spokesperson Mary Simms, said of the decision trees, “They can be used for evaluating former coal mine sites and nuclear waste sites.  This decision tree targets sites such as brownfields, Superfund sites, RCRA sites, mining sites, landfills, abandoned parcels, parking lots, and commercial or industrial rooftops. Coal mines and nuclear waste sites are potentially contaminated lands that fit within the list of targeted sites.”

Another advantage of the decision trees is that they can show project financiers, without needing to have specific renewable energy expertise, that the sites have already been pre-screened by a set of standard factors. This tool can save both time and money – a site assessment alone traditionally costs between $1,000 to $2,000. However, the tool does not eliminate the need for further investigation once you have your eye on a tract of land.

Simms said there are some benefits of choosing contaminated lands. One, they may be cheaper to lease for purposed of renewable energy projects, especially if the site still needs a bit of cleanup.  Second, they may already have power infrastructure in place on the land or nearby. Third, the renewable energy can be used to power the cleanup.

For more information on the decision trees, click here. The EPA is hosting a webinar on May 22, 2012 at 2 pm EST to help local governments get renewable energy projects built on contaminated land in their community.

HERO BX Adopts New Biodiesel Technology

HERO BX has adopted a new biodiesel technology developed by Arisdyne Systems called the Controlled Flow Cavitation (CFC) process, which reduces catalyst consumption by more than 25%. This also contributes to the reduction of monoglycerides.  These two factors have helped HERO BX reduce costs and produce better biodiesel.

“HERO BX and Desmet Ballestra worked together with Arisdyne to test Arisdyne’s cavitation process. After two months of testing, we proved that the technology demonstrated significant cost savings, streamlined operations and improved overall output of biodiesel at our plant,” said John Schenker, plant manager of HERO BX.

The CFC process creates intense energy peaks that result in nano-sized droplets.  This enables a more effective mass transfer for instantaneous transesterification, or biodiesel production.  Ultimately this leads to greater catalyst savings.  According to Arisdyne, the technology can be used in most biodiesel plant and can be installed without having to shut down production.

“In today’s weak economic conditions, margin improvement is everything,” said Dr. Peter Reimers, president and CEO of Arisdyne. “CFC can be applied to the entire value chain for Oleochemical processes starting with yield enhancement in the refining/degumming step and now as well in biodiesel catalyst savings.  Having catalyst savings and yield improvements in degumming, neutralization of crude oils is crucial to the oils and fat processing industries.”

EcoEngineers Launches New RIN Service

A new Renewable Identification Number (RIN) pricing service has been launched by EcoEngineers Indexing Services LLC.  According to the company, the daily index is based on continuously updated pricing data submitted by biofuels brokers, marketers, obligated parties, and producers.  The company already offers third-party data verification and distribution and this new service expands their business into pricing data.

“Our existing relationships in the marketplace have resulted in a robust sourcing of data for the compilation of the daily index,” said Shashi Menon, Managing Partner of EcoEngineers.  “RINS are a critical component of biofuel economics.  A reliable RIN index will lead to the eventual formation of a RINSWAP and allow industry to freely enter into over-the-counter swap transactions against the Eco indices.”

In a statement, EcoEngineers said it has compiled historical RIN data back to July 2010. As a result, they are able to provide comprehensive reports on historical price movements as well as daily and monthly averages.

In addition, the company said it is in discussions with the CME group to clear it indices. Menon said of the talks, “Being able to clear the Eco indices will allow the market to operate in an environment where counter party credit risk is virtually eliminated, and we are excited to move forward with this initiative.”

PV Solar Systems for Flat Roofs

Conergy Canada has released it new aerodynamic mounting system for weight limited industrial flat roofs. The technology, called the Conergy SolarFamulus Air, reduces the ballast requirement for an entire array, and eliminates the need for roof penetrations. The principle employed when developing the system was one similar to that of a spoiler on a race car: the baffles help to significantly reduce vertical, lifting forces cause by wind. The result is a system that is not only lighter, but can literally be installed by the customer in 5 steps.

The company says this technology opens the door to a new solar market. Commercial flat roofs with weight limits could not support traditional solar PV systems, but they now can with their SolarFamulus Air technology, thus expanding the market. The technology boasts venting windows that allow wind and convection to cool the back of the modules which increases module performance.

“Many years of experience have been put into developing this lightly ballasted system that requires no roof penetration,” said Conergy Canada Product Manager Mitch Gorman. “Recent Ontario building code changes have severely reduced the additional load capacity of many Ontario rooftops. The SolarFamulus Air offers a state of the art mounting solution for mounting solar PV on these compromised roofs.”

In addition to higher performance, Conergy said another advantage of this technology is that there are only six components that need to be installed and one tool can do the trick. This saves times and money according to the company as well as shipping costs are reduced.

For our readers who will be attending CanSIA Solar Ontario, Conergy will be teaching consumers how to install the system on May 14, 2012 at 9:00 am EST in booth 414. The training comes on the heels of the product launch, the SolarFamulus Air will begin shipping on May 1.

Transmission Projects Will Help Wind, Solar

One of the hurdles for wind and solar energy is getting hooked up with the electrical grid. It is estimated that states like North Dakota could provide massive amounts of wind energy to the country, but today, the energy is produced too far where it is needed without having an updated energy grid. Fortunately, a new report released by Edison Electric Institute (EEI) has found there are more than 100 electric transmission projects either planned or underway in the U.S.

EEI’s member electric utility companies have reported they plan to spend $64 billion on transmission system improvements from now through 2022. This is on top of the already $77 billion spent between 2001-2010. The report includes a brief overview of each member company including detailed information about their projects.

“Although not a comprehensive compilation of all projects that are being undertaken by our member companies,” said EEI’s Vice President of Energy Delivery, James P. Fama, “the sampling of projects highlighted in the EEI report, Transmission Projects: At A Glance, March 2012, highlights the electric power industry’s commitment to investing in needed and beneficial transmission infrastructure over the next 10 years.”

In addition to specific project information, the report also categorized each project into four areas:

  • Interstate Transmission Projects—transmission line improvements that physically span two or more states.
  • Transmission Supporting the Integration of Renewable Resources—transmission projects, whether transmission line or non-transmission line, that support the integration of a renewable resource.
  • Transmission Projects Required for System Reliability Needs—projects where the predominant driver has been identified as the need to meet either NERC reliability standards (e.g., NERC Transmission Planning TPL standards) and/or local Transmission Owner reliability criteria.
  • Transmission Projects Developed by Multiple Project Partners—transmission projects where EEI member companies are partnered with other utilities, including non-EEI members, to leverage their expertise to develop the project.

You can download the full report here.

Solar PV Modules Featured on Disaster Relief Housing

MAGE Solar, who produces solar PV modules, is part of a REOSE award-winning green building design that was adopted to showcase sustainable living and disaster relief housing. The winning house was the Sunshower SSIP House developed by architects and Tulane professors Judith Kinnard and Tiffany Lin. Part of the requirements were to develop practical, price-affordable and real-life applications for mass housing needs. The house also had to meet the standards for emergency disaster response, shelters where displaced people go after natural disasters.

The house included 22 MAGE POWERTEC PLUS 235 W modules to power all the energy needs for the 1,050 square foot home. The solar panels were complimented by energy efficient building materials allowing the 5.1 kW MAGE SOLAR PV system to provide 100% of the home’s electricity needs even in extreme conditions.

“The concept of the Sunshower House is truly remarkable,” said Joe Thomas, President and CEO of MAGE SOLAR USA. “It’s not only completely well functional, but it also incorporates innovative and aesthetically pleasing design at the same time into ready-made construction. We’d like to congratulate not only the winning architects but also REOSE for their commitment in bringing sustainable mass and emergency housing onto an entirely new level.”

A prototype of the Sunshower SSIP House is currently on display in New Orleans’ Lakeview neighborhood. Consumers, government officials, green building organizations, and relief organizations are all able to tour the home, built using nearly all local or US products.

REG Rings the Bell to Celebrate IPO

The Renewable Energy Group (REG) celebrated its recent initial public offering (IPO) at the NASDAQ, located in New York City, in a closing bell ceremony to recognize shareholders, the board of directors, employees and client service providers. The company officially became public on January 18, 2012 and on hand for the ringing of the bell yesterday was Chairman of the Board, Jeff Stroburg; President and CEO, Daniel J. Oh; and members of the Renewable Energy Group team.

“The biodiesel we produce is an important alternative as crude oil prices remain high and our nation works to meet energy security and cleaner air goals with lower carbon fuels,” Renewable Energy Group President & CEO in remarks today.  “We are proud to play a role in our nation’s energy complex as an industry-leading biorefining company offering rapid growth opportunities.”

Tracking Clean Energy Progress Report Released

Today, the International Energy Agency (IEA) released its Tracking Clean Energy Progress report and in response, the Global Renewable Fuels Alliance (GRFA) said that it confirms government institutions are not doing enough to further the development of clean energy.

The report states that biofuels for transport are not on track to meet their share of CO2 reduction required to meet the agency’s goal of an average of 2 degree Celsius rise in global temperature by 202o. To achieve this goal, biofuel production will need to double and advanced biofuel production would need to quadruple over current capacity.

According to IEA, a key action is for governments to develop stronger policies to support the development of the advanced biofuels industry. Based on the climate 2 degree Celsius scenario posed by the agency, biofuel use will increase to nearly 240 billion litres in 2020, which if produced sustainably, will lead to an approximate 0.1 GT reduction of CO2 emissions.

“The GRFA applauds the IEA for putting the world on notice that it is falling behind with biofuels production,” said Bliss Baker, spokesperson for the organization. “With the threat of climate change growing, it is imperative that we reduce our CO2 emissions with alternatives to crude oil such as biofuels.”

Baker continued by stating that the report reaffirms GRFA’s call to develop biofuels policies that will reduce reliance on crude oil, and supports the need for biofuels as part of a clean energy future.

Electric Vehicle Standardization Needed

A Standardization Roadmap for Electric Vehicles – Version 1.0 has been released by the Electric Vehicles Standards Panel (EVSP), part of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). The roadmap reviews standards, codes, regulations, conformance and training programs – elements critical to the facilitation of safe, mass deployment of electric vehicles (EV) and charging infrastructure.

“The roadmap delivers on its promise to pave a smoother road to the large-scale rollout of electric vehicle technology. And from the economic and environmental points of view, the timing couldn’t be better,” said Jim Matthews, EVSP co-chair and director of technical standards and standards policy at Corning Incorporated. “EVs offer the potential to significantly reduce our nation’s dependence on imported oil, create well-paying jobs through the establishment of a broad, domestic EV industry, and reduce on‐road vehicular emissions.”

Standardization Roadmap focuses on plug-in electric vehicles and the charging infrastructure paramount to helping adoption. The report was developed to facilitate the development of comprehensive, and streamlined standards and conformance landscape for EVs, and maximize the coordination of the standards worldwide. Some issues reviewed included EV safety, affordability, interoperability, performance, and environmental impact. The roadmap also focused on training and education programs.

S. Joe Bhatia, President and CEO of ANSI added, “The release of the Standardization Roadmap for Electric Vehicles – Version 1.0 is a critical step forward in facilitating mass EV deployment in the U.S. This effort relied upon the collaborative work of experts from the public and private sectors and across industries, all focused on the common priority of enabling the EV market to expand and thrive.”

Test Successful for Gasification Technology

Commercial demonstration testing of a new gasification technology has proven successful according to Covanta Energy Corporation. The technology gasifies unprocessed post-recycled municipal solid waste in a commercial setting while also reducing emissions and increasing energy efficiency.  The announcement was made during the North American Waste-to-Energy Conference and Covanta said this achievement makes way for the company to offer a 300 ton per day modular system called CLEERGAS (Covanta Low Emissions Energy Recovery Gasification).

“We are always working to stay on the cutting edge of technology to convert waste into clean energy,” said Anthony J. Orlando, Covanta’s president and chief executive officer. “This new gasification technology is truly exciting. Communities interested in emerging technologies can now partner with Covanta’s industry leading team to assure successful project execution.”

During the pilot phase, the technology processed 350 tons per day of municipal solid waste that did not need to be pretreated. The waste was subjected to high temperatures and reduced air on the gasification platform, where it underwent a chemical reaction that created synthesis gas or syngas. Next, the syngas was combusted and then processed through an energy recovery system that utilizes an emissions control system.

John Klett, the company’s executive vice president and CTO added, “Successfully completing this commercial demonstration was a major step in developing new facilities capable of gasifying unprocessed post-recycled municipal waste. Moving forward, our research and development efforts will continue to improve the syngas quality created in the gasification process.  One day, we anticipate this syngas will be utilized as a fuel in a combined cycle facility and potentially, in the production of liquid fuel.”

Virdia Opens New Pilot Facility

A new cellulosic demonstration facility has opened in Danville, Virginia. Virdia, a company focused on developing cellulosic sugars,  located the facility on the campus for the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research (IALR). The facility will prove out Virdia’s CASE process in pilot scale and the resulting  cellulosic sugars and lignin will be designed for use in commercial applications.

Philippe Lavielle, Virdia CEO said, “Siting our technology center and our demonstration facility in Virginia is the next key step towards commercial production for us. Virdia’s products are cost-competitive, and are setting new standards for industrial uses of cellulosic sugars and lignin.”

Lavielle also said that the company looks forward to demonstrating the technology on a larger scale, and when they are ready, plan on locating the larger facility near sustainable sources of biomass.  The CASE process converts biomass to fermentable sugars and lignin. The resulting sugars can be used to produce renewable chemicals, materials, nutritional additives for the feed industry and renewable fuels. The company is currently working with Virent who is using the sugars to produce drop-in jet fuels.

The company held a ribbon cutting ceremony on April 25th.  “Virdia is making huge strides in the emerging bioeconomy, and I am pleased the company has decided to site its new technology center in Virginia,” said Bob McDonnell, the Governor of Virginia. “The development of sustainable and clean sources of energy is a necessary component of our all the above energy strategy, and Virginia is proud to welcome Virdia to the state in pursuance of cleaner energy, scientific innovation and economic stimulus.”

Butamax & Fagen Cement Colloboration

Butamax has entered into a partnership with Fagen Inc. The pair will work together to introduce commercial scale biobutanol using Butamax technology.  Fagen, an engineering company, has designed and or built more than 85 ethanol plants totaling nearly 6 billion gallons of ethanol production per year.  The goal of the two companies is to ramp up production of biobutanol.

“We are delighted to partner with Fagen on our path to commercialize biobutanol,” said Paul Beckwith, Butamax CEO. “Fagen is simply the world leader when it comes to project execution in the biofuels industry, with leading standards for safety and quality. Our shared commitment to renewable energy makes Fagen a natural partner for Butamax and our shareholders.”

Last December Butamax announced the formation of an Early Adopters Group (EAG), a group of international production companies looking to become the first to adopt Butamax biobutanal technology.  The company has several pilot projects underway to convert various feedstocks including corn and sugarcane to biobutanol.

Aaron Fagen, CEO of Fagen, added,  “Butamax offers an exciting opportunity for ethanol facilities to leverage their existing assets to produce the next generation biofuel. We look forward to working with Butamax in the deployment of their commercial strategy and their first retrofit project starting in 2013.”

America Can Achieve Energy Victory

If the United States puts its mind to it, energy victory can be achieved. How? Energy expert Dr. Robert Zubrin, author of Energy Victory has the formula for success.  Zubrin recently spoke at the Indiana Ethanol Forum, and fellow journalist Meghan Grebner of Brownfield Ag News interviewed him after his presentation asking him what the most important thing people should take away from his presentation.

“The most vital threat to America right now is its energy insecurity,” answered Zubrin. “The number one responsibility of the federal government is national defense. That means defending us from being looted by the foreign oil cartel; defending us from being brought to our knees for lack of fuel. In order to weaken the power of the cartel, and as well as lower the price of oil, and benefit our economy, we need other options.”

Zubrin said we need to have fuel choice both as a nation and as individuals.  He also explained that we need to put our domestic resources, such as the agricultural sector, to work solving the problem, but right now we’re being blocked from using what we have.  “We are not addicted to oil, our cars our addicted to oil,” said Zubrin.

The solution? Enabling our cars to use other fuels that are not controlled by the oil cartel.

Listen to Dr. Robert Zubrin’s entire interview to learn more about how America can achieve energy victory. Robert Zubrin

Thanks to Brownfield Ag News for sharing this interview with Domestic Fuel.

Dinneen Asks For Support of Biofuels During Hearing

The key to continued growth, says Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) President and CEO Bob Dinneen, is the availability of higher level ethanol blends such as E15 and other renewable fuels. Dinneen submitted written testimony to the House Energy and Commerce Committee Subcommittee on Environment and Economy on April 19. Dinneen testified in support of the Domestic Fuels Protection Act, aimed at easing the regulatory burden for fuel retailers to offer consumers additional renewable fuels at the pump, including E15.

“[T]he current regulatory structure provides no pathway to certify existing equipment for anything other than fossil fuels, even when test data demonstrates its safety,” Dinneen testified. “The Domestic Fuels Protection Act allows EPA to create such a process, thereby providing new fuels access to the marketplace without having to expend time and resources on new infrastructure unnecessarily.”

The goal of the Domestic Fuels Protection Act is to protect retailers. If equipment used by retailers to dispense EPA approved fuels meets fuel specifications, and a retailer properly informs customers about the approved use of the fuel, then they will be protected from any meritless lawsuits. It is important to understand that this Bill does not in any way effect the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) nor current approvals for the sale and use of E15.

“I can say without hyperbole or reservation that the RFS has been the most successful energy policy this nation has ever implemented,” continued Dinneen. “It should be vigorously defended and maintained, and allowed to reach its full potential of 36 billion gallons of clean burning, renewable fuel.” But to achieve this, market access for ethanol and other renewable fuels must be expanded.

Dinneen concluded, “The RFS is entering a critical period, however. The volumes of renewable fuel refiners are required to meet can no longer be met by just 10% ethanol. Greater volumes of ethanol and a greater diversity of biofuels and feedstocks will be necessary to meet the increasing volumes required by the RFS. Critically, these fuels will be attempting to enter the marketplace amidst a complicated regulatory structure that favors incumbent technologies and discourages market access. Gasoline marketers deserve the certainty that they will not be penalized for utilizing a new fuel or fuel blend that has been approved for use by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).”

Obama Maintains Commitment to Biofuels

According to a top aide to President Obama, the White House is still highly supportive of renewable fuels. Heather Zichal, Deputy Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change made this statement during the Renewable Fuels Association’s Washington Legislative Forum that was held this week at the Newseum in Washington, DC.

“One of those most promising [clean energy] industries has been American biofuels,” said Zichal. “Right now, domestic biofuel production is at the highest level ever. In fact, monthly production has increased more than 40% in the last three years. That means that biofuels are already reducing our dependence on oil, cutting pollution, and creating jobs across the country.”

Zichal referenced the need to continue the expansion of the biofuels industry that includes advanced technologies. Last year, President Obama set a goal of breaking ground on at least four commercial scale cellulosic or advanced biorefineries by 2013. She said this goal has been met ahead of schedule and combined, the biorefineries will produce nearly 100 million gallons of advanced biofuels each year.

“[S]o last week, we were encouraged when the biofuels community stood behind EPA’s implementation of the Renewable Fuels Standard – which we think is critical tool to promote growth in renewable fuels production in the years ahead,” said Zichal. “At the same time, we’re taking steps to help level the playing field. Not only has the Administration supported repealing subsidies for oil and gas companies, the President announced yesterday that we’re taking new steps to crack down on manipulation in the oil markets to help protect consumers at the pump.”

While production is important, Zichal also underscored the Obama Administration’s commitment to infrastructure and deployment of renewable fuels and technologies. “Now, as we produce more biofuels, it’s also important that we focus on deployment. If you think back to when America was moving from horseback to rail and then cars and trucks, we didn’t say your own your own. We laid tracks and paved roads and built bridges to accelerate the transition. We need to make a similar effort on biofuels.”

Zichal commended the work beging done by various government departments including the Dept. of Agriculture and Dept. of Energy to bring biofuels, such as ethanol to the market.

“The Obama Administration has been a trusted and reliable partner with America’s growing and evolving ethanol industry,” added RFA President and CEO Bob Dinneen. “President Obama and his team appreciate the vital contributions already being made by existing ethanol producers and are committed to ensuring the commercialization of promising new ethanol technologies.”