LS9 Expands Demonstration Facility

LS9 has announced plans to expand its operations at their Okeechobee, Florida demonstration facility with a successful customer trial. The Florida facility was initially designed, and has been used, to scale-up LS9’s fermentation technology and generate large commercial samples for testing and product qualification by key partners and prospective customers. Since the company’s initial run at 135,000 liter scale in the third quarter of last year, LS9 has made several additional fatty alcohol runs of this size as well as smaller production runs of fatty acid methyl esters (biodiesel).

LS9In addition, LS9 has successfully completed a pilot production run at its Florida plant for another advanced bioproducts company, Cobalt Technologies. According to LS9, fermentation scale-up is an expensive proposition and requires the proper facilities and expertise to make an effective run. The need to run trials is also intermittent so it is not cost-effective for many companies in the industry to make the investment in a larger plant.

LS9 says its Florida demonstration plant was designed to manage a multitude of processes, and with this successful customer run, they have proven they can leverage their state-of-the-art facility and the expertise of its operations staff to work with partners to commercialize renewable products. Given the success of the initial production run, says LS9, Cobalt is considering future work at LS9’s Florida facility.

“The capability to transition from the lab to 135,000 liter scale is a key milestone on our road to commercial success, and we know we are not alone in this requirement,” said Tjerk de Ruiter, President and Chief Executive Officer of LS9. “Our ability to support other companies’ technology scale-up activities is not only an example of the flexibility and the capabilities of our team, it is also an excellent example of how, as an industry, we can work together to make a renewable future a reality. This new revenue source, together with a recent $6 million investment from our current investors, positions LS9 to enter into new partnerships with our technology and advance our own products.”

IU Bloomingdale Achieves GHG Emission Reductions

Indiana University Bloomington has reduced its greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) by 43 percent last year from the previous year and has now cut its direct emissions by more than half in the past two years, according to campus officials. The major reduction in GHG emissions over the past two years reflects a concerted shift from coal to natural gas usage at the campus’s Central Heating Plant according to Mike Jenson, director of IU’s Office of Environmental Health and Safety Management. The campus has already exceeded a goal set forth in IU Bloomington’s 2010 Campus Master Plan, which called for a 30 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020.

IU Bloomindale Central Heating Plant“This is a very positive step — perhaps the most significant step the campus has taken so far — toward carbon neutrality,” said Mike Jenson, director of IU’s Office of Environmental, Health and Safety Management.

The Campus Master Plan, spanning several years, established a goal to build “fuel flexibility” into the boiler system, ensuring the campus could take advantage of falling natural gas prices to dramatically cut its carbon footprint. “In recent years, there has been a strong dedication among our utilities group toward reducing our emissions and increasing our energy efficiency as much as possible, so when there were changes in the marketplace, we were in a position to shift more and more resources to natural gas,” said Jenson.

“Still, we were surprised by the magnitude of our reduction,” he added. “Because we were burning so much more natural gas than ever before, we knew it was going to drop, but we didn’t expect it to drop that much.” The campus power plant now uses 95 percent natural gas and only 5 percent coal. Among the next steps for the campus is increasing its focus on energy efficiency in its buildings and facilities.

In December, IU trustees approved a new Integrated Energy Master Plan for the IU Bloomington campus that provides detailed guidelines for reducing campus energy use and cutting carbon emissions while maintaining sound economic rationales for conservation-related improvements. The plan benchmarks energy consumption by campus buildings and addresses the current and future effectiveness of the Central Heating Plant, Central Cooling Plant and utility distribution systems for electricity, chilled water, and steam and condensate.

Shell & TravelCenters to Build LNG Nationwide Network

Shell and TravelCenters of America LLC have finalized an agreement to develop a U.S. nationwide network of liquefied natural gas (#LNG) fueling centers for heavy-duty road transport customers. The plan is to construct at least two LNG fueling lanes and a storage facility at up to 100 existing TA and Petro Stopping Centers SHELL OIL COMPANY TRAVELCENTERS OF AMERICA LNGbranded full service travel centers along the U.S. interstate highway system, in a phased approach.

The two companies anticipate the first of LNG stations to open by the end of this year, with a priority to develop main trucking corridors to provide the potential for the first-ever coast-to-coast LNG-fueled commercial transport network.

“Shell is investing now in the infrastructure that will bring this innovative, cost-competitive and environmentally beneficial fuel to our customers,” said Elen Phillips, Vice President, Shell Fuels Sales & Marketing Americas. “We are leveraging our strength as an integrated company to produce, liquefy, distribute and commercialize natural gas in transport – and TravelCenters of America is the ideal partner to help us bring this vision to life.”

Demand for innovative fuels, like LNG, from commercial customers is growing due to the wide range of benefits for trucking fleet operators says Shell. These benefits can include lower fuel costs, the potential to reduce emissions as well as reduce noise levels in certain engines.

“We see great potential for LNG as a fuel option among our range of quality fuels, due to the sheer abundance and affordability of domestic natural gas in North America,” added Phillips.

Bioenergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDF#EcoEngineer’s RIN QAP WEBINAR recording is now available. The free webinar covered QAP and A and B programs as well as the NPRM. Answers to questions asked during and after the webinar will be posted on their website.
  • @SunPower Corp. has begun construction on two solar power projects for Yolo County in Calif. The projects are expected to generate 5.8 megawatts of emission-free solar power for county facilities, worth an estimated $1.5 million in electricity costs the first year of operation.
  • #Versalis and #Genomatica announced the signing of a definitive joint development and licensing agreement establishing a technology joint venture for bio-based butadiene. The two companies will work together to develop a complete ‘end-to-end’ process for the on-purpose production of butadiene from non-food biomass.
  • Solectria Renewables @SolectriaRen is offering a webinar, “Single-Phase Inverters for your PV System,” on Thursday, May 23, 2013 at 2:00 pm EST. The webinar will walk through the company’s single-phase PVI 1800 through PVI 7500 inverters including: installation details, string sizing, AC/DC connections, wiring needs, data monitoring, available options and how to use the inverters in parallel for PV installations ranging from 1.8kW through 15kW.
  • SEI – Solar Energy International @solarenergyintl has announced April 22nd Earth Day Solar PV training events. For Earth Day 2013, SEI will be offering some of their most popular training sessions both online and in-person in support of their non-profit mission of renewable energy education for a more sustainable future.

Is Winter in Trouble?

Earth Day is around the corner and 75 Olympic medalists, including White House “Champion of Change” awardee and pro snowborder Jeremy Jones, along with other winter sport athletes are urging President Obama to take action on climate change and clean energy and delivering the message that “winter is in trouble.” The athletes signed a letter to Obama and delivered it in tandem with the “Champion of Change” ceremony honoring ordinary Americans doing extraordinary things in their communities to out-innovate, out-educate, and out-build the rest of the world.”

Jeremy-Jones-ChampsChangePanelDiscuss“Without a doubt, winter is in trouble,” the letter states. “… at risk are the economies of tourist-dependent states where winter tourism generates $12.2 billion in revenue annually, supports 212,000 jobs and $7 billion in salaries. Those are the jobs and businesses owned by our friends and families, generators of billions in federal and state income.”

Jones was recognized for his contribution to raising awareness about the impact of climate change on the winter sports industry by creating “Protect Our Winters,” a foundation established in 2007 to unite and mobilize the global winter sports community against climate change.

“This nomination is an absolute honor for me and the work we’re doing at POW. But it’s now my responsibility to take this recognition and help secure a place in the climate discussions in Washington,” said Jones. “The letter that’s been enthusiastically signed by so many amazing athletes is a strong showing of solidarity from the leaders in snow sports on climate action, so together, we have to keep that momentum going.”

The letter to the president references a December 2012 report published by #ProtectOurWinters and the @NRCS (Natural Resources Defense Council) highlighting the economic impact of inconsistent winters on the U.S. snow sports community and tourism-dependent states. It calls for Obama to follow through on the promise he made in the State of the Union address to fight climate change. The athletes say he can do so by using executive authority currently available to reduce carbon pollution emitted by America’s power plants, the largest source of carbon pollution worsening climate change, and by rejecting the Keystone XL pipeline, which would add millions of tons of new carbon pollution to the atmosphere.

“Mr. President, it’s time to force our transition to clean energy, and we need your leadership,” the letter states. “…on behalf of 23 million of us who love winter and depend on it for our economic livelihoods, please take the action on climate change you have promised.”

The Truth Behind High Gas Prices

Fuels America has released a new video highlighting the truth behind high gas prices and how renewable fuels can help. Many studies, including a report from the American Security Project, have shown that the country can’t drill its way out of high gas prices and vulnerability to global oil markets. In addition, recent International Energy Agency (IEA) data shows drilling will still leave us with oil that costs upwards of $215 per barrel.

Other studies have shown that renewable fuel lowers gas prices by an average of $1.09 per gallon in 2011, reducing the average American’s gas bill by more than $1,200 per year.

Iowa Senate Stands Firm on RFS

Made in the USA graphic USA TodayThe Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) today congratulated the Iowa Senate for voting unanimously to pass Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 5 (SCR 5) that  urges the United States government to continue its commitment to energy independence and maintain its support of the federal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

SCR 5, in part, states: “The United States government is urged to renew its commitment to this nation’s energy security, move the United States toward greater energy independence and security as required by the federal Energy Independence and Security Act, and use all efforts to meet the highest possible renewable fuel volume requirements set forth in RFS2 in order to ensure that this nation achieves energy independence.”

“I commend the Iowa Senate for showing solidarity with the Iowa Congressional delegation by urging the federal government to stand behind the federal RFS, our nation’s most successful energy policy,” stated IRFA Executive Director Monte Shaw. “The RFS forms the bedrock of Iowa’s economic resilience – creating good-paying Iowa jobs, boosting Iowa’s farm income, and reducing prices at the pump for Iowa consumers.  The RFS is vital to Iowa’s economic future and IRFA will oppose any effort to undermine it.”

Randy Olson, CEO of the Iowa Biodiesel Board said of the bill, “The legislature’s resolution makes clear our state’s commitment to renewable fuels like biodiesel, and shows backbone to the few but vocal opponents of the RFS-2. It is gratifying to see continued support from our state’s leaders, who recognize the RFS and federal tax incentive for biodiesel as smart energy policy living up to their promise.  On behalf of the biodiesel industry in Iowa, we thank the state legislature for standing up for biodiesel.  It’s not only in our state’s best interest, but also our nation’s, and we’re proud to see Iowa once again at the forefront of leadership in this important industry.”

The bill passed by a vote of 50-0 and now goes to the Iowa House for consideration.

NREL, Sandia Extend Support for truSolar

The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), and DOE’s Sandia National Laboratories (Sandia) have extended their support for the truSolar Working Group’s efforts to develop uniform open source risk scoring standards and rating criteria for solar projects. These standards would facilitate lower transaction and capital costs and improve project finance liquidity within the commercial and industrial solar segment.

Screen Shot 2013-04-16 at 12.17.43 PM“truSolar represents a valuable opportunity to create a common approach to characterizing solar project benefits and risks and more precise alignment on pricing of project capital,” said NREL Senior Financial Analyst Michael Mendelsohn.

Roger Hill, principal member of technical staff at Sandia, added, “This initiative could potentially lower transaction costs, and improve access to financial capital critical to solar project deployment. We will be examining the risks inherent in projects to sharpen our analytical tools for criteria and assessment in technical areas including yield and reliability.”

The truSolar Working Group was established on January 14, 2013 as a collaborative consortium of 16 solar industry market leaders dedicated to addressing a broad array of project risks through the development of uniform standards. The founding members of truSolar, led by Distributed Sun and DuPont Photovoltaic Solutions, are among the leaders in solar project asset management, development, financing, manufacturing, insurance and ratings agencies. Founding member companies include ABB, Assurant, Inc., Mosaic, PanelClaw, SMA America, Standard & Poor’s, Booz Allen Hamilton, and the Rocky Mountain Institute.

“On behalf of our founding members, we are pleased to welcome the National Labs to our initiative,” said Chase Weir, chief executive officer – Distributed Sun a member of the consortium. “We are excited about the opportunity to work closely with the National Labs, and the SAPC initiative currently led by NREL, to develop comprehensive, complementary solutions for the solar industry, by the industry.”

New Technology for Offshore Wind

A new technology has been released for the offshore wind turbine industry. According to DNV who developed the software, it includes dynamic simulations, advanced fatigue calculation and code check in one analysis package. The module is powered by FEDEM Windpower and is integrated SesamWind_graph_181_tcm4-548092with Sesam. Sesam Wind Coupled Analysis powered by FEDEM Windpower has capabilities ranging from the purely mechanical aspects of a wind turbine to customizable control systems and detailed wind and wave load simulations. The company says its software will increase efficiency and save cost.

“It saves costs by optimisation of wind turbine design and work processes, says Svein Gjølmesli, Fedem Technology’s software manager. He notes that this software is a complete solution for wind turbine design, strength and fatigue analysis.

“The demand for renewable energy is growing rapidly and offshore wind is a significant part of renewable energy sources. Offshore wind installations are facing the same structural integrity challenges as traditional offshore engineering with structural design, hydrodynamic loads, global stresses and fatigue,” said Are Føllesdal Tjønn, Managing Director at DNV Software.

Tjønn concluded, “In addition there are challenges with loads generated from the turbine itself and turbine rotor blades. As offshore wind is moving into deeper waters, engineering of offshore wind installations will take full benefit of Sesam, whether the installation is based on fixed structures, floating structures, shallow waters or deeper waters. With its leading position within offshore engineering, the offshore wind segment is a natural part of the Sesam strategy going forward.”

USDA Aims to Simplify REF Apps

USDA Rural Development LogoThe U.S. Department of Agriculture has proposed a series of changes to make it easier for agricultural producers and rural small businesses to apply for renewable energy and energy efficiency funding.

“These changes are intended to help agricultural producers and rural small businesses throughout America,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said. “They will streamline and simplify the application process and give businesses more time to do what they do best: innovate, create jobs and serve their rural communities.”

The proposed changes would affect applications for loans and grants through USDA Rural Development’s Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). They would:

  • Reduce paperwork, especially for projects under $80,000;
  • Implement a more objective and uniform system to score applications;
  • Authorize funding for refurbished and retrofitted renewable energy systems;
  • Reduce certain reporting requirements; and
  • Establish a quarterly application period for applicants seeking only guaranteed loans. This change is intended to make the program more appealing to lenders and to ensure that funds are available year-round.

USDA is accepting comments on the proposed rule through June 11, 2013. For details on how to submit comments, or for additional information, see Page 22044 of the April 12 Federal Register.

Blend Wall Myth Buster

Biofuel opponents are crying wolf, so it would seem, claiming that the blend wall is insurmountable. However, the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) today has published an infographic that busts the myths surrounding the blend wall.

9c345da53735509fb0_pem6bxffy“This graphic perfectly captures the ridiculous myth that an insurmountable blend wall exists,” said Bob Dinneen, RFA CEO and president. “The blend wall is a false façade built by the oil companies to protect their oil monopoly. The real walls are the ones they are building to keep legitimate, well-tested, cost-saving renewable fuel alternatives, like E85 and E15, out of the marketplace. They are building walls between consumers, gas stations, and the freedom to choose. Denial is the mortar holding these walls together — the denial that the Renewable Fuel Standard is a proven success and a powerful energy policy that needs to continue unchanged well into the future if the gains we have made in reducing our dependence on foreign oil, creating valuable jobs domestically, and improving our environment are to be sustained.”

Dinneen continued, “You could say oil companies are building a wall between America’s future and America’s petroleum-dependent past… but given recent events in Arkansas and New Hampshire, perhaps it is more of a moat of toxic ground water and spilled oil.”

Still need the thousand words behind the picture? A brief explanation of each brick in the wall blocking proper implementation by the oil industry of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and E15 is available here.

Passive Solar Conference Offers Free Public Lectures

Solar 2013As part of the American Solar Energy Society (ASES) National Solar Conference that is kicking off tomorrow, April 16-20 at the Baltimore Convention Center, the 38th Annual Passive Solar Conference will explore two broad themes – the emerging architectural discipline of passive solar design, and the rapidly growing science of building technology. A free lecture open to the public will be given by American Institute of Architects (AIA) Fellow and architect Travis Price, author of “The Archeology of Tomorrow: Architecture and the Spirit of Place,” on Friday April 19 at 3:30. Price will discuss “The Mythic Modern: Mythology, Ecology and Technology…the Spirit of Place.”

The Passive Solar Conference will cover a broad range of themes in emerging architecture, including the Department of Energy road map for Building Integrated Solar Technologies (BIST), which aims to double building efficiency by 2050. ASES notes that today buildings in the US consume more than 70 percent of the electricity and 50 percent of the natural gas produced, accounting for 40 percent of U.S. energy consumption.

Other sessions will explore “Passive Haus,” design, a concept originating in Germany to minimize energy consumption, the trend in Net Zero building, and the impact of climate change on regional design. In a series of sessions oriented around building technology, the conference will present the latest research on energy modeling for buildings, automated controls, and daylighting strategies. Finally, several forums will address important regulatory issues including building codes, zoning and the right to solar access.

The conference exhibition hall will be open to the public starting at 10:00 am from April 17-19 for $10, with a special public day on Saturday, April 20 priced at $5. On Thursday, April 18, two evening sessions, Young Professionals in Renewable Energy (YPiRE) and Emerging Transportation, beginning at 6:30 pm and 7:00 pm respectively, are free and open to the public. The Travis Price lecture on Friday April 19 at 3:30 pm is also free and open to the public.

U.S.-Israel Bio-Energy Challenge Heads to DC

More than a dozen of Israel’s top academic and industrial biofuels research scientists and innovators will be arriving in Washington this week to begin a week-long dialogue with their American counterparts at the U.S. Departments of Energy (DOE) and Agriculture (USDA), as well as with the Navy, FAA and the private sector. Isreal Energy PartnershipThe group be meeting with White House officials and with top government energy program managers and scientists in Washington, DC and will also be meeting with researchers from DOE labs in Oak Ridge Tennessee and in California. The scientific exchange is designed to help build U.S.-Israel collaboration mechanisms for research and innovation to produce alternative fuels that can substitute for petroleum-based gasoline, diesel oil and aviation fuel currently produced from imported oil.

The elite Israeli delegation was chosen through a competition held over several months, ‘The U.S.-Israel Bio-Energy Challenge,‘ in which the initial selection was made in Israel and the final participants were selected with input from the U.S. agencies. The project has been sponsored and coordinated by two U.S. not-for-profit organizations, The Israel Energy Partnership (TIEP) and the U.S.-Israel Science and Technology Foundation (USISTF) and by the Israeli Industry Center for R&D (MATIMOP) on behalf of the Office of the Chief Scientist (OCS) in the Ministry for Trade and Industry.

Project sponsors stress the importance of finding alternatives to petroleum imports at a time when high oil prices once again are a drag on the economy and some oil-producing nations are using oil revenues to develop weapons that threaten their neighbors.

“The one-half trillion dollars of oil revenue OPEC nations collect each year provides enormous geopolitical power to nations that oppose U.S. and Israeli interests, helps fund terrorism, undermines peace, and drains money from our economy,” said TIEP President Jack Halpern. “So, this effort to reduce the industrialized world’s dependence on oil imports will be of benefit to both Israel and the U.S. One of the most important benefits will be the reduction of income for Iran, half of whose government revenue comes from the sale of oil. Without that oil revenue, it will be much more difficult for them to pursue their nuclear ambitions.”

Neil Goldstein, Vice president of TIEP noted that Israel’s role as a scientific, engineering and entrepreneurial leader is well known. “Cutting-edge research and development is taking place in Israel in the selection, bio-engineering, and modification of fuel feed-stocks; in growing novel feed-stocks on non-arable land and without using fresh water; and in the more-efficient and cost effective production of fuels from feed-stocks using innovative chemical, physical and biological processes. Building on that research base, we are establishing a scientific, technical and economic collaboration between Israel and the U.S. to help both nations achieve our energy goals.”

Climate Change Causing Americans Big Bucks

With Earth Day a week away (Monday, April 22) there is a greater focus on climate change and the environment. According to Ceres, a nonprofit organization Layout 1mobilizing business leadership on climate change, a growing chunk of American tax dollars is footing the bill for increasing floods, fires, droughts and other climate-related changes. Ceres compiled data showing rising costs to three federal programs, as well as growing financial exposure for state taxpayers in hurricane-prone states.

“Climate change is fundamentally changing the United States, and American taxpayers are paying a huge price for it,” said Ceres President Mindy Lubber. “The cost of withered crops, submerged streets, hurricane damage and wildfires eventually comes out of our own wallets. Crop insurance losses from last year’s drought alone cost every person in America $51.”

The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is staggering under massive losses after Hurricane Sandy, which triggered more than 115,000 new claims in just the first two weeks after the storm. Although NFIP collects about $3.5 billion a year in premiums, the amount of claims the agency has paid out has exceeded the amount of premiums collected in four of the past eight years. Last year’s losses in Sandy’s wake are expected to approach $8 billion.

“That’s $25 for every American, and that figure doesn’t even include the $50 billion of disaster relief that Congress approved in January for Sandy-impacted states,” Lubber said. Continue reading

Reform Bill: Transparent Attempt to Protect Big Oil

fuels-americaYesterday Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner introduced legislation that would stall the roll-out of E15. Many in the renewable fuels industry responded to the proposed legislation including Fuels America who noted that the legislation ignores the long track record of successful, rigorous testing that E15 has undergone. “What the bill is clearly geared toward, however, is promoting the interest of oil compaines looking to retain control over America’s fuel option.”

“E15 is the most tested renewable fuel in history and to suggest otherwise ignores a wealth of facts. In multiple tests, E15 has been put through the paces in more than 6 million miles of testing. The results of these tests were so satisfactory that E15 is used in NASCAR vehicles – high-performance racecars that can top 200 miles an hour – have opted to use E15, continued the Fuels America statement.

“The reality is that E15 provides options to Americans and the choice to power their cars with clean and renewable fuel. Unfortunately, Rep. Sensenbrenner’s legislation would limit that choice by favoring the oil industry over hardworking American families and businesses.”

ACElogoThe American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) who recently had a team of more than 70 ethanol supporters meeting with Congressman in DC, noted that the legislation would require another 18 months of E15 testing at taxpayers expense. Senior Vice President Ron Lamberty called the bill “A transparent attempt to protect Big Oil’s profitable monopoly by taking away a driver’s right to choose which fuel to use in his or her own car.”

“Congressman Sensenbrenner is basing his opposition of E15 primarily on two studies that clearly selected vehicles and components based on their history of performing poorly regardless of the type of fuel that was in them,” said Lamberty. “All Mr. Sensenbrenner is proving is that he either doesn’t know what the studies actually say or he does know, and is misrepresenting the findings. Neither should be acceptable to those who serve with him on the House Science and Technology Committee. In the event the bill passes out of committee, we would hope Congress would recognize this bill for what it actually is and not pass it.”

Lamberty continued, “Jim Sensenbrenner has a well-known history of refusing to accept science that doesn’t agree with his personal opinions. And after repeatedly saying two years of E15 testing by EPA and DoE testing was a “rush to judgment,” does anyone think he’ll accept a smaller, shorter test from the National Academy of Sciences when it says E15 is safe? No, this isn’t about science, it’s about delaying to protect BP and Exxon-Mobil.”

“Congressman Sensenbrenner loves to talk about “individual choice and free-market competition” when he talks about health care, and “defending the freedom and individual responsibilities” of motorcycle riders to not wear helmets, but he doesn’t trust people to make their own choice at the gas pump? Ridiculous,” added Lamberty.