EDF & Citi’s Energy Conference Succussful

The Environmental Defense Fund and Citi teamed up to host an energy conference, “Innovations in Energy Efficiency and Distributed Generation Finance II,” earlier this week. The event will bring together experts from around the country to explore innovative ways to fund energy efficiency projects in California.

EDF logo copy“California continues to take bold steps toward clean energy and provide the private sector with clear opportunities to invest in energy efficiency and renewables, a critical part to growing our nation’s economy,” said former Governor Bill Ritter during his keynote presentation. “A key part of achieving our clean energy potential, and creating jobs in America, is ensuring access to quality financing for homes and businesses that want to participate in the new energy economy.”

Ritters is currently the director of the Center for the New Energy Economy at Colorado State University. The Center’s mission is to incorporate best practices from around the world to help guide the country to a more secure, sustainable and affordable energy future.

citi logoCalifornia State Sen. de León focused on SB 37, a key bill he currently authors that would establish a first-in-the nation On-Bill Repayment (OBR) program allowing consumers a creative way to save money and energy by financing energy efficiency retrofits and renewable energy projects through their utility bills. “We need to continue with the bold action that has made California a leader in energy efficiency,” Sen. De León said. “This is a priority because it helps build an economy that is forward thinking.”

Using data from a 2009 McKinsey study, EDF estimates that there are at least $40 billion of investment opportunities for energy efficiency projects in commercial buildings in the U.S. alone that will provide annual returns in excess of 20 percent. Yet despite this attractive potential, few of these projects are being funded. Today’s conference was designed to facilitate discussion of current and emerging innovative solutions, new partnerships, lessons from recent transactions and remaining obstacles to developing and scaling the market.

Clean Diesel Technology, 20 Years in the Making

This year marks the 20th Anniversary of the National Biodiesel Board and much of the focus on their 10th annual NBB Conference and Expo held in Las Vegas was spent on reminiscing over the past 20 years and looking forward to the next 20 years.

nbc-13-steve-howell“It’s amazing how far we’ve come in 20 years,” said Steve Howell, NBB’s Technical Director during the Biodiesel Vehicle Showcase. “Back when we started there was not one engine company that supported biodiesel. It just goes to show you that a lot of hard work, a lot of effort and a lot of cooperation between the engine companies, the petroleum companies, and the biodiesel companies got us to this place today.”

Howell said if it weren’t for the more than $50 million in investment in diesel engine technology, we would not be here today. And where is here? This year marks the year that more passenger vehicles, light duty trucks, school buses, equipment and medium to heavy duty trucks are being offered than ever before and many of them can use up to B20 biodiesel blends.

In order for the engine manufacturers to commit to developing and selling clean diesel vehicles that can run on biodiesel, they had to know it worked. And, said Howell, it works.

Learn more about the evolution of clean diesel technology by listening to Howell’s remarks: Clean Diesel Technology: A Winning Combination

2013 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

Solar Takes Lead in Renewable Energy Growth

According to the latest issue of the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) “Electric Power Monthly,” renewable energy sources (biomass, geothermal, solar, wind) increased by 12.8 percent last year compared to 2011 and provided 5.4 percent of net U.S. electrical generation. Solar increased by 138.9 percent while wind grew 16.6 pecent, geothermal by 9.6 percent, and biomass (i.e., wood, wood-derived fuels, and other biomass) by 1.6 percent. Since 2007, non-hydro renewables have more than doubled their contribution to the nation’s electrical supply.

geothermal-energy-1At the same time (2012 compared to 2011), total net U.S. electrical generation dropped by 1.1 percent with petroleum coke & liquids down by 24.1 percent, coal by 12.5 percent, and nuclear by 2.6 percent. Less than a decade ago, coal provided more than half the nation’s electricity, fell to 37.4 percent while nuclear fell below 19 percent. Conventional hydropower also declined by 13.4 percent due to last year’s drought and lower water flows, but natural gas expanded by 21.4 percent to provide 30.3 percent of net electrical generation.

Conventional hydropower and non-hydro renewable sources combined accounted for 12.22 percent of net U.S. electrical generation. However, as EIA has noted in the past, these figures do not comprehensively reflect distributed, non-grid connected generation and thereby understate the full contribution of renewables to the nation’s electrical supply.

EIA’s report also reveals the top renewable-electricity generating states for 2012: top five wind states: Texas, Iowa, California, Oklahoma, and Illinois;  top five biomass states: California, Florida, Maine, Georgia, and Alabama; top five geothermal States: California, Nevada, Utah, Hawaii and Idaho; and top five solar states: California, Arizona, Nevada, New Jersey, and New Mexico.

“Technical advances, falling costs, and the desire to address climate change have combined to rapidly expand the contribution of renewable energy to the nation’s electrical generation,” said Ken Bossong, Executive Director of the SUN DAY Campaign. “With the right policy incentives, one can foresee these cleaner energy sources providing the bulk of the nation’s electrical needs within a generation.”

Auwahi Wind Project Dedicated In Maui

Maui has a new wind farm: Auwahi Wind facility on Ulupalakua Rand. On hand for the dedication ceremony were U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz, Hawaii Lt. Gov. Shan Tsutsui and Maui County Mayor Alan Arakawa. There were joined by officials from Sempra U.S. Gas & Power, BP Wind Energy and community leaders. The wind farm consists of eight wind turbines that are situated along the slopes of the Haleakala volcano and will generate enough electricity to power 10,000 homes.

Sen. Schatz said the Auwahi wind farm contributes significantly to Hawaii’s clean energy goals. He said the project is consistent with the State of Hawaii’s values of cooperation, contributing to a solution nationally on climate change and maintaining the ranching lifestyle on Ulupalakua Ranch. “Auwahi Wind Farm is critically important,” he said. “This auwahi-wind-smis about keeping Maui Maui and setting an example not just for the state, but the rest of the nation.”

Tsutsui, who was born and raised on Maui, said the state and the island welcomed the Auwahi Wind farm as it brought much-needed jobs. More than 180 jobs were created during the project construction. Four full-time employees operate the wind farm today.

“We’re always talking about sustainability and being independent,” Tsutsui said. “This goes hand in hand with a lot of our initiatives. It’s definitely a step in the right direction and we look much forward to other projects.”

The 21-megawatt (MW) Auwahi Wind facility represents BP and Sempra’s first alternative energy venture in Hawaii. An important component of the project is an 11-MW/4.4-megawatt-hour grid battery system. At its peak, this system is capable of 11 MW sustained for approximately 25 minutes. The battery system’s energy helps regulate and sustain power to Maui Electric Co.’s grid during light wind conditions.

Sumner Erdman, president of the Ulupalakua Ranch, said the ranch has benefited from its partnership with Sempra U.S. Gas & Power and BP. “Now, we can preserve much of our ranch land and its grazing areas in open space and continue to raise cattle,” he said. “Auwahi Wind will go a long way toward preserving the ranching lifestyle at Ulupalakua and on Maui.”

D.C. Fly-in Just Around the Corner

The American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) is gearing up to meet with nearly 100 of our country’s legislators during its annual Biofuels Beltway Fly-in being held in Washington, D.C. March 13-14, 2013. To date, ACE has requested meetings with 100 Senate offices and key House members. As ACE Executive Director Brian Jennings noted to DF early this month, a signification portion of the legislators are “freshman” or new to Congress.

ACE Biofuels Beltway LogoThe goal of the meetings are for ethanol advocates to visit with key federal staff and Congressmen to tell their personal stories about how ethanol has benefited them. But ethanol has not just benefited advocates, the renewable fuel benefits consumers each time they fill up at the pump, as shown by numerous studies.

Dozens of meetings are already scheduled. For example. Chris Grundler, Director, Office of Transportation and Air Quality, EPA is confirmed to address the fly-in participants on March 14th. Grundler has previously served as the office’s Deputy Director and replaced Margo Oge. He is the primary contact for all ethanol issues including RFS implementation and E15. Both of these issues are key for the industry.

To make this event successful, dozens of ethanol advocates will descend on D.C. To date, 31 people are registered from 7 states including South Dakota, Iowa, Tennessee, Indiana, Illinois, North Dakota, Minnesota, Nebraska and Missouri. While the ACE team and the advocates will have their work cut out for them, the success could be greater if more people attend. The goal: to get people from each state. Let’s rally and show D.C how important ethanol is and why the RFS and E15 are critical to America.

It’s not too late to register.  To participate, visit www.ethanol.org, or contact Shannon Gustafson at (605) 334-3381 ext. 16 or via email.

History of Renewable Fuels in Iowa

Cover Page-webThe Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) has released an online version of an industry scrapbook that illustrates how far the renewable fuels industry has come and how profound its impact on Iowa has been over the past decade. “Progress and Prosperity: A Look Into Iowa’s Renewable Fuels Industry,” provides anecdotes and fact-based information on the vast accomplishments and benefits of Iowa’s renewable fuels industry.

“The renewable fuels industry has a great story to tell and we hope the IRFA scrapbook helps remind people just what a difference ethanol and biodiesel have made for Iowa,” said IRFA Executive Director Monte Shaw. “Behind each plant is a person, an idea, and a story that shines a spotlight on the renewable fuels industry’s ability to positively impact the individuals, neighborhoods, and communities of the people of Iowa.”

The book was created as part of IRFA’s 10th Anniversary celebration. It is available online or in hard copy by contacting the IRFA. The ethanol and biodiesel plants recognized in the book include: Absolute Energy, Ag Processing (AGP), Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), Big River Resources, Corn, LP, Fiberight, Golden Grain Energy, Green Plains Renewable Energy, Homeland Energy Solutions, Iowa Renewable Energy, Lincolnway Energy, Little Sioux Corn Processors, Platinum Ethanol, Plymouth Energy, POET Biorefining – Coon Rapids, Quad County Corn Processors, Renewable Energy Group (REG), Siouxland Energy and Livestock, Southwest Iowa Renewable Energy (SIRE), Western Dubuque Biodiesel, and Western Iowa Energy.

Gas Prices Up, Up and Away

As gas prices have been on the rise for more than 32 days, Bob Dinneen, President and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) says that AAA might want to reconsider its recent attacks on ethanol. He writes in a post titled, “As Prices at the Pump Go Up, Up, Up American Ethanol is the Motorist’s Friend,” that through Memorial Day, gasoline prices will likely keep going up up, up.

Gas Prices in Soux City Photo Credit AP“Over the past five years,” writes Dinneen, “gasoline prices have risen an average of $0.51 per gallon between New Year’s Day and the Memorial Day weekend. That means we could be looking at prices well above $4 per gallon as summer begins and families hit the road for vacation.”

“America’s growing use of domestically-produced ethanol reduced wholesale gasoline prices by an average of $1.09 per gallon in 2011, the most recent year for which complete statistics are available, according to a recent study conducted by economics professors at the University of Wisconsin and Iowa State University for the Center for Agricultural Research and Rural Development (CARD).”

Dinneen, after reviewing the positive impacts ethanol is having on both gasoline prices as well as dependence on foreign oil, concludes:

“All of this is something members of Congress need to consider as they assess legislation promoted by the oil industry to repeal or reform the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS). The RFS is working to expand domestic energy supply, encourage investment in new technologies, and reduce gasoline prices at the pump.”

Solar Energy to Get Boost from New Forecasting

The National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) is spearheading a three-year, nationwide project to create an unprecedented, 36-hour forecasts of incoming energy from the Sun for solar energy power plants. The research team is designing a prototype system to forecast sunlight and resulting power every 15 minutes over specific solar facilities. This should enable utilities to forecast the amount of available solar energy. The project is primarily funded with a $4.1 million DOE grant.

Clouds“It’s critical for utility managers to know how much sunlight will be reaching solar energy plants in order to have confidence that they can supply sufficient power when their customers need it,” said Sue Ellen Haupt, director of NCAR’s Weather Systems and Assessment Program and the lead researcher on the solar energy project. “These detailed cloud and irradiance forecasts are a vital step in using more energy from the Sun.”

According to NCAR, the research will take aim a one of the biggest challenges in meteorology- accurately predicting cloud cover over specific areas. Solar energy output is affected both by when and where clouds form and  also by the types of clouds present. The thickness and elevation of clouds have greatly differing effects on the amount of sunlight reaching the ground. Wispy cirrus clouds several miles above the surface, for example, block far less sunlight than thick, low-lying stratus clouds. Therefore, cloud predictions can both improve the accuracy of short-term weather forecasts in addition to aiding utilities to tap solar energy more effectively.

“Improving forecasts for renewable energy from the Sun produces a major return on investment for society,” added Thomas Bogdan, president of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, which manages NCAR on behalf of the National Science Foundation. “By helping utilities produce energy more efficiently from the Sun, we can make this market more cost competitive.”

Bioenergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDFA new report has been released “Global Markets and Technologies for Biofuel Enzymes,” that includes an overview of the global market for biofuels enzymes, including amylases, lipases, cellulases, and proteases; and fuels, which include biodiesel, cellulosic ethanol, and biogas. The report also includes an analysis of global market trends, identification of markets by industrial end users, such as the aviation industry, road transport, heating purposes, and off-road equipment, and a discussion of new and different types of regulations.
  • ReneSola Ltd has announced its 72-cell polysilicon modules have been listed by UL (“Underwriters Laboratories”) as meeting required standards for use in PV systems up to 1,000 volts. At the same time, the Company’s 60-cell and 72-cell modules have been listed by UL as meeting required standards for use in PV systems up to 600 volts.
  • Real Good Solar is partnering with Smart Center San Francisco to giveaway a three-year lease on a 2013 smart electric drive vehicle and 1.5kW solar power system to off-set the energy required to charge it. Entrants must live in CA, CO, CT, MA, NJ or VT.
  • Amyris has appointed Zanna McFerson as Chief Business Officer.
  • The Eagle Leasing Company has completed two photovoltaic solar systems at the company’s facilities in Orange, CT and Oxford, MA.  Eagle Leasing teamed with Dynamic Energy to install systems totaling 246.74 kW, consisting of 978 solar panels on the roof of the facilities.


State-by-State Ethanol Update

The Renewable Fuels Association has released a state-by-state update to the “Contribution of the Ethanol Industry to the Economy of the United States,” an economic impact analysis performed by Cardno ENTRIX. The original report, released earlier this month at RFA’s National Ethanol Conference, found that the industry has supported over 383,000 direct and indirect and induced jobs across all sectors of the economy last year. The industry contributed $43.3 billion to GDP and $30.2 billion in household income.

Ethanol Jobs FlowchartCommenting on the state-by-state breakout, Bob Dinneen, RFA’s president and CEO, said, “It is clear that the ethanol industry is a powerful economic driver. We are successfully creating job and economic opportunities in a tough economy. Not only are we helping revitalize rural communities across this country, we are positively impacting states outside of the Corn Belt. We are building ethanol refineries and hiring staff for newly operational plants across this nation. We are becoming an economic engine coast to coast, border to border.”

“This economic momentum should not be jeopardized by tampering with the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). The RFS is a proven success when it comes to creating jobs, increasing American energy independence, and improving the environment. Don’t mess with the RFS,” concluded Dinneen.

The top ten states experiencing the economic benefits of having ethanol plants operating locally are: Iowa, Illinois,  Nebraska, Minnesota, Indiana, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Ohio, Kansas, and North Dakota.

Click here to read the full report.

RMI Announces Solar Research Project

Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) is launching a Simple BoS project, or Balance of Systems, in partnership with Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI), to explore the cost divide between the U.S. and Germany for residential solar photovoltaic systems. BoS costs now account for more than 60 percent of the price of U.S. rooftop PV systems, according to RMI, yet such costs are 75 percent lower in Germany, who is the solar PV global leader.

gI_87078_solarpanelinstallerRMI sees reducing BoS costs—all the related solar energy system costs besides the panels themselves including permitting, financing, installation, and inspection—as a critical pathway to affordable PV and widespread solar adoption. RMI and GTRI are partnering with key solar installers across the two countries to explore specific components of the cost divide between solar installation processes in the U.S. and Germany. Using survey data and time-and-motion studies, the project will measure the status quo in both countries, analyze key differences, and then propose solutions to improve the installation process in the U.S. and beyond.

“Despite the U.S.’s failure to lower soft costs to date, others—notably Germany—show it can be done,” said Jon Creyts, program director at RMI. “Identifying the key drivers of price differences between the two markets will help us understand how U.S. installers can dramatically lower these costs and drive the industry into the future.”

Building on the recommendations of RMI’s 2010 charrette on achieving low-cost solar PV, the Simple BoS project will delve deeply into the installation processes and will look at several key factors in the solar installation process, including the labor hours of PV installation, the impact of local government involvement and permitting regulations on installation time and pricing, and the difference in time-to-system activation—the length of time it takes for a solar project to go from signed contract to energized system—between the U.S. and Germany.

RMI is actively recruiting installers now to participate. Interested companies should click here.

North Carolina Releases PEV Readiness Plan

The North Carolina Plug-In Electric Vehicle (PEV) Taskforce has released the first draft of its PEV Readiness Plan along with four regional plans. The plans were created through the N.C. PEV Readiness Initiative: Plugging-in from Mountains to Sea and was one of 16 projects awarded from the U.S. Department of Energy. The project covered the entire state of North Carolina with a focus on four metropolitan areas in the Greater Asheville, Charlotte, Piedmont Triad and Triangle areas.

The report includes a survey of incentives offered by neighboring states and provides recommendations for state and local policy options. North Carolina offers no state incentives for the purchase of PEVs or charging stations while nearby South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee and Maryland do, the report reveals.

NC PEV Plan“Electric vehicles offer substantial gains in efficiency, emissions and long term savings to the purchaser and incentives can play an important role to spur more wide spread adoption,” said Anne Tazewell, the N.C. Solar Center’s Transportation Manager.

Other key highlights from the NC PEV Roadmap Plan include: there are more than 700 PEVs registered in North Carolina and estimates indicate there will more than 750,000 PEV on state’s roads by 2030; and there are 350 public and 170 private charging stations in the state.

“Currently, North Carolina is still in the beginning stages of plug-in electric vehicle adoption and the statewide NC PEV Roadmap recommends continuing to move forward with collaborative efforts to ensure a more seamless integration of these vehicles and to maintain its position as a leader in plug-in electric vehicle readiness,” said Katie Drye, project manager, Transportation Initiatives, Advanced Energy.

The N.C. Solar Center was one of five principle partners who worked on the PEV project. The Center’s Clean Transportation program co-lead the Piedmont Triad PEV planning process with Piedmont Triad Regional Council and lead the state wide Incentives and Economic Development (IED) Work Group with the N.C. Dept. of Commerce Green Economy team.

American Ethanol Continues Support of Austin Dillon

American Ethanol will be continuing its partnership with Richard Childress Racing and driver Austin Dillon, who won Rookie of the Year last year, for the 2013 NASCAR season. Dillon will race the No. 33 American Ethanol Chevrolet in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Michigan International Speedway on June 16 and will drive a RCR-fielded entry in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series at Eldora Speedway on July 24 with an American Ethanol paint scheme.

We want to show the people coast-to-coast there is a great alternative to imported oil and our association with NASCAR and RCR is doing that extremely well,” said Jon American Ethanol Car photo credit Chuck ZimmermanHolzfaster, a Paxton, NE farmer and chairman of the National Corn Growers Association’s NASCAR Advisory Committee. “Ethanol is also responsible for bringing a rural renaissance from Main Street to the family farm.”

In addition to the races mentioned above, American Ethanol, a program that seeks to expand consumer awareness of the benefits of ethanol and E15, will be an associate sponsor of Dillon’s No. 3 AdvoCare Chevrolet in the NASCAR Nationwide Series race on Saturday, Feb. 23, and Honey Nut Cheerios No. 33 car in the Sprint Cup Series this weekend at Daytona International Speedway.

“American Ethanol is extremely pleased to once again partner with Austin Dillon, Richard Childress and the entire RCR team to help promote a sustainable homegrown American fuel that is better for our environment, reduces our dependence on foreign oil and creates jobs right here in the U.S., while revitalizing rural economies across America,” said Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy.

As part of the sponsorship, Dillon has become and official spokesperson for American Ethanol. “It feels good to be able to help spread the news about American Ethanol and encourage every American to run the fuel of the future, American Ethanol, in their personal vehicles,” said Dillon. “If American Ethanol can withstand the rigors of NASCAR, it can withstand everyday driving. Homegrown biofuels like American Ethanol have stepped up to help our nation’s economy, and are proving to be a better fuel. I am proud to wear the American Ethanol colors in NASCAR and I hope I can bring them to Victory Lane in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in 2013.”

TRANSCAER Honors RFA’s Missy Ruff

Missy Ruff, Market Development Manager with Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), was recognized by the TRANSCAER Executive Committee for a 2012 TRANSCAER Individual Recognition for her successful efforts to plan, organize and implement TRANSCAER training dedicated to safe handling of ethanol and awareness response training for emergency responders across the U.S. More specifically, the award is given to an individual or company who has gone beyond the normal call of duty to advocate, demonstrate and implement TRANSCAER’s principles, Missy Ruffenhance their public recognition and increase participation in their programs.

“Missy’s dedication and commitment to ensuring that our emergency responders from across the U.S. are trained on the safe response to ethanol is impressive,” said Donna Lepik, Staff Executive, TRANSCAER. “The TRANSCAER Awards program allows us to acknowledge and thank our dedicated volunteers for their truly remarkable accomplishments, demonstrated through their continuous efforts to ensure communities are prepared to deal with possible hazardous materials transportation related incidents.”

For more than five years, Ruff has worked to expand ethanol infrastructure around the country. She has helped retailers understand the benefits of blending mid-level and higher blends of ethanol and has played an important role in the increasing number of E85 and blender pumps across the country. She also works with first responders to ensure their safety and the safety of communities, by teaching them how to handle ethanol should an accident occur.

“I am honored to receive this recognition from TRANSCAER,” said Ruff. “Safety is a priority in the ethanol industry. Educating and preparing first responders on how to properly respond to ethanol emergencies is extremely important for their own safety and for the communities they protect.”

UPS Adds Solar to Distribution Facilities

UPS Parsippany solar projectUPS is adding solar power to its distribution facilities located in Parsippany, New Jersey and Secaucus, New Jersey.  The 1.2 megawatt Parsippany project was completed in the fall of 2012 and the 1.2 megawatt Secaucus project is planned for completion in the spring of 2013. These projects will expand UPS’s solar power generating capacity from 360 kilowatts to 2,760 kilowatts and will produce in excess of 3 million kilowatt hours of renewable energy per year.

UPS says the projects are part of its continued sustainability initiatives and decided to finance and build its own solar projects following a drop in solar panel installation costs, continued improvements in the technology and the availability of supportive government incentives.

“Federal and state government incentives encouraged our investments in solar energy sources,” said Steve Leffin, director of global sustainability at UPS. “We develop, engineer, own and operate our solar capacity, which is a departure from contracted power-purchase agreements in which a company pays a solar power provider for a set price of electricity for 20 years. Under this arrangement, we not only benefit at UPS, but can also help community power grids by providing a hedge against possible energy price hikes during peak usage times.”

New Jersey has also established incentives for the generation of renewable power that serve as a catalyst for businesses to adopt renewable energy.  The state is currently second in the U.S. for total installed capacity of solar energy technology.