MyEnergi Lifestyle Initiative Launched

A new initiative, MyEnergi Lifestyle, has been launched to demonstrate how a typical American family can significantly reduce their electricity bills and carbon dioxide footprint. The campaign is a collaboration between Ford, Eaton, SunPower and Whirlpool and combines energy efficiency tips with plug-in vehicle technology. Specifically, MyEnergi Lifestyle showcases how combining renewable energy generation with “time-flexible” loads optimizes energy consumption across a plug-in vehicle and home appliances.

FORD MOTOR COMPANY MYENERGIMy a home incorporates MyEnergi Lifestyle, A computer model developed by Georgia Institute of Technology predicts a 60 percent reduction in energy costs and savings of more than 9,000 kg of CO2 (55 percent reduction) from a single home. The new program is being featured during the 2013 International CES in Las Vegas this week.

“More than ever, cars are sharing the same energy source as the home,” said Mike Tinskey, global director of Vehicle Electrification and Infrastructure, Ford Motor Company. “The time is right for the home appliance and transportation sectors to converge if we are going to tackle a myriad of sustainability challenges in a rapidly changing world.”

According to Warwick Stirling, global director for energy and sustainability for the Whirlpool Corporation, the average American home uses more than 11,000 kWh of electricity per year. However, he said, recent technologies can help a family use energy smarter and more efficiently.

“SunPower is offering Ford plug-in vehicle owners the world’s most efficient solar power systems to ensure they maximize emission-free power generation for use at home and for their vehicles,” said Ken Fong, SunPower general manager, Americas. “SunPower systems offer the industry’s best warranty, so homeowners can count on 25 years or more of clean power to support their sustainability goals and generate significant annual savings on their electricity bills.”

Joanne Edwards, added, that as innovation in home electrical technology advances, so does the need for safe, reliable power distribution. She is the vice president and general manager of Eaton’s residential division and notes that giving homeowners the tools to tap into distributed power in their homes allows them to modify their behavior and reduce energy consumption.

Wind Power Makes Gains in China

According to Liu Qi, deputy director general of the National Energy Administration, wind power is the third-largest source of electricity in China. He proclaimed that there is no electric power to substitute the position of wind power as No. 3, during the 18th CPC National Congress. He added that China “is determined to promote the revolution of energy generation and consumption to control the total consumption of energy, to improve energy conservation, and to support the development of energy conservation and the low carbon industry as well as renewable energy in order to ensure the safety of national energy.”

Longyua Offshore Wind FarmLate last year, the State Council released the white paper, “China’s Energy Policy 2012,” stating that wind power has the greatest possibility of large-scale development and market utilization. The country’s development of wind power is the fastest in the world and China’s 12th Five-Year Plan, sets a goal of developing wind energy in both concentrated and distributed formats and the utilization of wind resources will be accelerated including the development of offshore wind power.

Qi also announced that China is committed to strengthening grid construction, improving grid dispatching, enhancing equipment performance, advancing wind power predictions and forecasts, more. The goal, by 2015, is for the country’s total wind turbine installed capacity to reach 100 million kW, including 5 million kW offshore.

On November 23, Longyuan Wind Power realized the completion of 150 MW in an offshore wind demonstration project in Rudong, Jiangsu Province. This is the largest offshore wind farm to date in China. As more projects continue to be developed, the county’s industry is hosting Offshore Wind China 2013 being held in Shanghai June 19-21, 2013. The event is being organized by the Chinese Renewable Energy Industries Association, the National Renewable Energy Center, and Shanghai International Exhibition Co., Ltd.

Just in – Results from 100% Biofuel Jet Flight

The results are in from a flight powered by 100 percent biofuel. According to data released by the National Research Council of Canada (NRC), ReadiJet reduced emissions and provided better fuel efficiency than petroleum aviation fuel. ReadiJet is produced by ARA and Chevron Lummus Global using feedstocks developed by Agrisoma Resonance.

readijet-fuelingInformation collected in-flight on October 29, 2012 was analyzed by a team of National Research Council. The results showed a 50 percent reduction in aerosol emissions when using ReadiJet biofuel compared to conventional fuel. Additional tests from the static engine show a significant reduction in particles (up to 25 percent) and in black carbon emissions (up to 49 percent) compared to conventional fuel. These tests also show comparable engine performance, but an improvement of 1.5 percent in specific fuel consumption during the steady state operations. The jet’s engines required no modification as the biofuel tested in-flight meets the specification test property limits of petroleum-based fuels.

“We are pleased with these positive results. The flight went smoothly and the data collected enables us to better understand the impact of biofuel on the environment,” said John R. McDougall, President of the National Research Council of Canada. “We will continue to work with our partners Applied Research Associates, Chevron Lummus Global, and Agrisoma Biosciences, Inc. to bring this effective energy solution to market. The final product will be a sustainable option for reducing aviation emissions.”

Chuck Red, ARA’s Biofuel program manager added, “Partnering with NRC Canada’s outstanding team to fly the first ever 100% biofuels flight with a fuel that meets petroleum specifications test property limits without blending was historic. Their exceptional data collection capabilities and detailed analysis shows that our ReadiJet, which produces much lower lifecycle green house gas emissions than petroleum, will also contribute to a cleaner environment with significantly lower aerosol, particle, and black carbon emissions.”

Future Trends for Ag, Fuel

2012 Iowa Renewable Fuels SummitOne of the key topics for discussion during the free, 7th Annual Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit and Trade Show being held in Altoona, Iowa on January 30, 2013 is future trends for U.S. agriculture and fuels. The “Market Outlook for 2013 and Beyond” panel will include Robert Gough, Director of Renewable Fuels for the Oil Price Information Service (OPIS), who will provide an analysis of crude oil and renewable fuels price trends through the next decade.  Also joining the panel will be Nathan Kauffman, an economist with the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, who will discuss his recent publication which highlights the role of markets in determining the scale of ethanol production and its use of corn in the future.  The final panelist and moderator, John Urbanchuk of Cardno ENTRIX, will highlight the impact of renewable fuels on Iowa’s economy.

“This panel will provide the Summit audience with a glimpse of what to expect for renewable fuels and gasoline production, demand and pricing and its impact on farm commodities now and in the future,” said Monte Shaw, Iowa Renewable Fuels Association’s (IRFA) executive director. “This panel will be an excellent compliment to announced speakers like Gov. Terry Branstad and Growth Energy’s Tom Buis.  Additional speakers will be announced soon.”

The Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit provides a great opportunity to hear experts address state and national issues facing the future of renewable fuels, as well as network with biofuels professionals and business leaders throughout the Midwest. Registration for this free summit is currently open and you can register online here. Can’t make it to Des Moines? The DomesticFuel team will be onsite to bring you live and post event coverage.

Corn, Ethanol Industries Drive Rural Economy

Screen Shot 2013-01-08 at 11.36.43 PMAccording to a new study released by the Missouri Corn Growers Association (MCGA), the state’s corn and ethanol industries are adding to the state’s bottom line. The study, conducted by the University of Missouri Commercial Agriculture Program, reported that the corn and ethanol industries injected $12 billion into Missouri’s economy from 2000 to 2011. Each year, the state’s ethanol industry utilizes around 100 million bushels of corn to produce nearly 300 million gallons of ethanol and 825,000 tons of distillers grains, a high protein livestock feed. In 2011, Missouri corn production alone added over $1 billion in value to the state’s economy and together the two industries supported 67,000 jobs.

“This research substantiates the tremendous economic benefits corn and ethanol production bring to Missouri,” said MCMC Chairman Jim Stuever, a corn grower from Dexter, Mo. “They are significant drivers for the state by creating jobs, generating tax dollars and increasing vitality of rural communities.”

Over the 12 years studied, the combined benefits to the state’s economy from the corn and ethanol industries were:

  • $12 billion in economic value,
  • $5.3 billion in labor income, and
  • $2.2 billion paid in local, state and federal taxes.

“This is truly a success story for agriculture and the state of Missouri,” noted MCGA President Rob Korff, a corn farmer from Norborne, Mo. “The state’s ethanol industry was built on the faith and dedication of hardworking farm families and support from state leaders.”

During the 12-year period, the ethanol industry yielded a 6:1 return, a net value of over $600 million, on the state’s investment. According to the study, Missouri’s six majority farmer-owned ethanol plants alone generated the following direct and indirect benefits to the state: $734 million in economic value; $416 million in labor income; and $174 million in local, state and federal taxes.

Renewable Fuels Legislation Crib Sheet

Although the Taxpayer Relief Act is an all but done deal, stakeholders across numerous industries continue to pick at the legislation. This is particularly true for the renewable energy industry. Legislation can be hard to digest and so the law firm Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy created a “crib” sheet, or alert, giving a brief overview of how the Act will Screen Shot 2013-01-07 at 7.25.38 PMimpact current and future projects in the renewables space including wind, biomass, geothermal, landfill gas, hydropower, cellulosic and advanced biofuels, biodiesel and even marine and hydro projects.

According to Millbank, the most important feature was the extension of the production tax credit for qualifying wind projects. A project must begin prior to January 1, 2014. The alert notes, “any such qualifying facility (or the electricity generated and sold from it)” that can get off the ground in the next year will be eligible for the tax credit – “regardless of when the facility is placed in service.” That suggests a big financial infusion into the wind industry during 2013 to jump-start projects that may have been put on hold pending the outcome of the tax bill.

Milbank points out in the alert that the legislation does not modify the eligibility requirements for certain types of projects, including those generating power through small irrigation, solar energy, refined coal, or Indian coal, rather keeps the same requirements in place. In addition, the alert takes a close look at tax allowances, including the special first-year allowance, otherwise known as “50% bonus depreciation” to qualifying property placed in service before next January 1.

Across the board for renewable energy, the tax extenders only stay in place for one year. This means that the renewable energy industry will need to take advantage of the tax packages this year while also looking at how to continue growth as uncertainty about industry tax incentives remain on the “cliff” beyond this year.

Students Earn Scholarships to Futher Biodiesel Education

StudentScholarship_Robert_Willis_USUSeveral students from around the U.S. will get a hands-on biodiesel education during the National Biodiesel Board’s Annual Conference: Momentum, February 4-7, 2013 in Las Vegas. Sixteen young college scientists were selected to receive scholarships to the conference, a program the National Biodiesel Board views as a long-term investment.

“There is tremendous potential for this NBB program to have a lasting impact on biodiesel research,” said Kyle Anderson, NBB’s Technical Projects manager. “It’s a great investment to share solid information and build relationships with tomorrow’s scientific thought leaders.”

The scholarships were awarded to members of the Next Generation Scientists for Biodiesel, an NBB program that aims to educate and collaborate with young scientists. This year’s scholars come from schools such as Utah State University, University of Colorado, Texas A&M, Southern Illinois University, and Clemson University.

“I believe the knowledge and professional network I will gain from this conference will only allow my passion for biofuels to grow, and will strengthen my commitment to continue in a field that is so important to our quest for global sustainability,” said Nina De la Rosa, an Environmental Studies student at Florida International University in Miami who was awarded one of the scholarships, and will present a poster on her research during the event.

The scholarships are funded by state soybean organizations and the United Soybean Board through the soybean checkoff. To learn more about the NBB Conference including online registration click here. You can learn more about the Next Generation Scientists for Biodiesel here.

Two Solar Projects Kick Off in South Africa

Two ground-mounted solar power projects totaling 33 megawatts are underway in South Africa, a joint venture between AE-AMD Renewable Energy and Tenesol, a subsidiary of SunPower. Tenesol will construct both projects, located near Douglas, South Africa in the Northern Cape Province. The ground-mounted solar systems will feature 138,000 Tenesol TE 240 photovoltaic solar panels on single-axis trackers. The solar panels are being produced at the Cape Town manufacturing facility which has been in operation for more than a decade, and has 3BBBEE rating.

South Africa Northern CapeHerbert, a 22-MW project, has begun construction, and groundbreaking for the 11-MW Greefspan project will begin soon. They are both part of the South African government’s Independent Power Producers Procurement Program and completion for both projects is expected in the second quarter of 2014. The last step in financing took place on November 16, 2012 when final agreements were signed-off by the South African Department of Energy.

SunPower’s successful track record of building solar power plants around the world, coupled with Tenesol’s historic presence in South Africa, will positively impact this region,” said SunPower Regions President Howard Wenger. “These two solar power projects will generate local construction jobs and deliver clean, reliable energy to the community.”

Both systems are owned by AE-AMD Renewable Energy in partnership with the IDEAS Fund, managed by Old Mutual Investment Group of South Africa. The electricity created by the solar projects will be sold to Eskom. Tenesol has a five percent share in both projects.

Book Review – The Year God Forgot Us

Pssst…I have the secret recipe for renewable fuel. Want to know where I found this recipe that will take down big oil? In the novel, “The Year God Forgot Us,” by Dennis Nau. Ok, so I don’t really have some super duper secret renewable fuel recipe, but this week’s book was a fictional look at 1936, during the Great Depression, where the town of Bernadotte, North Dakota believes they have met the man who will revolutionize fuel by stealing a secret recipe developed by the Mormans.

The Year God Forgot Us Book CoverA stranger drives in to town and fills up his tank with water, shakes his truck, and drives off. This leads to town gossip and eventually the driver begins frequenting the local cafe when he comes through town and begins planting the idea of the secret fuel recipe and how the town can “buy” the recipe and become rich. Al, the leader of the pack” says, “The Mormons are the devil. Satan.  Satan with a suit on. That’s the Mormons. They discovered the secret formula of how to turn water into gasoline, the Mormans did.”

Eventually Al unveils the catalyst as wheat flour, a dream for struggling wheat farmers. As the town gets excited about the gasoline venture, Johnny, the proprietor of the cafe says, “A lot of money would stay in this area, wouldn’t do out east to people in Boston and New York. It wouldn’t go west to Los Angeles. The money wouldn’t be parked in banks in Chicago. We grow wheat here. Think of what this would do to the demand for wheat. Why, every farmer in North Dakota would be able to make enough money for a decent living. This would benefit all our neighbors…”

While I’m not going to spill the beans on what happens, the narrative is colorful and I could almost imagine sitting on the bar stool eating breakfast at the cafe and watching and participating as the events unfold. While the book isn’t about “biofuels” per se, it does lay out the foundation for the future fuel as American farmers  – exactly what is happening today as farmers grow energy crops. I would be remiss if I didn’t say the language could be offensive to some, but Nau means no disrespect to Mormans or others. The scam in the book is perpetrated on Americans of all race and creed and the tale is told true to its time  – 1936 during the Great Depression.

Icom Adds Propane Autogas Vehicles to Fleet

Icom North America, a developer, integrator and manufacturer of liquid-injection propane systems for commercial and consumer vehicles, has announced an installation program for 140 propane autogas Ford F150 pickup trucks for use by Menards home improvement stores. The vehicles will serve 36 Menards locations throughout Illinois along with the store in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Icom-trained Installer Metro Motors of Cicero, Ill., is performing the installations.

MenardsKyleKrause PropaneTruckThe company recently received 15 new certifications from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) covering nearly 100 different 2012-1013 model year GM and Ford vehicle platforms for its patented JTG II Propane Liquid Injection bi-fuel and dedicated systems. The company plans to launch a Propane Optimization Process (POP) that maximizes propane use by preventing driver override.

“The Icom-Menards project clearly identifies what strides can be made when a large national fleet works in close cooperation with companies like Icom North America, CleanFUEL USA and Ferrellgas,” said Albert Venezio, chairman of Icom North America.

According to Icom, the project will provide Menards significant cost savings. After the vehicles are converted, Menards will consider expanding the program to other Midwest-based stores.

Jeff Abbott, spokesperson for Menards added, “We’re glad to be advancing our company forward into this growing market since propane is a cleaner burning fuel and less expensive, so it’s a win-win for everyone.”                      

Free Solar Panels Brighten San Diego Family Homes

Several families in San Diego county will have a brighter 2013 as a result of the 2012 Solar Holiday Drive led by Sullivan Solar Power. Five low-income families were selected to receive free solar panels for their homes. The solar drive was part of a partnership with GRID Alternatives, a nonprofit that installs solar energy on homes for families who would otherwise not have access.

gI_95978_DSCF1057GRID Alternatives mobilizes job trainees and other volunteers, providing hands-on experience installing solar panel systems. As a part of the partnership, Sullivan Solar Power team members will be volunteering their time to assist the GRID Alternatives team with the donated projects.

“GRID Alternatives is thrilled to have partnered with Sullivan Solar this holiday season to bring the gift of clean green power to families who really need the savings,” said Paul Cleary, Regional Director of GRID Alternatives.

Sullivan Solar Power donated one solar panel for each San Diego county resident who signed up with the company to go solar. Forty-six solar panels were donated as part of the promotion. Collectively, 46 locally manufactured Kyocera solar panels will be installed on low-income residences at no cost to San Diego homeowners as a result.

“The initiative ended more successfully than we had envisioned. We are blessed and grateful to be in a position to provide the gift of solar energy to families who need financial relief from high electricity costs most,” added Founder and President of Sullivan Solar Power, Daniel Sullivan.

DOE Awards Novozymes $2.5M

Corn Stover Photo Credit Joanna SchroederThe U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has awarded Novozymes an award of up to $2.5 million to find new and more efficient enzymes for turning corn stover into fuel for cars and trucks. The specific project that was awarded funds by the DOE is called ‘SynTec,’ and is a two-year collaborative project between Novozymes and MBI. The companies will screen natural enzyme diversity for the best performing enzymes. Each enzyme combination will then be tested on pretreated agricultural waste that can first be converted into sugars and then into bio-based products and advanced biofuels.

According to Novozymes, many chemical-based industrial processes have inherent drawbacks from a commercial and environmental point of view. These drawbacks can be nearly eliminated with enzymes:

  • Enzymes can be used in mild conditions such as moderate temperatures and pH levels.
  • Only small amounts of enzymes are needed in order to carry out chemical reactions on an industrial scale.
  • Enzymes reduce the impact of manufacturing on the environment by reducing the use of chemicals, water and energy, and the subsequent generation of waste.

Novozymes’ work will support DOE’s focus on research, development and demonstration efforts to achieve affordable, scalable and sustainable advanced biofuels. According to the company, it has already reduced the cost of enzyme production for biofuels by 90 percent. Once the new screening process is proven, it can be used to rapidly develop tailored cost-effective enzyme solutions for specific industrial biorefineries. This is the third time Novozymes has partnered with the D.O.E. for bioenergy enzyme development.

AAA Holds Fast to E15 Position

The American Automobile Association (AAA) has taken a position against the use of E15 for all motorists despite the fact that E15 is the most tested fuel in American history. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved the use of E15 for cars and light duty trucks manufactured in 2001 or later. In addition, the EPA has put safeguards in place for retailers before they are legally allowed to sell the ethanol blend to ensure motorists use the fuel correctly.

ace logoToday, Senior Vice President of the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) Ron Lamberty charged AAA with “unnecessarily alarming motorists” and having a double standard between ethanol and oil based fuels, in a letter sent to AAA President Robert Darbelnet. In the letter, Lamberty questions AAA’s stand on E15 and points out its silence on non-approved low-octane fuel being sold in states like Colorado and South Dakota.

Lamberty points out in the letter that, “The hypocrisy of turning a blind eye and most likely allowing people to shorten the lives of their vehicles by using unapproved and untested oil-company produced sub-octane gasoline for decades, while loudly attacking thoroughly tested and approved E15 when only a few stations are offering it for sale, is quite unbecoming for an organization that claims it puts the best interests of the American motorist first.”

“Furthermore,” wrote Lambery, “making “recommendations” about E15 based on oil-industry funded and directed “studies,” while ignoring millions of miles of federal government laboratory testing showing E15 is safe for cars and light trucks manufactured in 2001 and later (some of which now have owners’ manuals that list E15 as an approved fuel) is indefensible.”

You can Lamberty’s letter to AAA by clicking here.

First Solar Extends Agreement with Intermolecular

First Solar LogoFirst Solar has entered into a two-year collaboration and licensing agreement with Intermolecular (IMI) focused on further increases to the conversion efficiency of First Solar’s cadmium telluride (CdTe) solar cell technology. Within the new collaborative program, the two companies will work together to develop disruptive new approaches to increasing the performance of CdTe solar cell technology using Intermolecular’s proprietary High Productivity Combinatorial (HPC(TM))platform. According to First Solar, the program targets substantial gains in its module conversion efficiency beyond its previously announced roadmap.

“We are excited to extend and deepen our collaboration with IMI. The combinatorial approach to material and process screening has shown promise to augment First Solar’s already world-leading research and development capabilities in CdTe solar technology, enabling better performance and faster time-to-market,” said Raffi Garabedian, First Solar’s Chief Technology Officer.

Intermolecular LogoGarabedian added the company is confident that this effort will bear fruit in the coming years and believes that this project, in combination with other R&D advances, will extend the company’s leadership in photovoltaic technology and further enhance value for our power plant customers.

Sandeep Nijhawan, Vice President and General Manager of Intermolecular’s Clean Energy Group, added, “We are excited to partner with First Solar, a global leader in thin-film photovoltaic technology and systems. Extending and expanding the collaboration with First Solar after working closely with them last year represents tremendous validation of our value proposition. We look forward to be closely working with First Solar to further increase CdTe solar cell conversion-efficiency by leveraging our HPC platform and capabilities.”

Abengoa US Formed

International company Abengoa has announced the creation of a new American subsidiary, Abengoa, US, which will be responsible for all its business in the country. The formation of the new subsidiary supports the company’s strong commitment to the U.S. market.

abengoa logoAccording to the company, Abengoa US has assets in excess of $5.8 billion, more than $1.7 billion in shareholders’ equity, and its revenues account for approximately 20 percent of the company’s total sales.  Today, U.S. projects are coordinated from three offices located in Washington D.C., St. Louis and Denver with R&D+i centers in Denver and St. Louis. In addition, the company has projects completed or underway in 12 sates.

Currently,, Abengoa US is engaged in various landmark projects in the country, including Solana, the world’s largest solar plant using parabolic-trough solar-thermal technology based in the Arizona desert, which has up to six hours of electricity storage, and one of the first commercial second-generation bioethanol plants located in Hugoton, Kansas, which will come into operation at the end of this year.