GM Adds B20 Chevy Cruze to Lineup

The 2013 National Automobile Dealers Association and American Truck Dealers convention kicks off this week in Orlando, Florida and heading into the event General Motors has announced it new 2014 Chevy Cruze light-duty diesel passenger car is approved for use with B20 (20 percent biodiesel).

2014-cruze-clean-turbo-diesel“We applaud General Motors for its foresight in approving the new diesel Chevy Cruze for use with B20 biodiesel blends,” said Steve Howell, Technical Director for the National Biodiesel Board (NBB).  “Many people do not realize that today’s new technology diesel engines powered by ultra-low sulfur biodiesel blends provide tailpipe emissions as clean or cleaner than natural gas or gasoline, while providing superior fuel economy, horsepower, and durability.”

“In addition,” said Howell, “when you combine the increased efficiency diesel engines with the low carbon nature of an Advanced Biofuel like biodiesel, new technology diesel engines are positioned to become the clean-and green-technology of the future, and we’re proud to see GM leading the way with its support for B20.”

The 2014 Chevrolet Cruze Clean Turbo Diesel features an advanced 2.0L clean diesel engine that will offer an estimated 42 mpg highway with an automatic transmission and based on GM testing. According to NBB, clean diesels using modern diesel exhaust technology and ultra low sulfur fuel are over 90 percent cleaner than older models, and the Chevy Cruze is the cleanest diesel passenger car model ever produced by General Motors.

Other automakers are adding biodiesel-approved vehicles to their line-up as well including Ford and Chrysler.

More B For Me Please

More B For MeMore biodiesel please. If you were on the look out for biodiesel it could definitely be seen during the 10th Annual National Biodiesel Conference in Las Vegas. Last year was a roller coaster year for the industry but some good things happened, one of which was the $1 per gallon tax credit coming back. Another – increasing the volume of biodiesel as part of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

Biodiesel can be a good tool in a farm business but Alicia Clancy, Manager of Corporate Affairs for the Renewable Energy Group (REG) said that biodiesel can play a bigger role than it currently is. What does she mean? Biodiesel can be used in farm equipment such as tractors and trucks and many use B2 blends. But, said Clancy, equipment and many trucks are approved to use up to B20.

Choose BiodieselIt is this fact that spurred the biodiesel promotion, More B for Me. Clancy said the goal of the promotion is to increase awareness of biodiesel use in farming equipment. As part of the campaign, farmers (or consumers) are encouraged go to their local co-op or gas station and ask them to offer higher blends of biodiesel and then use blends up to B20.

Here is how it works. Go to www.morebforme.com to register. You must be a farmer in Iowa (although everyone should ask for more biodiesel). REG, along with all the sponsors of the program including the Iowa Soybean Association and the soybean checkoff, Iowa Biodiesel Board and the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association, is giving away 10 – $1,000 dollar certificates at the end of March, just in time for planting season.

Listen to my interview with Alicia here: More B For Me

2013 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

USDA Releases Climate Change & Ag Study

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has released a comprehensive report that synthesize the scientific literature on climate change effects and adaptation strategies for U.S. agriculture. The report, “Climate Change and Agriculture in the United States: Effects and Adaptation,” was created a an input to the National Climate Assessment with scientists from the federal service, universities, non-governmental organizations, industry, tribal lands and private sectors contributing to the peer-reviewed study. It is open for public comment until

“These reports present the challenges that U.S. agriculture and forests will face in this century from global climate change,” said William Hohenstein, director of the Climate Change Program Office in USDA’s Office of the Chief Economist. “They give us a framework for understanding the implications of climate change, in order to meet our future demands for food, feed, fiber, and fuel.”

The reports indicate how climate change is affecting U.S. farms, forests, grasslands, and rural communities. The report finds that while U.S. agriculture and resource management have long histories of successful adaptation to climate variability, the accelerating pace and intensity of climate change presents new challenges to be addressed.

nbb-13-vilsack1For example, the report indicates increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide, rising temperatures, and altered precipitation patterns will affect agricultural productivity. Climate change will exacerbate the stresses already occurring from weeds, insects, and disease. The report finds that increases in the incidence of extreme weather events will have a greater influence on agricultural productivity. 

In addition the report finds that over the next 25 years, the effects of climate change on agricultural production and economic outcomes for both producers and consumers in the United States are expected to be mixed, depending on regional conditions. Beyond 2050, changes are expected to include shifts in crop production areas, increases in pest control expenses, and greater disease prevalence.

Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack gave a few remarks about the study during the 10th Annual National Biodiesel Board Conference & Expo. Listen to his remarks on climate change here: USDA Climate Change & Ag Study

2013 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

Ag Secy Vilsack Wins Nat’l Energy Leadership Award

nbb-13-vilsackjobeThe National Biodiesel Board praised Sec. Vilsack as one of the strongest advocates for renewable fuels in the nation, and presented him with the National Energy Leadership Award during the final day of the 10th Annual National Biodiesel Board Conference & Expo in Las Vegas.

“I’ve witnessed the beginning of a rural renaissance that is remarkable, and you, sir, have presided over it,” said Joe Jobe, CEO of the National Biodiesel Board. “You went to bat for us in the successful expansion of the RFS, and for an issue like ours to go all the way to the top is extraordinary. We can’t thank you enough for your leadership.”

Rather than a typical award, this one was embossed on a glass plate, apropos for the leader of American agriculture.

“You have the power to make us more energy secure, and still create enough food and fiber for the world. That’s an amazing opportunity worth fighting for,” said Vilsack. “You also have the ability to respond as a generation to climate change. You’ve got to keep up the fight because the stakes are extraordinarily high.”

Listen to Jobe’s and Vilsack’s remarks here: National Energy Leadership Award

2013 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

Methanol Institute Releases Biodiesel Primer

A Biodiesel PrimerThe Methanol Institute released a report on the worldwide use of production of biodiesel during the 10th Annual Biodiesel Conference & Expo held in Las Vegas. Methanol is one of the products used to make biodiesel. “A Biodiesel Primer: Market & Policy Development, Quality, Standards and Handling,” provides the latest information on the role of methanol in biodiesel production an global policy issues and was prepared by the Global Biofuels Center.

“The methanol and biodiesel industries are partners in a critical effort to bring safe, reliable and affordable alternative fuels to the world’s transportation market,” said Gregory Dolan, acting CEO of the Methanol Institute.

Today there are 124 biodiesel production facilities in the U.S. and another 28 that are in the development stages.

Eastern Winds Report Released

Eastern Winds ReportAccording to a new report, “Eastern Winds,” analyzing the emerging wind power markets in Central and Eastern European countries, plus Turkey, Ukraine and Russia, wind power will become a significant source of electricity production by 2020. In addition, Turkey’s wind power generation capacity will grow even faster as long as there is a stable legal framework in place. The report was published by the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA).

“Wind energy in Central and Eastern Europe, including Turkey, will substantially reduce the fossil fuel dependency of the power sectors, “said Christian Kjaer, Chief Executive Officer at EWEA. “But some countries – such as the Czech Republic, Hungary and Bulgaria – are without stable renewable energy legislation, and investors and banks will withdraw unless governments put in place long-term renewable energy policies.”

According to EWEA 12 newer EU Member States in Central and Eastern Europe plan to increase wind power capacity from the 6.4 gigawatts installed at end of 2012 to 16 gigawatts by 2020. This is equivalent to the electricity supply of 9 million households. Turkey wants to increase wind power capacity from its current 2.3 gigawatts to 20 gigawatts by 2023.

In 2012, Poland and Romania almost doubled their annual installed wind power capacity in 2012: Poland had 2.5 gigawatts, Romania 1.9 gigawatts, and Bulgaria 0.7 gigawatts of wind power capacity installed.

DOE Research: RFS a Proven Economic Success

According to a new article published in the journal Biofuels, the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), is producing significant positive economic effects in the U.S. According to the paper, authored by researchers at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), the RFS is reducing crude oil prices, decreasing crude oil imports, increasing gross domestic product (GDP) and having only minimal impacts on global food markets and land use. The study also found that in the future, full implementation of the RFS’ advanced biofuels requirements will amplify these benefits.

Screen Shot 2013-02-05 at 12.59.45 PMCommenting on the ORNL findings, Bob Dinneen, President and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) said, “As Congress returns and hearings are scheduled, Big Oil and Big Food will undoubtedly ramp up their multi-million dollar campaign to smear the RFS. Rather than listening to well-heeled oil lobbyists or giving credence to sham ‘studies’ funded by grocery manufacturers, let’s allow independently funded, unbiased, third-party research — like this study from ORNL — to guide the debate.”

Dinneen continued, “The facts from the ORNL study are: the RFS is reducing oil prices, decreasing oil imports, and creating jobs and economic benefits without the rumored catastrophic effects on food prices and land use. In fact, as the study shows, the RFS barely affects food and land markets. The bottom line is the RFS is an unrivaled American success story. We can’t let profit-protecting fear mongers in the oil and snack food industries scare Congress into changing a flexible policy that is making important contributions to the American economy and environment every day.”

Click here to review the study’s key conclusions.

During the National Ethanol Conference that kicks off tonight in Las Vegas, presenters will discuss in depth various aspects of the RFS along with other key issues facing the ethanol industry.

Big Oil Continues Attack on RFS

Big Oil is continuing its attack on the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), with continued efforts to end the mandate. The biofuels industry had been hopeful after the Super Bowl (the Baltimore Ravens won in case you missed it) that fans who saw the ad by Dodge about American’s farmers would help them realize how important these providers of fuel are to our nation. However, Brian Jennings, Executive Vice President of the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) notes that is it no surprise that Big Oil, held a “Cheap Corn Coalition” press event a day later.

mess-rfsJennings notes that the RFS is working and has been the most effective policy enacted by Congress to reduce foreign oil imports. When the RFS went into effect in 2006, said Jennings, oil imports stood at 60 percent. In 2012, net oil imports fell to less than 40 percent. Jennings also points out that unlike oil, ethanol is not subsidized and wholesale prices of ethanol are still 40 to 50 cents per gallon less expensive than unleaded gasoline. Consumers, said Jennings, would pay more at the pump if the RFS is repealed, and the U.S. would return to relying on the rest of the world for more expensive forms of fossil fuel.

“Big Oil built the “blend wall,” by refusing to take any steps toward meeting the RFS while they instead spent millions of dollars on lawsuits and PR efforts like the one they staged again today,” said Jennings. “Even reporters ask if there is anything new in their message. There isn’t – because big oil continues to spend its considerable financial and political capital to block the use of ethanol in gasoline. The RFS was enacted in-part to help break through the blend wall by enabling consumers to have access to more affordable and cleaner choices at the pump.

Jennings says there also continues to be considerable rhetoric and time spent discussing E15 and small engines. “It is illegal for small engines to use E15,” explained Jennings. “EPA approved E15 for the majority of motor vehicles on the road today but did not approve the fuel for non-road engines in part because these engines are not advanced enough to take advantage of ethanol-blends. Small engine owners, including marine equipment owners, should not use E15.”

Jennings added that corn production has expanded and become more efficient since enactment of the RFS. Even with last year’s drought, global grain production still reached one of the largest production totals ever, and ethanol is slated to use about three percent of that total on a gross basis, returning one-third of the corn we process to livestock producers as a valuable feed.

“While these ethanol opponents continue to cast themselves as being concerned about all sorts of different issues, they simply want to eliminate competition for their products. The Cheap Corn Coalition lives to spread even more misinformation,” concluded Jennings.

RES Completes Wind Farm in PA

Renewable Energy Systems Americas (RES Americas) has completed the Twin Ridges Wind Farm  located in Somerset County, Pennsylvania. The 139.4 MW wind farm was completed in December 2012 and is now fully operational.

Twin Ridges Wind FarmRES Americas served as the Balance of Plant Contractor for the project, which was developed and is owned by EverPower.  The Twin Ridges Wind Farm consists of 68 2.05 MW REpower MM 92 turbines that will interconnect to PJM through the Potomac Edison affiliate of FirstEnergy Corporation.

“RES Americas is pleased to have completed construction on the Twin Ridges Wind Farm for our valued client Everpower,” said Andrew Fowler, Chief Operating Officer.  “The continued development of Pennsylvania’s renewable energy resources will bring additional capital investment, jobs and tax revenue to the state.  We are proud to be a member of this community and look forward to continuing our operations in the area.”

RES Americas has now constructed 381 MW of wind projects in Pennsylvania. The 101 MW Armenia Mountain Wind project was completed in 2009 and is located in Tioga and Bradford Counties, and the 140.8 MW Mehoopany Wind Farm, located in Wyoming County, was also completed in 2012.

Chile Ramps Up Renewable Energy

Chile is ramping up its renewable energy sector with two recent project announcements. SunEdison and the Chilean mining and steel group CAP have signed an agreement to construct what the two companies believe will be the largest solar photovoltaic power plant in Latin America and one of the largest on the world. The plant is designed to have an SUNEDISON SOLAR FACILITYinstalled capacity of 100MW (DC) and will be located in the Atacama Desert of Chile. It is estimated that the plant will produce as much as 15 percent of the mining group’s energy needs.

The plant will be built using SunEdison technology. More than 300,000 Silvantis monocrystalline silicon modules will be installed, which according to the company, are made from non-toxic, non-polluting material that can be recycled at the end of its useful life, together with solar trackers designed by SunEdison, for which steel produced by CAP is expected to be used.

Mainstream Renewable Power, has announced they have completed financing and begun construction of its 33 MW Negrete Cuel Wind Farm in southern Chile. The farm is expected to be fulling operational in September 2013. Goldwind is supplying the project with GW87 1.5 MW wind turbines. Mainstream also owns and operates a 150MW Calama Oeste wind farm located in Atacama Desert.

Mainstream’s Chief Executive Eddie O’Connor said, “I am delighted to announce Mainstream’s fifth project to go into construction across three continents in a period of just six months. Since entering the Chilean market back in 2009 Mainstream has built a very strong and growing portfolio of wind and solar projects, many of which are in the mid to late development stages.

Akash Energy Partners with Gulf Hydrocarbon

AkashEnergy logoAkash Energy has announced a partnership with Gulf Hydrocarbon Partners a supplier of renewable fuels including biodiesel. The company has terminals in Houston, Texas and Hartford, Illinois.  The partnership will provide distribution infrastructure for biodiesel blending.

“We are very excited about this relationship as it helps achieve our goals of providing a strong distribution network for our customers, ensuring reliable, consistent supply,” said  Justin Heller, President, Akash Energy.

Akash Energy established one of the first biodiesel track racks in the San Francisco Bay area as well as a truck rack in Elizabeth New Jersey. The focus on the company is to develop efficient distribution infrastructure to provide reliable and consistent biodiesel supply to the end-user market.

Jess Hewitt, president of Gulf Hydrocarbon, added, “Collaborating with Akash Energy has been exciting so far. We have already seen the benefits of working together, and I am optimistic about the additional value we will be able to offer our customers. Akash Energy definitely brings a unique approach, and I enjoy the dynamic feel they bring to the table.”

Next Generation Scientists Attending NBB Conference

There are 16 college students who are attending the National Biodiesel Board (NBB) Conference that kicks off today in Las Vegas. One student is Jeremy Ferrell, a Ph.D. student at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, who sees great potential for biodiesel to help revitalize rural areas once dominated by tobacco. Today, Ferrell conducts biodiesel research at an industrial ecology project in North Carolina.

“What fascinates me about biodiesel is its diversity across numerous sectors,” said Ferrell. “The opportunity for biodiesel to enhance rural economies is one of the things that drives my career.”

EvanLeUofNevadaReno_sm_01The students are able to attend the conference through a scholarship program offered to members of Next Generation Scientists for biodiesel, an NBB program with the goal of educating and collaborating with young scientists. The United Soybean Board also supports the program through the soybean checkoff.

“They are often called ‘student scientists,’ but the reality is that these are full-fledged scientists, contributing to the large body of work that makes up biofuels research in this country,” said Kyle Anderson, NBB technical project manager. “There is tremendous potential for this NBB program to have a lasting impact on biodiesel research.  It’s a great investment to share solid information and build relationships with tomorrow’s scientific thought leaders.”

Another student who will be attending the event is Nina De la Rosa, an Environmental Studies student at Florida International University in  Miami. She, along with the other students, will present posters on their research during the event.

“I believe the conference will present engaging information and activities that will allow me to solidify my knowledge, and strengthen research and career interests that I hope to pursue in my professional life,” said De la Rosa. “The knowledge and professional network I gain from this conference will only allow my passion for biofuels to grow and strengthen my commitment to continue in a field that will remain of high importance in our quest for global sustainability.”

U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu Resigns

In a letter to U.S. Energy Department employees today, Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced his decision to not serve a second term. In his remarks he highlighted the tremendous progress of the last four years.

Hero_StevenChuChu wrote, “Serving the country as Secretary of Energy, and working alongside such an extraordinary team of people at the Department, has been the greatest privilege of my life. While the job has had many challenges, it has been an exciting time for the Department, the country, and for me personally.

I’ve always been inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King, who articulated his Dream of an America where people are judged not by skin color but “by the content of their character.” In the scientific world, people are judged by the content of their ideas. Advances are made with new insights, but the final arbitrator of any point of view are experiments that seek the unbiased truth, not information cherry picked to support a particular point of view. The power of our work is derived from this foundation.

Chu highlighted several areas where he felt there was great success especially in the country’s move to clean energy. Four areas he noted in which he felt demonstrated tangible signs of success included: in the last four years, the production of clean, renewable energy from wind and solar has doubled; in addition to approximately $25 billion annual budget, also made a $36 billion investment through the Recovery Act to help ensure that the clean energy jobs of tomorrow are being created here in America today; the Department has helped one million low income homeowners weatherize their homes; and administered a loan program that generated a portfolio of loans and loan guarantees to 33 clean energy and advanced automotive manufacturing projects.

You can read his full letter of resignation here.

U.S. Needs to Open Cars to Fuel Competition

Anne Korin, co-author of “Turning Oil into Salt,” and the new book “Petropoly,” gave a thought provoking presentation during the 7th Annual Renewable Fuels Summit hosted by the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA). Korin is the co-director for the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security, a think tank focused on energy and security, that she says takes no money from any companies in the energy or alternative energy sector.

Korin Book Signing at IRFA SummitShe began her presentation by noting that over the past seven or eight years our oil imports have fallen over 65 percent to 45 percent, and yet in 2012 there were record gasoline prices. “And if that didn’t show to Washington, the people thinking about energy security, the traditional paradigm, which is only if we reduce our oil imports, we’re going to face lower oil prices. If that traditional paradigm was not proved to be completely wrong, then nothing will show it to be,” said Korin.

The solution: to rethink the fuel paradigm. The country needs more fuel choice: from ethanol, biodiesel, methanol, electrification and more, although she said the lowest cost would be liquid fuel choice. She noted that use of biofuels is not a battle the industry can win on its own and points to a bill that has been re-introduced again called the Open Fuel Standard. The bill is technology neutral. “But this bill is not getting out of the barn,” said Korin, “because the industry has not put it’s full weight and its full energy into pushing this bill forward.”

“And I would say as long as you think about your industry in a vacuum, which goes together with thinking of it as an additive, which goes together with thinking of being a big fish in a small pond, and you don’t shift your thinking to be a small fish in a very large pond and that small fish is bigger than the big fish in the small pond, than you’re not going to have the desperately needed impact on the safety and security of the United States as a whole that you really could and ought to have,” she continued.

Korin concluded, “It’s very important for the country that the ethanol industry be engaged in this fight.”

Listen to Anne Korin’s full remarks here: U.S. Needs to Open Cars to Fuel Competition

View the IRFA Renewable Fuels Summit Photo Album.

We Will Fight For Biofuels

We will fight for biofuels was the key message delivered by both Iowa Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds and Iowa Governor Terry Branstad during the opening session of the 7th Annual Renewable Fuels Summit, hosted by the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA). As IRFA Executive Director Monte Shaw said during his remarks, 2013 will be a pivotal year for biofuels. Both Reynolds and Branstad said they would fight for the future of renewable fuels in both Iowa and at the federal level.

During her remarks Reynolds noted that the renewable fuels industry supports more than 82,000 jobs in Iowa and this is growing. However, she noted, the state must have a robust and skilled workforce if Iowa’s economy is to continue to thrive. She said they are working to close the skills gap that exists in Iowa today with their Skilled Iowa Initiative.

Branstad reiterated the economic role the renewable fuels industry plays in Iowa and around the country and said they the industry must continue to fight for the truth with facts.

“There are a lot of lies and misinformation, especially on the east coast and west coast and we in the Midwest have to fight for this industry which is so important,” said Branstad. “Having been Governor during the farm crisis of the 80s I know the difference between a strong, renewable fuels industry, and when we didn’t have it. We don’t want to go back to those bad old days.”

Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit Photo Album