The Dublin Energy Minister of Ireland and the UK Secretary of State for Energy have paved the way for the export of Ireland’s wind energy to Britain. The hope is that this project will be a model for other countries as the development of a pan-European electricity grid continues.
“With greater grid integration the UK and Ireland can expect more independence from imported fossil fuels, lower power prices thanks to greater competition, and more zero-carbon wind energy,” said Justin Wilkes, Policy Director at the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA). “This type of win-win-win-wind solution is exactly what consumers, the UK, Ireland and the wind industry will benefit from as Europe’s electricity systems and markets become more integrated. Wind energy is a key driver of this much-needed grid integration.”
The recently published Energy Bill in the UK allows for the direct import of renewable power from neighboring EU Member States, and the Irish government has made clear its support for the export of wind energy from Ireland. In response, EWEA is urging the Irish and UK governments to initiate concrete plans to ensure the memorandum of understanding results in a stable legislative framework which benefits consumers and the wind industry in both Ireland and the UK.
There are a number of UK-Ireland projects under development including the 5,000 MW Energy Bridge project which would deliver Irish onshore wind power to the west coast of the UK, and the 1,100 MW Codling Wind Park which could deliver offshore electricity for 160,000 UK homes by 2020.
Last week the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit upheld the advanced biofuels requirements under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). Biodiesel is classified in the RFS as an advanced biofuels, and last year more than 1 billion gallons were produced by U.S. biodiesel producers. In response, the National Biodiesel Board’s Anne Steckel, vice president of federal affairs made the following statement:
“This is just the latest in a series of cases in which the oil industry has tried unsuccessfully to re-litigate the standards for renewable fuels, and it is yet another victory for our nation’s shift toward cleaner, more diverse energy supplies,” said Anne Steckel, vice president of federal affairs for the National Biodiesel Board. “The fact is that the RFS is a very effective program for improving U.S. energy security, creating jobs and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. We look forward to working constructively with our partners in the petroleum industry to meet these goals moving forward.”
POET Biorefining – Macon is temporarily suspending plant operations effective Feb. 1 due primarily to a lack of available local corn caused in part by last summer’s drought. All of the plant’s 44 team members will remain employed at their current hours. Many will assist in installation of the approximately $14.5 million in upgrades to the plant that will occur during the down time. The plant will also continue to purchase corn for future use as it is available. There is currently no timeline for resuming production.
The biorefinery started operation in 2000 ad is located in one of the worst-hit areas of last season’s drought, leaving it unable to source corn locally or bring corn in from other areas at a competitive price.
“Macon has been a very successful plant within the POET network,” said POET CEO Jeff Lautt. “Once conditions improve, I know the plant and its hard-working team members will continue to make POET-Biorefining – Macon a star.”
The plant is in the early stages of construction on a number of upgrades that will improve profitability further once production resumes. Those include:
- Voilà corn oil technology, which will provide an additional product for new revenue
- Full BPX technology, POET’s patented “no-cook” process that significantly reduces heat/energy use
- A new control system
- A new, more efficient evaporator
- A new administration building and scale house
Board President John Eggleston added, “We’re all excited to see these upgrades taking effect. It’s investments like these that will ensure continued long-term success for the plant.”
How does energy produced by the sun (solar) compete with ethanol in terms of land use, life-cycle emissions and cost? These questions are being asked by University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB) Bren School of Environmental Science & Management Professor Roland Geyer. He wants to know what makes more sense, growing fuel crops to supply alternative-fuel vehicles with ethanol or other biofuels or using photovoltaics (PV) to directly power battery electric vehicles (EVs).
“The energy source for biofuels is the sun, through photosynthesis,” explains Geyer. “The energy source for solar power is also the sun. Which is better?”
To find out, Geyer joined former BrenSchool researcher David Stoms and James Kallaos, of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, to model the relative efficiencies of the technologies at converting a given amount of sunlight to miles driven. The results have been published in the paper, “Spatially Explicit Life Cycle Assessment of Sun-to-Wheels Transportation Pathways in the U.S.,” in the Dec. 26 issue of the journal Environmental Science & Technology. Results showed photovoltaics (PV) to be much more efficient than biomass at turning sunlight into energy to fuel a car.
“PV is orders of magnitude more efficient than biofuels pathways in terms of land use — 30, 50, even 200 times more efficient — depending on the specific crop and local conditions,” said Geyer. “You get the same amount of energy using much less land, and PV doesn’t require farm land.”
The researchers examined three ways of using sunlight to power cars: 1) the traditional method of converting corn or other plants to ethanol; 2) converting energy crops into electricity for BEVs rather than producing ethanol; and 3) using PVs to convert sunlight directly into electricity for EVs. Because land-use decisions are local, Geyer explained, he and his colleagues examined five prominent “sun-to-wheels” energy conversion pathways — ethanol from corn or switchgrass for internal combustion vehicles, electricity from corn or switchgrass for EVs, and PV electricity for EVs — for every county in the contiguous United States. Continue reading
There are some mixed messages coming from the D.C. Circuit today as they ruled to vacate the 2012 cellulosic biofuel standard, yet affirmed the 2012 advanced biofuel standard as part of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). The biofuels industry reacted to the decisions and noted that although the court vacated the cellulosic standard, it also rejected API’s argument that EPA was required to follow the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s projections in setting its own. The court also rejected API’s argument that EPA was not entitled to consider information from cellulosic biofuel producers in setting its projection, finding that cellulosic producers were an “almost inevitable source of information” for EPA. According to several biofuel organizations, these were important decisions that give EPA flexibility in setting cellulosic biofuel volumes in the future.
The court vacated the cellulosic biofuel standard because it believed that EPA had impermissibly set the volume with the objective of promoting growth in the industry, rather than simply making an accurate prediction. The biofuels organizations strongly disagree with this characterization — EPA did not determine a reasonably achievable volume and then inflate it, they say. Rather, it set the volume based on the best information available to it at the time. In the end, EPA is free to reinstate the volumes that it had established, as long as the information available at the time would support the agency’s conclusion that those volumes were reasonably achievable. The court’s decision does not now require, or permit, EPA to set volumes based on hindsight.
The D.C. Circuit also affirmed the EPA’s decision not to reduce the advanced biofuel volume, categorically rejecting API’s arguments that EPA must be support its decision not to reduce the applicable volume of advanced biofuels with specific numerical projections.
In a joint statement, the biofuel organizations stated that, “although we disagree with the court’s decision vacating the 2012 cellulosic volumes, today’s decision once again rejects broad-brushed attempts to effectively roll back the federal Renewable Fuel Standard.”
The biofuel organizations include the Advanced Biofuels Association (ABFA), Advanced Ethanol Council (AEC), American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE), Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), Growth Energy, and Renewable Fuels Association (RFA). They are reviewing the court’s decision and assessing next steps in the matter.
Volkswagen (VW) has “powered up” the largest solar installation at an automotive manufacturing facility in the U.S. and the biggest solar installation in the state of Tennessee. The Volkswagen Chattanooga Solar Park is now part of the the company’s green auto plant and was the first in the world to receive the top LEED certification.The Volkswagen Chattanooga Solar Park occupies 33 acres, or half of the 66-acre land parcel adjacent to VW’s state-of-the-art manufacturing plant. The solar park contains 33,600 solar modules from JA Solar designed to produce 13.1 gigawatt hours of electricity per year.
The electricity produced from the solar park is expected to meet 12.5 percent of the energy needs of Volkswagen’s Chattanooga manufacturing plant during full production and 100 percent during non-production periods. The plant covers 1.9 million square feet and employs more than 3,000 people who manufacture the Volkswagen Passat sedan. For Volkswagen, the solar park in Chattanooga will rank as the automaker’s largest photovoltaic installation worldwide.
Frank Fischer, CEO and Chairman of Volkswagen Group of America, Chattanooga Operations LLC, said, “We are proud to power up the biggest solar park of any car manufacturer in North America today. The solar park,” he said, “is another proof point of Volkswagen’s worldwide commitment to environmental protection under its ‘Think Blue. Factory’ philosophy, a broadly focused initiative for all Volkswagen plants to achieve more efficient use of energy, materials and water and produce less waste and emissions.” Continue reading
Despite the win going to the renewable energy industry for the Renewable Fuel Standard to remain in play with no penalties, the National Chicken Council is still attempting to blame the RFS and biofuels for the reduced number of chicken wings this coming Super Bowl.
In response to the rough play, Growth Energy called several penalties:
- “Roughing the facts” – 40 percent of the corn crop is not used for biofuel production, that is a complete fabrication. The reality is that only a net of 17 percent of the corn crop is used for renewable fuel production, as the production of biofuels has a co-product, distillers grains. In the process only the starch is removed from the kernel, leaving all of the protein, oil and fiber resulting in a highly nutritious, less expensive animal feed.
- “Offsides” – For calling the most successful energy policy the nation has enacted in the last forty years a mandate, when in fact it has reduced our dependence on foreign oil and increased our energy security.
- “Personal Foul” – Trying to blame the ethanol industry for increased commodity costs is disingenuous and misplaced. The true culprit is Mother Nature and there is no tool available to alter the unpredictable weather.
- “Pass Interference” – For continuing to accept the status quo of our dangerous addiction to foreign oil for some of the most unstable regions around the world.
- “Holding” – For aggressively fighting against a policy that is creating jobs right here at home that cannot be outsourced and is revitalizing rural communities across our nation.
- “Encroachment” – For propagating misinformation in attempts to repeal a policy that is helping produce sustainable, renewable fuel to meet our growing energy needs, which is cleaner burning and better for the air we breathe and our environment.
- “Roughing the Consumer” – For actively seeking to prevent market access of a less expensive, higher performance fuel, denying the consumer a choice and savings at the pump.
According the Growth Energy, “In assessing the numerous penalties, it appears that Colonel Sanders should stay behind the fryer making the wings instead of trying to influence public policy through penalties, misinformation and scare tactics.”
Don’t worry, enjoy your wings this Super Bowl, but Growth Energy wants to remind you to not to believe the big lies and fowl penalties served up by Big Chicken.
During 2012, Europe installed and grid connected 239 offshore wind turbines – more than on per working day. There are now a total of 2,662 turbines in 61 offshore wind farms in 10 European countries. The 293 turbines installed in 2012 represent 1,165 Megawatts (MW), an increase of 33 percent compared to 2011 installations of 874 MW. This brings total offshore wind energy capacity to 4,995 MW.
Heading in 2013, EK remains the leader with nearly 60 percent of Europe’s offshore capacity, followed by Denmark (18%), Belgium (8%) and Germany (6%).
“Offshore wind power is growing solidly,” said European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) Policy Director Justin Wilkes. “But solid installation figures do not alter the fact that the wind industry is being hit by political and regulatory instability, the economic crisis, the higher cost of capital and austerity. Europe is a world leader in offshore wind energy and could be creating even more jobs if governments gave greater policy certainty to investors, and resolved grid connection problems.”
The turbines installed in 2012 represent investments of around 4 billion Euros in offshore wind farms. Offshore prospects for 2013 and 2014 are positive with 14 offshore projects under construction, due to increase installed capacity by a further 3,300 MW, and bring total offshore capacity in Europe to 8,300 MW.
Those attending the 7th Annual Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit will have the opportunity to learn about biodiesel along with a host of other information about biofuels. The FREE event takes place on January 30, 2013 at The Meadows Conference Center in Altoona, Iowa.
The “More B For Me” biodiesel panel will include Terry Murray, a livestock and crop farmer from Storm Lake, Iowa, who will discuss the benefits of increasing biodiesel use on the farm. Additional panelists include John Grzywacz, President and Owner of CIT Signature Transportation in Ames, Iowa who will discuss the benefits of his transportation company’s commitment to using biodiesel. Also on the panel is Cardno ENTRIX Economist John Urbanchuk who will discuss the findings of his soon-to-be released study detailing the economic impacts of biodiesel production on Iowa’s crop and livestock farmers. The final panelist and moderator, Denny Mauser, is a farmer and board member of two biodiesel plants: Western Iowa Energy and Western Dubuque Biodiesel.
“The biodiesel users panel will provide great insights into the benefits and economic impacts of using and producing biodiesel in Iowa,” said IRFA Executive Director Monte Shaw. “This panel will be an excellent compliment to an already great lineup of announced speakers.”
Other sessions include: E15 and Beyond – The Future of Consumer Fuel Choice; Renewable Fuels: Powering Iowa’s Economy and Leading the Nation; Market Outlook for 2013 and Beyond; Industry Keynote Address; and Petropoly: The Collapse of America’s Energy Security Paradigm; Renewable Fuels & U.S. Agriculture. In addition, the high school contest video winners will be announced.
According to a new study performed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, corn grown using no-till methods may sequester larger amounts of carbon than previously believed. The study was published in BioEnergy Research and showed that corn grown over a 10-year period using no-till practices sequesters carbon in the soil to depths as far as 59 inches under the surface. Previous studies only looked at depths of 11 inches and did not take into account carbon sequestration below tillage depths. These past studies arguably missed more than 50 percent of the increase in soil organic carbon below this depth.
With this new information, models used to calculate and predict the environmental benefits or liabilities of corn production will be able to better reflect the actual impact. As the study shows an average annual increase in soil carbon of approximately 1.2 tons of carbon per acre, new models will likely show more accurately how corn-based ethanol offers a tremendous greenhouse gas emissions reduction when compared to petro-fuels. Soil organic carbon and its sequestration are important, because they affect both soil fertility and greenhouse gas fluxes.
“The findings of this study are important in that they demonstrate a previously overlooked environmental benefit of corn production in general and of corn-based ethanol in specific,” said National Corn Growers Association Corn Board member Keith Alverson. “Estimates of the greenhouse gas savings corn offers over petro-fuels will undoubtedly show a more significant savings once data of this nature is factored into the overall analysis. Farmers are working harder every day to produce food, fuel and fiber sustainably as they actually improve the land through their growing practices. As scientists expand the pool of data, the positive impact of the biofuels produced from their crops becomes clearer also.”
The study, also looked at switchgrass, and was the longest on-going effort to look at carbon sequestration by these two crops.
The first E85 station has opened in Richmond, Virginia. In addition, MAPCO Express, has “re-branded” their retail stores under the “East Coast” brand and the three new E85 stations, two near Richmond and one near Washington, D.C. will be sold under this brand. Partners in the projects included Maryland Grain Producers Utilization Board, Protec Fuel, MAPCO Express and the Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C., Clean Cities Coalitions.
Protec Fuel partnered with MAPCO Express to convert the stations and to provide the E85 fuel for the company at these locations as well as others in the Southeast. MAPCO Express and Protec plan to open two more locations this year as well as offer cellulosic ethanol made from municipal solid waste.
“We are pleased to be able to partner with Protec Fuel to expand the availability of E85,” said Dan Gordon, Vice President of Supply for MAPCO Express, Inc. “This will offer our customers additional choices and expands our network of E85 stations in our chain.”
Steve Walk, executive director of Protec Fuel said, “We are delighted the partner entities are all driven to expand E85 to the East, which is newer to and in need of E85 stations. Not only is it a logical location – near our nation’s capital – to promote U.S.-made fuel, but the corporate partner, MAPCO Express, Inc., has made its environmental mission part of its business model.”
- 13200 Kingston Ave, Chester, VA 23836
- 6460 Boydton Plank Rd, Petersburg, VA 23803
- 10007 James Madison Hwy, Warrenton, VA 20187
“Expanded E85 stations in Virginia are a great opportunity for folks to try or switch to this cleaner domestic and renewable fuel” added Alleyn Harned, Executive Director of the Virginia Clean Cities Coalition. “With Protec and MAPCO’s leadership, there are now ten public E85 stations in Virginia, which service the hundreds of thousands of flex-fuel vehicles in the Commonwealth.”
Pearson Fuels (RTC Fuels, LLC) has been awarded $1.35 million for the installation of E85 dispensing equipment at 19 existing fueling stations throughout California. The monies were part of $3.27 million allocated by the California Energy Commission (CEC) for projects that will help the state reduce transportation sector emissions. CEC estimates the E85 fuel market in the state will eventually be the largest in the U.S. with approximately 55,000 new flex-fuel vehicles purchased in the state each year. However, there are relatively few E85 pumps throughout the state so the project includes collecting data on station operations to help provide a demonstration on the feasibility of developing stations to sell E85.
“These awards will increase the availability of alternative and renewable vehicle fuels, and will help to fulfill the Governor’s goal of significantly expanding the market for zero emission vehicles in the state,” said Energy Commission Chair Robert B. Weisenmiller. “Additionally, these investments benefit all Californians by improving air quality, creating jobs and reducing petroleum use.”
The approved awards were made through the CEC’s Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program, created by Assembly Bill 118. The program is slated to invest approximately $90 million during this fiscal year to develop new transportation technologies, as well as alternative and renewable fuels. Additional technologies will be needed to help meet the state’s climate emission reduction goals.
In addition, the awards will help fulfill Gov. Brown’s executive order directing state government to support and facilitate the rapid commercialization of zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) in California, with a 2025 target of having 1.5 million ZEVs on the state’s roads. They will also aid in the installation of additional infrastructure to support 1 million ZEVs in the state by 2025.
The ECEC also approved four awards totaling $2,550,000 to increase the storage, distribution and dispensing of alternative fuels in the state.
John Gilroy from Harney Oil Company in Coralville, Iowa and Jim Becthold from Linn Coop Oil Co. in Marion, Iowa have been awarded the 2013 Secretary’s Biodiesel and Ethanol Marketing Awards. Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey presented the awards that were created by the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship to recognize fuel marketers that have gone above and beyond in their efforts to promote and sell renewable fuels.
“Both winners have gone to great lengths to make biodiesel and ethanol more available to Iowa drivers and I appreciate the effort and investment they have made to promote these home-grown fuels,” said Northey. “Iowa is fortunate many retailers like Harney Oil Company and Linn Coop Oil Company that make the extra effort to ensure that the fuels we produce in this state are available to customers.”
Becthold, who won the Ethanol Marketing Award, was close to becoming the first retailer in the country to sell E15 last summer, but couldn’t get the fuel. But with perseverance, he didn’t achieve his goal of becoming first to sell the fuel blend in America, but he did become to first retailer in Iowa to sell E15. An avid supporter, he is funding a consumer ethanol marketing campaign and is also promoting the benefits of E15 to other retailers across the country.
Gilroy won the Biodiesel Marketing Award for his efforts to increase availability of biodiesel in the state. His facility has a heated storage tank, allowing the sale of 100 percent biodiesel year round and this past year, he expanded his tank. In 2012, he enabled marketers to sell nearly 12 million gallons of biodiesel to Iowans.
The Secretary’s Ethanol and Biodiesel Marketing Awards were designed to recognize businesses that market the renewable fuels they have available through creative efforts including, but not limited to: hosting special events highlighting their renewable fuels, development of creative signage, initiation of new advertisements or marketing efforts, and dramatically increase renewable fuel availability.
According to statistics provided by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) biodiesel production in the U.S. broke the 1 billion mark for the second consecutive year. The total volume of nearly 1.1 billion gallons was roughly flat over 2011 production, exceeding it by just 6 million gallons.
“These numbers reflect the ongoing growth and development of our industry and represent real jobs at plants across the country,” said Anne Steckel, vice president of federal affairs for the National Biodiesel Board (NBB).”Biodiesel continues to account for the vast majority of the nation’s Advanced Biofuel production and is playing a significant role in diversifying our energy supplies with clean, American-made fuel.”
According to EPA numbers. production for the month of December totaled just 59 million gallons, the lowest monthly volume of the year. The December total marked the close of a year-end slump in which biodiesel production dropped significantly as Congress failed to renew the biodiesel tax incentive. However, with the new year brought the $1-per-gallon incentive renewal as part of the “fiscal cliff” legislation.
“It’s difficult not to wonder how much additional production and jobs could have been created if the biodiesel tax incentive had remained in place in 2012,” Steckel said. “It was a missed opportunity that significantly hurt many producers. But we are pleased that Congress reinstated the tax credit earlier this month and we expect significant growth in 2013.”
EPA’s reports biodiesel production as part of its Biomass-based Diesel category in the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). The EPA numbers show a total of just over 62 million gallons of Biomass-based Diesel for the month of December, but that figure includes several million gallons of renewable diesel production.