Corn for Ethanol Predicted to Stall

According to an article in Agrimoney, growth in U.S. corn ethanol production is expected to stall due to reduced predictions on this year’s corn harvest along with the fact the industry has basically reached the blend wall. Also a factor has been record high corn prices which have already caused a few plants to stop production.

Goldman Sachs has estimated that corn use by the ethanol industry will increase 50m-100m bushels in 2011-2012 while Rabobank believes the number could be up to 130 million bushels. On the flip side, the International Grains Council (ICG) predicts corn usage by the industry will stay steady with demand from foreign biofuels producers also slowing.

“After rising sharply in recent years, corn used for the manufacture of fuel ethanol is forecast to show very little growth [worldwide],” the said IGC.

Today, the ethanol industry has surprised the livestock industry as the largest consumer of corn.

Despite lower corn harvest forecasts for this year, what is predicted will still be one of the highest harvests on record. However, the IGC still anticipates weakening production prospects for corn and cut its world corn output forecast by 10m tonnes to 849m tonnes. The corn crop is expected to reach around 12.9 billion bushels.

IRFA Calls for Texas Gov. To Oppose E15 Ban

Last week during the Ethanol Conference in Des Moines, Iowa, the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) was given an award for its work on promoting ethanol. Their work continues this week as the association sent a letter to Texas Governor and presidential candidate Rick Perry, to oppose Congressional efforts to ban E15, a blend of 15 percent ethanol and 85 percent gasoline. Perry is traveling to Iowa to campaign.

In the letter, authored by IRFA President Walt Wendland, “IRFA members want to welcome your campaign for president to Iowa. We look forward to a thoughtful dialog on our Nation’s energy future. One pressing issue is an attack on consumer freedom and enhancing America’s energy security.

Recently Members of Congress from Texas and Oklahoma have introduced amendments to the FY2012 Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill that would essentially ban E15, a legal competitor to petroleum based gasoline. IRFA calls upon you to publicly oppose amendment #6 by Rep. John Sullivan (R-OK) and amendments #9 and #10 by Rep. Michael Burgess (R-OK).”

IRFA has noted that several other candidates have expressed support for E15 including Former Gov. Matt Romney, Rep. Michelle Bachmann, Rep. Ron Paul, businessman Herman Cain, former Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich, and former Senator Rick Santorum.

EPA is currently in the process of finalizing regulations that will implement its E15 approval. To date, no other fuel blend has been tested more than E15.

US Navy Completes Successful T-45 Biofuel Flight

The U.S. Navy has successfully flown a T-45 training aircraft using biofuels at the Naval Air Station (NAS) in Patuxent River, Maryland. The flight was completed by the “Salty Dogs” of Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 23 flying on biofuel mixture of petroleum-based JP-5 jet fuel and plant-based camelina. The T-45 “Goshawk” is a tandem-seat aircraft used by the Navy and Marine Corps to train pilots on carrier and tactical mission operations.

“This successful test flight brings us a step closer to meeting the Navy’s energy security goals,” said Vice Adm. David Architzel, commander, Naval Air Systems Command. “My congratulations to the Navy fuels team here at NAVAIR for playing an instrumental role in proving the viability of biofuels to power naval aircraft.”

The T-45 is the fifth Navy aircraft to successfully test the biofuel blend. Previous Previous aircraft tested include the F/18 E/F, MH-60S, F/A-18 D, and most recently, the MV-22. The move to biofuels is being driven by Navy Secretary Ray Mabus’ goal is to cut the Navy’s oil usage in half by 2025.

“This test of the T-45 with a 50/50 blend of biofuel represents another significant milestone in the long list of detailed flight test and demonstrations of the F-18 Super Hornet, the MH-60S, and the V-22,” said Rear Adm. Phil Cullom, Director of the Chief of Naval Operations Energy and Environmental Readiness Division. “Our commitment to the aggressive test schedule for drop-in replacement fuels for JP-5 and F-76 keep us on pace for the 2012 demonstration and 2016 deployment of the Great Green Fleet.”

Additional biofuel test flights are scheduled for later this year.

NextGen Biofuels Fund Accepting Applications

If you are an advanced biofuels company based in Canada that needs funds, then you might not have to look any further than the NextGen Biofuels Fund. The fund was created by the Government of Canada to support development of advanced biofuels. Currently, Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC) is issuing a Call for Applications.

“By helping to create biorefineries, the NextGen Biofuels Fund also aims to add value to renewable fuel production while diversifying the economy in rural and agricultural areas and supporting market and technology transitions in the forestry sector,” said SDTC President and CEO Vicky Sharpe. “This will be crucial in helping Canada to transition to a bio-based, sustainable economy.”

The NextGen Biofuels Fund is able to support up to 40 percent of eligible project costs and the funds are repayable based on free cash flow over a period of 10 years after the project is completed.

To be eligible, a project must:

  • • Be a First-of-Kind facility that primarily produces a next-generation renewable fuel at large demonstration-scale.
  • • Be located in Canada.
  • • Use feedstocks that are or could be representative of Canadian biomass.
  • • Have demonstrated its technology at pre-commercial scale.

For more information on how to apply, visit www.sdtc.ca.

Crusin On A Biodiesel Bike

“When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the bands which have connected them through an ineffective national energy policy, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation. We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal, but all sources of access to energy are not,” reads the Declaration of American Energy Independence.

The Declaration was signed last week during several Energy Patriots events held in Fort McHenry in Baltimore, MD; York, PA; and Philadelphia, PA. The event was sponsored by AmeriGeen, a Manheim-based biofuel supplier.

Several Energy Patriots were on hand including Don Lingle, an instructor with the Lancaster County Career and Technology Center who rode his biobike to the event in York. Not only has he built his own custom motorcycle to use biodiesel, but last year he helped his students build a biobike using a four-cylinder Volkswagen turbo engine that ran on 100 percent biodiesel produced from the cafeteria’s used cooking oil.

Lingle said in an interview with the York Daily Record, “It smells like the fair – the York Fair. When people drive behind you, they want to know where that smell is coming from.”

Also participating in the event was Tom Washburn, the president of Aero Energy, who three years ago began selling only energy products produced in America. These products include BioHeat, a home heating product that is blended with biodiesel and gaining traction in the Northeastern region of the country.

Washburn noted that it won’t be long until more cars and motorcycles begin to use biodiesel and he believes torque and power will be even better. “People are just afraid right now. They don’t want it to mess up their motorcycle,” he concluded.

Solar Alliance Questions NJ’s Solar Commitment

New Jersey has been heavily promoting its addition of solar energy across the state but today the Solar Alliance criticized New Jersey Governor Chris Christie for his administration’s conclusions about the merits of the state’s Solar Renewable Energy Credit (SREC) program as part of the Energy Master Plan (EMP).

“While the Draft EMP successfully lays out New Jersey’s energy needs, it excludes solar as an energy source and investment opportunity. Further it contains factual inaccuracies. The type of rigorous analysis encouraged by the EMP must be based on the best and most current information available and not on lingering stereotypes,” said Carrie Cullen Hitt, President of the Solar Alliance.

The SREC’s have been a big factor in the investment in and installment of dozens of solar projects in the state. The loss of the program could dramatically slow the growth of solar energy in the state. The Solar Alliance says they agree with EMP’s focus on rigorous “net economic benefit” analysis but claims that the plan does not apply the benefit equally. They continued by saying many of the costs cited are outdated or misconstrued while the benefits of solar have been overlooked or de-emphasized.

The national solar association cited a few specific examples: the BPU should quantify all value streams associated with solar when applying a ‘net economic benefit test’; the EMP should use updated, universally recognized cost estimates of solar technology; and the EMP should reassess its interpretation of the rate impact of the SREC Program, which is less than 1/2 percent.

Hitt added, “We may debate the methodology for measuring benefits of solar, but their existence is undeniable and their omission from the Draft EMP extremely disappointing. This unfortunately leads to an incomplete picture of the role that solar can play in creating jobs, new investment and clean, reliable electricity for New Jersey.”

“As currently drafted, the EMP will restrict New Jersey solar businesses from creating jobs and deploying clean, reliable solar electricity,” he concluded.

U.S. Government Commissions EV Charging Stations

The U.S. government has commissioned the installation of several electric vehicle (EV) charging stations and has selected Envision Solar International to design, develop and install the system. The company has already begun installation of 15 EV charging enabled Solar Tree structures utilizing the company’s patent pending tracking systems. The project is expected to be complete by the end of 2011.

“Our ability to deliver high quality products to equally high quality customers with whom we have huge scaling potential is key to our growth strategy,” said Envision Solar’s President and CEO, Desmond Wheatley. “This deployment of 15 of our CleanCharge enabled EnvisionTrak Solar Tree structures for the world’s largest customer is another significant indication of our ability to repeatedly execute on that strategy. We are proud and delighted to have been selected for this very high visibility project and look forward to many more.”

Robert Noble, the company’s chairman and founder added, “We are excited about seeing 15 of our iconic, archetypal “Smart Trees” deployed at this highly visible location right here in our home town, San Diego. For many years to come, visitors to this Solar Grove will be able to charge their EVs, see clean energy generation in action, up close, and experience the sheer pleasure of a shady park of beautiful Solar Trees. It is truly an honor for us to be working on such a forward-looking project which we know will be a powerful demonstration of the government’s growing real commitment to a sustainable future.”

Ethanol & FFV’s Promoted During State Fair

Today marks the first day of the 142nd Nebraska State Fair and the Nebraska Corn Board along with the Nebraska Ethanol Board (NEB) are on site to promote ethanol and flex fuel vehicles. The two associations have booths set up in the Exhibition Building to focus on ethanol education.

The groups are splitting duties: NEB will focus on FFV awareness and the economic benefits ethanol provides to both local and state communities and the national economy. “Ethanol is a cleaner, more inexpensive, renewable alternative to gasoline. Drivers want fuel choice, and high ethanol blend fuels like E85 allows them to save money, support Nebraska’s economy, and reduce pollution,” said Todd Sneller, Administrator of NEB.

Next door, the Nebraska Corn Board will have a blender pump on display with jars of corn representing corn production from 1930, 2011 and the future, complimented with a video showing the faces of Nebraska farmers.“There are approximately 100,000 FFVs in Nebraska and nearly 90 percent of consumers don’t know they drive a flex fuel vehicle,” said Kim Clark, Ag Program Manager from the Nebraska Corn Board. “The Nebraska State Fair is a great opportunity to educate consumers from all parts of the state about flex fuel vehicles and ethanol.”

On Saturday, September 3, from 3:00 – 4:00 pm, there will be a “Do You Flex Fuel?” presentation. On hand to answer questions will be an auto mechanic, fuel retailer, ethanol expert and automobile salesperson. Finally, to showcase ethanol in action, the groups will host an ethanol blended fuel promotion beginning Saturday, September 3rd through September 5th. FFV drivers will see discounts on mid-level ethanol blends include a 20 cent discount on E20, 30 cents on E30 and 85 cents on E85. Click here for details on the FFV fuel promotions.

NCGA Highlights NASCAR Program at ACE Event

During the American Coalition for Ethanol Conference this past week in Des Moines, Iowa, the attendees were treated to a presentation on green NASCAR initiatives including their use of ethanol, by Bart Schott, the president of the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA). During the session, Schott highlighted the media attention that has been focused on the Series’ use of E15 as as well as how its American Ethanol alliance partners have used the sponsorship as a springboard to communicate the benefits of domestically produced corn-based ethanol.

American ethanol became a NASCAR sponsor in order to reach its 80 million plus fans. As such, the league switched the fuel used by all three series to Sunoco Green E15 during the 2011 season. Scott said this has become a platform for both the ethanol industry as well as NASCAR to highlight the environmental benefits of ethanol, as well as its performance and security benefits. In addition its an opportunity to promote the role American farmers play in the movement toward biofuels.

“An average size ethanol plant adds $275 million dollars to the state economy annually,” said Schott. “Furthermore, it creates 1,540 jobs, both directly and indirectly, in rural America at a time when increasing employment opportunities in our heartland is critical. With ethanol we avoid sending oil dollars overseas and actually create job opportunities for hard working Americans.”

Scott said that through the end of June, positive messages about ethanol were delivered to nearly 6 million NASCAR fans through the televised races. This exposure equates to more than $7.5 million. This is important audience because NASCAR fans are three times more likely to purchase products and services from sponsors than non-fans.

“In addition to more traditional advertisements aired by NASCAR to promote ethanol, television coverage of races has emphasized the importance of ethanol in a multitude of ways,” said Schott. “From in-car cameras and mention by announcers to the placement of the American Ethanol logo on the fuel port of every car, this initiative generated an additional $2.8 million dollars in broadcast exposure media by the end of June, when the season was only half over.”

He concluded by stressing that the need for ethanol is too great and the opportunities too boundless for the nation to maintain the status quo.

Compressed Natural Gas Station Opens in Santa Ana

A new compressed natural gas fueling station has been opened in Santa Ana, California by Waste Management of Orange County. PetroCard operates the Clean N’ Green station and will sell CNG to commercial fleets including transit agencies, school districts, taxis, cities, and municipalities. Supporters of CNG say that the price of fuel is one-third below the cost of gasoline and diesel. In addition, they say nitrogen oxide emissions are reduced by up to 50 percent and greenhouse gas emissions by over 21 percent and more than 80 percent when using landfill gas derived CNG and LNG fuel.

“CNG is addressing two of the biggest imperatives for fleet owners today – reducing costs and decreasing emissions,” said Steve Tolton, CEO of PetroCard. “Our collaboration with Waste Management at this facility makes it more convenient for fleet owners to save money at the pump while shrinking their carbon footprint from operations.”

Waste Management has also added new infrastructure to fuel its existing fleet of CNG recycling and trash collection vehicles at the Santa Ana site. The company currently operates the largest fleet of heavy-duty natural gas trucks in North America. Approximately 80 percent of these natural gas trucks operate in Southern California including 141 natural gas powered trucks in Orange County.

“We are dedicated to doing business in the most sustainable way possible as well as offering our customers more ways to live green,” said Jason Rose, general manager and vice president of Waste Management of San Diego and Orange County. “Natural gas powered vehicles run cleaner and quieter, improving air quality and reducing noise pollution. Santa Ana can look forward to cleaner air and neighborhoods as we get more CNG vehicles on the road.”

New Biodiesel Terminal Opens in St. Paul

A new large biofuel blending terminal is now open in St. Paul. Opened by Rosemont Clean Energies, they believe the facility is the only one of its kind and scale in the Upper Midwest. The “green” built, non waste generating terminal offers biofuel injection blending, is located next to a large-scale rail spur and has nearly a half million barrels of storage capacity. It can receive and ship products by rail, cars, trucks, tanks, and pipeline.

“Biofuels are here to stay,” said Tim Yocum, one of the principles and chief manager of Rosemount Clean Energies. “Canada just announced a 2 percent biodiesel requirement. Minnesota is going to 10 percent next spring. This new terminal will allow greater distribution of biofuels right where crops are grown and biofuels are produced.”

“Combine this with our refineries’ ability to produce ultra-low sulfur diesel from North Dakota and Canadian crude, and we have opened a huge channel for energy independence through local supply,” he added.

Rosemount says another advantage they offer is the efficient mechanism to actually test biodiesel in the marketplace.

“Initially, the industry struggled with the roll-out of biodiesel.The ability of this terminal to customize products through injection blending ensures greater accuracy and a consistent product that takes the reliability question of fuel out of the equation,” said Yocum.

“Now,” assures Yocum, “we can perfect biodiesel and additive blending in a highly efficient manner, collaborate with all parties to find an efficient medium to deliver new products to the marketplace, and offer marketers and energy users a range of high-performance products specific to their applications and market demands.”

Sonoma High Schools Go Solar

School has started for many kids across the country and its no exception for the students of West Sonoma County Union High School District. But this year the students came back to a little face lift. The school has commissioned its 834 kW solar power system that should provide 80 percent of its power needs and Analy, El Molino and Laguna High Schools. The system, which is a combination of roof panels and ground mounted panels, was designed by Real Goods Solar and engineered and installed in less than four months.

WSCUHSD Superintendent Keller McDonald said, “Using solar will save the school district approximately $250,000 a year, plus the state of California will be providing an incentive for building the project of approximately $1.1 million, to be paid out over the next five years.”

The 2,600 Sunpower 320 modules are 70 percent elevated and 30 percent ground mounted. The district is expected to produce nearly 1,250 megawatt hours of electricity per year, or the enough to power 300 average sized homes. The students will be getting hands-on lessons in renewable energy and through Real Goods Solar’s curriculum and 12-acre solar demonstration center, called the Solar Living Institute.

Tyson Grul, Director of Commercial Solar for Real Goods added, “As a graduate of WSCUHSD, I find it particularly gratifying to be helping reduce its carbon footprint. With school continually facing budget cuts, this is a great example of a district taking control over its financial future and proving that ‘green energy’ is good for the environment and the economy.”

CCSE Residential Energy Roadshow Kicks Off in Cali

A CCSE Residential Energy Roadshow has kicked off an 18-week tour in San Diego, California designed to “educate and inspire” Southern Californians to learn more about energy saving technologies, alternative fuel transportation and energy efficiency. The sponsors are the California Center for Sustainable Energy (CCSE), ROUSH CleanTech and Ferrellgas.

“Thanks to generous donations from ROUSH CleanTech and Ferrellgas, hundreds of thousands of Californians will be able to learn about home energy efficiency, solar energy and the products and incentives available to them when visiting the mobile exhibit,” said Irene Stillings, CCSE executive director. “This is a perfect example of how multiple clean technologies can work together to demonstrate energy savings, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote more sustainable practices.”

The tour includes a trailer that is being towed by a Ford F-250 pickup converted to run on propane autogas. When the truck needs to fill up, it will roll on into one of Ferrellgas’s 200 propane stations to refuel. In addition to ROUSH and Ferrallgas, the tour is also funded with money from the Department of Energy’s BetterBuildings Neighborhood program along with two state programs: Energy Upgrade California and go Solar California!

“Ferrellgas is proud to partner with the California Center for Sustainable Energy and ROUSH CleanTech to educate Californians about ways to save money and the environment by implementing energy efficiency solutions in their homes and at their businesses,” said George Koloroutis, president of Ferrell North America and senior vice president of Ferrellgas. “As the nation’s leading propane retailer, we’ve been doing just that for more than 70 years.”

Todd Mouw, vice president of sales and marketing for ROUSH said that this is a great way demonstrate that propane autogas is the most readily deployable and flexible alternative fuel that can immediately address air concerns.

Green Scissors 2011 Released

Remember the Green Scissors report from last year that suggest to save money cut ethanol subsidies? Well, the latest version is now available. Green Scissors 2011 says that ending a half trillion in environmentally harmful subsidies will go a long way to solving our budget woes. The report, sponsored by Friends of the Earth, The Heartland Institute, Public Citizen, and Taxpayers for Commonsense, provides a roadmap for savings up to $380 billion over five years. The group says this equals the amount the congressional Super Committee has been charged with cutting in half the time.

The authors write in the report, “While all four groups have different missions, histories, goals and ideas about the role of government, we all agree that we can begin to overcome our nation’s budgetary and environmental woes by tackling spending that is not only wasteful but environmentally harmful.”

So what do they want to cut? Fossil fuel, nuclear, alternative energy, and crop subsidies to name a few. They also want to cut land and water projects and kill road projects along with some Army Corps of Engineers water projects.

According to the report the federal government could end the following programs and save the United States:

  • $72,000,000,000 for general revenue transfers to the Highway Trust Fund
  • $30,000,000,000 for crop insurance
  • $4,820,000,000 for Oil and Gas Royalty relief

Several lawmakers reacted to the report and Rep. Earl Blumeanauer (D-OR) said, “The 2011 Green Scissors Report is a reminder that it’s time for Congress to have a serious, rational discussion about cutting the budget. With painful budget cuts already under discussion that will require American families to make sacrifices, it is only fair, for example, that we also stop the handouts to our richest oil companies.”

Hey, I’m all for cutting budgets and its good to see that the report recommends cutting energy subsidies across the board, but I must ask what would happen to our energy bills if poof, over night they’re all gone? Will we we lose our innovation in alternative energy technologies and be stuck with the status quo? Now how environmentally friendly is that?

TESSA – A Car That Heats Your Home

I came across this story today and thought it was kinda cool. TESSA is a car that uses stored heat from the engine to produce heat energy that can be used in homes for hot water and central heating. This “new age” car will be showcased for the first time at Nextgen, a free environmental trade show taking place October 5-6 in Warwickshire, UK. Nextgen is co-located with two other events that focus on renewable energy technologies such as solar, wind, bioenergy, and hydro power generation.

TESSA stands for Thermal Energy Storage and Saving Automobile and the prototype is a Land Rover Freelander. Atmos Heating Systems fitted the SUV with a thermal energy storage and transfer system.

“We are delighted to be able to demonstrate the energy and carbon saving benefits TESSA offers at Nextgen. We have developed and patented a means of storing waste heat on board the vehicle, and a practical means of transferring the stored heat into a building for use as hot water and/or space heating,” said John Thomason, General Manager of Atmos Heating Systems.

Today an internal combustion enegine only manages a mechanical power efficiency averaging around 30 percent. The remaining 70 percent is dissipated as heat, through the radiator coolant system and the exhaust. Although some of the coolant system energy is used to heat the interior of the vehicle, the rest is simply lost.

“In other industries such horrendous waste would not be tolerated, and with the transport sector responsible for 40% of carbon emissions, this must not be left to continue. Whilst our technology does not reduce CO2 emissions from the vehicle, it utilizes heat that is otherwise wasted, resulting in lower fossil fuel consumption in the home and thereby an overall net benefit to the environment,” said Thomason.

The thermal heat technology can be integrated with other renewable technologies in the home such as solar thermal and heat pumps. In addition, it can be retrofitted with vehicles using biofuels instead of gas and diesel fuels to ensure additional environmental benefits.