Is the Fossil-Fuel Industrial Era Over?

According to Ethical Markets’ Green Transition Scorecard, which tracks private investments growing the green economy since 2007, $4.1 trillion was invested or committed by the fourth quarter of 2012. The Green Transition Scoreboard tracks five sectors: Renewable Energy; Green Construction, Energy Efficiency; Corporate R&D and Green Transition ScorecardCleantech. The report is based on Ethical Markets president Hazel Henderson’s research as a science advisor.

“The output of Rio+20 was an unprecedented reintegration of human knowledge, realizing that environmental, social and human capital must be assessed and integrated into financial markets in order to achieve equitable and sustainable forms of development and resulting in new global shared goals and paths toward low-carbon, cleaner, greener, information-richer economies,” said Dr. Henderson.

According to the March 2013 GTS report “Green Transition Inflection Point,” many private investors are following our recommended avenue for institutional investors to shift to green sectors. This transition strategy, which suggests 40 percent of portfolios should be in Green Transition sectors, validates models indicating that investing $1 trillion annually until 2020 can scale innovations and reduce costs. With over $4.1 trillion invested since 2007, investors and countries growing green sectors globally are on track to reach $10 trillion in investments by 2020.

The report omits nuclear, clean coal, carbon capture & sequestration, and biofuels from feedstocks other than sea-grown algae. Fossilized sectors are becoming increasingly stranded assets as low-carbon regulations are implemented and oil, coal and gas reserves become harder to exploit. The report also looks closely at nanotech, genetic engineering, artificial life-forms and 3D printing, determining their green contribution on a case by case basis.

Lignol Invests in Territory Biofuels Limited

Lignol Energy Corporation has announced that it has subscribed for convertible notes with a principal value of A$1.18 million issued by Territory Biofuels Limited and signed a Technology Collaboration Agreement that includes a package of technical and further assistance to aid in the restart of Territory Biofuels Limited 150 million litres per year biodiesel plant and glycerine refinery located in Darwin, Australia.

Lignol Energy logo“We are proud to be working with Territory Biofuels Limited on this important, large scale project,” said Ross MacLachlan, Chairman and CEO of Lignol. “The Darwin plant is an impressive industrial facility and the TBF team has developed a compelling business model with strong commercial partnerships with which to become a major regional player in the biodiesel market in the Pacific Rim. This transaction reinforces the commitment to our strategy of selective investments in energy related projects which have synergies with our Company and have the potential to generate near term cash flow.”

The terms of the notes provide for conversion into an equity position for Lignol between 20 percent to 40 percent in Territory Biofuels Limited, depending on a range of criteria related to the development of the Darwin facility. This investment will be funded, in part, from Lignol’s recently announced line of credit with its major shareholder, Difference Capital Funding Ltd. The terms of the Technology Collaboration Agreement provide for technical assistance from Lignol and its partners with respect to both the restart of the facility and the potential integration of new pretreatment technologies and catalysts to facilitate the processing of a broad range of low cost feedstocks.

“Lignol’s financial investment and support from its partners is an important step in the restart of our world class facility,” said Chris Hart, Chairman of Territory Biofuels Limited. “Having toured the Lignol facilities and met with their scientists, engineers and partners, I am also confident that our new technology collaboration will assist in an efficient recommissioning of our project and lead to the implementation of advanced technologies that maximize plant performance.”

Organizing Enzymes to Create Electricity

Ian Wheeldon, an assistant professor of chemical and environmental engineering at the University of California, Riverside’s Bourns College of Engineering, has recently received a $360,000 grant to better organize enzymes on electrodes to create nanoscale devices that more efficiently convert the chemical energy of sugars and complex Ian_Wheeldoncarbohydrates in to electricity. Wheeldon, who will receive the funding over three years, is one of 40 scientists and engineers to win an award from the Young Investigator Program run by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research.

In nature, enzymes are often in precisely organized multi-enzyme structures. Influenced by nature, spatial organization of multi-enzyme pathways has emerged as a tool in bionanotechnology, synthetic biology and, most recently, bioenergy systems. Initial experiments have shown spatial organization of enzymatic pathways has resulted in increased power density in biofuel cells. However, there is a lack of understanding of the fundamental principles that govern reaction pathway kinetics.

“This limits engineering pathways to trial-and-error approaches,” Wheeldon said. “That’s an impossible task when increasingly complex pathways are considered, such as those needed for advanced biofuel cells.”

The first objective of Wheeldon’s project is to define relationships between multi-enzyme scaffold design and pathway reaction rate. These relationships will define a set of rules that can enhance kinetics by spatial organization. The second objective is to apply the newly developed understanding of multi-enzyme pathways to create novel anodes for enzymatic biofuel cells.

Beyond biofuel cells, potential applications include new synthesis routes for pharmaceuticals, including antibiotics, and commodity chemicals, such as ethers and biofuels.

BioEnergy Bytes

  • The European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) has elected Andrew Garrad as its new President. Garrad joined the wind energy industry in 1979 and most recently was Chairman of GL Garrad Hassan.
  • BioEnergyBytesDFAmyris, Inc. has joined Bonsucro, the world’s leading sugarcane sustainability standard. Amyris is the first advanced biofuels and chemicals company of its kind to join Bonsucro, paving the way for certification of Amyris’s renewable products.
  • The Sacramento International Jet Center, the Sacramento County’s airport system partner for general aviation at the Sacramento International Airport, has installed a 130 kilowatt solar electric system on their state of the art hangar and office facilities. The system is comprised of 562 Conergy PM 235 watt solar modules affixed to the Jet Center rooftop using more than 5,600 feet of Conergy SunTop mounting systems.  The entire system is connected to the grid using two Solectria 60 kilowatt inverters.
  • According to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, wind generated electricity in2012 provided 24.5 percent of all the electricity generated in Iowa. The state was the first in the nation to exceed 20 percent of all generation from wind and generated 18.8 percent of all electricity from wind in 2011. While South Dakota was first nationally in 2011, Iowa reclaimed the number 1 spot in 2012.
  • It’s not too late to register for the 6th Annual Iowa Wind Power Conference March 25-27, 2013 at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines, Iowa. The conference will include a brief celebration of Iowa’s wind generation accomplishment and will feature state and national leaders such as Iowa Governor Branstad, U.S. Representatives King and Loebsack, an official from the US Department of Energy, transmission project updates, new wind energy research, and more.

Buis Highlights Priorities for 2013

During Growth Energy’s fourth Annual Executive Leadership Conference, CEO Tom Buis discussed the significant progress the industry has made despite constant attacks, the strategic goals for the upcoming year and how critics like Big Food and Big Oil are trying to kill renewable energy. He began by stressing that market access and defending the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) continue to be the most pressing issues moving forward in the biofuels industry.

“This week four years ago, Growth Energy officially filed the Green Jobs E15 waiver to break through the blend wall and this past year has been one of major notable accomplishments,” said Buis. “We have seen the Green Jobs Waiver successfully upheld in the courts and E15 is being sold by a number of retail stations. But make no mistake, Big Oil is actively trying to undermine the RFS and prevent E15 from entering the marketplace.”

Growth_Energy_logo-1“They are erecting as many barriers as possible,” Buis continued. “They will not give up their monopoly on the liquid fuels market quietly. But make no mistake; the leaders in this room are among the most talented and resilient. We may not have the deep pockets of Big Oil, but we have the facts and at the end of the day we are going to win this fight.”

Additionally Buis discussed the various international trade cases and how the biofuels industry will continue to fight unfair trade practices by Brazil and the European Union, stating that Growth Energy would “Explore all options and possibilities of trade challenges for those who don’t play fair.”

Buis concluded by thanking the membership of Growth Energy for their continued efforts, noting that the success achieved and the opportunities of tomorrow are all possible because of the collective work of Growth Energy’s diverse and engaged membership.

“We have weathered many challenges, and others will arise, but we must never lose sight of the important work our industry does to create jobs, improve our environment and reduce our dangerous addiction to foreign oil, all while providing consumers with a choice and savings at the pump.”

ProCOT Launches Propane Education Campaign

The Propane Council of Texas (ProCOT) has launched a new campaign, Propane Autogas: Fueling Texas, to educate Texans about the benefits of running fleet vehicles and equipment on clean-burning propane autogas. The campaign officially kicked off last week during Texas Propane day, a ride and drive event at the Texas Capitol. The campaign will feature a series of statewide autogas presentations and road shows to provide fleet operators, drivers and community members a hands-on experience with clean FuelingTexas.comautogas technology.

According to ProCOT, Texas is one of the leading states in converting fleet vehicles to run on propane autogas.  The Texas Department of Transportation operates the state’s largest autogas fleet and the Dallas, Houston and Austin Independent School Districts also use propane. The fuel is widely available in Texas with more than 700 fueling stations throughout the state.

“Vehicle fleets that use autogas save an average of 30-50 percent on fuel costs compared to fleets that use gasoline or diesel,” said Jackie Mason, education and marketing director for ProCOT. “Plus, 98 percent of the U.S. propane autogas supply is made in America, and Texas is home to the world’s largest propane storage capacity. Choosing autogas contributes to a greener, stronger economy on both a national and state level.”

A new website was launched as part of the campaign, FuelingTexas.com, and will be regularly updated with news, educational resources and more. Fleet owners will find an array of information on the benefits of propane autogas, as well as available incentives, tax credits, upcoming events and details about autogas for both on-road vehicles and off-road options.

Advocates Show & Tell Ethanol’s Benefits

Nearly 50 advocates from around the country are flying into Washington, D.C. this week to tell lawmakers about the importance of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS2) and the importance of consumer choice and E15. Brian Jennings, executive vice president of the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) who is hosting the event, says there are nearly 100 new freshman members of Congress.

ace-beltway-13“Whether we make visits to their offices or veteran lawmakers, the fact that we need to do a better job about educating people about ethanol through telling our story but also showing our story is really important. That’s what this fly-in enables us to do,” said Jennings.

He said there is a good diversity in the mix of participants. There are several livestock producers attending who will be meeting with key legislators to talk about dried distillers grains. There are also ethanol producers along with some bankers and some enzymes companies as well.

“Ethanol isn’t some narrow, special interest program that benefits only ethanol producers,” said Jennings. “That’s what oil producers would certainly like members of Congress to think. We want to show them that main street businesses, and bankers and livestock producers and consumers all benefit in a variety of ways from ethanol and we feel we have some good ways to show and tell that story.”

The big story out of Washington this past week has been the sequestration and budget cuts and I asked Brian about the mood in DC. He noted that the RFS has delivered benefits across America without costing tax payers a single dime.

“So we’re going to capitalize on that mood in Washington which is concern about debt, concern about the budget deficit. Subsidies for ethanol ended in 2011. We are not subsidized by the government oil companies still are. We have this thing called the RFS that levels the playing field. Oh by the way we’re cheaper than gas. Oh, and did we mention we’re not subsidized? I don’t think we can say that enough.”

Jennings believes the ethanol industry has a compelling story to tell when the event begins Wednesday, March 13, 2013.

Learn more about the Biofuels Beltway March by listening to my full interview with Brian: Ethanol Advocates Show & Tell Ethanol's Benefits

Biofuel Flights Take Air from New York

KLM biofuel flightKLM Royal Dutch Airlines (KLM) in partnership with Schiphol Group, Delta Air Lines and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, have begun a 25-week series of biofuel powered international flights. Last week A KLM B777-200 fueled in part by biofuel derived from cooking oil, departed from JFK International Airport and landed in Schiphol Amsterdam Airport. According to KLM, carbon dioxide emissions from aircraft account for more than half of all airport-related emissions and the use of biofuels are expected to reduce CO2 emissions.

“I am proud that KLM is once again demonstrating its leading role in developing sustainable biofuel,” said Camiel Eurlings, KLM’s Managing Director. “For eight years in a row, KLM, together with Air France, has been sector leader on the Dow Jones Sustainability Index. Alongside this biofuel series, we are starting a study to further identify sustainability gains in fuel, weight and carbon dioxide reduction throughout the entire flight process.

“We are striving to achieve the ‘optimal flight’ together with research institutes, suppliers, airports, and air traffic control. We are combining new and existing technology, processes, and efficiency initiatives to achieve this,” Eurlings concluded.

One challenge the aviation industry has faced is small volumes of aviation biofuels packaged with high costs for the fuel. Continue reading

ROUSH Debuts New Propane Ford F-550

During the NTEA Work Truck Show this week, ROUSH CleanTech and Green Alternative Systems (GAS) debuted the new Ford F-550 chassis cab powered by propane autogas. The F-550 features 65 usable gallons, making it, according to ROUSH, the longest driving range of any dedicated alternative fuel counterpart on the market. The fuel tank sits between the frame rails and behind the aft axle. Customizable to carry up to 33 passengers as a shuttle, the Ford F-550 suits the delivery, construction, transit and utility markets. Equipped with a 6.8-liter, V10 engine, the propane autogas alternative fuel system is available beginning with 2013 model year vehicles or newer.

gI_80912_Ford F550GAS, a certified Ford Qualified Vehicle Modifier (QVM) installer, integrated the ROUSH CleanTech propane autogas fuel system technology into the F-550 chassis cab. The vehicles maintain the factory Ford warranty and the same horsepower, torque and towing capacity as their gasoline counterparts.

“Partnering with Ford QVM installers allows us the flexibility to launch products faster and package our fuel system to fit customer needs,” said Todd Mouw, vice president of sales and marketing for ROUSH CleanTech. “With gas and diesel prices soaring, companies looking for an alternative fuel that doesn’t compromise functionality will see significant savings to their bottom line using this cleaner-burning, American fuel.”

According to Mouw, fleet professionals running propane autogas vehicles can expect to save at least 40 percent on the price of fuel and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 25 percent compared to gasoline. There is also a nationwide, large propane autogas refueling network.

“This is a monumental new product release for the fleet industry,” added Sean Connolly, general manager of GAS. “With an industry-leading fuel capacity, this dedicated propane autogas vehicle fills the gap for a reliable alternative fuel option for this commonly used application.”

Kountry Korner in Baxter, IA Offering E15

Baxter-E15 pumpKountry Korner in Baxter, Iowa has become the third retail location in the state to offer E15  as a registered fuel. E15, a blend of 15 percent ethanol and 85 percent gasoline, has been approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for use in 2001 or newer vehicles.

“Our company is dedicated to environmentally-friendly practices and growing our local economy, so offering E15 was an easy decision,” said Kountry Korner Owner Bryan DeJong. “The people of Baxter will really benefit from cleaner-burning, lower-cost, more American-made E15.”

Kountry Korner is located in central Iowa at 312 E. Buchanan Street in Baxter. In order to offer E15, a retailer must register with the EPA. The retailer was helped throughout the process by the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA), who assists retailers in the registration process to ensure they comply with all federal and state E15 regulations.

“E15 is starting to gain some traction in Iowa, and retailers are seeing value in offering fuel choice to consumers,” commented IRFA Managing Director Lucy Norton. “The IRFA expects more stations in the state to offer the fuel in the near future as more and more Iowans begin to realize the benefits of this cleaner, less-expensive, high octane fuel.”

ENOGEN: Profitable for Corn & Ethanol Producers

Growers looking for a more profitable corn crop should consider planting ENOGEN corn. Ethanol producers looking for more gallons from a bushel of corn should look to farmers growing ENOGEN corn. I learned about the emerging corn trait designed specifically for ethanol production from Jeff Carver who is the ENOGEN Accounts Manager for Syngenta, when we spoke during the Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit.

irfa-13-carverCarver explained that the trait is expressed in the endosperm so it works really well in the ethanol production process. He said the competitiveness of the hybrid is great for the farmer as well. “It transcends value across both the ethanol plant and the direct payback to the farmer.”

So why is this trait unique? Carver said that one difference is that it is an end-use trait that is expressed in the endosperm. During the hydrolysis of the protein, it allows for a very rapid viscosity break. This allows the plant to reduce the amount of water used in the process. With that, based on market conditions, the plant can either push additional through-put through the plant or actually slow the plant down to produce more ethanol.

So in a “corn kernel” you’re actually producing more ethanol from the same bushel of corn. Carver also discussed the benefits of the trait for the production of dried distillers grains and corn oil.

The ENOGEN program is designed around ethanol production and there are trials currently underway. Ethanol plants who are interested in joining the next trial (2014 and beyond) should contact Jeff now.

Listen to my interview with Jeff Carver here: ENOGEN Corn - Profitable for Corn & Ethanol Producers

View the IRFA Renewable Fuels Summit Photo Album.

Ethanol – The Biggest Rural Success Story

classic-13-rfa-robert-whiteAccording to Robert White, the Market Development Director for the Renewable Fuels Association, ethanol is the biggest rural success story for American farmers in the past decade. White discussed with Jamie Johansen how ethanol has been a boon for farmers during the 2013 Commodity Classic held last week in Kissimmee, Florida.

Most farmers, says White, understand what impact ethanol has had on their local community. “But we’re trying to educate them on how they take that message to their elected officials. As each year goes by, more and more people are sent to Washington to represent their home state with no rural background whatsoever. And so the rural message, the ethanol message, can get lost in the urban and city environment and conversations. We want to make sure when they have those opportunities to talk to their elected officials that they pass on the message, Don’t Mess with the RFS.”

White noted that the RFS is working as intended and has already shown to be a very effective policy. He also said the industry needs a nationwide, one message approach to make sure the RFS continues and this is a big issue on Washington and on top of RFA’s priority list for 2013.

Listen to Jamie’s interview with Robert on why ethanol has been so successful for rural America: Ethanol - The Biggest Rural Success Story

2013 Commodity Classic Photo Album

BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDFThe Renewable Energy Group (REG) has announced its 2012 fourth quarter results. The company’s annual revenue exceeded $1 billion, up 23% compared to 2011; fourth quarter revenues were $232 million, down 13% from the prior year period; 188 million gallons sold, up 25% compared to 2011; adjusted EBITDA of $96.5 million for 2012; net income of $22.3 million for 2012; and nameplate production capacity increased to 227 million gallons/year.
  • The 9th annual F.O. Licht’s Sugar and Ethanol Brazil takes place in 2 weeks in Sao Paulo. The event is March 18 -20, 2013 and registration is still open.
  • Duke Energy is transferring the power purchase agreement for its 5.2 MW waste-to-energy plant in North Carolina to Blue Spere’s subsidiary, Bino Sphere.
  • Panasonic Eco Solutions Energy Management North America and Pristine Sun have aligned to begin the first phase of a portfolio build-out of solar PV farms in California over the next 24 months. 50MW of solar power will be connected to the grid and sold to PG&E.
  • Walmart has worked with SolarCity to install solar panels on 12 Walmart stores and Sam’s Clubs throughout Ohio. The solar panel installations will add approximately 6,000,000 kWh of generation production – enough energy to power more than 820 homes – and are expected to supply approximately 5-20 percent of each store’s overall electricity use.
  • Trojan Battery Co. has received the “Application Solar Project of the Year” award at the Middle East Electricity 2013 tradeshow held in the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.). Trojan’s renewable energy group and Trojan’s master distributor Hydroturf International were recognized for the implementation of a first of its kind solar-powered rural street lighting project in 2012 which was commissioned by the country’s Ministry of Public Works.

Electric One-Seater Colibri Heading to Market

During the 83rd Geneva International Motor Show, Innovative Mobility Automobile GmbH (IMA) unveiled its new electric one-seater Colibri. The lightweight, street legal vehicle is scheduled to enter production by late 2014 and in the first year around 17,000 EVs are expected to be produced at a price point of 10,000 Euro, with an additional monthly battery lease.

colibri“Our vision was to construct an electric vehicle suitable for daily urban use, one which is safe and also fun. It was to be economic, ecologic, and easy to combine with other modes of transportation,” said Thomas delos Santos, CEO of IMA.  We succeeded in achieving this. And the market feedback shows: the Colibri strikes a nerve.”

Here are the specs: the Colibri measures of 2.75m length, 1.18m width and 1.30m height. A specially designed lifting mechanism eases entering and exiting, while pedals and steering wheel can be adjusted to suit drivers between 1.58m and 1.98m. The trunk offers enough volume for two crates. The lightweight frame is mounted on a magnesium-steel basis, reducing vehicle weight and energy consumption costs. The company anticipates the electric vehicle will pass all safety and crash tests.

Two CPM Twin engines provide 24 kW peak power. The car reaches a top speed of 120 km/h and accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h in 9.9 seconds. Electricity for a range of 110 km is provided by a high-performance lithium-iron-phosphate battery from the company Axxellon. Its distinct features are a long lifecycle and short charging times.

Growth Energy Leadership Conference Kicks off

Today Growth Energy is kicking off its fourth annual Executive Leadership Conference in Las Vegas. The event is designed to bring Growth Energy members together to assess the stGrowth_Energy_logo (1)ate of the organization as well as the state of the ethanol industry. The conference will feature several roundtables with moderators and special guest speakers from NASCAR as well as the automobile, agriculture, and renewable energy industry.

“The Executive Leadership conference provides an excellent opportunity for our members to have a frank and open discussion regarding the state of the industry, the successes we have realized in the past year as well as the challenges moving forward,” said Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy. “As our organization continues to grow, so does the size and scope of the conference,” Buis continued. ‘This year promises to be the best yet with many in depth conversations about how our industry moves forward on a number of fronts.”

Buis said in particular, there have been a number of forums planned to discuss the global marketplace, E15 and the path forward, the importance of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and many of the myths surrounding it, as well as market conditions moving forward. Additionally, there will be a in-depth discussion of American Ethanol’s role in this year’s NASCAR season.

“We have always strived to put together a broad conference that addresses many of the specific issues our membership faces and this year will be no different. I am confident that this conference will help outline the strategic goals of our industry and how best to achieve them in these challenging times,” continued Buis.

“I look forward to this year’s conference and also celebrating the many successes our industry has achieved in the past year. Regardless of the challenges this industry has faced, the individuals gathered here are among the very best and exemplify true leadership in every sense of the way and I look forward to working with them the next few days to help identify the strategic goals and challenges we will face together in the biofuels industry.”