Let Production Tax Credit Expire

A new report has been released from the Texas Public Policy Foundation analysts Bill Peacock and Josiah Neely reviewing the impact of the Production Tax Credit (PTC) for wind energy.  According to The Cost of the Production Tax Credit and Renewable Energy Subsidies in Texas, the PTC’s current annual cost in Texas alone is nearly $567 million. If the PTC continues, the cost of the tax credit would run about $4.1 billion through the 10 years ending in 2015.

“The continuation of the Production Tax Credit will cause more disruption in electricity markets and impose higher costs on consumers and taxpayers,” said Bill Peacock, the Foundation’s Vice President of Research and Director of the Center for Economic Freedom. “The negative consequences of the Production Tax Credit are even more apparent in Texas, as it has more wind-generated electricity than any other state.”

For wind producers in Texas there are several programs to aid in development: the PTC, Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) under the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard, federal grants as part of the 2009 stimulus bill and access to transmission through the Competitive Renewable Energy Zone (CREZ) program. When combined, the programs will cost taxpayers about $12.8 billion through 2015 and the cost of subsidies in the state are on the rise.

“Texas is undergoing a major debate over whether price signals are adequate to maintain resource adequacy,” said Josiah Neeley, policy analyst for the Foundation’s Armstrong Center for Energy and the Environment. “A significant portion of the problem with price signals can be directly attributed to the subsidies for wind generation, particularly the Production Tax Credit.”

Peacock added, “Electric competition is working in Texas; rather, it is government interference with the market led by the Production Tax Credit that is causing today’s concerns regarding reliability. Congress should allow the Production Tax Credit to expire. If not, consumers, taxpayers, and Texas’ world-class energy-only electricity market will pay the price.”

‘America’s Natural Gas Highway’ Expands

GE and Clean Energy Fuels have announced a partnership to expand the infrastructure for natural gas transportation in the U.S. The idea for the project is to develop a natural gas highway or network that will enable trucks to operate on Liquefied Natural (LNG) from coast to coast. In a press statement, the companies say truck fleets can reduce fuel costs by more than 25 percent and lower tailpipe emissions when using LNG.

Clean Energy Fuels will initially purchase two ecomagination qualified MicroLNG plants from GE Oil & Gas. The modular units rapidly liquefy natural gas while minimizing a site’s physical footprint and will support fueling stations along major transportation corridors across the U.S. To help support the costs of the infrastructure, GE Energy Financial Services is providing up to $200 million in financing.

“GE is proud to be partnering with Clean Energy Fuels to develop natural gas infrastructure in the U.S. Clean Energy is an industry leader in pioneering a new way for America to fuel its vehicles and to further gain energy independence,” said GE Chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt. “With an abundance of cleaner, more affordable natural gas here in the U.S., this is an important opportunity for GE to join Clean Energy in changing the way America drives. It’s also a critical step in developing a natural gas-for-transportation fuel model that can be easily exported to other countries interested in exactly these kinds of breakthrough projects.”

Clean Energy expects to complete approximately 70 LNG stations by the end of 2012, with more planned for next year. Clean Energy’s stations are targeted at long-haul, heavy-duty trucks. In 2013, four major manufacturers will introduce the Cummins Westport 12-liter LNG engine, which is the optimum size for long-haul Class 8 trucks. Continue reading

Iowans Drive on E15

Since E15, a fuel blend of 15 percent ethanol and 85 percent gasoline, has been sold in Iowa, drivers have already successfully driven more than 125,000 thousand miles, or the equivalent of driving around the world five times. The first E15 station opened in Iowa about two months ago and E15 can be used in all vehicles 2001 or newer. This data tracks consumers using E15 in approved vehicles that are not flex-fuel vehicles (FFVs).

“E15 pricing and performance have started off great in Iowa,” said Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) Executive Director Monte Shaw. “Despite the oil industry’s efforts to scare retailers and consumers, E15 is starting to gain some traction here in Iowa, and consumers are beginning to realize the cost-saving and performance benefits of E15. One hundred and twenty-five thousands miles is more than five times around the world, but the E15 expedition is just getting started.”

Retailers wishing to offer Iowans the choice of E15 should contact the IRFA to learn about the many E15 incentives available and for assistance in complying with state and federal E15 guidelines.

ACE Announces 2013 DC Fly-In Dates

Each year, the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) highlights the benefits of ethanol during its advocacy event in Washington, D.C. known as the “Biofuels Beltway March”. The fifth annual event will happen on Wednesday, March 13 and Thursday, March 14, 2013.

“In anticipation of a fight over the fate of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) in Congress next year it is critically important for ethanol industry supporters to mark their calendars and join ACE for this fly-in,” said Brian Jennings, Executive Vice President of ACE. “With so much at stake, ACE’s fly-in will enable ethanol supporters to proactively explain in their own words what ethanol is doing to reduce gasoline prices, create jobs, and cut our foreign oil dependence so we can win the battle over the RFS and secure market certainty for E15 and higher ethanol blends.”

During the last four years, fly-in participants from all over the country have joined ACE to help drive home the message to Congress of the diversity and breadth of ethanol’s benefits to America. During the fly-in event, participants will break into teams for meetings with Members of Congress or their staff about the importance of the RFS, E15, and other priorities to be determined by ACE membership. Sixty-five ethanol advocates met with nearly 200 congressional offices during the 2012 fly-in.

To learn more about the event or to register, click here.

Izmir Airport in Turkey Goes Solar

The Izmir airport in Turkey has gone solar with the completion of a solar park. The photovoltaic project is comprised of a ground-mounted installation of 450 kW and 90 kW off-grid system on several radar stations. Combined, the projects are now the largest of its kind in Turkey. It is also the first solar project completed under the new Turkish legislation (YEK), that eliminated licensing requirements, to foster renewable energy plants under 500 kW. In the pipeline are several projects totaling 40-50 mW.

The solar panels used in the project were CS6P-P solar modules manufactured by Canadian Solar. This is the second project that Canadian Solar has worked on in collaboration with Gehrlickher Merk Solar, an EPC contractor based in Turkey. The two companies also completed a 95 kW governmental PV project in September 2012.

“The project in Izmir is a very significant achievement for us. Therefore, we relied again on the solar modules of Canadian Solar, as from past experience we could count on a trusted partnership and the high quality of the implemented products; characteristics which helped make this project a success for all parties involved,” said Omer Cihan Karahan, CEO of Gehrlicher Merk Solar.

Dr. Shawn Qu, chairman and CEO of Canadian Solar, added, “We are proud to contribute our modules to this milestone project for the Turkish solar energy sector and for us as a company in this emerging renewable energy market. The new YEK will have a great impact on business development in this industry and we are delighted to be a part of that. With this project as a reference, we believe we will continue this success in other national and international airport projects in the future.”

Advanced Biofuels Conference Around Corner

The National Advanced Biofuels Conference and Expo is just around the corner and down south in Houston, Texas on November 27-29, 2012. A premier event for the industry, opening day will kick off with remarks from Tom Bryan, president of BBI International, the conference host. He will be followed by a keynote presentation from Michael McAdams, president of the Advanced Biofuels Association and a special address by Andrew Holland, senior fellow for Energy and Climate, American Security Project. Next the generation session will begin: A Look Forward, Advanced Biofuels Leadership Looks at the Coming Year and Where Advanced Biofuels Stand in a Post-Election, Post Drought Environment.

Other conference topics include:

  • Petroleum industry perspectives on advanced biofuels
  • Converting existing industrial assets into next-generation biofuels
  • Forging symbiotic agribusiness alliances
  • Aviation and military industry positions on biobased jet fuel
  • Venture capital and private equity viewpoints
  • Overcoming barriers to market entry
  • The national market outlook for biobased fuels and chemicals
  • Exceeding the performance of petroleum-based products

Registration is still open and you can learn more about the speakers and their topics as well as register online here.

Recharge Gets WindMade Designation

The latest WindMade label designation has gone to Recharge, a news service focusing on renewable energy. The organization is now using 100 wind power to generate all of its power needs.

The WindMade label is backed by the UN Global Compact, WWF, Vestas and the Global Wind Energy Council. To be awarded the label, companies must obtain at least 25 percent of their electricity from wind power. Recharge dramatically exceeded this requirement with the generation of all power needs from wind energy.

“WindMade is set to play a key role in making sure that public support for wind energy translates into growing industry momentum, as more and more corporations see the benefits of using wind as their main energy source,” said Recharge Editor-in-Chief Ben Backwell. As a high profile media company, it is vital that we practice what we preach, and WindMade makes both commercial sense and fits in with our core values.”

Henrik Kuffner, WindMade’s CEO added, “Recharge is one of the most authoritative publications in the renewable energy sector, but the company’s commitment to renewables extends beyond journalism. We are proud to be awarding the WindMade label to Recharge’s UK operations, and look forward to a constructive partnership with this new member.”

IEA Charges Big Oil with Climate Crimes

Today the International Energy Agency (IEA) released its World Energy Outlook and accused crude oil of exacerbating climate change and putting the brakes on global economy growth. In response, the Global Renewable Fuels Alliance (GRFA) said biofuels are able to improve the global economy and environment. Bliss Baker, spokesperson for GRFA said there is evidence that shows increasing global biofuels production will not only break or cripple addiction to crude oil but have a positive impact on economy and environment.

The IEA report argued that the current energy system is unsustainable and that is is “putting a brake on our economy” because the crude oil industry is receiving record subsidies and oil prices are still at an all time high. Earlier this year, GRFA commissioned a report that found that in 2010, the global biofuels industry contributed $277.3 billion to the global economy and supported nearly 1.4 million jobs.

Today’s World Energy Outlook also forecasted that global energy demand will increase by more than 1/3 between now and 2035. It also estimated that energy-related CO2 emission will rise to 37 gigatonnes in 2035, up from 31.2 gigatonnes in 2011. The report states that this could result in a long term average temperature increase of 3.6 °C.

The GRFA forecasts that ethanol production alone will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 100 million tonnes globally, or 276,000 tonnes of GHGs per day.

Baker concluded, “It has been clear for years that crude oil has been a drain on our economy and toxic to our environment. Biofuels offer a positive economic boost and cleaner air. We must quickly adopt policies that encourage the development of crude oil alternatives like biofuels for the sake of our economy and environment.”

Wind Turbines Weather Hurricane

The clean-up is in full swing on the east coast as a result of hurricane Sandy. The majority of people who lost power during the storm have had their electricity restored. Yet is there a better way to keep the lights on during a major weather event? Wind power might just be the answer. Several wind energy companies have said that their turbines, directly in the path of the hurricane remained operational and undamaged.

Northern Power Systems said 74 of its wind turbines remained standing, undamaged and performed safely. The turbines were designed that when each turbine detected high force winds, it automatically entered safe mode. When conditions returned to normal, each turbine began generating electricity again.

“The losses experienced from Hurricane Sandy are a tragic reminder of how powerful nature can be,” said Troy Patton, Northern Power Systems president and CEO. “Many of our turbines, from the Caribbean to the eastern seaboard of the US, were directly in the path of Hurricane Sandy, but none were damaged by the high winds. At Northern Power Systems, we have the experience and commitment to continue to make products that are safe and reliable.”

At the peak of energy outages, more than eight million people lost power. However, Capstone Turbine heard from its customers that its wind energy systems continued to operate seamlessly during and after the worst of the storm. Many of the buildings that did not lose power were integral to diaster relief efforts including the Salem Community College in Salem County, New Jersey that served as a Red Cross diaster relief. The college has three Capstone C65 microturbines that provide heating, cooling and emergency powered and they succeed in their charge.

“Users around the world continue to adopt Capstone microturbines because they want the high reliability and low emission benefits of our distributed generation products,” said Darren Jamison, Capstone president and Chief Executive Officer. “Hurricane Sandy is a tragedy that has had a terrible loss of life and property, but I’m proud of the performance of our Capstone product that successfully kept our customers in business during this crisis. It’s unfortunate that in many cases it takes a major event like this to get people to start to think differently about how to reliably deliver their energy needs and change traditional utility buying habits.”

To aid diaster relief efforts, visit the Red Cross website.

Webinar: The Truth About Biofuels

The advanced biofuels industry is advocating for the increased use of biofuels to help America move to a more sustainable, prosperous and secure country. However, the biofuels industry continues to be under attack with many opponents going after the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) using the drought as the precipice for lowering biofuel mandates.

There are at least two sides to every story and a webinar: “Beyond the Talking Points: The Truth About Biofuels,” will discuss how to balance the interest of those concerned about preserving the costs of animal feed, land conservation and water be weighed against those concerned about energy independence, natural security, diversifying the transportation sector, supporting agriculture, fighting climate change and attracting investment in the biofuel sector?

Leaders from all sectors will join together for a discusion on November 14, 2012 from 12:00 pm to 1:30 pm EST that goes “beyond the talking points” with an eye toward what the future holds for the biofuels industry.  Speakers include: Todd Foley, ACORE; J. Graham Noyes, Stoel Rives; C. Boyden Gray, Boyden Gray & Associates; Douglas Durante, Clean Fuels Development Coalition; and Michael McAdams, Advanced Biofuels Association. Discussion topics include:

  • Forecast growth for cellulosic and other advanced biofuels over the next five years and discuss the key challenges and opportunities for growth in other parts of the transportation industry;
  • Identify new infrastructure needed to deploy advanced biofuels, such as flex fuel vehicles, biofuels in refueling stations, distribution systems and more; and
  • Show the link between cleaner/higher octane and our nation’s public health and an improved transportation system.

The webinar is hosted by ACORE. Click here for more information and to register.

1000th Restaurant Joins Oil-to-Fuel Program

The 1000th restaurant has joined the Oil-to-Fuel Program, sponsored by Genuine Bio-Fuel (GBF). The program recycles used cooking oil for cash. The idea is to help restaurants, that have to pay to have its used cooking oil picked up and properly disposed of, turn a loss center into a profit center.

With this program, GBF supplies food establishments with sealable, durable clean containers for oil collection, then sends out company representatives to pick up the oil and deliver it back to GBF where it is then processed into biodiesel. Each quarter, the restaurant receives a check.

“I’m thrilled to see so many local restaurants participating in the Oil-to-Fuel program,” said Jeff Longo, executive vice president for GBF. “The reality is we support each other, and we have to continue to support one another if we want to build our communities strong and take steps toward energy independence.”

Florida restaurants who participate in the program not only make money while doing something good for the environment, they also get a bit of free promotion through GBF’s “Save Us From Foreign Oil” website.

New Clean Energy Jobs See Slowdown

During the third quarter of 2012, more than 10,800 jobs were announced in the clean energy sector and related industries according to the latest analysis by Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2). The top 10 states for clean jobs, beginning with the number one state were: California, New York, Oregon, Washington, New Mexico, Texas, North Carolina, Minnesota, Illinois and Nevada. Despite an improvement in the economy, the job growth was actually less than in the first and second quarters of 2012 – there were 46,000 clean energy jobs announced between January – March 2012.

The analysis, “What Clean Energy Jobs? These Clean Energy Jobs!” concludes that the slowdown was caused in part by political and policy uncertainty, including the pending sunset of the production tax credit (PTC) for wind energy. The lack of action on this tax credit, among several others has also caused a loss of jobs within the clean energy sector.

“These numbers show that policy matters,” said Judith Albert, executive director of Environmental Entrepreneurs. “With clean energy job announcements slowing down, it becomes even more important that Congress and the administration take the right steps to ensure that we don’t lose any more momentum in the clean energy sector that’s helping both our economy and our environment.”

According to the E2 report:

    • Power generation companies announced the most clean energy jobs in the July-September quarter. Solar, wind and biogas companies announced 40 projects that together are anticipated to create more than 6,000 jobs.
    • Manufacturing companies making everything from electric vehicles to solar panels announced 14 projects in the quarter that would created more than 1,600 jobs, albeit many temporary.
    • In the wind industry, manufacturing job announcements fell to zero in the third quarter, compared to eight announcements in Q1 and two in Q2.
    • Three states saw significant jumps in announcement for clean energy and related jobs between the second and third quarters: North Carolina (from No. 26 to No. 7), Washington (from No. 27 to No. 4), and Texas (from No. 15 to No. 6).

In addition to the report, E2 also unveiled its new tracking tool that aids individuals searching for clean energy jobs.

CU Offers Online Renewable Energy Certificate

For individuals looking to learn more about the renewable energy industry at a management level, the University of Colorado Boulder, in partnership with the Renewable and Sustainable Energy Institute (RASEI), are offering a graduate-level renewable energy certificate. The classes can be taken onsite or online and are geared toward those not seeking a full degree but rather to learn about the latest in energy technology and policy.

“Our renewable energy certificate program is an extension of CU-Boulder’s successful graduate energy certificate that we’ve been offering for several years,” said Paul Komor, Ph.D., who directs the program and teaches courses in energy technology and policy. Komor shared in the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to Al Gore and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Those completing the three three-course program will earn nine graduate level credits along with the renewable energy certificate. Students will be taught by CU-Boulder faculty who have many years of experience in the energy industry. It takes one to two years to complete the professional renewable energy certificate, and CU-Boulder is currently accepting registrations for the 2013 term.

Classes include: RSEI 5000 Energy Science and Technology, taught by Keith Stockton, Ph.D.; RSEI 5001 Renewable Energy Policy, taught by Paul Komor, Ph.D.; and RSEI 5002 The Business of Sustainable Energy, taught by Steve Lawrence, Ph.D. Each course is a full semester and there is also a summer online library course with prerecorded lectures.

Brett Landin, a current student and a principal engineer at Ball Aerospace in Boulder, Colorado, said of the program, “What sold me on the program is the mix of technology, business, and policy courses. This mix of courses provides an in-depth introduction to the three fields that are key to understanding the renewable energy landscape. I really appreciate the ability to take the class as a distance student to accommodate my work schedule, while being able to stop by office hours and work with other students in the class.”

A Thanks to Veterans

As America celebrates Veterans Day today, many around the country are thanking them for their service including the renewable fuels industry. Specifically, the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) is thanking veterans working in Iowa’s renewable fuels industry for decreasing U.S. dependence on foreign oil and advancing the nation’s energy security.

“With Veterans Day just around the corner, the IRFA wants to thank all service men and women for protecting this country by highlighting a few of the veterans now working to advance our energy independence,” said IRFA Executive Director Monte Shaw. “It was clear from the interviews that veterans working to produce American-made fuels here in Iowa believe it’s another way to serve their country by decreasing our nation’s dependence on foreign oil.”

IRFA created a video featuring some of the veterans involved in renewable fuels production to thank both thank them and highlight their views on renewable fuels and energy security. Veterans participating in the web video include: Bill Horan (Western Iowa Energy), Daniel Baker (Golden Grain Energy), Daryl Haack (Little Sioux Corn Processors), Grant Gemberling (Plymouth Energy), Jarrod Patterson (Golden Grain Energy), Jeremy Schmidt (Golden Grain Energy), Matt Dutka (Golden Grain Energy), and Michael Wood (Plymouth Energy).

Say Thanks to the Military

Fuels America is asking people to take time to thank a veteran for everything they have done or do to keep us safe. The organization supports the greening of the military with efforts such as helping the military source their fuel from home, make the military leaner, more efficient and safer using renewable fuel.

The organization is asking Americans to continue to support renewable fuel and send a note of thanks and support to those in the military for everything that they do: http://www.fuelsamerica.org/send-a-message-now.