“Renewable Fuel Standard Waiver Options during the Drought of 2012,” outlays several conclusions:
Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) President Bob Dinneen responded to the study. “The new FAPRI study is just the latest in a series of recent reports that show waiving the RFS would not have the types of impacts claimed by the livestock groups and grocery manufacturers. The suggestion that an RFS waiver would significantly bring down feed prices and reduce retail meat prices is absolutely absurd. The only real impacts of a waiver would be to discourage farmers from planting corn next spring and to interrupt and delay important investments in new feedstocks and advanced biofuels technologies.”
The research showed that a waiver might be expected to reduce corn use for ethanol by just 1.3 percent in 2012/2013 and reduce corn prices from $7.87 per bushel to $7.83 per bushel. Estimates for the the 2013/2014 market year show that corn use for ethanol might fall 6.6 percent and corn prices might decrease 3.2 percent. In addition, the report found that a waiver of the RFS would not meaningfully increase the amount of corn available for feed use in 2012/2013. Rather there would only be 25 million more bushels of corn being fed to livestock, a 0.6 percent increase over the case where there is no waiver.
FAPRI researchers noted that there are important uncertainties in their analysis. For example, there is a mismatch of marketing year corn data and calendar year biofuel mandates, which could be a source of error. Another is the nature of ethanol demand, particularly how quickly markets could shift back to fuels without any ethanol. A third uncertainty is about current market conditions. The markets for mandate compliance certificates reveal how difficult it is to meet mandates at present and in the near future, but they are newly created by the mandates and are not well understood at this point.
A new Virginia Tech research center is set to open in Tamil Nadu in southeast India with the hope of refining and adapting windmills and solar panels for use in rural India households. With more than a billion people worldwide living in rural communities in extreme poverty, how energy production proceeds will have global impact. Windmills are being designed to work in areas of low and variable wind speed and the solar panels are being designed to work well in low-light conditions.
“The goal is to improve life for 400 million Indians not connected to the grid,” said Guru Ghosh, vice president for international affairs. “There are still some refinements to be made on this amazing technology developed at Virginia Tech. We’re aiming for the point where the solar panels and small windmills can be mass produced, tested in India’s rural communities, and then be deployed to create low-cost, renewable energy worldwide.”
Two years ago Virginia Tech announced an agreement with private-sector partner MARG Swarnabhoomi to establish the Virginia Tech, India campus. MARG Swarnabhoomi has committed $1.8 million for laboratory build-out, which will equal or exceed facilities at the Blacksburg-based Center for Energy Harvesting Materials and Systems, directed by Shashank Priya of the College of Engineering. Virginia Tech is underwriting staff and operations with an initial outlay of $350,000.
Virginia Tech hopes that the technology can help to solve some of the world’s most pressing energy problems. The research center is called VT, India Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science Innovation Center and is currently recruiting graduate students to work on the project.
You are never too old, or too young to learn about energy. Tempe Union High School District (TUHSD) and Chevron Energy Solutions have launched a cross-curricular science, technology, engineering and math (STEM – even the acronym is sciencey) and sustainability program designed to give students more knowledge about energy and environmental issues. Each campus now has a Living Laboratory where students can conduct a myriad of tests of renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies.
Each Living Laboratory contains the usual technology, but also contains data collection devices that transmit data to a web-based telemetry system. The labs also integrate with a web-based dashboard, supporting new cross-curricular lesson planning and curriculum development.
“Tempe Union High School District discovered several years ago that studying both sustainability and energy offered an extraordinary opportunity for learning, career preparation and citizenship for our students,” said Greg Wyman, associate superintendent at Tempe Union High School District. “This significant accomplishment for our District offers an extraordinary opportunity for learning and positions our new generation to build a more diverse, energy-efficient and sustainable tomorrow.”
Many of the schools participating in the Living Laboratory program have additional renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies that will be woven into the curriculum. For example, one school has a roof-mounted solar thermal collection system, another school has a natural gas powered heat pump system, another has a natural gas powered fuel cell, another has a solar PV system, and one school is in the process of developing an energy storage system showcasing cutting-edge battery technology that will power a greenhouse.
The labs, as well as many of the energy projects were designed, engineered and implemented by Chevron Energy Solutions. “Today marks the beginning of a new chapter for environmentally sustainable operations at Tempe Union High School District – one that will allow its students, faculty and the community the opportunity to experience the benefits of combining sustainability and energy science education,” said Chevron Energy Solutions President Jim Davis. “The District has created a model for collaboration that can be replicated by other districts dedicated to investing in transformative, sustainable programs.”
The “Ethanol Rocks” video competition, sponsored by the National Corn Growers Association, is close to calling it a wrap. But there is still time to enter before the final curtain call. High school and college students from all backgrounds and majors can enter either individually, as a group or through a student organization such as FFA or 4-H. The deadline is October 15, 2012.
“We are looking for a forward looking take on how corn ethanol impacts our lives,” said Chad Willis, Chair of NCGA’s Ethanol
Action Team. “Today’s youth will be shaping tomorrow’s world, and we want to tap their creativity to showcase the economic and environmental benefits of this domestic and renewal source of energy.”
First-place winners in each category (high school and college) will receive a $1,500 prize. For second place, $500 will be awarded. Judges are looking for two minutes or less of video that contains at least four facts about ethanol. Topics can include information on ethanol’s contribution to local economies, decreased reliance on foreign oil and environmental attributes. Winning videos will be selected based on impact, video design and editing, creativity and general appeal.
Click here more information about the “Ethanol Rocks” video contest and to enter.
According to research conducted by a team from the Department of Animal Science at the University of Nebraska, cattle feed of treated corn stover mixed with distillers grains (DDGS) from ethanol plants can reduce feed costs for cattle feeders. The goal of the research is to continue to provide livestock feeders with options for optimizing feeding efficiency.
The current project included a pretreatment for corn stover, calcium hydroxide, designed to enhance digestibility. The calcium is needed by cattle in feedlot diets. When combined with DDGS, treated corn stover increases digestibility and creates a more efficient feed ration. The research shows that this feed mix offers the livestock industry another feed option.
Nebraska is one of the largest ethanol producing states in the country and a by-product of ethanol production is high-protein distillers grains. When combined with poor quality roughage, researchers say, the feed ration still provides excellent results. This is especially important in drought years, such as this year, as availability of distillers grains have provided a valuable option for livestock feeders.
The evolving University of Nebraska research suggests that the practice of using an alkaline pretreatment on corn residues may offset corn in feedlot diets. This practice is expected to receive close attention by livestock feeders who may wish to offset corn use in livestock diets with other feed ingredients that are less expensive but in some cases more efficient.
ECOtality has hit a first for the country: it has surpassed one million electric vehicle (EV) residential charge events on its Blink Charges. The company says it is the first in the industry to reach this milestone. At the end of June 2012, the company had 800,000 charge events.
This is not the only milestone the company recently achieved. It has also recorded 40 million miles of driver data records and analyzed that 1.70 million gallons of gas has been saved. Data collected through the EV Project, of which ECOtality is the project manager, is presented on a quarterly basis.
“Through the data recorded on Blink chargers for The EV Project, we have clearly demonstrated the viability of this marketplace and continued growth of EV’s across the nation,” said Ravi Brar, CEO of ECOtality, Inc. “Recording more than 1 million charge events is not only an iconic milestone for ECOtality, The EV Project and the industry, but is also proof that EVs are here to stay.”
The Port Washington Public Library has added thin film solar cells to its roof’s cap sheet layer to generate solar energy. The only building in Nassau and Suffolk counties in New York state to generate power this way, the system has the ability to generate an average of 42,000 kWh of electricity per year and but CO2 emissions by more than 2.2 million pounds each year. During a celebration ceremony, Nancy Curtin, Port Washington’s Public Library Director; Garry Schwall, Chief Operating Officer of Winthrop-University Hospital; and Paul Polizzotto, President and Founder of CBS EcoMedia gave remarks while entertainment was provided by local singer/guitarist Tom Cavanagh, known to library audiences for his Johnny Cash and George Harrison performances.
The new Energy Education Station in the Library displays the actual energy savings from the system for the public to view. In addition, the green initiatives implemented by the Port Washington Public Library also includes a Recycling Center in the Children’s Room.
“The Library is committed to green initiatives and as a center for lifelong learning wishes to lead by example promoting solar energy and a healthy environment for the Port Washington community,” said Nancy Curtin, Port Washington Public Library Director. “This technology is a sustainable solution and we thank Winthrop University Hospital and CBS EcoMedia for their support.”
As the country struggles with economic difficulties, education has been hard hit with the reduction of teachers in schools and staff at libraries. “With this project, the Library sets an important example: by adopting solar power in our homes and businesses, each one of us can cut our own energy costs and emissions,” said Paul Polizzotto, President and Founder of CBS EcoMedia Inc. “Thanks to the generous support of Winthrop-University Hospital, the Library will reduce its carbon footprint and cut its electricity bills, freeing up crucial funds for books, staffing, special programming, and equipment.”
The 4th Annual Biofuels: Science and Sustainability Tour took place recently hosted by the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA). The three-day tour brought several Washington, D.C. policymakers and regulators to Iowa for a inside and hands on look at the renewable fuels and agricultural industry in the state. Participants had the opportunity to talk with many renewable fuels experts, agriculture leaders and state and university officials on important policy matters, regulatory concerns and technical issues facing the renewable fuels industry.
Several key areas of discussion were the current and future impacts of the drought, Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS2), E15, tax policy, biodiesel and advanced biofuels, the 2012 Farm Bill, food and fuel, distillers grains, seed research, crop yield trends, improved environmental practices in agriculture and renewable fuels production, biomass crops, the future of cellulosic ethanol, and the impediments to consumer fuel choice posed by the federal petroleum mandate.
The Tour included visits to:
- Renewable Energy Group headquarters in Ames, IA
- Iowa State University’s Sorenson Farm & Biocentury Research Farm in Boone, IA
- Kevin Jurgens’ family farm in Thornton, IA
- Soy Energy biodiesel refinery in Mason City, IA
- Golden Grain Energy ethanol refinery in Mason City, IA
- Sukup Manufacturing in Sheffield, IA
- Pioneer DuPont Beaver Creek Research Center in Johnston, IA
- Pioneer DuPont Carver Center in Johnston, IA
- Magellan Refined Products Terminal in Des Moines, IA
The Tour was hosted and sponsored by Iowa State University Bioeconomy Institute, Iowa Renewable Fuels Association, National Biodiesel Foundation, Renewable Fuels Foundation, Golden Grain Energy, Iowa Corn Growers Association, Renewable Product Marketing Group, Sukup Manufacturing, and Iowa State University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
Click here for more information, presentations and photos from the event.
In response to strong sales of E15 in areas where the ethanol blend is offered, Ford Motor Company and General Motors (GM) announced their recommendations for use of E15 in their new vehicles. GM added the recommendation of E15 for its 2012 and newer vehicles, while Ford recommends E15 for its 2013 and newer vehicles.
In response, Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) Executive Director Monte Shaw said, “The IRFA wants to extend our most sincere thank you to GM and Ford for recommending the use of E15 in new vehicles. I believe Iowa consumers will take notice of GM and Ford’s leadership. This is an important step forward for E15. Thirty years ago, auto recognition of E10 began much the same way. First one company, then others followed. First for new cars, then for the legacy fleet. The pressure is now on other auto manufacturers to follow suit or explain why they offer substandard equipment.”
Retailers, who must first register with the EPA before legally selling E15, began to offer the higher ethanol blend quickly upon final approval for E15 for all 2001 and newer vehicles by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The first retailer in the country to sell E15 was in Kansas and retailers in Iowa quickly followed suit. Last month, Linn Co-op Oil Company in Marion, Iowa became the first retailer in the state to offer E15. Several other Iowa retailers are in various stages of moving to offer E15.
Two large scale power plants are being connected to the grid south of the Iberian Peninsula in Spain. Coenergy was selected for the installation. The first power plant will have a total capacity of 1.8 KWp and is located in Jerez de la Frontera on an industrial rooftop spanning 24,000 square meters. The second solar power plant will have a total capacity of 320 KWp and has been installed in a 8,000 square meter area in the village of Segura de la Sierra in Jaén Province.
Combined, the two solar power plants use more than 9,000 Coenergy PowerPlus modules and the plants have the ability to produce nearly 3,000 megawatt hours of solar power each year. The solar energy will feed into the Andalusian electrical grid through nine Conergy IPG C central inverters and the sites will be monitored with Coenergy VisionBoxes.
“Sun-blessed Andalusia is a very attractive location for solar power plants and well on its way to achieving grid parity,” said Luis Jimenez Gutierrez, Managing Director of Conergy Spain. “These two projects are another step down this path where product quality, know-how and services become more and more important. Conergy stands for quality and many years’ experience – with large-scale free-field plants as well as industrial and private rooftop plants. This expertise makes us a reliable partner for all solar projects, on whom our customers can count.”