AMP Americas Joins National Clean Fleets Partnership

CNG Station in Fair Oaks IndianaDuring the Indiana Greener Pastures and Beyond event today in Fair Oaks, Indiana, AMP Americas was invited to join the National Clean Fleets Partnership (the Partnership). The company helps organizations with large trucking fleets move from diesel to compressed natural gas (CNG). The Partnership is run by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Clean Cities program.

The announcement was made during the celebration of the grand opening of AMP Americas’ renewable compressed natural gas, I65/I75 Corridor March 4, 2013. This corridor from Chicago, Illinois to Orlando Florida. is anchored on the Northern end by the CNG Stations in Fair Oaks IN, and Sellersburg Indiana. The partnership consists of AMP Americas, Fair Oaks Farms, Greater Indiana Clean Cities and the Indiana Office of Energy.

IMG_0650“As we continue to reduce emissions and fuel costs, we are committed to cleaner and greener transportation and are very proud to join this elite group that contains some of the world’s most respected businesses,” said Nathan Laurell, CEO of AMP Americas. “By the end of the year we plan to open 13 more CNG fueling stations and to lease additional CNG trucks, lessening the financial barriers for companies transitioning to CNG.” The company operates one of the largest CNG fleets in the country in partnership with Fair Oaks Farms.

According to AMP Americas, the program will enable them to further its efforts to leverage cleaner alternative fuels and technologies, to increase efficiency and cost-savings, and to reduce emissions. The Partnership offers AMP Americas access to technical information, tools, resources and opportunities for collaboration with the DOE.

In addition to expanding its CNG fueling network, the company owns renewable-CNG assets including a CNG plant that produces natural gas from cow manure through anaerobic digestion.

NASA Researching Alternative Biofuels

NASA researchers are conducting a series of lights using the agency’s DC-8 flying laboratory to study the effects of biofuels on engine performance, emissions and aircraft generated contrails at altitude. The Alternative Fuel Effects on Contrails and Cruise Emissions (ACCESS) research involves flying the DC-8 as high as 40,000 feet while an instrumented NASA Falcon HU-25 aircraft trails behind at distances ranging from 300 feet to more than 10 miles. Research began February 28, 2013 and is expected to take 3 weeks to complete.

NASA DC-8 Aircraft“We believe this study will improve understanding of contrails formation and quantify potential benefits of renewable alternate fuels in terms of aviation’s impact on the environment,” said Ruben Del Rosario, manager of NASA’s Fixed Wing Project.

ACCESS flight operations are being staged from NASA’s Dryden Aircraft Operations Facility in Palmdale, Calif., and will take place mostly within restricted airspace over Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. During the flights, the DC-8’s four CFM56 engines will be powered by conventional JP-8 jet fuel, or a 50-50 blend of JP-8 and an alternative fuel of hydroprocessed esters and fatty acids that comes from camelina plants. While the flight are occurring, more than a dozen instruments mounted on the Falcon jet will characterize the soot and gases streaming from the DC-8, monitor the way exhaust plumes change in composition as they mix with air, and investigate the role emissions play in contrail formation.

If weather conditions permit, the Falcon jet will trail commercial aircraft flying in the Southern California region, in coordination with air traffic controllers, to survey the exhaust emissions from a safe distance of 10 miles.

ACCESS follows a pair of Alternative Aviation Fuel Experiment studies conducted in 2009 and 2011 in which ground-based instruments measured the DC-8’s exhaust emissions as the aircraft burned alternative fuels while parked on the ramp at the Palmdale facility. A second phase of ACCESS flights is planned for 2014. It will capitalize on lessons learned from the 2013 flights and include a more extensive set of measurements.

The ACCESS study is a joint project involving researchers at Dryden, NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland and NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virgina. The Fixed Wing Project within the Fundamental Aeronautics Program of NASA’s Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate manages ACCESS.

BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDFThe Federal District Court for the Southern District of California ruled in favor of the Ocotillo Wind project, being developed by Pattern Energy Group, and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in two separate suits before the Court.  The Court granted Pattern’s and the BLM’s summary judgment motions in a case brought by the Quechan Tribe of the Fort Yuma Indian Reservation and in a separate case brought by several other parties, including the Desert Protective Council.
  • Siemens Nederland has signed a contract with Ballast Nedam and Mammoet for the Near Shore Wind farm Noordoostpolder in the IJsselmeer in the Netherlands. Ballast Nedam’s contribution will consist of the engineering, supply and installation of the foundations for the 48 turbines. Afterwards, Mammoet will transport and install the 48 turbines.
  • Dominion has acquired a solar energy development project in Georgia from Smart Energy Capital and Jacoby Development. The project is to begin commercial operation late this year. Dominion’s Azalea Solar Power Facility, near Augusta in east-central Georgia, is planned to produce approximately 7.7 megawatts (AC) using photovoltaic technology.
  • RMT, a renewable energy engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractor, completed the design and construction of 555 megawatts of renewable energy in 2012.

Biodiesel Quality Reaches All Time High

AllemanNRELLabAccording to a National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) biodiesel fuel quality survey, a record 97 percent of the samples tested met requirements in ASTM D6751, the biodiesel fuel quality specification. NREL obtained B100 samples from 53 producers and 14 terminals between August 2011 and February 2011 and according to Teresa Alleman, a senior chemist with NREL’s Fuels Performance Group, the samples represented 94 percent of the biodiesel volume currently in the marketplace.

“This is a huge improvement over previous years,” Alleman said. She explained that in 2006, only 40 percent of samples in the survey were on spec, a major drop from 2004 when 85 percent met the ASTM spec. However, there were far fewer producers in 2004 with only a fraction of production capacity compared to 2006.

The 2006 quality results led to the passage of the Cold Soak Filtration Test, which she called one of the best improvements to the specification and to biodiesel quality. Since 2004 there have been 15 modifications to D6751, which demonstrates the industry’s efforts to continually improve biodiesel fuel quality.

For more on biodiesel fuel quality, including the industry’s voluntary BQ9000 quality assurance program visit, www.bq-9000.org.

Cellulosic Biofuels Begin to Flow

U.S. cellulosic biofuels production totaled about 20,000 gallons last year, way below the 500 million gallons target set by Congress. In a recent addition of “Today in Energy,” the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) looks at the American cellulosic biofuels industry and how production may sharply rise in 2013.

According to the brief, several companies combined to produce about 20,000 gallons of fuels using cellulosic biomass (e.g., wood waste, sugarcane bagasse) from commercial-scale facilities in late 2012. EIA estimates this output could grow to more than 5 million gallons in 2013, as operations ramp up at several plants. By 2015, EPA estimates that another 250 million gallons could be online by 2015.

biomasscapAlthough cellulosic biofuels volumes are expected to grow significantly relative to current levels, according to the brief, they will likely remain well below the targets envisioned in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. That law set a target level of 500 million gallons of cellulosic biofuels for 2012 and 1 billion gallons for 2013, growing to 16 billion gallons by 2022.

As many have rightly point out, the path the commercial cellulosic biofuels production has not been straight or smooth. Several biofuel projects, including one from BP Biofuels in Highlands County, Florida, have been canceled before starting major construction. Other projects have experienced delays in their commercialization attempts. According to Today in Energy, several reasons underpin slow growth in the commercialization of biofuels; Difficulties obtaining financing in the aftermath of the debt crisis; Technology scale-up difficulties at start-up companies; and strategic corporate shifts because of increased availability of low-cost natural gas.

The brief concludes that all EIA forecasts and projections have been too optimistic as anticipated large shortfalls are expected to continue.

BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDFRINAlliance has been selected as a 2013 Prometheus Awards finalist in the Clean Energy Innovation and Software Company of the Year categories. The Prometheus Awards showcase Iowa’s top technology innovators and entrepreneurs and is sponsored by the Technology Association of Iowa. Winners will be announced at the annual awards dinner on Tuesday, April 9, 2013.
  • Lee Enterprises had added Michael Heinemann to its group of experts. Heinemann has over 13 years’ of management experience in the biofuels and alternative energy industry, most recently as a General Manager with Beacon Energy.
  • MARC-IV, a longtime technical consulting firm for the National Biodiesel Board, has announced the addition of Rachel Burton. Prior to this position, she was with Piedmont Biofuels in North Carolina for 10 years.
  • Baker Tilly Capital, LLC, a subsidiary of Baker Tilly Virchow Krause, LLP, served as a consultant to GreenWhey Energy, Inc. in the recent closing of $28.5 million in construction and long term financing for an innovative anaerobic digester facility in Turtle Lake, Wisconsin.  When completed in the summer of 2013, the project is expected to be one of the largest facilities of its kind in the United States.
  • Don’t forget to register for the Ethanol 2013: Emerging Issues Forum taking place in Omaha, Nebraska April 18-19, 2013. New speakers have been announced. Attendees can register online here.

EPA Announces Climate Leadership Awards

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Center for Corporate Climate Leadership has announced the winners of its second annual Climate Leadership Awards, with the Association of Climate Change Officers (ACCO), the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES) and The Climate Registry (TCR). Twenty three winners were given awards for their leadership in reducing carbon pollution and addressing climate change.

Screen Shot 2013-03-01 at 10.43.44 AM“Our Climate Leadership Award winners are leading by example with their outstanding actions to reduce carbon pollution,” said Gina McCarthy, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation. “These organizations are tackling the challenge of climate change with practical, common-sense, and cost-saving solutions to improve efficiency and cut waste.”

The national awards program honors corporate, organizational, and individual leadership in reducing greenhouse gas emissions in internal operations and throughout the supply chain. A wide array of industries are represented by these organizations, including construction, finance, defense, transportation, retail, energy and technology.

The Organizational Leadership Award were given to: Boulder County, Colo.; City of Austin, Texas; Intel Corporation; Port of San Diego and Sonoma County Water Agency. The Individual Leadership Award was awarded to: Tamara ‘TJ’ DiCaprio, Senior Director of Environmental Sustainability, Microsoft Corporation; and J. Wayne Leonard, Former Chairman and CEO of Entergy Corporation. A list of all the winners is here.

“The 2013 Climate Leadership Award winners are leading the way on integrating climate response into their organizational culture,” said Daniel Kreeger, ACCO executive director. “They are demonstrating true commitment to managing and reducing GHG emissions in internal operations and throughout the supply chain, as well as integrating climate related risk management into their operational strategies. The winners are not only exemplary corporate, organizational, and individual leaders, but their actions provide a blueprint to catalyze the efforts of other organizations and individuals.”

Do-It-Yourself Solar

DYI Solar may be good option for residential homeowners who believe that a traditional solar PV system is outside of their budget or living in a state with little incentives. The on-going program Solar Citizen, launched earlier this year, is highlighting consumers who have successfully installed Do-It-Yourself solar projects.

Solar Barn RaisingThe American Solar Energy Society (ASES) says DIYing a solar system can be a chance to learn more about how the technology works, experiment with a new design, or go solar for a fraction of the cost. There are hundreds of DIY solar project options, ranging from putting together a simple DIY solar charger to installing a complete system, or even building a solar panel from scratch.

There are also groups of solar enthusiasts all over the country that are building their own solar systems and they have been sending in photos to ASES. For example, New Vision Renewable Energy in Philippi, West Virginia is helping community members build panels for their homes using a timebank approach. Plymouth Area Renewable Energy Initiative uses a barn-raising model where members help each other with the installation process. Other groups partner with solar installers, offer discounts on materials, and loans on tools and equipment for members to use while installing their systems.

ASES says DIY projects are also a great way to build an organization, educate students, and engage your neighbors about solar. It is a great tool for building the renewable energy movement from the ground up. Several of these projects along with other Solar Citizens will be featured during ASES’s upcoming conference, Solar 2013, taking place in Baltimore from April 16-20.

Rusty Wallace Named Honorary Iowan

NASCAR Hall of Fame driver Rusty Wallace is now an “Honorary Iowan”. Iowa Governor Terry Branstad gave him this honor due to his work in highlighting the importance of ethanol and E15. NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series both use E15.

“Iowa is one of the largest producers of ethanol. All the NASCAR cars are running on 15 percent ethanol, and I hope that one of these days all Iowans can run on 15 percent ethanol also,” said Wallace.

EDF & Citi’s Energy Conference Succussful

The Environmental Defense Fund and Citi teamed up to host an energy conference, “Innovations in Energy Efficiency and Distributed Generation Finance II,” earlier this week. The event will bring together experts from around the country to explore innovative ways to fund energy efficiency projects in California.

EDF logo copy“California continues to take bold steps toward clean energy and provide the private sector with clear opportunities to invest in energy efficiency and renewables, a critical part to growing our nation’s economy,” said former Governor Bill Ritter during his keynote presentation. “A key part of achieving our clean energy potential, and creating jobs in America, is ensuring access to quality financing for homes and businesses that want to participate in the new energy economy.”

Ritters is currently the director of the Center for the New Energy Economy at Colorado State University. The Center’s mission is to incorporate best practices from around the world to help guide the country to a more secure, sustainable and affordable energy future.

citi logoCalifornia State Sen. de León focused on SB 37, a key bill he currently authors that would establish a first-in-the nation On-Bill Repayment (OBR) program allowing consumers a creative way to save money and energy by financing energy efficiency retrofits and renewable energy projects through their utility bills. “We need to continue with the bold action that has made California a leader in energy efficiency,” Sen. De León said. “This is a priority because it helps build an economy that is forward thinking.”

Using data from a 2009 McKinsey study, EDF estimates that there are at least $40 billion of investment opportunities for energy efficiency projects in commercial buildings in the U.S. alone that will provide annual returns in excess of 20 percent. Yet despite this attractive potential, few of these projects are being funded. Today’s conference was designed to facilitate discussion of current and emerging innovative solutions, new partnerships, lessons from recent transactions and remaining obstacles to developing and scaling the market.

Clean Diesel Technology, 20 Years in the Making

This year marks the 20th Anniversary of the National Biodiesel Board and much of the focus on their 10th annual NBB Conference and Expo held in Las Vegas was spent on reminiscing over the past 20 years and looking forward to the next 20 years.

nbc-13-steve-howell“It’s amazing how far we’ve come in 20 years,” said Steve Howell, NBB’s Technical Director during the Biodiesel Vehicle Showcase. “Back when we started there was not one engine company that supported biodiesel. It just goes to show you that a lot of hard work, a lot of effort and a lot of cooperation between the engine companies, the petroleum companies, and the biodiesel companies got us to this place today.”

Howell said if it weren’t for the more than $50 million in investment in diesel engine technology, we would not be here today. And where is here? This year marks the year that more passenger vehicles, light duty trucks, school buses, equipment and medium to heavy duty trucks are being offered than ever before and many of them can use up to B20 biodiesel blends.

In order for the engine manufacturers to commit to developing and selling clean diesel vehicles that can run on biodiesel, they had to know it worked. And, said Howell, it works.

Learn more about the evolution of clean diesel technology by listening to Howell’s remarks: Clean Diesel Technology: A Winning Combination

2013 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

Solar Takes Lead in Renewable Energy Growth

According to the latest issue of the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) “Electric Power Monthly,” renewable energy sources (biomass, geothermal, solar, wind) increased by 12.8 percent last year compared to 2011 and provided 5.4 percent of net U.S. electrical generation. Solar increased by 138.9 percent while wind grew 16.6 pecent, geothermal by 9.6 percent, and biomass (i.e., wood, wood-derived fuels, and other biomass) by 1.6 percent. Since 2007, non-hydro renewables have more than doubled their contribution to the nation’s electrical supply.

geothermal-energy-1At the same time (2012 compared to 2011), total net U.S. electrical generation dropped by 1.1 percent with petroleum coke & liquids down by 24.1 percent, coal by 12.5 percent, and nuclear by 2.6 percent. Less than a decade ago, coal provided more than half the nation’s electricity, fell to 37.4 percent while nuclear fell below 19 percent. Conventional hydropower also declined by 13.4 percent due to last year’s drought and lower water flows, but natural gas expanded by 21.4 percent to provide 30.3 percent of net electrical generation.

Conventional hydropower and non-hydro renewable sources combined accounted for 12.22 percent of net U.S. electrical generation. However, as EIA has noted in the past, these figures do not comprehensively reflect distributed, non-grid connected generation and thereby understate the full contribution of renewables to the nation’s electrical supply.

EIA’s report also reveals the top renewable-electricity generating states for 2012: top five wind states: Texas, Iowa, California, Oklahoma, and Illinois;  top five biomass states: California, Florida, Maine, Georgia, and Alabama; top five geothermal States: California, Nevada, Utah, Hawaii and Idaho; and top five solar states: California, Arizona, Nevada, New Jersey, and New Mexico.

“Technical advances, falling costs, and the desire to address climate change have combined to rapidly expand the contribution of renewable energy to the nation’s electrical generation,” said Ken Bossong, Executive Director of the SUN DAY Campaign. “With the right policy incentives, one can foresee these cleaner energy sources providing the bulk of the nation’s electrical needs within a generation.”

Auwahi Wind Project Dedicated In Maui

Maui has a new wind farm: Auwahi Wind facility on Ulupalakua Rand. On hand for the dedication ceremony were U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz, Hawaii Lt. Gov. Shan Tsutsui and Maui County Mayor Alan Arakawa. There were joined by officials from Sempra U.S. Gas & Power, BP Wind Energy and community leaders. The wind farm consists of eight wind turbines that are situated along the slopes of the Haleakala volcano and will generate enough electricity to power 10,000 homes.

Sen. Schatz said the Auwahi wind farm contributes significantly to Hawaii’s clean energy goals. He said the project is consistent with the State of Hawaii’s values of cooperation, contributing to a solution nationally on climate change and maintaining the ranching lifestyle on Ulupalakua Ranch. “Auwahi Wind Farm is critically important,” he said. “This auwahi-wind-smis about keeping Maui Maui and setting an example not just for the state, but the rest of the nation.”

Tsutsui, who was born and raised on Maui, said the state and the island welcomed the Auwahi Wind farm as it brought much-needed jobs. More than 180 jobs were created during the project construction. Four full-time employees operate the wind farm today.

“We’re always talking about sustainability and being independent,” Tsutsui said. “This goes hand in hand with a lot of our initiatives. It’s definitely a step in the right direction and we look much forward to other projects.”

The 21-megawatt (MW) Auwahi Wind facility represents BP and Sempra’s first alternative energy venture in Hawaii. An important component of the project is an 11-MW/4.4-megawatt-hour grid battery system. At its peak, this system is capable of 11 MW sustained for approximately 25 minutes. The battery system’s energy helps regulate and sustain power to Maui Electric Co.’s grid during light wind conditions.

Sumner Erdman, president of the Ulupalakua Ranch, said the ranch has benefited from its partnership with Sempra U.S. Gas & Power and BP. “Now, we can preserve much of our ranch land and its grazing areas in open space and continue to raise cattle,” he said. “Auwahi Wind will go a long way toward preserving the ranching lifestyle at Ulupalakua and on Maui.”

D.C. Fly-in Just Around the Corner

The American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) is gearing up to meet with nearly 100 of our country’s legislators during its annual Biofuels Beltway Fly-in being held in Washington, D.C. March 13-14, 2013. To date, ACE has requested meetings with 100 Senate offices and key House members. As ACE Executive Director Brian Jennings noted to DF early this month, a signification portion of the legislators are “freshman” or new to Congress.

ACE Biofuels Beltway LogoThe goal of the meetings are for ethanol advocates to visit with key federal staff and Congressmen to tell their personal stories about how ethanol has benefited them. But ethanol has not just benefited advocates, the renewable fuel benefits consumers each time they fill up at the pump, as shown by numerous studies.

Dozens of meetings are already scheduled. For example. Chris Grundler, Director, Office of Transportation and Air Quality, EPA is confirmed to address the fly-in participants on March 14th. Grundler has previously served as the office’s Deputy Director and replaced Margo Oge. He is the primary contact for all ethanol issues including RFS implementation and E15. Both of these issues are key for the industry.

To make this event successful, dozens of ethanol advocates will descend on D.C. To date, 31 people are registered from 7 states including South Dakota, Iowa, Tennessee, Indiana, Illinois, North Dakota, Minnesota, Nebraska and Missouri. While the ACE team and the advocates will have their work cut out for them, the success could be greater if more people attend. The goal: to get people from each state. Let’s rally and show D.C how important ethanol is and why the RFS and E15 are critical to America.

It’s not too late to register.  To participate, visit www.ethanol.org, or contact Shannon Gustafson at (605) 334-3381 ext. 16 or via email.

History of Renewable Fuels in Iowa

Cover Page-webThe Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) has released an online version of an industry scrapbook that illustrates how far the renewable fuels industry has come and how profound its impact on Iowa has been over the past decade. “Progress and Prosperity: A Look Into Iowa’s Renewable Fuels Industry,” provides anecdotes and fact-based information on the vast accomplishments and benefits of Iowa’s renewable fuels industry.

“The renewable fuels industry has a great story to tell and we hope the IRFA scrapbook helps remind people just what a difference ethanol and biodiesel have made for Iowa,” said IRFA Executive Director Monte Shaw. “Behind each plant is a person, an idea, and a story that shines a spotlight on the renewable fuels industry’s ability to positively impact the individuals, neighborhoods, and communities of the people of Iowa.”

The book was created as part of IRFA’s 10th Anniversary celebration. It is available online or in hard copy by contacting the IRFA. The ethanol and biodiesel plants recognized in the book include: Absolute Energy, Ag Processing (AGP), Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), Big River Resources, Corn, LP, Fiberight, Golden Grain Energy, Green Plains Renewable Energy, Homeland Energy Solutions, Iowa Renewable Energy, Lincolnway Energy, Little Sioux Corn Processors, Platinum Ethanol, Plymouth Energy, POET Biorefining – Coon Rapids, Quad County Corn Processors, Renewable Energy Group (REG), Siouxland Energy and Livestock, Southwest Iowa Renewable Energy (SIRE), Western Dubuque Biodiesel, and Western Iowa Energy.