Subsidies, Initiatives & New Efficiency Drive Profits

solarandwindAccording to a new report, companies that invest more money in the research and development more efficient means of producing renewable energy, the better able the company is to satisfy consumers and drive growth. Additional growth is, and can be continued, through government subsidies and initiatives. Recently, there has been an increase in investments in the renewable energy field, especially in solar and wind energy.  Companies such as First Solar and SolarCity prove that R&D drives both growth and greater profits.

Last week First Solar announced a partnership with Intermolecular to increase conversion efficiency. SolarCity has recently announced a 117 percent growth of the amount of energy the company installed in 2011 (72 MW). Early indications show that 2013 is expected to beat the company’s original projections.

The report concludes that if consumers continue to see the long-term benefits of renewable energy, green energy companies should expect to have a strong and stable position in the overall market. The report anticipates a strong macro trend towards companies focusing on renewable resources and “green” products. In addition, institutional funds are adding corporate responsibility, ethical investing and environmental concerns as priorities when screening for new investments. The report believes that this change in dynamic within the investment community will create a “mass exodus” of investment dollars from aggressive cost-cutting companies towards companies focused on ethical approaches to business, consumers and the environment.

Third National Climate Assessment Released

Climate Change Photo Joanna SchroederA draft of the Third National Climate Assessment (NCA) has been released by the Climate Assessment Development Advisory Committee (NCADAC).  The committee says this is the most peer-reviewed analysis of climate change impacts on the United States. The assessment was written by 240 scientists and other experts from academia; local, state, and federal government; business; and the non‐profit sector. The public can review the draft and submit comments, and the final draft is expected to be released in early 2014.

Several key findings include new and stronger evidence that global climate is changing, extreme weather and climate events are increasing, and that the increase is related to human activities. In addition, the report finds:

  • Global climate is changing, and this is apparent across the US in a wide range of observations. The climate change of the past 50 years is due primarily to human activities, predominantly the burning of fossil fuels and is expected to accelerate if action is not taken.
  • Some extreme weather and climate events have increased in recent decades, and there is new and stronger evidence that many of these increases are related to human activities.
  • Impacts related to climate change are already evident in many sectors and are expected to become increasingly challenging across the nation throughout this century and beyond.
  • Climate change threatens human health and well-being in many ways, including impacts from increased extreme weather events, wildfire, decreased air quality, diseases transmitted by insects food and water and threats to mental health. Continue reading

2013 Waste to Biofuels Market Analysis

According to a recent white paper from Renewable Waste Intelligence, there are two key issues facing the biofuels industry: consumers and vehicle manufacturers must be persuaded to adopt new, more environmentally friendly gasoline blends; and advanced biofuels manufacturers must demonstrate commercial capability and play catch-up to Environmental Protection Agency targets for production.

With feedstock prices high for several feedstocks, including corn for ethanol and soybeans for biodiesel, many producers are looking for alternative feedstocks, or to move into “advanced” biofuel production. An interesting phenomena is that as waste feedstocks are more readily adopted for biodiesel production, such as yellow grease, animal fats, waste oil, etc. are used, the feedstock prices increase.

Screen Shot 2013-01-09 at 11.18.44 PMThis is one reason, according to the white paper, that producers are looking to lower-cost feedstocks and a burgeoning market is waste. The white paper cites 2005 EPA estimates more than 246 million tons of municipal solid waste (MSW) was generated with 133 million tons sent to landfills, 79 million tons recylcled and 33.4 million tons used to generate energy. Of this, millions of tons that is ordinarily sent to landfills would make a suitable feedstock.

In many cases, local governments pay for waste to be shipped to a landfill, the average is $42 per ton. However, by citing a biofuels facility near municipal processing facilities, biofuel producers can benefit from undercutting these costs while achieving “negative” feedstock costs, according to the paper. Some analysts have noted that MSW prices could eventually increase, as happened with other waste feedstocks, technological barriers make it unlikely for this to happen any time over the next decade.

The quest for the best technologies and most affordable feedstocks will continue for many years. Many of these issues will be discussed during the 3rd Annual Municipal Solid Waste to Biofuels and Bioproducts Summit being held in Orlando, Florida February 20-21, 2013. Click here for more information and to register online.

New Markets Tax Credits Spur Investment

There is a little secret in the renewable energy sector that many don’t know about – New Markets Tax Credits. These tax credits provide incentives for private investors to help fund projects that create jobs and diversify economics, and were extended for another year as part of the American Tax Relief Act.

CEI logoCongress first established the program in 2000 to stimulate investment and economic growth in low-income and under-served rural and urban communities that are often overlooked by conventional capital markets. Investors receive a seven-year, 39-percent federal tax credit as incentive to finance loans and investments in businesses and economic development projects in distressed communities. They are not restricted to energy projects.

According to CEO Charles Spies, CEI Capital Management is a national leader in awarding New Markets Tax Credits, having invested nearly three-quarters of a billion dollars in the last nine years. CEI Capital Management has its own triple bottom line investment criteria, where projects must benefit the local community, demonstrate economic gain and have a positive impact on the environment.

Last year, CEI Capital Management allocated $20.7 million in new markets tax credits to the $275 million Burgess BioPower Plant in rural Berlin, New Hampshire. Built on the site of a defunct paper mill, the plant will produce 75 megawatts of power from 759 thousand tons of sustainably grown wood annually. The project currently employs about 300 construction jobs and is on track to sustain 40 jobs in management and plant operations plus hundreds more in the woods associated with harvesting and transporting biomass. Continue reading

Algae.Tec Awarded $12.15M from Australian Gov.

Photo From Algae.TecAlgae.Tec has been awarded AU$12.15 million cash refund on Australian and overseas development costs for the financial years June 30, 2012 through June 30, 2015. The terms of the payment allow for an additional investment of AU$27 million on Algae.Tec technology developments, of which the Australian Government will reimburse 45 percent or $12.15 million. The approval is to support the funding of at least three algae bioreactor facilities in Australia, Asia and the U.S. The refund will be paid in cash to the company following expenditure. In addition, additional investments above the AU $27M will also be eligible for further government grants.

According to Algae.Tec, its enclosed bioreactor technology takes waste C02 from power and manufacturing facilities and uses it to grow valuable algae oil for transport fuels. The tax offset payments, called R&D Tax Incentives, are awarded and managed by the Australian Government entity AusIndustry and are designed to provide business with a “more predictable, less complex,” financial support structure.

Algae.Tec Managing Director Peter Hatfull said the company had applied for the approval last year as part of a range of attractive financing options available for the Company’s growth plans. “It was a rigorous process involving a complete review of our technology and global expansion plans. We see this as a real endorsement of our technology and strategic direction, and we are very pleased to have the support of the Australian Government’s AusIndustry. This is excellent news for the Company and our Australian and international investors,” said Hatfull.

AFPM Updates RFS Cellulosic Waiver Petition

The American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM) kicked off the year with a petition to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to waive the 2012 cellulosic biofuel mandate. The organization says the biofuel industry has repeatedly failed to produce the cellulosic biofuel needed to meet the government mandate under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

AFPM LogoOn January 9, 2012, EPA announced the applicable volumetric requirements for various renewable fuels under the RFS and established the 2012 regulatory requirement for cellulosic biofuel at 10.45 million ethanol-equivalent gallons. According AFPM, they relied upon EPA’s most recent data reported through October 2012 as the basis for their position. AFPM said available information indicated just 20,069 gallons of cellulosic biofuel actually produced, all of which was exported generating no Renewable Identification Numbers (RINS), or credits for refiners to use to comply with the federal biofuel mandate. Citing the lack of domestic supply, AFPM President Charles T. Drevna called EPA’s timeline for introducing cellulosic biofuel into the fuel supply market as “ambitious” and “unrealistic.”

EPA has since updated its data and announced that in November 2012 cellulosic production was an additional 1,741 ethanol equivalent gallons of cellulosic diesel fuel. In response, Drevna said, “I stand corrected. November’s data reporting that the biofuel industry produced 1,741 ethanol equivalent gallons of cellulosic diesel shows excellent progress toward complying with the EPA’s 2012 mandate of 10.45 million ethanol equivalent gallons of cellulosic biofuel. Six thousand additional months at this production level and the country will finally achieve EPA’s 2012 mandated volumes.”

Several cellulosic production facility went online during 2012 with several more expected to begin production during 2013. In addition, Project Liberty and DuPont’s cellulosic ethanol biorefineries, which will both use corn stover and cobs as feedstock, are expected to be in production by mid-2014.

Pacific Adopts Edeniq’s Cellunator Technology

Pacific Ethanol logoPacific Ethanol is implementing yield enhancing technology at its ethanol facility in Stockton, California. The company is adopting Edeniq’s Cellunators technology to boost ethanol yields by increasing available starch for conversion. In addition to expected improvements in ethanol yield, the installation of Cellunators technology makes available the adoption of Edeniq‘s Pathway technology integrating the Cellunator with proprietary enzymes to convert the cellulosic fraction of the corn kernel to ethanol, which enables a conventional plant to potentially produce cellulosic ethanol.

Neil Koehler, the company’s president and CEO, said, “Our agreement with Edeniq for its Cellunators technology demonstrates our commitment to improving efficiencies at the plant level and positions us to produce advanced biofuels within a corn ethanol plant. We expect this technology to increase yields and improve overall plant profitability.”

Ocotillo Wind Project Online Via New Transmission Line

There is a new transmission line up and running between San Diego and the Imperial Valley in California. The 117-mile 500-kv transition line, “Sunrise Powerlink” is transmitting energy from the now operational Ocotillo Wind project to residents and businesses in Southern California. The 265 megawatt (MW) wind power project consists of 94 turbines with an additional 18 turbines to be installed in the spring. The project is owned by Pattern Energy, and the energy produced is being sold to San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) via a 20 year power purchase agreement.

“The Ocotillo Wind project is a shining example of achieving local, state and national energy goals, while being the first renewable project to connect to the Sunrise Powerlink,” said Mike Garland, CEO of Pattern Energy. “Nearly 70% of the project was ‘made in America,’ producing local construction jobs, manufacturing jobs at the Southern California Ocotillo Wind Farm Photo: ALEJENADRO DAVILA PHOTOfactory where the towers were built and additional jobs in factories around the United States where the turbines and other components were made. The Ocotillo site has the strongest winds in the Imperial Valley, which results in attractive energy prices for San Diego County residents. We would like to thank SDG&E, California ISO, the local community leaders, and the Imperial County Board of Supervisors for their tremendous efforts in helping make the Ocotillo wind project a reality.”

The Sunrise Powerlink transmission line was completed in June 2012 and connects San Diego with the Imperial Valley – one of the most renewable-rich regions in California. The Sunrise Powerlink will eventually carry 1,000 MW of additional power into San Diego, or enough energy to serve 650,000 homes.

The project was selected by the Bureau of Land Management, and utilizes 112 Siemens 2.37 MW turbines, including American made wind towers, blades and nacelles. The Ocotillo Wind project was selected by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to help America reach its clean energy goals and protect its future energy security. The project is utilizing 112 Siemens 2.37 MW turbines, including American-made Siemens wind towers, blades and nacelles. The towers are made in California, manufactured by Ameron International, while the blades are made in Iowa and the nacelles are made in Kansas.

“When the Sunrise Powerlink was put into service this past June, it instantly brought reliability to a region with strained resources; one of the key reasons why the transmission line was designed,” said Michael R. Niggli, president and chief operating officer of SDG&E.  “Six months later, the line is carrying its first green contracted megawatts, solidifying another reason SDG&E proposed and built this project. We applaud Pattern Energy’s perseverance in seeing this project through and we look forward to the Ocotillo Wind Energy Facility being the first of more than a half dozen other renewable projects in Imperial County to connect to the Sunrise Powerlink.”

Author Anne Korin to Speak at Iowa Summit

Anne KorinAuthor and energy expert Anne Korin will be speaking at the 7th Annual Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit and Trade Show being held in The Meadows Conference Center in Altoona, Iowa on January 30, 2013.  Korin is co-director of the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security and has written several popular books such as “Energy Security Challenges for the 21st Century,” “Turning Oil into Salt,”and her most recent work: “Petropoly: The Collapse of America’s Energy Security Paradigm.” At the 2013 Summit, Korin will address the urgent need to break Big Oil’s monopoly over the transportation fuel sector and offer a solution to reduce the strategic importance of oil by increasing consumer fuel choice. Korin will be hosting a book signing following her presentation.

“Ms. Korin is one of today’s foremost experts on energy security and the findings of her new book really challenge folks to rethink how we evaluate our dependency on foreign oil,” said IRFA Executive Director Monte Shaw. “The money spent to import oil has very real consequences.  As such, adding competition to the marketplace through consumer fuel choice is a top priority.”

The Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit is free and open to the public, but pre-registration is required. Additional speakers include: Gov. Terry Branstad, Growth Energy’s Tom Buis, and Nathan Kauffman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.

Now is the Time to Invest in Renewables

Faegre Baker Daniels logoThe renewable industry remains abuzz about the American Tax Payer Relief Act that included the extension and modification of energy tax provisions. The tax extenders make investing in the renewables industry and in energy efficiency technologies a good move. Why? The firm of Faegre Baker Daniels LLP put together a brief overview of several key provisions that aid the industry for the next year and beyond.

Electricity Generation:

  • Production Tax Credit (PTC) — is a per-kilowatt hour incentive for the generation of electricity from qualified, renewable sources. The wind PTC was extended through 2013. In addition, the trigger for eligibility was changed to the start of construction of the facilities instead of the production of the electricity which significantly extends the use of the credit. The Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service will issue rulemakings clarifying this important change. Finally, the law amends the definition of municipal solid waste facilities to remove recyclable paper as an eligible feedstock.
  • Investment Tax Credit in Lieu of Production Tax Credit — Solar facilities can currently qualify for an investment tax credit of 30 percent of the cost of investment when a facility is placed in service. The law enables other renewable generation facilities to opt for this investment tax credit as opposed to the PTC mentioned above.
  • Indian Country Coal Production Credit — The law extends a provision that enables Indian tribes to qualify for a PTC equal to $2 per ton of coal sourced through their land through the end of 2013.

Energy Efficiency:

  • Energy Efficient Improvements to Existing Homes (25C) — The tax credit for installing energy efficient improvements to existing homes — such as improved HVAC units, windows, furnaces, and heat and water pumps — was extended through 2013 and is capped at $500. The law also updated the standards that such appliances would need to achieve to be eligible for the incentive.
  • New Energy Efficient Homes Credit — The law extends through 2013 the tax incentive for the production of energy efficient homes. To be eligible, new homes must achieve a 30 percent or 50 percent improvement over heating or cooling energy usage of a comparable residence. The level of efficiency determines the value of the credit.
  • Energy Efficient Appliance Credit — The tax credit for U.S.-manufactured, energy-efficient appliances was extended through 2013. This credit includes refrigerators, dishwashers and clothes washers. Continue reading

Missouri Students Travel to School with Propane

gI_80437_BlueBirdPropaneVisionWindmillStudents in O’Fallon and St. Peters, Missouri are riding to school in Blue Bird propane-powered vision school buses. The Fort Zumwalt School District piloted eight propane-powered school buses and found that they cut costs and reduced emissions. Since last June, the buses have produced 60 percent less carbon monoxide, 12 percent less carbon dioxide, 20 percent less nitrogen oxide and up to 25 percent less greenhouse gases when compared to gasoline. In addition, for the current fiscal year, the district is averaging $2.15 per gallon less than diesel fuel.

“The district is saving around 18.9 cents per mile due to lower fuel costs and anticipates these 8 Propane-Powered buses will save approximately $18,000 this school year,” said Jeff Orr, chief financial officer for Fort Zumwalt School District. “I have been told Fort Zumwalt is the first school district in the state of Missouri to add Blue Bird’s innovative Ford and ROUSH CleanTech powered propane buses to its fleet, and we are pleased to be the leader.”

Earlier this week, the school district won the Community Leadership in Environmental Awareness Now (CLEAN) award, presented by the Missouri Propane Education & Research Council. The award recognizes organizations that replace conventional fuel consumption for cleaner burning, domestically produced propane.

“We are delighted that Fort Zumwalt School District is seeing the immediate savings and environmental benefits associated with our propane technology,” added Phil Horlock, president and CEO of Blue Bird Corporation. “These buses will ensure that students in O’Fallon and St. Peters benefit from cleaner air while taxpayers can relish in the fuel and maintenance savings associated with propane autogas. With our partners at Central States Bus Sales and ROUSH CleanTech, Blue Bird will continue to provide comprehensive training and support to the transportation team at Fort Zumwalt.”

Gov. Branstad Chairs Governors’ Biofuels Coalition

IA Gov Branstad at Iowa Renewable Fuels SummitIowa Governor Terry Branstad has been selected to become Chair of the Governor’s Biofuels Coalition (GBC) for 2013. Rick Schwarck, president of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association, wrote a letter to Branstad, who will be speaking at their upcoming Summit, congratulating him.

“Your leadership and willingness to serve as a great representative of Iowa has been instrumental in helping our state lead the nation in both renewable fuels production and policy. Your work as the original chair of what was then called the Governors’ Ethanol Coalition and your more recent accomplishments as Vice Chair of the GBC have truly helped lift the industry to where it stands today.”

“We look forward to working with you as GBC Chair to continue to expand E15 availability nationwide, maintain the federal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), and enact stable, long-term tax policies favorable to the further development and growth of the biodiesel and cellulosic ethanol industries.”

Click here to read the entire letter.

U.S. Energy Initiatives to Build Biodiesel Plants

USEI logoU.S. Energy Initiatives Corp (USEI) has signed a letter of intent to form a joint venture that will provide support to build several small scale biodiesel plants in California featuring Methes Energies Canada’s Denami 600 technology. Methes Energies Canada is a biodiesel equipment provider and biodiesel Methes Energies logoproduction. Collaboratively, a biodiesel plant will be built in Southern California with a nameplate production capacity of 1.3 million gallons.

Anthony Miller, U.S. Energy Initiatives’ CEO, said, “We are excited to be working with companies with such stellar reputations.” He noted that in 2013, the company will focus on biodiesel and then move into oil and gas technologies. To implement the company’s strategy, USEI has entered into two joint partnerships.

According to Methes, the Denami 600 has one of the smallest footprints in the industry and can quickly and easily be set up anywhere to produce 1.3 million gallons of ASTM quality biodiesel per year.

You’re Invited – Green Guides Webinar

What’s it mean to be “green,” “non-toxic” and “renewable”? You’ll will be able to answer these questions after participating in the upcoming webinar: FTC ‘Green Guides': Implications for biodiesel and biobased communications being held on January 17, 2013 at 1:00 CST.

NBB-logo1During the webinar, participants will learn what the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) revised “Green Guides” mean for biodiesel and biobased products manufacturers and marketers.  FTC has recently updated its “Green Guides,” which are designed to help marketers ensure that the claims they make about the environmental attributes of their products are truthful and non-deceptive.

The National Biodiesel Board (NBB) is offering this webinar to NBB members and biobased products manufacturers. The featured speaker is FTC Senior Attorney Laura Koss. In addition to her extensive work on the “Green Guides,” Koss has worked on a variety of matters, including investigations involving the advertising and promotion of dietary supplement products and country-of-origin claims. Prior to working at the FTC, Ms. Koss was an Associate at the international law firm Crowell & Moring in Washington, D.C.  She holds a bachelor’s degree from Cornell University and a J.D. from Harvard Law School.

Click here to learn more about the webinar and to register.

API’s Crusade Against Ethanol Continues

API 2013 State of Enery ReportYesterday the American Petroleum Industry (API) released its annual “State of American Energy” report. The release of the report was part of an event where API President and CEO Jack Gerard gave an energy highlight speech. Following the event, Tom Buis, CEO of ethanol industry organization Growth Energy, said that Gerard’s speech brought nothing new to table. Buis said that Bil Oil is fixated on on a “finite resource” and the industry fails to “acknowledge that renewable fuels will play an important role in meeting the nation’s future energy needs.

“While they may mention an ‘all of the above’ approach, the reality is they continue to pursue an ‘all of the above, except renewables.’ Special interests continue to be complacent, accepting the status quo of relying on foreign sources of oil and exporting America’s hard earned money to nefarious groups like OPEC and dictators from some of the most hostile and anti-American countries in the world,” continued Buis.

He noted that the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) is working and has helped to decrease foreign oil imports by 32 percent; created more than 400,000 good paying jobs; improved the environment; and allowed consumers choices at the pump.

Buis concluded, “What API really said yesterday is that they want to kill any competition that may threaten their bottom line and record profits. They will stop at nothing to maintain the blend wall, prevent market access for fuels such as E15 and ensure that their lock on the fuels market goes unchecked. The RFS is the most successful energy policy this nation has enacted in the last forty years. Not only is it creating jobs but it is revitalizing rural economies. The RFS is a win-win for America, as it is an essential part of a true “all of the above” energy strategy needed to meet the growing energy demands of the 21st century.”