Patriot Renewable Fuels has signed a Professional Services Agreement to install ICM’s Fiber Seperation Technology (FST) as well as their Generation 1.5 Grain Fiber to Cellulosic Ethanol Technology (Gen 1.5) for its biorefinery. According to Gene Griffith, Patriot’s CEO says they are considering beginning construction in February 2015 upon board approval.
According to ICM, FST is a value-added technology that increases ethanol yield and throughput as well as increased oil recovery. Patriot is currently adding a biodiesel plant that will convert the ethanol’s corn oil to biodiesel. Production is anticipated to begin in early 2015. The FST process separates the fiber from the kernel before the traditional fermentation process.
Once the separation occurs, the Gen 1.5 process then ferments the fiber to produce cellulosic ethanol. With the combined technologies, ethanol production is estimated to increase by six to 10 percent. By removing the fiber prior to the standard fermentation process, FST allows the plant to produce each gallon more efficiently and creates the option of diversified co-products such as high protein feeds.
“With this step, Patriot will be better positioned to help lead the corn-based ethanol industry into increased production of cellulosic ethanol,” said Griffith “With board approval for these projects, Patriot could be the first ethanol plant to produce two Advanced Biofuels [corn-based biodiesel, and cellulosic ethanol]. We believe these processes will not only diversify our plant, but they will also improve ethanol yield of traditional corn based ethanol to over 3.08 gallons per bushel.”
Patriot VP/GM, Rick Vondra added, “We are excited that Patriot’s board approved this next step toward cellulosic ethanol by agreeing to complete the engineering and design for these processes. We appreciate the research and development that ICM has done to develop these new processes along with ICM’s Selective Milling Technology that we installed in 2013. Our team is positioned to continue working with ICM to grow our business. ICM’s ethanol technology is a logical platform on which to build our business as a biorefinery. There are many new products and growth possibilities using corn as our feedstock, and we have identified these as two high potential processes that we can adopt now.”
The California Energy Commission (CEC) has awarded a $3 million grant to Calpine Corporation’s subsidiary Geyers Power Company for their “Advancing Utility-Scale Clean Energy” proposal. The grant will be matched by Calpine. The focus of the study is to determine how The Geysers may be modified to improve flexibility and address greater demands on the grid due to intermittent renewables.
“The Geysers is a true treasure of California,” said Joseph Ronan, senior advisor of government and regulatory affairs for Calpine. “In continual operation for over 50 years, this keystone resource will continue to play a major role in helping California meet its renewable energy and climate objectives for years to come.”
The Geysers is the world’s largest geothermal resource developed for electric generation and produces approximately 6 million megawatt hours of electricity equating to more than 15 percent of the delivered renewable energy in California.
Jim Kluesener, vp of geothermal operations for Calpine added, “While The Geysers currently offers a considerable amount of flexibility and shaping to the system, we have been analyzing new ways to operate our facility with even greater responsiveness to changing demand. This grant will enhance our ability to support the reliability needs of the system from this renewable and low-carbon resource. We are appreciative of the support from the CEC and other California energy stakeholders in considering the role of The Geysers in meeting the challenges associated with integrating other renewable technologies into the grid.”
Boeing and Commercial Aircraft Corp. of China (COMAC) have opened a demonstration facility that will produce aviation biofuels from used cooking oil or “gutter oil” as it is called in China. The companies estimate gutter oil could produce 500 million gallons (1.8 billion liters) of aviation biofuels each year.
“Strong and continuing teamwork between Boeing and COMAC is helping our industry make progress on environmental challenges that no single company or country can solve alone,” said Ian Thomas, President, Boeing China. “By working together for mutual benefit, we’re finding innovative ways to support China’s aviation industry and build a sustainable future.”
Boeing and COMAC are sponsoring the China-U.S. Aviation Biofuel Pilot Project. It will use a technology developed by Hangzhou Energy & Engineering Technology Co., Ltd. (HEET) to clean contaminants from waste oils and convert it into jet fuel at a rate of 160 gallons (650 liters) per day. The project’s goal is to assess the technical feasibility and cost of producing higher volumes of biofuel.
“We are very happy to see the progress that has been made in the collaboration between Boeing and COMAC, especially the achievement in aviation biofuel technology,” said Dr. Guangqiu Wang, Vice President of COMAC’s Beijing Aeronautical Science & Technology Research Institute. “We will continue to work with Boeing in energy conservation and emissions reduction areas to promote the sustainable development of the aviation industry.”
The Boeing Current Market Outlook forecasts that China will require more than 6,000 new airplanes by 2033 to meet fast-growing passenger demand for domestic and international air travel. Boeing and COMAC have been collaborating since 2012 through their Boeing-COMAC Aviation Energy Conservation and Emissions Reductions Technology Center. The biojet fuel produced by the project will meet international specifications approved in 2011 for jet fuel made from plant oils and animal fats. This type of biofuel has already been used for more than 1,600 commercial flights.
Americans United for Change (AUC) is saying Iowa has become the latest victim of a Big Oil spill. According to the organization it was reported that Koch brothers-affiliated Super PAC is saturating Iowa’s airwaves with a dishonest attack ad on Iowa Senate hopeful Joni Ernt’s behalf.
In the words of Americans United, “Call it a friend doing a friend a favor, and expecting a big favor in return”.
Not too long ago Ernst was caught on tape praising the billionaire oil barons for launching her career “trajectory” beyond “a little known State Senator”. AUC say the anti-ethanol Koch family and donor network has funneled tens of thousands of dollars into her campaign, especially after she professed her ‘philosophical opposition’ to the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) despite the fact it supports nearly 75,000 Iowa jobs. That was music to the ears, says AUC of the entire oil industry which is trying to put their cleaner, cheaper ethanol competition out of business – as was Ernst’s campaign declaration that: “Joni actually believes that when you spend money, you should get something in return”.
So what do the Koch brothers expect in return for their ‘trajectory’ launching investment in Ernst’s political future? According to new report from Environment & Energy Publishing, Koch Industries has spent nearly $9.5 million on its advocacy operations so far this year. “…That’s a significant hike from the almost $8 million that the oil and gas giant spent on lobbying at this point last year.” And according to the latest U.S. Senate lobbying reports filed under the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995, two of the top legislative priorities that the Koch Industries lobbied for included the Renewable Fuel Standard Repeal Act (S.1195) and the Corn Ethanol Mandate Elimination Act of 2013 (S.1807).
“The anti-ethanol Koch brothers are counting up all the favors they’ve done for their friend Joni Ernst, and it’s approaching the million mark,” says Jeremy Funk, communications director for Americans United for Change. “And they’re not the type of guys who forget about it. Would Exxon Ernst be able to say ‘no’ to her big oil friends when they call in a favor that runs counter to Iowa’s economic interests? Would she look the other way when the Kochs spend another $10 million lobbying the Senate to kill the RFS and Iowa jobs? With stakes so high for Iowa’s future, Ernst’s loyalties shouldn’t be this big of a question mark – but unfortunately they are.”
NRG Energy, Inc. and MGM Resorts International have completed installation of what they believe is the world’s largest rooftop solar array on a convention center. Covering approximately 20 acres atop the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, the 6.4 MW photovoltaic array will produce enough electricity to power the equivalent of 1,000 average sized U.S. homes each year and is the first of its kind on the Las Vegas Strip.
“Together, MGM Resorts and NRG are an excellent example of private sector companies working together to develop innovative technologies that protect our planet’s most precious resources,” said Nevada Senator and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. “I applaud MGM and NRG for leading the way for other businesses to embrace environmental best practices, and demonstrating that it’s good for business.”
MGM Resorts and NRG also announced plans to build an additional 2 MW dc photovoltaic array atop a future expansion of the Mandalay Bay Convention Center, scheduled to begin construction later this year.
“Today marks a major milestone for MGM Resorts, NRG and the entire Las Vegas community,” said Jim Murren, Chairman and CEO of MGM Resorts International. “The completion of this solar array demonstrates our steadfast commitment to the principles of environmental responsibility, and the announcement of the second array reinforces that we’re always looking to do more.”
When the addition is completed, the solar project is projected to provide pricing stability and reduce energy draw from the grid during peak times. Through a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA), Mandalay Bay Resort will purchase all the electricity generated by both solar arrays.
Tom Doyle, President and CEO of NRG Renew added, “As one of the largest providers of renewable energy solutions in North America, we’re delighted to be the chosen partner of MGM Resorts to take this giant leap forward and join their longstanding legacy in environmental stewardship. NRG envisions a thriving, sustainable future powered by renewable energy. We look forward to continuing our partnership with MGM in bringing competitively priced, clean energy to Mandalay Bay through the second solar array of this project; further supporting their commitment to reducing energy costs.”
There is a new app for propane. The Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) released a suite of cost calculator tools designed for customers in three of the industry’s fastest-growing markets: agriculture, commercial landscape, and on road fleets. The calculators estimate potential fuel savings and ROI when using propane as compared with conventional fuels such as gasoline and diesel.
“One of the main reasons fleets, agribusiness operators or commercial landscapers consider making a switch to an alternative fuel like propane is simple: They want to improve their bottom line,” said Tucker Perkins, PERC’s chief business development officer. “With these new applications, equipment dealers, propane providers, and customers can easily calculate fuel costs with propane specific to their market and operations. And with the online and mobile tools, they can share results on the spot via email.”
The PERC cost calculator series currently includes the Propane Irrigation Engine Calculator, Propane Mower Calculator and Propane Autogas Calculator – all available in multiple different platforms.
BlueFire Renewables has received a Letter of Intent from the Export Import Bank of China to provide up to $270 million in debt financing for its bioenergy project located in Fulton, Mississippi. As advanced bioenergy companies struggle with private financing, BlueFire said the the financing is “unprecedented” and significant for the U.S. market.
“This is a significant feat, not just for BlueFire as it also provides a model for the U.S. small business community because it is a strong indication of China’s commitment to support and fund U.S. renewable energy technologies to improve the environment and build a strong foundation for cooperation between China and the U.S. in the field of renewable energy,” said Arnold Klann, CEO of BlueFire Renewables.
According to Klann, BlueFire has been working with China EXIM in response to the China Strategic and Economic Dialogue with the U.S. that encourages U.S./China cooperation in the renewable energy field including financing. Klann believes his company’s technology could be the path to commercialization for many languishing renewable energy projects.
“There are significant opportunities for replicating the BlueFire Fulton size or larger facilities in China and the U.S. to deal with problematic agricultural and urban waste currently being burned or buried,” added Klann. “Debt financing has been the most difficult part of the financing to obtain for the cellulosic biofuels industry. BlueFire’s business model and relationships with China EXIM will set the standard for future debt financing arrangements and could be the spark that leads to the more beneficial use of cellulosic wastes in the biofuels industry in the U.S. and China. We are cracking the code when it comes to striking a win-win business deal for China, the U.S. and energy consumers.”
The Letter of Intent continues the international collaboration between U.S. and China initiated by BlueFire. The companies will continue to work together to complete the standard due diligence procedures of the China EXIM bank and meet all credit criteria and condition precedent to reach definitive agreements in order to complete the financing as soon as possible. Once completed, China Three Gorges Corporation and its U.S. subcontractors will begin construction of the Fulton Project.
The Ansell factory complex in Biyagama, Sri Lanka has installed its second biomass boiler as part of company initiatives to be greener. The new boiler has a capacity of 12.5MW and will be the largest hot water boiler in Sri Lanka. Ansell Lanka already has a 10.5MW boiler installed at its premises, which reduced CO2 emissions by 11,000 MT per annum. From 2004 to 2012, CO2 emissions have been reduced by 36 percent across all of Ansell’s manufacturing facilities, with the global CO2 emission rate from 2013 to 2014 alone reduced by 6 percent. The company anticipates the reduction of a further 14,000 MT of CO2 emissions annually as furnace oil consumption will now be reduced to the bare minimum.
“This project represents another step forward in Ansell’s business strategy to conducting business ethically, transparently, and in ways that produce social, environmental, and economic benefits for communities around the world,” said Steve Genzer, senior vice president of global operations at Ansell. “We would like to thank the government of Sri Lanka for its continued support, and the more than 4,000 Ansell employees who are the driving force of implementing these green programs.”
The announcement is part of the company’s Green Productivity program, focused on energy management, and implemented within manufacturing operations across Ansell. Energy management at Ansell focuses on achieving the most efficient and effective use of energy and simultaneously reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Programs that have been implemented include the installation of equipment to recover energy from flue gas emitted from boiler chimneys as an energy source to heat water, the installation of energy efficient equipment to provide chilled water for manufacturing site cooling systems and the conversion of fossil fuels to renewable energy sources.
“While the forward progress made in the last 10 years has been incredible, this is only the tip of the iceberg in how Ansell will be doing business differently in the years to come,” added Genzer. “Ansell is committed to a number of sustainable and practical initiatives that are designed to make a positive and lasting contribution to the markets it serves and the community in general.”
A national poll by EnviroMedia fins that a large majority of Americans are definately or somewhat interested in new solar leasing programs offering installation for little or no money down and a low monthly fee.
“It’s no surprise we found 70 percent of Americans perceived ‘cost’ was a barrier to installing solar panels,” said EnviroMedia president and behavior change expert Kevin Tuerff. “Consumers are probably unaware of the plummeting cost of solar power, and most have never heard of solar leasing.”
The new poll finds 48 percent of American homeowners say they have not considered adding solar panels to their home to offset some of their electricity use. However interest in a solar option spiked when respondents were educated about the benefits of a solar leasing program. About 67 percent said that they were very or somewhat interested in such a program.
The poll also found that only 9 percent of respondents said they currently participate in a renewable energy or green power option with their electricity provider. But 69 percent said they might be interested.
“Americans need basic education about where their electricity comes from and how clean energy works,” added Tuerff. “Unfortunately, only one-third of Americans said they definitely know the fuel source of their electricity, so we’ve got a ways to go.”
Last week Abengoa’s cellulosic ethanol biorefinery went online and is expected to produce 25 million gallons of advanced ethanol per year as well as 21 MW of bioenergy. But how exactly does the corn and wheat residue get from the fields to the biorefinery in a economical and efficient way? Enter Pacific Ag.
The company was founded by Bill Levy in 1998 and began by baling residue for growers and using the biomass for animal feed both in the U.S. and internationally. It was a natural progression for Pacific Ag to get involved in cellulosic production in the U.S. and to become a major supplier to the industry.
I asked Levy to talk about their residue removal model. He noted that since their inception, they have always focused on having a balanced residue program for growers and they are finding value for those products for them. So taking their successful model from the Northwest and applying it to the Midwest was a good fit. “The fundamentals of having residue removed on a timely basis and in a sustainable way is really the same,” explained Levy. Today they are in California, North Carolina, Iowa, Kansas and he says they have innovated to become “energy balers” because of the new bioenergy market for residue.
There has been talk about the best biomass model for the biofuels industry. I posed this question to Levy and he explained how they have refined their model to be financial feasible. “We have tried to make it easy for growers to be part of the program by taking care of the harvest, we own the machinery, we schedule the harvest or the removal of the residue, or energy crop with the grower and then we provide them with an income stream for that product,” Levy answered. “It’s very important that we have the size that allows us to invest in that equipment and a lot of times it doesn’t make sense financially for a grower to to invest in that harvest equipment just to harvest the residue.” Pacific Ag is the largest purchaser and owner of baling equipment in the world.
“So what growers enjoy is being able to sit back and enjoy a residue removal program and the income from that but not have to put a lot of effort into it,” added Levy.
Pacific Ag is looking for growers of rice, wheat, corn and other biomass crops who are interested in working with them. As cellulosic ethanol plants including Abengoa continue to ramp up to nameplate capacity, more biomass will be needed and Pacific Ag is ready to be the advanced biofuels partner to help make the cellulosic industry and the growers who plant the bioenergy crops, successful.
Learn more about Pacific Ag and how to become involved in the biomass energy revolution by listening to my interview with Bill Levy: Interview with Bill Levy, Pacific Ag
Abengoa Cellulosic Ethanol Plant Grand Opening photo album.
Who better to learn about how Abengoa’s cellulosic ethanol plant works then from Plant Manager Danny Allison. He explained to the standing room only crowd during Abengoa’s grand opening celebration, how the state-of-the-art biorefinery will produce cellulosic ethanol, bioenergy and other byproducts including ash that farmers can use as organic fertilizer on their fields.
Here is how the plant works:
Biomass: biomass harvested from local growers corn and wheat fields by Pacific Ag is delivered to the Abengoa plant to begin the ethanol production process. Each bale is quality tested for moisture, dust and other contaminants that could hinder the conversion process.
Biomass In-take Lines: six-packs of residue travel down conveyor belts to be separated into single bales by a singulator. Each bale goes through a chopper, cutting the biomass into easy-to-handle materials and then fed into a grinder.
Pre-Treatment: The pre-treatment process is where the starch is converted to sugars using Abengoa’s proprietary enzymes. From there fermentation occurs suing industrial yeast to convert the sugar to alcohol. At the end of fermentation, the liquid, now 5 percent alcohol, goes into a 1.3 million gallon tank, or beer well.
Distillation System and Ethanol Holding Tanks: All solids, water vapor and alcohol are removed. The now 95 percent pure ethanol moves to a column while the remaining 5 percent goes to the bottom for reprocessing and reclamation. After all impurities and water are removed, the finished ethanol is pumped to half-million storage tanks and ready for shipment by rail or truck.
Electrical Power Station: The Abengoa bioenergy plant will also produce up to 21MW of renewable electricity used to power the plant. Excess electricity will be fed to the grid for city use.
Learn more about the process by listening to Danny Allison’s remarks: Danny Allison Remarks
Abengoa Cellulosic Ethanol Plant Grand Opening photo album.
Consumers interested in electric vehicles (EVs) now have a way to do their research. A new ‘pick-a-plug‘ web tool has been released by the Sierra Club. The app asks the user a few questions about driving habits and vehicle needs, and then generates a list of EVs that fit the bill. Sierra Club said there is no overall best EV – the best EV for any given driver depends on how many miles a day the person drives, whether the person takes frequent long trips, whether there is a place to plug in the car, and how much money the person is prepared to spend.
“There are a lot of compelling reasons why more than a quarter million Americans have already bought EVs since they first came on the mass market a few years ago,” said Gina Coplon-Newfield, director of the Sierra Club’s Future Fleet & Electric Vehicles Initiative. “They are cool high-tech wonders, there is little or no need to ever visit a gas station, they are much cheaper to fuel -the equivalent of about $1 a gallon, and they are much better for the environment -even when considering the emissions from the electricity to charge them up.”
Today there is a $2,500-7,500 federal tax credit that comes with the purchase of an EV, and many cities and states offer additional incentives, like a purchase/lease rebate, carpool lane access, and special utility rates for EV drivers. Linked to the new ‘pick-a-plug-in’ web tool is Sierra Club’s online EV Guide where all of this information is available by zip code, as well as a tool that calculates how much carbon emissions and fueling costs the EV will save compared to the average conventional car.
Currently, less than 1 percent of U.S. households have an EV, but according to a poll conducted last year by the Consumers Union and the Union of Concerned Scientists, nearly half of American households could purchase an EV for their next car based on driving needs and access to electrical outlets or EV charging stations.