BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDFOlympian High School and Sweetwater Union High School District, located in Chula Vista, California along with SunPower Corp. are celebrating the installation of 9.3 megawatts of high efficiency SunPower solar power systems at 21 district schools. The district estimates that the systems may offset about 60 percent of its utility grid demand.
  • EnerDynamic Hybrid Technologies Corp. announced that its joint venture company Maple Leaf Energy S.A., has signed a MOU with the National Agency for Renewable Energy (owned by Gov’t of Senegal) to install EHT’s proprietary hybrid energy systemsand supply power to 125,000 private residences in the Republic of Senegal in West Africa. The company will to pand install 125,000 of its hybrid solar and wind systems over the next 5 years. The systems will incorporate Smart Box Technology allowing each residence to produce electricity for consumption in that residence (and store a reserve) and distribute surplus energy into the power grid.
  • NedPower LLC, a buyer and developer of hydroelectric power plants, has enlisted Marathon Capital to secure development and project capital to fund NedPower’s acquisition of operating hydroelectric facilities and late stage development. Marathon Capital’s role will also include providing assistance in formulating financing for NedPower’s projects and identifying and securing prospective third party investors.
  • The Export-Import Bank announced today that it authorized approximately $200 million to finance U.S. renewable energy exports in FY 2014, bringing its total support to nearly $2 billion since 2009. Backed by a congressional mandate to support environmentally beneficial U.S. exports, Ex-Im is committed to empowering American companies to sell their renewable energy goods and services in overseas markets, which results in more highly skilled jobs for U.S. workers.

DOE Annouced $15M to Integrate Solar on Grid

The Department of Energy (DOE) has announced $15 million in funding to help integrate distributed, on-site solar systems into the electric grid. During the last 18 months, more solar has been installed than the 30 years prior, and since President Obama took office, the amount of solar installed has increased more than thirteen-fold from 1.2 GW i 2008 to nearly 15.5 GW today.

US DOE Energy logoWith more solar energy coming online, there is a great need to address the challenges of solar energy including variability of sun. This can be overcome with better grid integration technology.

According to DOE, the funding opportunity is aim at projects that enable low-cost, flexible and reliable solutions that successfully integrate solar PV power plants and energy storage. The funded technologies will tackle the challenge of creating cost-effective and reliable distributed PV and energy storage solutions to help overcome the challenges associated with increased amounts of renewables. Eligible projects include solutions that will help revolutionize distributed PV and energy storage through:

  • Advanced operation in conjunction with smart loads and demand response,
  • Incorporation of solar and load forecasting,
  • Innovative uses of smart components and functionalities, and
  • Easily interoperable hardware, software and firmware technologies.

This funding builds on SunShot’s work to drive innovations in systems integration technologies that support the deployment of solar energy and the reliability and efficiency of electricity generation, delivery, and use. Click here to find more information about this funding opportunity, including application requirements.

SAE Paper Calls Out EPA’s Ethanol Emissions Testing

A new study from the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) has called the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) E15 emission testing “flawed”. Others agree with the findings including the Urban Air Initiative (UAI) and the Energy Future Coalition (EFC). The SAE reviewed EPA models that are used to determine emissions from various fuel blends, known as “match blending”. The procedures were found by the SAE to show skewed results and the authors state has produced emission increases that are “incorrectly attributed to ethanol”.

The paper focuses on the fact that modification of gasoline blendstock composition in preparing ethanol-gasoline blends has a significant impact on vehicle exhaust emissions. In “splash” blending the blendstock is fixed, ethanol-gasoline blend urban_air_initiative_newsletterscompositions are clearly defined, and effects on emissions are relatively straightforward to interpret. In “match” blending the blendstock composition is modified for each ethanol-gasoline blend to match one or more fuel properties. The effects on emissions depend on which fuel properties are matched and what modifications are made, making trends difficult to interpret.

According to Steven VanderGriend, Urban Air Initiative Technical Director, the SAE paper helps make the argument UAI has made that splash blending higher volumes of ethanol on to finished E10 not only fails to raise any emissions but serves to improve emissions by diluting sulfur and aromatics, along with reducing the current non-regulated ultrafine particulates emissions. Also, by using ethanol’s octane potential, the greatest CO2 and mileage benefits can be achieved by the auto industry.

“This paper can serve as an important tool to correct the MOVES (Motor Vehicle Emissions Simulator) model that EPA requires states to use when estimating air quality impacts of motor fuels,” said VanderGriend. “As an independent source, the auto industry experts who were involved in this study are validating the concerns we have had for quite some time now.”

“In fact,” VanderGriend continued, “we are very excited with regard to the conclusion they reached that studies to evaluate the effects of ethanol should be conducted by adjusting the blendstock only as necessary to satisfy ASTM requirements. Blending ethanol at up to 30% volume with an E10 blendstock should generally require no change in composition to meet ASTM D4814.”

Register Now for 9th IRFA Summit

2015 Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit crowdsRegistration is now open for the 9th annual Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit and Trade Show. The event will take place January 27, 2015 at The Meadows Conference Center located at Prairie Meadows in Altoona, Iowa and is free and open to the public. Click here for registration and sponsorship information.

With ongoing discussion over renewable fuels policy, the 2015 Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit will discuss state and national issues impacting the renewable fuels industry, including the future of the federal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), the impacts of the mid-term elections on U.S. energy policy, and emerging opportunities for cellulosic ethanol, E15, and biodiesel. Featured speakers will be announced leading up to the Summit.

“The Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit provides a great opportunity to listen to experts address state and national issues impacting the future of renewable fuels, as well as network with biofuels professionals and business leaders from throughout the Midwest,” said Iowa Renewable Fuels Association Executive Director Monte Shaw. “Taking into account the unclear impacts of mid-term elections and the uncertain future of the RFS, there’s a no shortage of interest in the 2015 Summit that will bring together industry leaders, decision makers and the general public to shape Iowa’s energy future.”

Solenis Receives Corn Oil Extraction Patent

Solenis has received a U.S. patent (Patent No. US 8,841,469 B2) for the use of chemical additives to improve the separation of corn oil. In addition to yielding more corn oil, the company says its corn oil extraction aids, which are marketed as Dimension corn oil extraction aids, also reduce solids in the oil, resulting in a cleaner, higher-quality oil. The extraction aids, which are easily introduced into the process, also have been shown to reduce system deposition, resulting in less downtime for system cleaning and maintenance according to Solenis.

Solenis logo“Our goal is always to drive the profitability of the companies we do business with – and our extraction aids do just that,” said Allen Ziegler, global marketing director of biorefining at Solenis. “We’re not a one-trick product company. We have a full line of products that can benefit our customers – from reducing costs to increasing productivity. On top of that, our process experts are always looking for innovative ways to further build efficiencies. It’s inherent in everything we do.”

Previously known as Ashland Water Technologies, Solenis was part of Ashland Inc. until earlier this year when it became a stand-alone company. In addition to its corn oil extraction technologies, the company’s product portfolio includes a broad array of process, functional and water treatment chemistries as well as monitoring and control systems.

“The reality is that we were first to market with this technology and we have hard data to demonstrate its value, whereas with competitor products there can be significant variances in product performance,” said Ziegler. “Whether customers have a specially blended product or want validation that our technology works the same or better than what they’re currently using, we’ll work with them to get the product they need and the performance they expect.”

“We’re seeking to bring greater value to fuel ethanol plants with our patented and proven technology. But just as important, we want to establish good relationships with those companies,” Zeigler added.

U.S. Bank & Microgrid Solar Aid Nonprofits

More than 50 nonprofits in and around St. Louis, Missouri now have access to renewable energy due to the help of U.S. Bank and Microgrid Solar. The two companies (U.S. Bancorp Community Development Corporation- USBCDC is the actual funder) are financing the installation and operation of up to 120 solar PV U.S. Bank and Microgrid Solar nonprofit solar installationprojects to benefit 56 nonprofit organizations. Each 25 kilowatt solar installation will produce approximately 30,000 kilowatt hours of electricity a year, enough to save these nonprofits tens of thousands of dollars in reduced utility bills according to Microgrid Solar.

“This project totals 3 megawatts (MW) of solar power capacity that is being installed at some of the most well-known nonprofit organizations and schools in the St. Louis area,” said Rick Hunter, CEO of Microgrid Solar. “We think this will have a major impact, not only for the organizations, but for improving awareness and education around solar in the St. Louis area generally. This is a unique financing program that is really a first nationally, and which essentially provides solar to a nonprofit organization at zero budgetary cost.”

USBCDC works with solar system installation firms around the nation to help businesses and homeowners add PV systems to their offices and homes, saving utility costs and reducing pollution and U.S. dependence on foreign petroleum. “Reliable solar is a great investment for businesses, communities, and financiers alike,” said Dan Siegel, vice president of USBCDC. “We’re proud to leverage our renewable energy expertise and support to create opportunities for sustainability in St. Louis.”

Last year, USBCDC also partnered with Microgrid to install solar on several of its U.S. Bank branches.

BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDFVirent and the PlantPET Technology Collaborative (PTC) announced that the parties have signed an Expression of Interest that provides individual members of the PTC an option on preferred access to Virent’s 100% plant-based BioFormPX paraxylene (PX) to be produced at the company’s first industrial manufacturing facility. The plant-based PX, when combined with existing PET technology, allows manufacturers to offer customers 100% renewable, recyclable, PET packaging and polyester fibers.
  • Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced proposed new actions to include new forest products in the BioPreferred program. The proposal also includes other traditional biobased products and other mature market products, which have been produced in innovative ways. USDA seeks public comment for 60 days on the proposed rules published in the Federal Register.
  • The Second International Ocean Research Conference will take place November 17-21, 2014 in Barcelona, Spain. The event will give the scientific community an opportunity to take stock of global research and determine a roadmap for the years to come. The purpose of the event is also to help secure recognition for the important role of the ocean in the international political agenda. Close to 600 scientists from more than 70 countries are scheduled to take part in the conference which is co-organized by UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (COI), Fundació Navegació Oceànica Barcelona (Spain) and the Oceanography Society (USA).
  • CBD Energy Limited has announced that it has fully erected 6 wind turbines on its Taralga Wind Farm site in New South Wales, Australia, with a further 17 nearing completion. When construction is complete, the Taralga Wind Farm will have 51 operating wind turbines. The initial generation from constructed wind turbines is planned for December 2014. When completed, the approximately US$265 million project is forecasted to generate on average US$25 million of revenues each year for its investors. The project’s off-take customer is Energy Australia, one of Australia’s largest utilities.

OnForce Solar Completes Solar Landfill Project

OnForce Solar has completed what the company says is the first of its kind solar landfill project in the state of New York. The 2.364 MW solar array was built on 13 acres of decommissioned, capped landfill in West Nyack for the Town of Clarkstown. The solar farm will generate 2,800,000 kilowatt hours of clean energy per year and is expected to save taxpayers as much as $4M over the lifetime of the system according to OnForce Solar.

OnforceSolar.ClarkstownClarkstown Supervisor Alex Gromack said of the project, “We are very proud to be the first municipality in New York to install a solar field on a capped landfill. Councilman Hoehmann, who first proposed this idea in 2009, town officials, our consultants H2M architects + engineers, and I have been working on this project for several years and we are excited to see it finally come to fruition.”

The project is owned in full by OnForce Solar. The company invested $6M to install, operate, and maintain the solar installation pursuant to a 20-year Power Purchase Agreement (PPA). Additionally, the town was reimbursed $100,000 by OnForce Solar to cover any out-of-pocket expenses making the project ultimately cost-free for the Clarkstown. The solar system installation was made possible, in part, through support that the Town of Clarkstown received from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) through Governor Cuomo’s NY-Sun initiative.

The solar system integrates Orange and Rockland Utilities’ supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) monitoring system that allows the utility to remotely monitor and control the solar system. The SCADA monitoring system, part of the the utility industry’s Smart Grid Pilot Program, adds an enhanced level of resiliency to Orange and Rockland Utilities’ grid, helping to protect the utility’s customers from catastrophic power outages according to OnForce Solar.

“We are very excited to commission the very first PV on landfill project in the state of New York,” added Charles Feit, CEO of OnForce Solar. “Our gratitude goes out to Governor Cuomo, NYSERDA, The Town of Clarkstown and the other stakeholders that came together to make this project a reality. OnForce Solar is honored to have been an integral part of the process and we’re working on many more projects like this one across the state.”

Italy Binds Biofuel Targets

Italy has passed a law that will set the way for national binding targets. The news comes on the heels of talks by the European Union (EU) on what, if any, binding renewable energy targets should be in place. The official degree as published in the “Gazzetta Ufficiale” states that fuel suppliers will be obligated to blend fuel:

  • at least 0.6% advanced biofuels in petrol and diesel beginning January 1, 2018;
  • 0.8% beginning January 1, 2020; and
  • 1% beginning January 1, 2022.

The passage of Italy’s law comes at the same time the European Council released its 2030 Energy and Climate Package where the transportation sector has seen the most positive changes when compared to the first proposal. The law now puts Italy as the lead in Europe on mandating advanced biofuels from waste and residues.

The Italian decree comes six months after the Italian Ministry of Economic Development announced in May the intention to fund the construction of three advanced biofuels EU 2030 Climate Targetsfacilities in Southern Italy and is part of the country’s initiatives to boost competitiveness.

In the fall of 2013, Novozymes, together with Italian company Biochemtex opened the world’s first commercial-scale advanced biofuels refinery in Italy – using agricultural waste as input. When asked by DomesticFuel what message Italy’s mandate sends to other countries, Novozymes’ Vice President for Biomass Conversion, Sebastian Søderberg answered, “In general, it will send a very positive signal to the other European countries and outside Europe. Italy and a number of other member states have been pushing for a mandate for advanced biofuels at EU level for more than 2 years and Italy’s move will support this process.” Continue reading

DuPont to Sit on RFA Board

RFANewlogoDuPont will now be sitting on the governing board of the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA). The company has been an associate RFA member for more than 10 years and has now upgraded its membership as its first cellulosic ethanol plant is in its final stages of construction. The biorefinery will be co-located next to Lincolnway Energy in Nevada, Iowa and when complete will produce 30 million gallons per year of ethanol using corn ag waste.

“Next generation cellulosic ethanol is emerging on the market and DuPont is at the forefront of innovation. Their knowledge and expertise in all aspects of the biofuels industry make them a valuable addition to the Renewable Fuels Association,” said Bob Dinneen, president and CEO of the RFA. “I am eager to work together to advance the renewable fuels industry, which is already directly and indirectly employing nearly 400,000 people, reducing GHG emissions, and lowering America’s foreign oil dependence.”

William Feehery, president of DuPont Industrial Biosciences said of their renewed commitment to the ethanol association, “RFA is a leading voice in Washington on issues related to our industry and we look forward to working even more closely together as we reach full cellulosiDuPont Logoc production in the coming year. We acknowledge the hard work RFA has done to promote and defend the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) both as an individual organization and as our partner in the Fuels America Coalition. A stable RFS is vitally important to support growth for the existing corn ethanol industry while garnering the investment needed to expand and grow cellulosic ethanol in the United States. We must keep the technology, research, and development here in the United States so consumers can continue to have choices at the pump and America can reduce its reliance on foreign oil.”

API: Extend Domestic Fuel Supply To Lower Gas Prices

In a recent blog post authored by Geoff Cooper, senior vice president of the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), the American Petroleum Institute (API) recently released a study that argues that the fracking boom has led to dramatically lower prices for crude oil and refined products between 2008-2013. Cooper wrote that the study suggests that increased Cooper Graphic in API study articledomestic production of crude oil, natural gas liquids (NGLs) and lease condensate from fracking has already extended U.S. supplies and helped to lower gas prices.

The study finds that every 1 million barrels/day of new supply reduces consumer prices for petroleum products between $0.06-0.20 per gallon. Cooper writes that according to economics more supply generally results in lower prices, in this case there are two problems with API’s rationale.

  • Problem 1: Global demand for petroleum products continues to grow faster than global supply. EIA data show global production of crude oil, NGLs and condensate grew by 4.1 million barrels/day between 2008 and 2013. But global consumption of those products ramped up by 5.4 million barrels/day over the same period. Thus, demand gains outstripped supply gains by more than 30%.
  • Problem 2: When energy economist Phil Verleger and researchers at Louisiana State University, Iowa State University, University of Wisconsin, the Department of Energy, and others separately showed that extending the U.S. gasoline supply with ethanol leads to lower pump prices, Big Oil defiantly screamed “NOT SO!” Verleger found that consumer paid $0.50-$1.50 per gallon less for gasoline in 2013 because of ethanol’s extension of the fuel supply. His conclusion corroborated results from Iowa State/University of Wisconsin that showed consumers saved up to $1.09 in 2012 due to ethanol’s aggregate effect on gasoline supplies.

Cooper ends his article by asking the question, “So, which is it API? Does adding volume to the fuel supply reduce prices, or doesn’t it?”

Veterans Asset Offering Vets Online Solar Education

gI_93607_TVA on Roof_SmilesThe Veteran Asset (TVA) is now offering solar PV scholarships for U.S. military veterans through its new 32-hour online training program. The training program is being offered in conjunction with Ambassador Energy Solar College, an Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) accredited training program.

The organization has been providing free solar PV training for vets since May 2014 via a traditional “brick and motar” option at their Ambassador Energy’s training facility in Murrieta, California. The entry level Solar PV Design and Installation is a five-day course with an exam following the completion of the courses. This course is now offered online.

The program is also customized to allow renewable energy company’s to leverage TVA’s specialized vetting process and their program, to help companies hire veteran graduates. Courses can be co-branded to the company, its technologies and geographies it serves.

Kelly Smith, TVA vice president said of the new online program, “The online option not only provides TVA data for determining the next locations for our ‘Brick and Mortar’ training centers but it is also a scalable way for us to cast a wide net, helping us reach as many veterans as possible during this solar ‘gold rush’. We are using technology to help bridge the gap between the desirable supply of a trained veteran workforce and the growing demand from the renewable energy industry. TVA’s entire mission is getting these great folks to work.”

ONR Website Features Hawaii’s Renewable Energy

A new website focused on Hawaii’s multifaceted approach to renewable energy is now live. The website for the Asia-Pacific Technology and Education Partnership (APTEP) is sponsored by the Office of Naval Research (ONR). The military organization notes Hawaii is fast becoming ground zero for the Navy’s drive to develop green technologies.

ATEP websiteAccording to ONR, APTEP approaches the issue from three angles, supporting cutting-edge energy research; educating students and teachers in energy-related fields; and supporting businesses trying to bring alternative energy products to the marketplace.

“Everyone is focused on Hawaii right now,” said Dr. Richard Carlin, head of ONR’s Sea Warfare and Weapons Department. “The studies we’re conducting there and technologies we’re developing will not only help the Navy reduce its need for fossil fuels, but also move the country closer to energy independence.”

October was National Energy Action Month and Hawaii took center stage. For example, in September, the Department of Energy signed a memorandum of understanding reaffirming its commitment to alternative energy efforts in Hawaii, dubbed Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative 2.0. At the same time, ONR, as part of the APTEP program, is sponsoring a new study of technologies and power systems-such as smartgrids and microgrids at three Navy installations on the islands.

Carlin added, “Once we figure out how to make these bases more energy efficient, we can take these new technologies and concepts to other naval bases and ultimately achieve the Navy’s energy goals.”

Chicago to Vote on E15

Today the Chicago City Finance Committee is considering an amended ordinance that according to Alderman Ameya Pawar, one of the bill’s co-sponsor, will ensure Chicago motorists will have a choice at the pump. The “Chicago Clean Air Choice” ordinance would enable retailers to offer drivers E15 fuel.

Chicago E15 logo“Through the ordinance the City of Chicago will once again help lead the way in cleaning up the environment by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and other toxic carcinogens in the air,” said Alderman Pawar. In his remarks he was referring to the Chicago City Council’s actions in 1984 that banned leaded gasoline in the city and its 2000 action where the Council banned various toxic additives.

Co-sponsor Alderman Anthony Beale, added that the ordinance has economic and security implications. “By reducing our dependence on fossil fuels by increasing ethanol usage, this ordinance is supporting a renewable fuel that is grown in America, keeping American dollars and troops at home, instead of sending them overseas.”

The original ordinance was introduced last summer. The enhanced ordinance includes an exemption of all filling stations selling less than 850,000 gallons of fuel per year and a 360 day phase in.

SIUE Prof to Write Book on Illinois Biofuels History

The Illinois biofuels industry will be reading about its history in a book. Assistant Professor Jeffery T. Manuel, who teaches at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (SIUE), is teaming up with NCERC at SIUE to write the book. He works in the Department of Historical Studies and his biofuels history project was selected for a faculty fellowship award. The Center’s faculty fellowship program is sponsored by the Illinois Corn Marketing Board to foster collaborative research between the NCERC and the University community.

“Farmers, researchers, business leaders, politicians, and many others have been working to build Illinois’ biofuels industry for decades,” said Manuel. “This is an important but overlooked aspect of the state’s agricultural and business history. Fuel alcohol has been suggested as a promising alternative to oil and gas for over a century. My research asks why Americans have repeatedly turned to alcohol fuel as an alternative energy source and why earlier efforts to promote alcohol fuels were unsuccessful.”

gI_88188_Manuel-JeffManuel said his work will include recorded, in-depth interviews of key players in the biofuels industry. The interviews will be archived at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library in Springfield as part of the Agriculture in Illinois oral history collection.

“We truly appreciate the Illinois Corn Growers’ support of this collaborative relationship, and we are excited to partner with Dr. Manuel on his project,” said NCERC Director John Caupert. “The biofuels industry has a long and fascinating history, with deep roots in Illinois. Dr. Manuel’s work will shed light on the industry’s evolution, and demonstrate the resilience and innovation of the industry’s past and present pioneers.”

Manuel added, “I believe my research will add a valuable historical perspective to SIUE’s existing strengths in biofuels research. I hope that SIUE can become a world leader in a multidisciplinary study of biofuels as we work to create this valuable record for the general public and future researchers.”