BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDFThe Court of His Majesty Willem-Alexander, King of the Netherlands, will attend the Grand Opening of POET-DSM Advanced Biofuels’ Project LIBERTY cellulosic ethanol plant in Emmetsburg, Iowa on Wednesday, Sept. 3. The King will take part in the Grand Opening Ceremony to perform the formal opening activity, scheduled for 11 a.m.-12:20 p.m. and tour the plant. POET-DSM is a joint venture between the U.S.-based POET and the Netherlands-based DSM.
  • Neste Jacobs will be speaking at World Bio Markets Brasil 2014 in September. Ahead of this session, they have released a new free report “Biofuels, do they have a future?” The report covers: feedstock – start with finding a feasible feedstock; processing – which one is the right one for your product? and end product – Neste Oil’s renewable diesel NExBTL.
  • DuPont has filed a patent infringement lawsuit against SunEdison and its affiliate NVT LLC in the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware. In its complaint, DuPont alleges that by sourcing and using photovoltaic cells and solar modules containing Samsung SDI Co., Ltd. front side metallization paste, SunEdison infringes DuPont’s patented tellurium paste technology. The complaint also identifies Neo Solar Power of Taiwan as the cell manufacturer and Flextronics as SunEdison’s contract manufacturer.
  • The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has announced that Southern Research Institute has been selected for negotiation for an award of up to $5.9 million to advance production of high performance, low cost carbon fibers from biomass. The DOE award will fund development of a multi-step catalytic process for conversion of sugars from non-food biomass to acrylonitrile – a key precursor in the production of carbon fiber.

Prez: Don’t Undermine the RFS

Fuels America is asking President Obama to not undermine the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) especially as it relates to the development of cellulosic ethanol. The coalition has placed a full page ad in the Martha’s Vineyard Gazette to tell the president how a proposal by his administration — if it is not fixed — will inadvertently cause investment in advanced biofuels like cellulosic ethanol to shift to China and Brazil, undermining his effort to tackle climate change.

Fuels America Marthas Vineyard RFS adThe advertisement is an open letter focusing on the achievement of a major milestone in the president’s clean energy push as commercial scale cellulosic ethanol production becomes a reality this year as four large advanced biorefineries come online in 2014. While this could be just the beginning of a new American industry, private sector investment in the technology has paused due to a proposal by the EPA to fundamentally alter its approach to implementing the RFS. If the proposal isn’t changed before it is finalized, the letter warns, that investment will likely shift to China and Brazil, depriving the President of a key accomplishment.

The ad ends, “You have always been a strong champion of advanced biofuels and we know it is not your intent to undercut investment. It’s not too late to get the final rule right, so together we can make the United States the leader in producing the cleanest fuels in the world.

BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDFClean Energy Collective (CEC), a community-owned solar developer, has been named to the 2014 Inc. 500/5000 list, an exclusive ranking of the nation’s fastest-growing private companies. Ranked number 194 overall, and 11th within the Energy segment, CEC was recognized for its innovative community-owned solar solution being adopted by utilities and communities across the country. Between 2010 and 2013 CEC’s revenue grew 2,217 percent.
  • CBD Energy Limited has, through its Australian Energy Efficiency subsidiary, Parmac, been awarded installation and maintenance contracts in Melbourne, Australia. The total estimated value of the contracts is approximately US$1.7 million. The projects are expected to be commissioned in September and to be completed in December, 2014. As part of the agreements, Parmac will also earn ongoing operations and maintenance fees.
  • Tanzanian Minister of Energy and Minerals, Professor Sospeter Muhongo, disclosed that the Tanzania Geothermal Development Company kick started operations last month as a subsidiary of the Tanzania Electric Supply Company (TANESCO). The company’s goal is to start generating up to 4,000 megawatts of electricity from geothermal energy within two years.
  • Canadian Solar Inc. announced that its wholly-owned subsidiary, Canadian Solar Solutions Inc., has completed the sale of Good Light, a 10 MW AC solar power plant located in the town of Kawartha Lakes, Ontario, Canada, valued at over C$66.0 million ($60.3 million) to a BluEarth Renewables Inc. subsidiary. This is the second of four planned solar projects being acquired by BluEarth from Canadian Solar, totalling 38.5 MW AC.

PERC Updates Brand, Logo

Propane logoThe Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) has updated its brand identity for propane: PROPANE Clean American Energy. In addition, they have revealed a new logo. According to PERC President and CEO Roy Willis, the logo highlights propane as an American-made alternative fuel at a time when U.S. propane production from natural gas liquids is at record levels. He also said the change puts a spotlight on recent investments by the propane industry in new technologies.

“We hope PROPANE Clean American Energy will increase consideration of propane as a clean, affordable, and American-made alternative to conventional fuels among fleets, commercial landscapers, contractors, producers, and homeowners,” said Willis. “Increasing domestic demand for propane in the U.S. will ultimately lead to cleaner air and increased use of our nation’s own energy resources, rather than relying on foreign oil.”

The new logo and tagline will be used in all PERC-produced materials and will be made available free of charge to propane providers and OEM partners. The new logo will also replace the previous mark used by thousands of propane retailers nationwide on signs, delivery vehicles, equipment, websites, and literature. In addition, the new logo will be featured in the organization’s new multimedia safety campaign to encourage agribusiness operators and residential propane heating customers to fill up in advance of the winter season.

Willis added, “America makes more than enough propane to meet U.S. demand. As PERC rolls out this important safety campaign and new branding identity, the propane industry is prepared to meet the needs of a changing energy economy.”

Solar Cells You Can See Through

Did you know that you can have the best of both worlds? Solar energy and a view. A team of researchers as Michigan State University (MSU) have done just this- developed a new type of solar concentrator that when placed over a window, creates energy but doesn’t block the view. It is called a transparent luminescent solar concentrator and can be used on buildings, cell phones and any other device that has a clear surface.

MSU Solar Concentrator ModuleThe key word here is “transparent” according to Richard Lunt of MSU’s College of Engineering.

While research in this arena is not new, the results were poor as the energy production was low and inefficient and the materials were colored thereby blocking the view below the solar cell. The MSU solar harvesting system uses small organic molecules developed by Lunt and his team to absorb specific nonvisible wavelengths of sunlight better than its predecessors.

“No one wants to sit behind colored glass,” said Lunt, an assistant professor of chemical engineering and materials science. “It makes for a very colorful environment, like working in a disco. We take an approach where we actually make the luminescent active layer itself transparent. We can tune these materials to pick up just the ultraviolet and the near infrared wavelengths that then ‘glow’ at another wavelength in the infrared.”

The “glowing” infrared light is guided to the edge of the plastic where it is converted to electricity by thin strips of photovoltaic solar cells. “Because the materials do not absorb or emit light in the visible spectrum, they look exceptionally transparent to the human eye,” Lunt said.

One of the benefits of this new development is its flexibility. While the technology is at an early stage, it has the potential to be scaled to commercial or industrial applications with an affordable cost. Lunt noted that more work is needed in order to improve its energy-producing efficiency. Currently it is able to produce a solar conversion efficiency close to 1 percent, but noted they aim to reach efficiencies beyond 5 percent when fully optimized. The best colored LSC has an efficiency of around 7 percent.

BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDFThis year has seen China make a significant impact on the world’s nuclear power industry, having brought three new reactors online with a total capacity of 3.2 Gigawatts (GW), according to an analyst with research and consulting firm GlobalData. China currently has 20 active nuclear reactors, with a further 28 under construction. Another 10 reactors are expected to begin commercial operation between 2017 and 2025, with a total capacity of 9.56 GW.
  • Wetzel Engineering Inc. (WEI), a specialized systems engineering company serving the international wind energy industry, announced that industry veteran Gary Kanaby has joined the company as director of marketing and sales. Kanaby will be responsible for business capture activities including growing marketshare among wind farm owners and operators.
  • According to a recent report, “Microgrids in Asia Pacific” from Navigant Research, cumulative investment in microgrids across the region will total $30.8 billion from 2014 to 2023. Demand for electricity and generation capacity from renewable energy sources is growing at an unprecedented rate in the Asia Pacific region. As a result, the number of microgrid projects deployed in Asia Pacific, both for electrification purposes and as experimental test beds, is also rising.
  • DTE Energy selected 84 new solar energy projects for inclusion in Phase 2 of DTE’s SolarCurrents customer-owned pilot program. A total of 74 residential projects, representing 616 kilowatts (kW) and ranging in size from 1 to 20 kW, will be offered incentives as part of Phase 2. These projects will be built in 10 counties in Southeastern Michigan. An additional 10 non-residential projects, representing 157 kW, will be built in six counties in Southeastern Michigan. These projects range in size from 5 to 20 kW. All applications for non-residential projects were accepted into the program.

Renewable Energy Continues to Gain

Renewable energy continues to gain as for the month of July all new U.S. electrical generating capacity put into service was from renewable sources according to the latest “Energy Infrastructure Update“. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s Office of Energy Project’s report fond that there was 379 MW of wind installed, 21 MW of solar and 5 MW of hydropower.

Office of Energy Projects July 2014 Energy Infrastructure UpdateFor the first seven months of 2014, renewable energy has accounted for more than half (53.8%) of the 4,758 MW of new U.S. electrical capacity that has come on line with solar (25.8%) and wind (25.1%) each accounting for more than a quarter of the total. In addition, biomass provided 1.8 percent, geothermal 0.7 percent, and hydropower 0.4 percent. As for the balance, natural gas accounted for 45.9 percent while a small fraction (0.3 percent) came from oil and “other” combined. There has been no new electrical generating capacity from either coal or nuclear thus far in 2014.

Renewable energy sources now account for 16.3 percent of total installed operating generating capacity in the U.S.:

  • Water – 8.57%
  • Wind – 5.26%
  • Biomass – 1.37%
  • Solar – 0.75%
  • Geothermal steam – 0.33%

“This is not the first time in recent years that all new electrical generating capacity for a given month has come from renewable energy sources,” noted Ken Bossong, Executive Director of the SUN DAY Campaign. “And it is likely to become an ever more frequent occurrence in the months and years ahead.”

ADOMANI EV Bus Approved in California

You may soon begin to see children in California heading to school in an all electric bus (EV). The California Highway Patrol has approved the ADOMANI all-electric Blue Bird school bus for use. The bus was developed through a partnership between the Gilroy Unified School District and ADOMANI and the result is a solar fueled EV 50 passenger type-D school bus. The converted school bus will debut this fall.

The Gilroy Unified School District provided ADOMANI with a 2007 Blue Bird All American diesel school bus, and by replacing the engine with their patented electric conversion kit, ADOMANI returned a plug-in electric. The bus has an overall range of 40 miles in between charges, tailored to meet the district’s need of a 22 mile route. ADOMANI can supply a school or commercial bus with enough battery power to travel 100 miles.

ADOMANI EV busADOMANI chose to utilize the same plug as the Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf, making its buses adaptable to universal charging stations. The Gilroy Unified School District’s charging station has been supplemented with solar panels, making the bus a zero emission vehicle.

Verbal approval of ADOMANI’s converted school bus came one day after initial inspection. Recent ADOMANI board member addition and school bus industry expert Jim Reynolds said, “That is by far the fastest I have seen approval come in. I was anticipating a few months of processing.”

This is ADOMANI’s second converted Blue Bird school bus. ADOMANI has created a conversion kit specialized for the All American Blue Bird school bus that can be installed in a couple weeks. Ninety percent of the OEM parts are retained, allowing mechanics to remain familiar with parts like the transmission, compressor, radiator, alternator, etc. With the quick success of the project, the company plans to move their headquarters from Florida to California.

“After the conversion for Gilroy, moving to California seemed like the right fit, though we plan to retrofit vehicles throughout the country,” said Edward Monfort, the founder and CTO of ADOMANI. “I am thrilled to be working with school buses and to have an opportunity to enter a market that can improve lives and the environment.”

BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDFThe Provo Office of the Bureau of Reclamation completed a ground mount, 96 panel solar energy system in a former unused grassy area on the south side of their building located at 302 East 1860 South in Provo this summer. Local company, TRA Snow and Sun, Inc. of American Fork, Utah, manufacturer of solar mounting systems and snow retention systems, supplied the ground mounting for the panels and Intermountain Wind and Solar was the integrator.
  • Solectria Renewables, LLC, a leading U.S. PV inverter manufacturer, announced today that it will supply 69 SGI 500XTM’s to Entropy Solar Integrators for seven projects in North Carolina. These projects are part of a portfolio being built by Entropy Solar Integrators and financed through affiliates of Entropy Investment Management.
  • Starwood Energy Group Global, LLC, a leading private investment firm focused on energy infrastructure, has announced that an affiliate has completed agreements to finance and construct its second wind farm, a 165 Megawatt (MW) project 45 miles south of Lubbock, Texas. The Stephens Ranch II project, which represents the second of two phases that will total 377 MW, will use GE 1.7-100 turbines and be built by Wanzek Construction, with completion scheduled for mid-2015.
  • MENA Clean Energy Forum will be take place in Dubai on December 9, 2014. The MENA Clean Energy Forum will bring together stakeholders interested in investing, financing, developing and operating clean energy projects in the regions. The summit will provide a platform for networking, knowledge transfer and new business development with decision makers within the clean energy Industry.

Biogas Opportunities Roadmap Published

The U.S. Departments of Agriculture (USDA) and Energy (DOE) along with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have published a new report that outlines new federal initiatives to support growth in the private biogas/waste-to-energy sector. The Biogas Opportunities Roadmap concluded that developing a viable biogas industry in the U.S. can boost the economy as well as provide a reliable, distributed source of renewable energy while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Blue Sphere Corporation logoThe report found that today there are 2,000 biogas sites operating and with opportunity for another 11,000 additional biogas systems to covert waste to energy and co-products. However, to make way for these additional biogas systems, there must be support from federal agencies, significantly more investment, increased research and development and expanded markets for biogas, according to the report.

In the Biogas Opportunities Roadmap, the federal agencies identify programs that will promote biogas utilization and help the private sector take advantage of the full potential of biogas system without legislation. These programs include:

  • Using existing agency programs to leverage over $10 million in research funding.
  • Fostering investments in biogas systems including reviewing government procurement programs for products of biogas systems.
  • Strengthening markets for biogas systems and system products including by modernizing existing Federal incentives.
  • Improving communication and coordination by establishing a Biogas Opportunities Roadmap Working Group that will include participation from DOE and EPA, as well as the dairy and biogas industries.

“The potential for biogas to increase renewable energy production, reduce landfill waste, benefit the environment, and spur economic growth in the U.S. is significant. We are very pleased to see the U.S. government publish a report that outlines these benefits and opportunities,” said Shlomi Palas, CEO of Blue Sphere Corporation, a company specializing in biogas technology.  “Bluesphere is actively working in several U.S. states to develop biogas facilities. We have brought our global expertise in building and operating waste-to-energy facilities to the U.S. market and we’re finding very strong interest in the value proposition we have to offer. We are eager to expand our operations in the U.S. in conjunction with some major partners and to capitalize on biogas opportunities.”

Bluesphere has begun design and engineering work, and is scheduled to break ground in 2014 on a 5.2 MW waste-to-energy anaerobic digester in Charlotte, North Carolina. The company is also developing in a 3.2 MW waste-to-energy project in Rhode Island and has a Memorandum of Understanding to develop a 5.2 MW waste-to-energy project in Massachusetts.

Empower Energies Completes Mass Solar Project

Empower Engeries has completed and commissioned a 3.3 MWDC solar project in Shirley, Massachusetts. The ground mounted installation features 13,047 6.5′ by 3′ PV solar panels and is located on 27 acres of Shirley Water District land. The project was co-developed with Washington, DC-based EPG Solar. It will deliver over 4.9 million kWh of electricity annually to the contiguous Devens Utilities Department.

Empower Energies PV Solar Project - Town of Shirley - Aerial View 03Jim Moore of the Devens Utilities Department said that Mass Development was originally looking to add renewable energy into their portfolio with facilities built behind their meter, but ultimately opened the bidding up to power supply coming in from outside Devens, ‘if someone could work out the details’.

Empower Energies Manager of Business Development Micah Stanley credited the ingenuity of Robert Babcock, a Managing Partner with EPG Solar, and his team, for initiating the project. “His inventiveness enabled us, essentially, to put two separate and distinct projects together, and then enabled us to cross utility grid lines,” Stanley said.

“From the beginning, this project has been a model of perseverance and creativity for all of the parties involved,” Babcock added. “We worked diligently in cooperation with all of the constituencies – the Town of Shirley Energy Committee, the Water District, and the Devens Utilities Department – to best represent the interests of the people they serve.”

Len Jornlin, CEO of Empower Energies, added “It is exciting and humbling to ‘flip the switch’ after so many moving parts have come together. Projects like this one are characterized by a complex set of transactions, and the collaboration of so many stakeholders. We were thrilled to serve as the hub of all this effort. It enabled us to connect the dots, and help our co-developer, EPG Solar, to get the project over the finish line for Green States Energy and the Town of Shirley.”

Empower Energies and EPG Solar selected Green States Energy, Inc., to be the investor/owner of the solar system.

MIT Researchers Convert Lead to Solar Power

Researchers at MIT are recycling materials from discarded car batteries into long-lasting solar panels that provide emissions free power while keep lead out of landfills. The system was described in the journal Energy and Environmental Science and was co-authored by Angela M. Belcher and Paula T. Hammon along with graduate student Po-Yen Chen, and three others.

The system is based on a recent development in solar cells that makes use of a compound called perovskite — specifically, organolead halide perovskite — a technology that has rapidly progressed from initial experiments to a point where its efficiency is nearly competitive with that of other types of solar cells.

“It went from initial demonstrations to good efficiency in less than two years,” said Belcher, the W.M. Keck Professor of Energy at MIT. Already, perovskite-based photovoltaic cells have achieved power-conversion efficiency of more than 19 percent, which is close to that of many commercial silicon-based solar cells.

Initial descriptions of the perovskite technology identified its use of lead, whose production from raw ores can produce toxic residues, as a drawback. However by using recycled lead from old car batteries, the manufacturing process can instead be used to divert toxic material from landfills and reuse it in photovoltaic panels that could go on producing power for decades. In addition, because the perovskite photovoltaic material takes the form of a thin film just half a micrometer thick, the team’s analysis shows that the lead from a single car battery could produce enough solar panels to provide power for 30 households.

As an added advantage, the production of perovskite solar cells is a relatively simple and benign process. “It has the advantage of being a low-temperature process, and the number of steps is reduced” compared with the manufacture of conventional solar cells, Belcher explained.

Those factors will help to make it “easy to get to large scale cheaply,” added. Continue reading

Albion Community Power Funds Biogas Project

Albion Community Power logoAlbion Community Power (ACP) has funded the development of a small scale landfill gas engine in Docking, Norfolk (UK). The project will be developed in conjunction with ACP’s biogas partner AlphaGen Renewables who will oversee the installation and operation of a 50kW microgeneration landfill gas engine. The project will generate power from the landfill gas resource at the site under a 20 year agreement with Norfolk County Council. The Docking projects represents the first project with AlphaGen Renewables and the first Biogas project in the ACP portfolio.

Richard Tipping, Chairman of AlphaGen Renewables said, “We are delighted to be partnering with ACP on this project, which is set to deliver strong returns. Renewables such as biogas are playing a growing role in the UK’s energy production.”

ACP undertakes projects in biogas as well as projects incorporating wind, hydro and solar energy. The company is looking to build a portfolio of similar, high yielding, landfill projects going forward.

David Gudgin, Head of at Renewables at Albion Ventures added, “Biogas is an increasingly popular area of renewable energy and we are looking forward to working with AlphaGen both on this project and others in the future.”

Ethanol Safety Seminar Heads to Mass

There will be a free Ethanol Safety Seminar held on August 26-17, 2014 in Westfield, Massachusetts. Co-hosted by the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) and Fore River Transportation Corporation there will be a session from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm on Aug. 26, followed by a 10:00 am to 3:00 pm session on Aug. 27. Certificates will be awarded to attendees at the completion of the course, although interested participants should note that registration is limited. This seminar is the last to be funded this season by a Federal Railroad Administration grant through TRANSCAER.

eerc“I’m excited. The RFA seminars offer both rail and emergency response professionals a venue to meet and plan for future events together,” said Paul Ruscio, general manager at Fore River Transportation Corp. “Rail has proven to be a safe and efficient mode of transportation for renewable fuels in the States. Being prepared for potential rail incidents by engaging responders makes good sense for us and our communities. The dialogue that ensues from these seminars creates educated teams that have the means and know-how to handle potential incidents. In my experience, a little preparation and coordination before a team faces a task usually proves beneficial.”

The Ethanol Safety Seminar was developed to give first responders, emergency management agencies, and safety personnel an in-depth look at proper training techniques needed when responding to an ethanol-related emergency. A majority of this training is based on the “Training Guide to Ethanol Emergency Response,” a training package created by the Ethanol Emergency Response Coalition (EERC) that has been distributed throughout the United States and to several countries worldwide.

The course focuses on numerous important areas of ethanol safety including an introduction to ethanol and ethanol-blended fuels, chemical and physical characteristics of ethanol and hydrocarbon fuels, transportation and transfer of ethanol-blended fuels, storage and dispensing locations, firefighting foam principles and ethanol-blended fuel, health and safety considerations for ethanol-blended fuel emergencies and tank farm and bulk storage fire incidents.

BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDFDessler Media has announced the launch of their nationwide television commercial campaign that is structured to provide solar companies around the nation with exclusive pre-qualified residential solar leads and pre-qualified in home appointments. The participating solar companies have a choice of either having Dessler’s call center set an in-home appointment after qualifying the caller or to set up a telephone appointment after qualifying the inbound lead.
  • Caltech’s Resnick Sustainability Institute has announced that nominations are open for the 2015 Resonate Awards. The awards are designed to bring attention to unheralded innovators with provocative ideas that contribute to long term sustainability. These include meeting the world’s energy needs sustainably, providing water and food for a growing world population, cleaning the environment, improving people’s access to the natural resources they need to live a productive life, and many others.
  • Solar Power Mid-Atlantic, a new regional event highlighting the strong solar industry in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Delaware, will be taking place September 9-10, 2014 in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The event is presented by Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA). The two days of programming will offer in-depth sessions and keynotes on the challenges and opportunities in the Mid-Atlantic solar market, as well as exhibits and demonstrations from solar firms and networking events.
  • Denver-based SunShare has it has contracted with Adams County to provide the regional government with clean, reliable energy from Community Solar Gardens. Adams County will be the first county in the nation to power its buildings with privately developed Community Solar energy. SunShare is one of the nation’s first Community Solar providers.