- The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) has announced that Iowa’s 43 ethanol plants produced 3.9 billion gallons during 2014, up from 3.7 billion gallons the previous three years. Iowa continues to be the number one ethanol producing state, and is estimated to account for roughly 27 percent of national ethanol production in 2014. For the first time, a small amount of the ethanol production came from cellulosic feedstocks such as corn stover and corn kernel fiber.
- The Toyota Research Institute of North America (TRINA), in partnership with The Electrochemical Society (ECS), is requesting proposals from young professors and scholars pursuing innovative electrochemical research in green energy technology. The purpose of the ECS Toyota Young Investigator Fellowship is to encourage young professors and scholars to pursue research in green energy technology that may promote the development of next-generation vehicles capable of utilizing alternative fuels.
- According to the latest report from GTM Research, “The Future of Solar-Plus-Storage in the U.S.,” the nation will install 318 cumulative megawatts of behind-the-meter solar-plus-storage capacity through 2018. Between California’s recent mandate for the state to procure 1.3 gigawatts of energy storage for its grid and the announcement of Tesla’s Gigafactory, the energy storage market is nearing a tipping point.
- BBI International has announced that Heating the Midwest, a regional conference focusing on biomass derived thermal energy, will be co-located with the 2015 International Biomass Conference and Expo. Heating the Midwest will be held on Monday, April 20, 2015 at the Minneapolis Convention Center and will bring together leaders of the woody and agricultural biomass industry interested in supporting and expanding the use of biomass for heat and combined heat and power in the Midwest.
A final decision has been made by the U.S. Department of Commerce regarding solar tariffs on solar parts assembled in China using components from a third country. The decision created a Separate Rates Group that will be subject to an AD tariff of 52.13 percent and a CVD tariff of 38.72 percent. For example, Yingli will be subject to a combined AD/CVD rate of 29.18 percent.
“We are deeply disappointed in the U.S. Department of Commerce’s decision to accept such a broadly defined scope for this ruling, and to levy harsh, protectionist tariffs,” said Robert Petrina, managing director of Yingli Green Energy Americas. “It’s well known that our customers, partners, and other stakeholders represent the majority of the solar industry and U.S. jobs. We will continue our vigorous defense on their behalf with the hope that national efforts to increase solar power’s cost-competiveness are not derailed further.”
According to the Coalition for Affordable Solar Energy (CASE) this ruling will not only increase the cost of solar imports but will also adversely affect U.S. solar manufacturers. For example, following the announcement Hemlock Semiconductor announced it will close down its plant in Clarksville, Tennessee where the company produced silicon for solar panels. The company cited the ruling as a factor in its decision to close down U.S. production. CASE also says the decision will affect Georgia-based Suniva company.
“Imposing unilateral tariffs on all solar modules assembled in China, including those with solar cells produced in the U.S., Taiwan or any third country, will undercut the growth of American solar jobs and hurt our domestic solar industry,” said Jigar Shah, CASE president.
“Suniva, based in Norcross, Georgia, is America’s leading solar manufacturer. But the Department of Commerce’s decision to broaden the scope of the case may put American companies like Suniva in the bizarre position of paying severe import duties on a product (PV cells) they manufactured in America when those cells are assembled into modules in China,” continued Jigar. “More drastically, Hemlock Semiconductor announced that it plans to close its Clarksville, Tennessee manufacturing plant due to ‘ongoing challenges presented by global trade disputes.’ Over $1.2 billion of investment and 50 jobs will be lost, in addition to the 400 jobs already lost to layoffs in 2013 as a result of the initial 2012 tariffs.”
Jigar said that due to the global threat of climate change and the need to reduce carbon emission, it makes no sense to impose tariffs on solar imports. He urges the U.S and Chinese governments to negotiate free and fair trade in the global solar industry.
MPM Technologies, a subsidiary Carbon Cycle Power (CCP) has signed a lease agreement with an affiliate of Spokane Valley manufacturer Wheeler Industries, Inc., to house the demonstration unit of CCP’s waste-to-value solution. The patent-pending photon-induced, electric-arc gasification technology can process biomass or municipal solid waste to produce heat and power.
“After reviewing several viable options, the one that made the most fiscal sense was to manufacture and demonstrate in the same location,” said Brian Burrow, interim CFO for CCI/MPM. “We’re literally building the unit on one side of the street and deploying the demo on the other side of the street. It really is an ideal scenario.”
Carbon Cycle Investments acquired a controlling interest in MPM following a stock purchase agreement in April 2013. The company already has an agreement with Wheeler Industries as the manufacturer of the reaction chamber of its gasification technology. Manufacturing will begin immediately.
- Enogen corn enzyme technology from Syngenta has been selected as the winner of Agri Marketing magazine’s prestigious Product of the Year award for 2014. Enogen is the industry’s first and only biotech output trait designed specifically to enhance ethanol production.
- H&S Bakery has unveiled its fleet of propane autogas-fueled vehicles. The conversion funds came in part form Maryland Clean Cities Coalition grant from the Maryland Energy Administration. Over the next two years, H&S aims to operate about 10 percent of their current 600-vehicle fleet with propane autogas. The company has also installed a private refueling station that includes an 18,000-gallon underground propane tank.
- China WindPower Group Limited has announced that two new PV power plants have commenced power generation on 23 December at Nedong County, Tibet and Indiana, USA. The Nedong County, Tibet project has an installed capacity of 20 MW and the project in Indiana has an installed capacity of 11.1MW. It is the largest distributed PV power plant in the state.
- Infocast has announced the annual Wind Power Finance and Investment Summit will return February 10-12, 2015 at the luxurious Rancho Bernardo Inn, in San Diego, CA. The Summit wil explore the latest issues and challenges and opportunities within the industry. Speakers from Duke Energy Renewables, EDF Renewable Energy, First Wind, Bank of Merrill Lynch, Capital Dynamics, Energy Capital Partners, California ISO, ERCOT, along with many more, will be on-hand to discuss a variety of topics and relay the latest insights for 2015.
The Nebraska Power Review Board (PRB) has commissioned a study that identifies the factors that impact the desirability of developing between 5,000 -10,000 MW of renewable energy for the state. Performed by the Brattle Group, the study also presents options available to policy makers to meet the state’s economic development objectives. The report has been submitted to the Nebraska Legislature for review.
Based upon a review of state, regional, and national renewable energy and transmission policies, The study, “Nebraska Renewable Energy Exports: Challenges and Opportunities,” identifies the following challenges to wind generation developments in Nebraska:
1. Transmission Constraints: Transmission projects currently in development will provide transmission infrastructure sufficient to integrate at least another 2,000 MW of wind projects. However, achieving the considerably higher target of renewable generation in Nebraska would require a substantial expansion of the state, regional, and interregional transmission systems.
2. Limited and Uncertain Demand for Renewable Energy: The regional market for renewable generation is currently saturated. However, demand for additional renewable generation will likely emerge as costs decline relative to conventional resources, wholesale electricity prices increase, coal plants retire, and new environmental policies are implemented. Nebraska will need to better position itself to be prepared to take advantage of emerging new demand for renewable generation.
3. Less Attractive Economics Compared to Neighboring States: Renewable generation developers in Nebraska face competitive disadvantages relative to some other states in the wind-rich Great Plains region, including lower financial incentives and lower wholesale power prices.
4. Greater Perceived Risks: Due to the requirements of the Certified Renewable Export Facility (CREF) process and limited experience in developing renewable generation under that standard, there is a perception among developers that wind projects in the state are more risky and more difficult to pursue than in neighboring states.
The study discusses both the costs and benefits of supporting renewable generation development in Nebraska. If, after considering these tradeoffs, the Nebraska Legislature chooses to promote the development of renewable resources in the state, the authors identify a number of options available to meet these goals.
“Nebraska has some of the best wind in the country but a surprisingly low amount of wind generation installed and under development,” said Brattle principal Judy Chang, a co-author of the study. “Nebraska policy makers and legislators have been working to increase the attractiveness of the state to renewable energy developers. They have already reduced some barriers, including those related to limiting public power condemnation rights. We anticipate that Nebraska policy makers will consider the options laid out in our report to make decisions about further improving the economics and regulatory setting for renewable development.”
- Governor Dannel P. Malloy has announced Connecticut has once again been recognized as a fuel cell leader, ranking as one of the top five states by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) in its recent report State of the States: Fuel Cells in America 2014. The report showcases Connecticut as one of the successful Top 5 Fuel Cell States, along with California, New York, Ohio and South Carolina. Partially funded by the DOE Fuel Cell Technologies Office and produced by Breakthrough Technologies Institute, State of the States provides in-depth profiles of fuel cell and hydrogen policies, initiatives and installations across the country.
- The Canadian Wind Energy Association is calling on the Government of British Columbia to send a clear signal on future market opportunities for wind energy in British Columbia in the wake of its decision to approve the $8.77 billion Site C hydroelectric dam project. While Premier Clark indicated that there will be an important role for independent power producers in meeting future power needs in British Columbia, the announcement failed to provide any signals about either the scale or timing of future market opportunities for wind energy in the province.
- Canadian Solar Solutions has completed the sale of the 10 MW AC RayLight solar power plant valued at over C$65 million (USD$56 million) to One West Holdings Ltd., an affiliate of Concord Green Energy. The RayLight 10 MW AC solar power plant is located in the Township of Tay, Ontario and uses Canadian Solar’s MaxPower CS6X-300/305P panels made in Canada. BowMont Capital and Advisory acted as financial advisor to Concord on the transaction.
- S&C Electric Company has announced that Europe’s largest battery-storage project has been officially opened by Amber Rudd, minister at the Department for Energy and Climate Change at Leighton Buzzard in Bedfordshire, England. S&C Electric Europe, Samsung SDI and Younicos collaborated to deploy the technology onto a United Kingdom Power Networks substation. The fully automated 6MW/10MWh Smarter Network Storage (SNS) project will assess the role of energy storage in cost-effectively supporting the UK’s Carbon Plan, and will save more than £6 million ($9.4 million) on traditional network-reinforcement methods.
There is big news coming out of New York today with the announcement that New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has banned hydraulic fracking in the state. The news came on the heels of a study that was released concluding that fracking could pose, “significant public health risks.”
“The Sierra Club applauds Governor Cuomo for recognizing what the science has made consistently clear: fracking is a hazard to human health that endangers communities wherever it is allowed,” said Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune. By banning fracking, Governor Cuomo has set himself apart as a national political leader who stands up for people, and not for the interests of the dirty fuel lobby. Today’s decision will shake the foundations of our nation’s flawed energy policy, and we can only expect that it will give strength to activists nationwide who are fighting fracking in dozens of states and hundreds of cities and counties.
Yet while Governor Cuomo banned fracking, the state didn’t steam ahead with previous commitments to renewable energy. The Long Island Power Authority Board of Trustees voted to approve only a fraction of the renewable energy projects promised by the governor, bringing just 122 megawatts of new solar projects online and falling short of the 280 megawatts of renewable energy the governor committed to this year.
Brune added, “The Sierra Club also extends heartfelt congratulations to all of the passionate anti-fracking activists in New York who were relentless in telling the truth about the dangers of fracking, persevered years of opposition from the oil and gas lobby, and ultimately prevailed. All we need now is for New York to bring wind, solar, and energy efficiency to full potential so we can leave dirty fuels in the ground and move quickly to clean energy prosperity.”
As 2014 comes to a close, South Carolina became the 44th state to institute net metering. The news comes on the heels of the announcement that New York has set a significant net metering cap expansion. The New York Public Service Commission agreed to double the allowable rooftop solar capacity for solar net metering. The solar market has already created 5,000 jobs in New York.
Net metering allows solar customers to get credit on their utility bills at the retail rate for any excess power their rooftop solar installations send back to the grid. Utilities sell this clean energy to neighboring customers for the full retail value. In South Carolina, Duke and SCE&G agreed to full retail rate net metering and to not seek any solar-specific charges until 2021.
In a recent South Carolina poll, 73 percent of respondents across political party lines said they want to see more solar growth, and a strong majority of South Carolinians (more than 75%) agreed that rooftop solar is an important part of providing choice and competition in electricity.
“Repeated expansions and the addition of a 44th net metering state demonstrate the strength and fairness of solar net metering,” said Bryan Miller, co-chairman of the Alliance for Solar Choice (TASC) and VP of Public Policy for Sunrun. “The public wants more rooftop solar, and they support net metering as the policy that drives solar growth.”
The Alliance for Solar Choice (TASC) says they were instrumental in the wins and this year have delivered seven net metering expansions including cap increases in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, South Carolina and Vermont. The utilities have failed to achieve any net metering retractions.
MagneGas Corporation has completed construction of its Venturi sterilization system at a major hog farm in technology. The company has developed a patented technology that converts liquid waste into hydrogen-based fuel. Venturi will process hog manure into a low-oder fertilizer that can be safely used on crops. In addition, MagneGas fuel will be produced as a byproduct that can be co-fired with propane or natural gas to reduce other fuel needs.
Following a successful demonstration, the Indiana farm owner has indicated that he plans to purchase the system to use for his manure sterilization needs and partner with MagneGas to launch the market for the use of MagneGas systems in the agricultural industry worldwide.
“I am excited that MagneGas has achieved this significant milestone. Having the ability to test our new high flow Venturi system in a real world environment with such a highly respected stakeholder in the agricultural industry speaks volumes as to how far we have come as a company,” said Ermanno Santilli, CEO of MagneGas. “We are looking forward to working with such a cutting edge farm on a system that we believe will change the way the world looks at liquid wastes.”
MagneGas and its partners have demonstrated that a wide variety of liquids wastes can be sterilized such as blood, sewage, manures, leachates and a variety of sludges. As recently as July 2014, MagneGas corp confirmed that it meets EPA 503.32 by sterilizing hog manures taking coliform bacteria counts to “Undetectable Levels”. The company believes meeting this rule transforms this Class B Manure into Class A suitable for land application and in some cases fertilization.
- APR Energy plc has signed a two-year extension for its 25MW contract in the U.S. Virgin Islands, to run through late Q4 of 2016. The extension adds to APR Energy’s record number of renewals for the year, driving a success rate of over 90%. The Group provides a turnkey bridging power solution to the U.S. Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority (WAPA), supporting the utility’s strategic system improvements as it converts to liquefied propane gas (LPG), a lower cost fuel alternative.
- Renmatix, the architect of affordable cellulosic sugars for the global renewable chemicals markets, has announced it has acquired the intellectual property rights and know-how of REAC Fuel. Based in Sweden, REAC has developed intellectual property that complements Renmatix’s significant expertise and existing portfolio of supercritical technology patents and applications. The acquisition expands Renmatix’s value proposition for licensing their Plantrose™ Process to produce cost-competitive cellulosic sugars. The Plantrose Process utilizes supercritical water to convert biomass into cost-advantaged cellulosic sugars using primarily water, with no significant consumables.
- SunEdison, Inc. has announced that the National Energy Commission in Chile has awarded SunEdison a contract to supply 570 gigawatt hours of clean energy a year. To meet the demand, SunEdison will be investing more than $700 million USD to develop 350 megawatts of utility scale solar photovoltaic power plants throughout the country. SunEdison intends to add the plants to the call right list of TerraForm Power, a global owner and operator of renewable energy power plants.
- The 2015 Climate Performance Index named Morocco “one of the global forerunners in renewable energy policy making,” ranking the country among the top 10 making the most progress in addressing climate change and number one among developing countries. In conjunction with the European Climate Action Network, German Watch—an independent development and environmental organization dedicated to sustainable global development—annually evaluates and compares the climate-protection performance of the 58 countries that are responsible for more than 90 percent of global CO2 emissions. Morocco’s ranking of 9th overall in this latest report represents a 6 point improvement over last year. The index was released to coincide with the opening of the Lima Climate Change Conference, which ended last week.
ET Solutions AG (subsidiary of ET Solar) has been selected to provide services for a 40 MWp PV power plant in Israel. The solar project is located in Kibbutz Ketura, approximately 45 km north of Eilat, and will be built in a desert land of 600,000 square meters. This new solar power facility is expected to generate over 70,000 megawatt hours of renewable energy per year.
Other project partners include G-Systems and Elmor. Arava Power and EDF Energies Nouvelles Israel jointly own the solar farm.
ET Solar is providing project management, electrical design and plant layout, purchasing, quality control, construction supervision and commissioning services. In addition, the company will also serve as the maintenance service provider, and Arava Power will offer the operation services.
“This project is our largest solar power plant in the Middle East up to now, it is also an important demonstration of our comprehensive solar energy solutions to effectively deliver clean, affordable and reliable solar energy in local market,” said Dennis She, president and CEO of ET Solar. “We are delighted to extend and deepen our collaboration with EDF-EN and Arava Power, to make this utility-scale project a reality after completing a 7.8 MWp solar power plant in Israel early this year.”
The Minnesota biofuels industry has been evolving since its inception, which was discussed in Part 1 of this feature article. In this part, we look at how the industry is taking shape in Minnesota and what some of the most promising new technologies are on the horizon.
An interesting element of the biofuel industry is that while it is evolving on a national level, it has also evolved locally. Tim Rudnicki, executive director of the Minnesota Bio-Fuels Association, explains that states and regions have differing available resources as well as differing types and tons of biomass available.
“Biofuel producers in any particular region adapt to the availability of various resources including, for example, access to energy, water, transportation infrastructure and so on,” says Rudnicki. “The availability of these important resources helped to accelerate the evolution of the biofuel industry in Minnesota and is what has made, and will continue to make, Minnesota one of the leading states when it comes to the production of biofuels.”
It’s interesting to review what could be deemed the top improvements that the ethanol industry has adopted over the past few years. Randall Doyal, CEO of Al-Corn Clean Fuel, says that since the plant went online they have adapted their process and technology to reduce down time, increase throughput and increase yield.
Al-Corn was designed as a 10 million gallon per year plant, and today they are operating at 50 million gallons per year. “We have increased our fuel ethanol yield from two and a half gallons per bushel to over two point nine gallons per bushel,” says Doyal. “We have added CO2 recovery, distillers corn oil recovery, and focused on our distillers grains quality to add value to our ethanol production.”
So, what are the new best technologies coming down the pipeline? Rudnicki says the future is very exciting because it will involve many facets including the interface between biological processes and technology. He believes some of the processes to watch include technologies that will enable corn oil to be more efficiency extracted as well as the use of existing biomass.
From an ethanol plant perspective the next three to five years could bring big changes. Continue reading
Invenergy Wind and the Régie intermunicipale de l’énergie Gaspésie–Îles-de-la-Madeleine have begun commercial operations at their 21.15 MW Le Plateau 2 wind farm in Québec. Le Plateau 2 is located in the Ruisseau-Ferguson unorganized territory in the MRC d’Avignon, Québec, Canada, approximately 300 miles east of Québec City. The project features nine Enercon E-92 wind turbines, with output purchased by Hydro-Québec Distribution through a 20-year power purchase agreement.
“We are delighted to reach this milestone together with our community partner, the Régie,” said Jim Shield, Chief Development Officer at Invenergy. “Le Plateau 2 enhances our growing presence in Québec and demonstrates our ability to work in partnership with local communities. The Régie is an excellent and innovative example of the benefits of economic diversification in the Gaspésie–Îles-de-la-Madeleine region.”
The wind farm is a collaboration between leading North American clean energy company Invenergy and the Régie, a coalition representing MRC’s and municipalities comprising more than 90% of the Gaspésie–Îles-de-la-Madeleine administrative region. The facility is sited nearby Invenergy’s existing 138.6 MW Le Plateau wind farm that began operations in 2012 and also has a 20-year power purchase agreement with Hydro-Québec Distribution.
“Today all of the Gaspésie-Îles-de-la-Madeleine region is delighted with its 2008 decision to establish the Régie,” added Richard St-Laurent, spokesman for the Régie. “The wind farm brings financial benefit to the municipalities through our share of the profits, in addition to the usual host voluntary payments. Our establishing a solid and successful relationship with Invenergy reflects a regional consensus and proves that by working together, we can achieve great results.”
- SunPower Corp. and Tendril, Inc. have announced that SunPower has invested $20 million of growth capital into Tendril and will license its Energy Services Management (ESM) Platform software. Enhanced by SunPower’s vast amount of solar related data, the ESM Platform will power the development of new Smart Energy applications for a broader set of consumers and utilities.
- According to a report from TrendForce, the worldwide solar market demand in 2014 was approximately at 44GW, even though the China market did not perform as well as expectations, due to the continuous growth in Japan and the U.S. market, the supply and demand remained stable. At the end of 2014, the overall supply chain maintained a solid utilization rate, while China’s tier-one module manufacturers also continued to break shipment records. The 2015 worldwide solar demand is projected at 51.4GW, with the key markets remaining in China, United States, and Japan, taking up 57% of the overall share.
- SunEdison Inc. has announced the closing of an approximately $146 million USD non-recourse debt financing arrangement with the International Finance Corporation, the Central American Bank for Economic Integration and the OPEC Fund for International Development. The debt proceeds will be used to fund construction of three solar photovoltaic power plants totaling 81.7 megawatts in the Republic of Honduras.
- Consumers Energy’s $255 million Cross Winds Energy Park in Michigan’s Upper Thumb has begun serving electric customers. With completion of Cross Winds, Consumers Energy now meets Michigan’s renewable energy standard of 10 percent, one year ahead of the scheduled requirement. Cross Winds is Consumers Energy’s second wind park and has a generating capacity of 111 megawatts. It consists of 62 wind turbine generators, all located in Akron and Columbia townships in Tuscola County.
The “Oscars” of energy were distributed this week during the 16th annual Platts Global Energy Awards. The honors were given to companies in the renewable and sustainable energy sector and included 17 performance categories along with “Energy Company of the Year,” going to Peabody Energy. The Awards were aligned to strategic vision, industry leadership, stewardship, premier projects and leading technology initiatives. Winners were chosen by an independent panel of judges.
“We congratulate each of the 2014 Platts Global Energy Awards winners and finalists alike for their individual accomplishments and their contributions to the betterment of the industry as a whole,” said Larry Neal, president of Platts, a leading global energy and commodities information provider and host of the Awards.
Winners of the Industry Leadership category:
- “Industry Leadership – Biofuels,” Florida-based biotechnology company Algenol Biofuels won for its algae-based fuel-production method. The patented process, which converts more than 85% of carbon dioxide (CO2) feedstock into ethanol, gasoline, jet fuel and diesel, was hailed by judges as a “forward-thinking way to use CO2 directly from manufacturing, before it hits the atmosphere.”
- “Industry Leadership – Grid Optimization” went to Germany’s 50Hertz Transmission GmbH, which, according to judges, “set a new model of performance” following a government-mandated ban on nuclear power plants. The company planned an expanded grid serving approximately 18 million people in northern and eastern Germany and has been a notable contributor to the country’s renewables initiative.
- “Industry Leadership – Electricity Generation” was awarded to Sempra U.S. Gas & Power, LLC for its commitment to renewable energy production. The California-based, clean-energy company and its partners generate power for more than one million homes and businesses using sun, wind, and low-emission natural gas.
- “Industry Leadership – Exploration & Production” went to Netherlands-based Royal Dutch Shell plc for its Mars B project to expand oil exploration in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico’s Mars Field. Judges noted that Shell employed the latest technology to develop significant new infrastructure ahead of schedule, despite economic, supply and regulatory challenges.
- “Industry Leadership – Midstream” was taken by Switzerland-based Nord Stream AG, which successfully linked Russia’s pipeline grid directly to Western Europe. The judges said the company surmounted significant technical, environmental and political hurdles in the name of supply security.