BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDFNearly 1,500 of the world’s foremost fuels and combustion scientists and engineers will gather in San Francisco on Aug. 3-8, 2014 for the 35th International Symposium on Combustion, a biennial event sponsored by the Combustion Institute and Sandia National Laboratories. The symposium will examine issues related to climate change, fuel efficiency, biofuels integration with combustion engines and other topics. In addition to a keynote presentation from Elaine Oran of the University of Maryland’s Department of Aerospace Engineering and four invited plenary talks, 435 oral presentations and 690 posters will be presented describing cutting-edge fundamental and applied combustion research.
  • Microgrid Solar has announced the hiring of Gordon Schweitzer III as Director of Energy Efficiency Services. Schweitzer comes to Microgrid Solar with experience as Lead Engineer for the University of Delaware’s Mid-Atlantic Industrial Assessment Center, Engineering Consultant at Applied Energy Group, Inc., and Project Coordinator at Energize Delaware – Sustainable Energy Utility. In his new role, Schweitzer will lead Microgrid Solar’s Energy Efficiency Services team with his expertise in Energy Efficiency & Renewables Financing, Policy, and Project Management; Energy Auditing; Utility Policy and Rebate Programs; Program Development; Building Energy Modeling; LEED Online, BD+C, EB: O&M; and ENERGY STAR Products and Programs.
  • Noble Group Limited and EIG Global Energy Partners have announced the formation and commitment to capitalize Harbour Energy, Ltd, a company that will own and operate upstream and midstream energy assets globally. Harbour Energy will seek to own high quality assets that provide exposure to key supply trends while capturing value up-lift associated with control of offtake, logistics and supply chain management. Noble will be preferred offtake and marketing partner of Harbour Energy, while EIG, together with the company’s internal management team, will serve as manager of the company and oversee the acquisition of assets. Harbour Energy’s capitalization will be funded solely through balance sheet capital of each of Noble and EIG. EIG also announced today that Linda Z. Cook has been appointed a Managing Director of EIG, a member of EIG’s Executive Committee and CEO of Harbour Energy.
  • VIASPACE Inc. has announced that the company has entered into a research collaboration with the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources Division (UCANR). The objectives of the research are to: compare the growth of Giant King Grass using subsurface drip irrigation with flood (furrow) irrigation; compare individual node and whole stalk planting methods; evaluate yields when cut every 6 months for bioenergy applications; evaluate yields when cut every 2 months for animal feed or anaerobic digestion to produce biomethane; and evaluate growth of Giant King Grass in a very hot dry climate.

Lincolnland Agri-Energy Celebrates 10 Years

Lincolnland Agri-Energy is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. The Palestine, Illinois-based ethanol plant is now producing 57 million gallons of ethanol per year and employs 41 local residents. In 10 years, the ethanol plant has produced 470 million gallons of ethanol. Over the weekend, Lincolnland Agri-Energy hosted an open house for the community to celebrate its milestone.

Since they began operating in 2004, Lincolnland has actively taken steps to develop and expand their facilities. They broadened into corn oil extraction, added a fermenter, and implemented selective milling technology.

Lincolnland Agri-Energy“We are proud to produce cost-saving, renewable ethanol that furthers America’s energy independence. Lincolnland’s ethanol production facility has helped revitalize the community, create demand for our local farmers, and save Illinois drivers money at the pump,” said Eric Mosbey, general manager of Lincolnland Agri-Energy. “This is an exciting day for everyone involved in making Lincolnland a success. The past 10 years of production would not have been possible without the support of our stakeholders, the dedication of our employees, and the cooperation of the local community. We look forward to another 10 years.”

The ethanol plant has fostered an active presence in the local community by hosting elected officials including then-Senator Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and Congressman John Shimkus (R-Ill.). Both elected officials were given a warm welcome as they learned more about ethanol production and the impact it has on the local community. The company also partners with the local junior college to offer internships and donate equipment so students can learn more about the ethanol production process. Lincolnland supports many local programs and is a long-time sponsor of the annual Labor Day rodeo in Palestine, Ill.

“What started as an idea by a group of local farmers has turned into a successful ethanol plant that is run with integrity and gives back to the local community. The hours, days, and years of dedication can be seen in every aspect of this business today,” said Bob Dinneen, president and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association. “This truly is a day to celebrate and honor the 10 years of hard work that has gone into making this business a success.”

Iowa Supreme Court Rules for Solar

SEIA 40 anniversary logoIn a setback to the regulated utility model, the Iowa Supreme Court has ruled that a power purchase agreement (PPA) between the city of Dubuque and Eagle Point Solar does not violate state law. Regulated utility companies had fought the arrangement, claiming to have exclusive rights to sell to customers in their service areas. On Friday, July 11, 2014 Iowa’s high court disagreed.

After the decision was handed down, Rhone Resch, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), said of the win, “This is an important milestone for solar energy in Iowa. It undoubtedly will help to jumpstart solar installations across the state, creating new jobs, pumping money into the economy and reducing pollution. But just as importantly, this is a victory for freedom of choice, affirming the right of Iowans to decide how they want to power their homes and businesses in the future. We commend the court for doing the right thing.”

Offshore Wind Fastest Growing Power Sector in Europe

Offshore wind energy development in Europe is the fastest growing power sector with 4.9 GW of new capacity under construction according to the European Wind Energy (EWEA). The 4.9 GW will be comprised of 16 commercial offshore wind farms under construction.

EWEA 2014 Statistics ReportDuring the first six months of 2014, 224 new offshore wind turbines totaling 781 megawatts were fully connected tot the grid. This is 25 percent less than during the same period in 2013. However, there are 282 wind turbines installed that have not been connected to the grid during the first six months. Once connected, this will add an additional 1,200 MW of offshore wind energy capacity.

“Despite offshore wind power installations being lower than in the first six months of last year, it remains the fastest growing power sector in Europe” said Justin Wilkes, Deputy Chief Executive Officer at EWEA. “However, despite significant financing activity in the first half of the year, the contraction in installations we have witnessed in these first six months, may well continue into 2015 and 2016.”

“To ensure healthy growth in the latter part of the decade, and to ensure offshore wind energy plays its role in meeting the EU’s competitiveness, security, renewable and climate objectives, the industry must be given longer-term visibility,” Wilkes continued. “An ambitious deal on the 2030 Climate and Energy package by the EU’s Heads of State in October would send the right signal, making their decision particularly important for the offshore wind sector,” he concluded.

Total installed offshore wind capacity in Europe is now 7,343 MW in 73 wind farms across 11 countries, capable of producing 27 TWh of electricity, enough to meet the needs of over 7 million households – or the entire population of the Netherlands.

#51 Eric Jones Wins American Ethanol 200

Erik Jones No 51 winner of 2014 American Ethanol 200 presented by SyngentaErik Jones driver of the No. 51 Toyota Tundra for Kyle Busch Motorsports held off Brad Keselowski Racing’s Ryan Blaney for the win of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series American Ethanol 200 sponsored by Enogen.

Jones said during Victory Lane, “Glad we could get out and command the race and bring it home.” Jones led 131 of the 200 laps dominating the 3/4 mile track and lapping several other drivers. This is his second NASCAR Camping World Truck Series win of the season.

Jones was given the award and congratulated for his win in Victory Lane by David Witherspoon, head of renewable fuels at Syngenta. All the drivers in the series compete with Sunoco’s green E15 racing fuel – the same E15 blend of ethanol that consumers with cars manufactured after 2001 and newer can use. To date, NASCAR has raced more than 6 million miles with E15.


Visit the 2014 American Ethanol 200 presented by Enogen photo album.

Syngenta Donates $108K for Flex Fuel Infrastructure

During the American Ethanol 200 presented by Enogen taking place at the Iowa Speedway today, Syngenta announced that they are donating $108,000 to the renewable fuels industry to make flex fuels more widely available. The funds will be used for flex fuel pump infrastructure to help bring more mid-level ethanol blends such as E15 and E30 along with E85 available to consumers. The donation is part of a three-year commitment, known as the $1 per acre donation, announced in 2013 to contribute $1 to the ethanol industry for every acre planted with Enogen trait technology.

Syngenta 2014 $1 per acre donationIn addition to this year’s $1 per acre donation, Syngenta is also working with Iowa FFA chapters in a collaborative effort to match those dollars through a fund raising initiative taking place during the American Ethanol race weekend.

“Syngenta is pleased to continue its support for the ethanol industry by donating $1 for every acre of Enogen® seed planted during 2014 – and to be partnering with the FFA to make that donation go even further,” said David Witherspoon, head of Renewable Fuels at Syngenta. “Last year, the money was used to defend the Renewable Fuels Standard. The focus of this year’s donation – and matching dollars – will be to make flex fuels more accessible and provide consumers with a choice at the gas pump.”

According to Growth Energy, more than 170 million cars – those manufactured since 2001 – are eligible to use E15. And, there are more than sixteen million flex fuel vehicles on the roads today, with more on the way. Witherspoon added that helping the industry expand its flex fuel pump footprint will enable consumers to have a choice to purchase a superior higher octane fuel, and pay less.

“Clearly, we have the vehicles capable of using blends higher than E10 – but consumers need greater access to stations capable of providing it – and the petroleum marketing industry’s support to make that access a reality,” Witherspoon said. “The widespread availability of flex fuel vehicles – as well as those eligible to use E15 – demonstrates that there is a market ready for a less expensive, higher octane, more environmentally friendly alternative fuel.”

Listen to my interview with David Witherspoon here: David Witherspoon interview

Visit the 2014 American Ethanol 200 presented by Enogen photo album.


BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDFPlug Power Inc. recently participated in the recent grand opening of Ace Hardware’s first all hydrogen material handling fleet at the company’s newly constructed Wilmer, Texas warehouse. In addition, Ace has ordered further GenDrive units for another distribution center being built in West Jefferson, Ohio.
  • The Export-Import Bank of the United States is providing a $64.5 million direct loan to Astidey S.A., in Montevideo, Uruguay, for the purchase of U.S.-manufactured wind-turbine generators being exported by Gamesa Technology Corporation Inc., headquartered in Feasterville-Trevose, Pa. The authorization will support approximately 400 U.S. jobs, according to bank estimates derived from Departments of Commerce and Labor data and methodology. Gamesa will supply, transport, install and commission 25 of its G97 2.0-megawatt (MW) wind turbines in the 50 MW Talas de Maciel I wind farm in the Department of Flores, Uruguay, located approximately 135 kilometers northwest of Montevideo.
  • RGS Energy has completed its previously announced private equity offering for gross proceeds of approximately $7.0 million. The company plans to use the net proceeds of approximately $6.4 million to support the launch of its residential leasing platform and for general working capital purposes, including debt repayment.
  • With funding from the Maryland Energy Administration Offshore Wind Development Fund, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources has secured a $1.1M commitment from the U.S. Dept. of Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management to gather scientific information about the bionetwork of the Maryland Offshore Wind Energy Area. This effort is intended to protect the ecosystem while providing opportunities for deployment of advanced renewable energy technology within the state. The interagency agreement establishes a jointly-funded project to study marine mammal populations off the coast of Maryland to help those agencies and the public better understand the geographic distribution, abundance, and densities of large whales, dolphins, and porpoises.

Wind Energy Faces Challenges

According to a new paper, “Challenges for Wind Energy’s Future,” although a negligible player in electricity generation, wind energy comes at an exorbitant taxpayer expense. In addition, the report finds that the wind industry faces several likely “insurmountable” challenges to becoming a dependable part of America’s energy portfolio.

Author Merrill Matthews, Ph.D., discusses in the paper that while wind itself may be free, the IPI Ideas Challenges for Wind Energyprice to harness it as a source of renewable energy is not. Matthews reports that wind energy accounted for only 4 percent of total U.S. electricity generation in 2013, but cost taxpayers a what he calls a staggering $2 billion—a vastly disproportionate tax subsidy as compared to other energy producing industries.

Matthews says it was admitted even by investor Warren Buffett that the wind energy industry would not exist without tax breaks, and the market for it has only been sustained because of government mandates.

  • In addition to its expense, writes Matthews, wind energy’s other key challenges include:
  • It’s unreliable and may not be available during peak usage;
  • It’s shown to be environmentally harmful, for example causing half a million annual bird deaths; and
  • It’s losing favor as a priority with the public.

“The quest for an economy driven by a clean, abundant and affordable renewable energy remains an unfulfilled dream—though not for a lack of lobbying, a supportive media, and lots of government money,” writes Matthews. “Wind energy’s marginal success has come at a huge taxpayer and ratepayer cost. The public’s willingness to continue to pour billions of dollars into wind energy, through higher taxes or rates, appears to be coming to a close.”

UCR Helps Solar Energy Get a Boost

A recent article published in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters by University of California, Riverside (UCR) chemists looks at the research focused on “singlet fission,” a process in which a single photon generates a pair of excited states. This 1->2 conversion process has the potential to boost solar cell efficiency as much as 30 percent.

UC Riverside Singlet Fission researchIn addition to improving solar panels, the research can also aid in developing more energy-efficient lighting and photodetectors with 200 percent efficiency that can be used for night vision. Biology may use singlet fission to deal with high-energy solar photons without generating excess heat, as a protective mechanism.

Today solar cells work by absorbing a photon, which generates an exciton, which subsequently separates into an electron-hole pair. It is these electrons that become solar electricity. The efficiency of these solar cells is limited to about 32 percent; however, by what is called the “Shockley-Queisser Limit”. Future solar cells, also known as “Third Generation” solar cells, will have to surpass this limit while remaining inexpensive, requiring the use of new physical processes. Singlet fission is an example of such a process.

“Our research got its launch about ten years ago when we started thinking about solar energy and what new types of photophysics this might require,” said Christopher Bardeen, a professor of chemistry, whose lab led the research. “Global warming concerns and energy security have made solar energy conversion an important subject from society’s point-of-view. More efficient solar cells would lead to wider use of this clean energy source.”

ACE Panel Focuses on Int’l Ethanol Opportunities

The 27th Annual Ethanol Conference is fast approaching and this year a key focus will be examples of expanding international ethanol markets. American Coalition for Ethanol’s (ACE) conference will take place on August 4-6, 2014 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

ACElogoShannon Gustafson, ACE director of strategic projects, says the panel will focus on the international sales and marketing opportunities that are available to domestic ethanol producers who are looking to tap into foreign markets. The panel will include Gene Griffith of Patriot Renewable Fuels, Chad Martin of Eco-Energy and Clayton Haupt of CHS Inc.

“This panel will provide valuable perspectives from both the producer and marketing sides of the aisle. New developing markets for ethanol aren’t just here in the U.S. anymore. Consumer demand for ethanol is growing across the globe, and this panel will highlight the potential for domestic ethanol producers to develop new revenue streams and new markets for the ethanol industry,” said Gustafson.

The ACE Conference will also feature an Innovators panel of four domestic ethanol producers who are adding new processes and technologies to their existing ethanol plants to differentiate themselves from the pack, a Retailer Roundtable involving gas station owners who are making money and attracting new customers by selling higher blends of ethanol fuel, and other topics like the future of ethanol blended fuels, a look at the proposed regulations in the Food Safety Modernization Act, and an examination of rail regulations and possible long-term improvements of the domestic rail system.

More information on the 27th Annual Ethanol Conference can be found here. Click here to register.

Ethanol & Corn Production Up, Food & Gas Prices Down

Growth Energy is attacking the myth that ethanol production increases food prices.

Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy notes that time and again, Big Oil, big Food and special interests are attacking the ethanol industry and placing blame on them for rising food prices. “But when you look at the facts, nothing could be further from the truth. Recently, there has been a surge in ethanol production, while at the same time corn prices have been falling. Currently, corn is trading at $3.99, half the cost of Growth_Energy_logo-1what it traded for two years ago, yet food prices continue to rise because the cost of oil continues to climb. In fact, a recent World Bank study outlines how crude oil prices are responsible for 50 percent of the increase in food prices since 2004.”

Buis continued by noting that while Big Oil continues its “fear mongering” about the use of ethanol, American Consumers have just experienced a six year high in gas prices over the 4th of July weekend. In fact, he said, gas prices continue to stay at near record prices while ethanol is trading around one dollar per gallon below the cost of wholesale gas.

“Clearly global political unrest is once again responsible for driving consumer fuel prices higher, ” said Buis. “And, because of Big Oil’s monopoly over the fuels market, consumers currently have to pay more to drive to the store and the hits keep on coming when they check out at the grocery line! What I find interesting is that while Big Oil and Big Food continue to propagate the same old myths about food and renewable fuels, they are not as forthcoming when it comes to explaining to the public why they are making record profits on the backs of American consumers.”

“As President John Adams once said, ‘Facts are stubborn things.’” “Clearly,” said Buis, “this is the case for Big Oil, Big Food and their cronies, who are doing everything in their power to find a straw man to divert attention away from their excessive appetite for increased profit margins at the expense of hardworking American families.”

BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDFSunEdison, Inc. has announced a new project that will install 159 kilowatts (kW) of solar PV micro-grids with battery storage in six remote Indian villages, which will bring electricity to, and thereby improve health and education for, 4,875 off-grid people. Working with the Government of India’s Rural Electrification Corporation and the Madhya Pradesh Urja Vikas Nigam state agency, SunEdison will build, operate and then transfer the facilities to a public entity after five years.
  • The first annual Bioproducts World Showcase & Conference will be held October 5-8, 2014 in Columbus, Ohio. The OBIC Bioproducts Innovation Center (OBIC) at The Ohio State University will host the Showcase to feature innovative, biobased products in a single event for key decision makers and procurement officials from commercial and government entities. Registration is open.
  • Bechtel has successfully delivered and installed all of the modules for the first liquefied natural gas production train at the GLNG facility on Curtis Island in Queensland. The successful installation marks a major milestone in the construction of the plant, which will consist of two production trains. Train 1 is made up of 82 modules that were built at a Bechtel-managed module yard facility in the Philippines and transported to Curtis Island over a 19-month period. Modules for Train 2 are being constructed at the same facility and shipped to the island. The final modules for the second train are scheduled to be delivered and installed later this year.
  • Independent Energy Solutions (IES) has finished the construction of a solar carport project with a 325 kilowatt peak capacity located at the Marine Corps Air Station in Yuma, Arizona. The project utilized HatiCon Solar alTite penetrating flat roof mounting system with a 15 degree tilt used in conjunction with Hyundai 250 watt solar modules. The alTite system’s long spans reduced penetrations to the carport structure. Preassembled components and no on-site fabrication allowed for faster installation under the hot Arizona sun. To further accelerate the installation time a comprehensive service package was provided by HatiCon Solar. Services were comprised of optimized, site specific engineering solutions and full logistical support.

UOP Renewable Jet Fuel Selected by Petrixo

Petrixo Oil & Gas will be using the Honeywell UOP Renewable Jet Fuel Process to produce renewable jet fuel and renewable diesel at a new refinery scheduled to be built in Fujairah United Arab Emirates. The technology will process around 500,000 metric tons per year of multiple renewable feedstocks into Honeywell Green Jet Fuel and Honeywell Green Diesel.

Honeywell Renewable Jet Fuel flightEarlier this year, Petrixo announced that it will invest $800 million to build the new refinery, which will have a design capacity of 1 million tons per year of biofuel products, and will be the first commercial-scale renewable jet fuel production facility outside of North America.

“Petrixo believes that new energy solutions are immensely important for scalable, environmental and renewable solutions,” said Dr. Eid Al Olayyan, chief executive officer of Petrixo Oil & Gas. “UOP’s green fuels technologies are proven refining solutions that produce high-quality products compatible with petroleum-based fuels.”

The UOP technology is designed to provide flexibility to adjust the feedstock mix depending on parameters such as cost and availability. The technology also enables the adoption of newer-generation feedstocks, such as oils derived from algae and halophytes, as scalable supply chains for these lipids develop.

“UOP’s renewable process technologies produce real fuels, rather than fuel additives such as biodiesel, that fit seamlessly into existing fuel supply chains,” explained Veronica May, vice president and general manager of UOP’s Renewable Energy and Chemicals business unit. “The renewable fuels produced by our technology also offer lower greenhouse gas emissions relative to traditional petroleum-based fuels.”

Blended up to 50 percent with petroleum-based jet fuel, Honeywell Green Jet Fuel requires no changes to aircraft technology, meets all critical specifications for flight, and can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 65 to 85 percent compared with petroleum-based fuels.

Globeleq Inaugurates Jeffreys Bay Wind Farm

Globeleq has inaugurated its latest wind energy project in South Africa. The 138 MW Jeffreys Bay Wind Farm is located between the towns of Jeffreys Bay and Humansdorp in Eastern Cape and has an estimated annual production of 460 GWh and will provide renewable electricity for nearly 100,000 average South African households.

Jeffreys Bay Wind-Farm-SunsetBack in April, Globeleq marked the start of operations at two solar facilities, the 50 MW De Aar and 50 MW Droogfontein installations on the Northern Cape. All facilities are part of South Africa’s renewable energy program and according to the company, are among the very first large scale renewable power plants to be built in the country.

Mikael Karlsson, Globeleq’s CEO said, “The completion of these facilities is the result of a truly global partnership with the Government of South Africa and Eskom and the private sector of developers, investors, lenders, constructors, suppliers and the local community. It demonstrates significant support for independent private power producers in the region and indicates the sustainability of the renewable energy sector. As the leading African private power company, Globeleq is committed to pursue further investments in clean and reliable power for the region.”

Similar to other countries, South Africa has identified job creation and skills development through development of renewable energy. During the wind farm’s construction, Globeleq said more than 700 people worked on the site, of which 45 percent were drawn from the local community. A percentage of the project’s operational revenues will be reinvested into the local community through socio-economic and enterprise development programs creating the skills needed to support the growth of the renewable energy industry in South Africa.

“What an exciting time to be a part of this industry. In such a short period we have built an alternative source of energy which will provide ongoing benefits for the country and the industry alike,” said Mark Pickering, Managing Director of Globeleq South Africa.

Globeleq is the majority shareholder in a consortium group, consisting of Mainstream, Old Mutual, Thebe, Enzani, Usizo and the Amadla Omoya Trust. Globeleq through its wholly owned South African subsidiary, manages the operation and commercial aspects of the Jeffreys Bay, De Aar and Droogfontein facilities.

American Ethanol Weekend Preview

American Ethanol 200 logo_resizedAmerican Ethanol is racing into Newton, Iowa for an exciting weekend at the Iowa Speedway. It’s an ethanol-powered packed event for American Ethanol. This weekend features the American Ethanol 200 presented by Enogen on Friday July 11th and the Indy Corn Indy 300 presented by DeKalb on Saturday, July 12th.

This year race fans can learn about the benefits of ethanol in many ways. For example, Syngenta will be holding a media briefing to make a major announcement regarding their support for the ethanol industry, provide an update on a new cellulosic ethanol technology and discuss efforts to improve market penetration for American ethanol. Quad County Corn Processors became the first ethanol plant in Iowa to produce commercial scale cellulosic ethanol last week and the first to produce cellulosic ethanol using the Enogen corn trait. Syngenta will be working with Quad County to license the ACE technology to other ethanol plants.

In addition, FFA students living near the speedway will be stationed around the track to discuss the benefits of E15, the same fuel the NASCAR drivers will be racing with, as well as higher blends of ethanol such as E85. They will also be collecting donations to help support flex fuel infrastructure and all funds will be matched by Syngenta. The funds will be used to help retailers install equipment to offer consumers more choice at the pump.

IowaCornIndy300_712E067B4EBE7On Saturday, the ethanol fun continued at the Iowa Corn Indy 300 presented by DeKalb. This is the 8th running of the Iowa Corn Indy sponsored event. In past years the race has been 250 laps but for the first time this year, drivers will compete to be the first to the finish line after 300 laps. This year, Indy Car will be filling up with 85% ethanol – the same fuel Iowans can find at nearly 200 stations.

Both races begin at 7:30 pm and DomesticFuel.com will be bringing readers weekend ethanol race event coverage. You can also follow the events via Twitter @DomesticFuel and @jmschroeder and on DF’s Facebook page. We’ll see you for some #EthanolFun!