EIA Lowers Energy Content of Gas

“EIA has adjusted its estimates of the energy content of retail motor gasoline in the Monthly Energy Review (MER) to reflect its changing composition. Ethanol and other oxygenates, which have lower energy content than petroleum-based gasoline components, have seen their share of total gasoline volumes increase from 2% in 1993 to nearly 10% in 2013. As a result, EIA’s estimate of motor gasoline’s average energy content per gallon has declined by about 3% over this 20-year period,” writes the Energy Information Administration (EIA) in its latest Monthly Energy Review.

To better understand the changes, a recent “Today in Energy” looked at how higher U.S. ethanol use has cut the average energy content of a gallon of gasoline.

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The EIA explains that the adjustment of the average energy content per gallon of motor gasoline reflects changes in response to 1990 Clean Air Act (CAA) regulations that split the U.S. gasoline market into three segments: conventional, oxygenated, and reformulated. Oxygenated and reformulated gasoline was required to be blended with compounds that contained oxygen, such as MTBE (methyl tert-butyl ether) or ethanol. This Act was designed to reduce toxic air emissions in cities and it was successful. However, EIA states that while these additives reduced air pollution, they also resulted in lower heating value compared with conventional gasoline, translating to fewer miles per gallon, because they have lower energy density.

In response to these regulations, EIA began collecting separate data on the production of conventional, oxygenated, and reformulated gasoline in 1994. The gasoline heating value was estimated based on the relative volumes of conventional, oxygenated, and reformulated gasoline in the total motor gasoline product supplied to the United States. Continue reading

Solar Goes White

4af8a17c-1725-4cb0-8b74-93b41ce2a3afWhen people think of solar energy they think of red. Now people will start to think white. Neuchatel, Switzerland -based CSEM has produced what they believe to be the first white solar modules. According to company materials, the technology is attractive to the building industry where solar elements can blend into the building’s design and become a “hidden” renewable energy source.

CSEM’s white solar module technology has no visible cells and connections. It combines a solar cell technology able to convert infrared solar light into electricity and a selective scattering filter, which scatters the whole visible spectrum while transmitting infrared light. Any solar technology based on crystalline silicon can now be used to manufacture white, and colored, modules.

The technology can be applied on top of an existing module or integrated into a new module during assembly, on flat or curved surfaces.Besides its main application in building, CSEM expects other fields such as consumer electronics (laptops), and the car industry to show significant interest.

GRFA: Biofuels Help Support Rural Africa

The first African Sustainable Transport Forum is taking place this week in Nairobi, Kenya and the Global Renewable Fuels Alliance (GRFA) called on forum attendees to adopt biofuel friendly policies and regulations that would kick-start the increased use of sustainable biofuels in Africa’s transport sector.

“This Forum is an opportunity that should be grasped by Africa to take a vital step towards more sustainable transportation options. The potential of sustainable biofuels should be at the centre of these talks because they are the best sustainable transport option, both in environmental and economic terms,” said Bliss Baker, spokesperson for the GRFA.

GRFA1Earlier this year the GRFA forecasted that 2014 global ethanol production would reach 90.38 billion litres and its use worldwide would reduce GHG emissions by over 106 million tonnes globally. “106 million tonnes or 21 million cars in GHG reductions is massive, it’s the same as removing all the cars registered in Malaysia off the road, but much more can be achieved if African leaders choose a path towards a more sustainable future for African transport,” said Baker.

While biofuel production in Africa has remained relatively low when compared to other regions, it has grown year on year with ethanol production alone now forecasted to reach 260 million litres in 2014. The domestic use of this ethanol fuel could reduce Africa’s GHG emissions by 325,000 tonnes.

“In addition to the important opportunity to reduce GHG emissions in transport, biofuels also offer African countries a fantastic opportunity to spark much-needed investment in agriculture, and, by creating jobs and boosting household incomes, poverty can be alleviated and food security improved. Sustainable biofuels are an important tool to help enable the revival of Africa’s rural communities, Africa’s political leaders need to promote them,” added Baker.

Baker said that African Sustainable Transport Forum attendees should note that the country’s biofuels opportunity was identified in 2010 by the World Bank when it released “Biofuels in Africa: Opportunities, Prospects and Challenges.” The report found that “a new economic opportunity for sub-Saharan Africa is looming large: biofuel production…Africa is uniquely positioned to produce these new cash crops for both domestic use and export. The region has abundant land resources and preferential access to protected markets with higher-than-world-market prices. The rapid growth in the demand for transport fuels in Africa and high fuel prices create domestic markets for biofuels.

BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDFThe global cumulative installed capacity of biopower will increase from 87.6 Gigawatts (GW) in 2013 to 165.1 GW by 2025, driven by government support and environmental concerns, according to research and consulting firm GlobalData. The Global BioPower Market report states that the world’s major biopower markets, namely the US, UK, Germany, Brazil, India and China, all witnessed growth over the last decade, except for the US, which saw a falling trend in annual capacity additions during 2007 to 2014.
  • Registration is now open for the 20th Annual National Ethanol Conference: Going Global. Speakers and sessions will delve into pressing issues facing the ethanol industry including ethanol production, co-products and exports as well as challenges surrounding the Renewable Fuel Standard.
  • Save the date for the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association’s annual conference taking place January 27, 2014 at the Prairie Meadows Conference Center in Altoona, IA.
  • Valero Energy Corporation announced that Bill Klesse, 68, has chosen to step down as Chairman of the Board effective December 30, 2014. Joe Gorder, 57, Chief Executive Officer and President, has been elected by the Board of Directors to the role of Chairman to succeed Klesse effective December 31, 2014.

Enerkem Partners with Qingdao City

Enerkem logo copyEnerkem Inc. has signed an agreement with Qingdao City Construction Investment Group Co. Ltd. to develop a project partnership to jointly build a municipal solid waste-to-biofuels facility in Qingdao. The agreement was signed by Mr. Luzheng Xing, Director General, Qingdao City Construction Investment Group, and Mr. Vincent Chornet, President and CEO of Enerkem.

This additional project partnership for Enerkem in China was announced in the presence of the Governor of Shandong, Mr. Guo Shuqing, and the Premier of Quebec, Mr. Philippe Couillard. It follows two previous project partnerships confirmed by Enerkem during the Quebec government’s trade mission in China.

“We are proud to combine forces with our esteemed partner in Qingdao to address local waste challenges and transform garbage into clean transportation fuels,” said Vincent Chornet, president and CEO of Enerkem. “Our modular waste-to-biofuels facilities can be replicated in any community as a competitive and sustainable alternative to incineration or landfilling. We are thrilled to export this game-changing technology to China.”

In this new project partnership, Enerkem will license its exclusive technology to convert local urban waste from China into biofuels and chemicals. The final business structure and sites are under discussions and will be announced at a later time.

ChargePoint Now Accepts PayPal

ChargePoint now accepts PayPal. PayPal has long supported electric vehicles (EVs) and has installed 34 ChargePoint ports at their San Jose, California, campus for employees and visitors. The company states by enabling people to pay for a charge using PayPal, they are giving their customers a faster and easier way to pay.ChargePoint-PayPal

ChargePoint stations are independently owned so businesses and individuals are free to set pricing however they prefer. Some station owners prefer to offer charging for free as an amenity or to attract visitors. Others set a price to cover costs or drive revenue. Over half of the 19,000 charging spots on the ChargePoint network are free. When there is a fee to use a station, drivers can pay with their ChargePoint account by adding their credit card. Now, drivers can also use PayPal to get a charge.

“With PayPal as a payment option, it’s even easier for drivers to plug in to a ChargePoint station,” said Pasquale Romano, ChargePoint’s CEO. “Combining the largest network for EV charging with a leader in digital payments means that more drivers can make the switch to electric.”

Now when asked for payment information, drivers can choose PayPal and will be directed to PayPal.com to enter their username and password. To start charging, drivers can use the ChargePoint mobile app or wave their ChargePoint card in front of the station’s card reader. The first time a driver accesses a station that requires a fee, a $25 deposit will be charged to their account and payment will be deducted from that deposit.

Robert Baker Wins Growth/New Holland Sweepstakes

Robert Baker of Sue City, Missouri has won the 2014 Growth Energy Individual Membership Sweepstakes sponsored by New Holland. His prize included 200 hours of usage of a CR8090 combine with a New Holland Twin Rotor CR8090 combine corn head for the 2014 harvest season.

“I am very excited, and I have a son and grandson that are more excited than me because they get to run [the combine],” said Baker.

Baker is a farmer who has invested in the Macon, Missouri, POET Biorefining plant, and regularly provides feedstock. The 14-year-old plant gained national coverage in 2010 when President Obama visited to learn more about ethanol production and gave a speech discussing the ability of ethanol to “contribute to our clean energy future”.

new-holland8090“We are proud to support a farmer who works so hard every day to grow crops to help feed the world and fuel our nation,” said Growth Energy CEO, Tom Buis. “Our members are working hard to revitalize our rural economies, create new jobs and ensure our nation will have a sustainable and secure energy future. This sweepstakes was part of a larger effort to continue to build grassroots support for biofuels across the country. Our growing grassroots advocates, such as Mr. Baker, help promote our industry and ensure that lawmakers in Washington understand the important role the RFS and biofuels play across America’s heartland. ”

The Growth Energy Individual Membership Sweepstakes offered all new or renewing individual members a chance to win either a NASCAR ticket package or usage of a New Holland combine. The total prize package for the combine is valued at $35,584.

Steve Murphy, General Manager at POET Biorefining – Macon, added, “The economic impact of the ethanol industry here in Missouri is undeniable and what we do here at POET goes far beyond the production process. As the first ethanol plant in the state of Missouri, we are proud of the added value our facility brings to producers and this community. However, we wouldn’t be able to offer consumers cheaper and cleaner choices at the pump if it weren’t for producers like Robert. All of us at POET Biorefining – Macon sincerely thank Robert for his continued support and extend him our congratulations.”

BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDFCNG Source will open its first Indianapolis CNG station on November 20, 2014. The four-lane facility is the first public station the company has branded with the CNG Source name, and it features the latest advancements within the compressed natural gas industry, including CNG Source’s proprietary fast fill technology which allows for the dispensing of twelve gallons per minute. The station is located next to the triangle formed by the I-465, Brookville road and Shadelan Ave.
  • Four Dutch and German consultancies in the field of offshore renewable energy have teamed up and established a new international consultancy company Wind Minds with the objective to combine all their expertise and experience in developing and building new offshore wind farms in North West Europe, America and Asia. One of their first targets are Japan and Korea, countries being visited when Wind Minds joins the trade mission of Dutch Minister of Economic Affairs Henk Kamp, between October 27th and November 4th. This mission accompanies King Willem Alexander and Queen Maxima during their state visit to both countries.
  • SunEdison, Inc. has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Rajasthan Government aimed at developing Rajasthan as the global hub for solar energy. SunEdison intends to establish 5 GWs of capacity in the form of multiple Mega Solar Projects, with the expected capacity of each Mega Solar project 500 megawatts (MW) or more. The MOU comes at an opportune time following the new Solar Policy announced by the Government of Rajasthan, which aspires to create 25 GW of solar capacity in the state in the next few years.
  • Construction has begun on the Armow Wind power project in Ontario. Samsung Renewable Energy, Inc. and Pattern Energy Group LP have announced the completion of a C$580 million construction and term loan financing, which was secured with 10 financial institutions. Located in the Township of Kincardine, the 180 MW Armow Wind power project will utilize more than 200 Ontario workers and Ontario-made products, including 91 wind turbine towers made in Windsor and 273 blades manufactured in Tillsonburg.

ONR Expands Green Reach in Asia-Pacific

The Office of Naval Research (ONR) is expanding its work in Asia-Pacific’s renewable energy sector. The announcement was made during National Energy Action Month where the Navy is promoting energy efficiency and conservation by participating in and hosting events around the world. The announcement comes after ONR’s work with the Chiang Mai World Green City that was established two years ago at Chiang Mai Rajabhat University with support from ONR. It uses solar cells, batteries for energy storage and a direct-current (DC) microgrid to power more than 20 buildings over 200 acres, including residences, offices, businesses and a vegetable farm.

Navy National Energy Month poster“Each new partnership we establish moves the United States and our allies closer to energy independence,” said Dr. Richard Carlin, head of ONR’s Sea Warfare and Weapons Department. “This system is unique in that it uses direct current to power an entire community. While this concept is perfect for isolated and remote communities, it also could be used in the future on naval installations and even ships at sea to bring power to our Sailors and Marines wherever they are.”

Scientists in Thailand plan to establish another smart grid-powered village at the University of Phayao and introduce sustainable technologies to military barracks and other communities throughout the country.

ONR now has turned its attention to Vietnam, where there is an abundance of solar, biomass, wind, geothermal, hydro and other rich renewable energy sources. The U.S.-Vietnam collaboration also will take advantage of investments made in Hawaii, where ONR is sponsoring a study of electrical grids for three naval bases. As part of that initiative, the Hawaii Natural Energy Institute (HNEI) and the Applied Research Laboratory at the University of Hawaii are working with the Naval Facilities Engineering Command to develop an action plan for the Navy’s energy needs in Hawaii.

“We are expanding our research collaboration to Vietnam to build off the success in Thailand and to support the United States in our pivot to the Asia-Pacific region,” said Dr. Cung Vu, ONR Global associate director for power and energy. “Vietnam’s remote rural, mountainous and island areas will benefit from ONR’s microgrid research, and the Navy will be able to increase its understanding of energy-efficient technologies through another key partnership.”

ACE Thanks Motorclubs’ Endorsement of E15

Gene Hammond and Mark Muncey, co-owners of Travelers Motor Club and Association Motor Club Marketing have endorsed E15 (15 percent ethanol and 85 percent petroleum in motor gasoline). American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) Senior Vice President Ron Lamberty thanked the motorclubs, who have members in all 50 states, for setting the record straight on E15.

Hammond, who has worked in the auto club business for 40 years said, “Not one of our over 18 million members has called us with a problem related to the new E15 fuel or any E15ethanol blend. Travelers Motor Club and Association Motor Club Marketing support the use of E15 in vehicles as a safe and affordable alternative to gasoline.”

Lamberty called it “eerily appropriate” for the auto clubs to speak out so close to Halloween. “Ethanol opponents have done a masterful job of devising E15 horror stories, and we appreciate these two motor clubs shining the light on the campaign being waged by Big Oil and AAA, and showing drivers that the E15 monsters aren’t real.”

“Real-world results trump ghost stories, and the real-world findings of these two auto clubs mirror what we have heard from fuel station owners who sell E15: they’ve had no customer complaints, no breakdowns, and no repair bills from drivers who fill-up with E15,” continued Lamberty. “In fact, because E15 is a higher-octane fuel that costs less than regular, stations with E15 are gaining customers and E15 has become the second highest volume fuel in most of the stations that sell it.”

Lamberty said the motor clubs’ announcement, coupled with last week’s U.S. Court of Appeals ruling rejecting an E15 lawsuit filed by Big Oil, automakers, and the small engine lobby, “offers hope that truth will win out over fear-mongering”. Continue reading

Renewables Continue to Gain Ground

Renewables continue to gain ground according to the latest “Energy Infrastructure Update” report renewable energy sources including biomass, geothermal, hydropower, solar and wind, account for more than 40.61 percent of all new U.S. electrical generating capacity installed during the first nine months of 2014. Only natural gas provided more new generating capacity. The report was published by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s Office of Energy Projects (FERC).

Wind EnergyNew capacity in 2014 from the combination of renewable energy sources is nearly 35 times that of coal, oil and nuclear combined (3,598 MW vs. 104 MW). When looking at just September, renewable energy sources accounted for 2/3 of the 603 MW of new generating capacity put in service (367 MW of wind/60.8% plus 41 MW of solar/6.8%).

Of the 8,860 MW of new generating capacity from all sources installed since January 1, 2014, 187 “units” of solar accounted for 1,671 MW (18.86%), followed by 28 units of wind 1,614 MW (18.22%), 7 units of hydropower 141 MW (1.59%), 38 units of biomass 140 MW (1.58%), and 5 units of geothermal 32 MW (0.36%). The balance came from 41 units of natural gas 5,153 MW (58.16%), 1 unit of nuclear 71 MW (0.80%), 11 units of oil 33 MW (0.37%), and 6 units of “other” 7 MW (0.08%). There has been no new coal capacity added thus far in 2014.

Comparing the first nine months of 2014 to the same period in 2013, new generating capacity from renewable energy sources grew by 11.8 percent (3,598 MW vs. 3,218 MW). Renewable energy sources now account for 16.35 percent of total installed operating generating capacity in the U.S. – up from 15.68 percent a year earlier: water – 8.45 percent, wind – 5.35 percent, biomass – 1.38 percent, solar – 0.84 percent, and geothermal steam – 0.33 percent. Renewable energy capacity is now greater than that of nuclear (9.23%) and oil (3.97%) combined.

“The steady and rapid growth of renewable energy is unlikely to abate as prices continue to drop and the technologies continue to improve,” commented Ken Bossong, executive director of the SUN DAY Campaign. “The era of coal, oil, and nuclear is drawing to a close; the age of renewable energy is now upon us.”

SEIA Launches Campaign to Extend Solar Tax Credits

The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) has launched a national campaign designed to get Congress to extend the 30 percent solar Solar Power International 14 logoInvestment Tax Credit (ITC) beyond 2016. The campaign focuses on ‘tax fairness’. SEIA President and CEO Rhone Resch announced the campaign during the opening session of Solar Power International (SPI). The campaign will begin in full stream in 2015, when a new Congress is sworn in.

“Since the United States first began incentivizing energy development, the average annual subsidy has been $4.8 billion for oil and gas, compared to just $370 million for all renewable technologies,” Resch said. “How is this fair? How is this a leveling playing field? How does this kind of policy support an ‘all-of-the-above’ energy policy? Simply put, it doesn’t.”

Since the ITC went into effect in 2006, solar investment has exponentially grown. According to Resch, Solar installations in 2014 will be 70 times higher than they were in 2006, and by the end of this year, there will be nearly 30 times more installed solar capacity. There are also more than 143,000 Americans currently employed in solar.

“We’ve gone from being an $800-million industry in 2006 to a $15-billion industry today,” added Resch. “The price to install a solar rooftop system has been cut in half, while utility systems have dropped by 70 percent. It’s taken the U.S. solar industry 40 years to install the first 20 gigawatts (GW) of solar. Now, we’re going to install the next 20 GW in the next two years. And finally, during every single week of this year we’re going to install more capacity than what we did during the entire year in 2006. Tell me that’s not worth fighting for.”

EU Leaders Lack Climate & Energy Leadership

According to several organizations, although European Union Heads of State agreed upon a climate and energy framework, it fails to provide industrial leadership for Europe. Both Ocean Energy Europe (OEE) and the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) criticized the plan. OEE said the new greenhouse gas emission targets, renewable energy and energy efficiency will do little to capitalize on the security, employment and export potential of new energy sectors including ocean, wind and offshore wind energy. The groups argue the framework put Europe’s future energy security and the country’s position as a global renewable energy and climate leader at risk.

The European Council agreed to a 40 percent binding greenhouse gas emission reduction target, a 27 percent binding, EU-wide renewable energy target, and a 27 percent non-binding, EU-wide energy efficiency target.

Ocean Energy Photo ENE“If the EU is serious about tackling big issues such as energy security, unemployment and climate change, it needs to provide industrial leadership on climate and energy by setting hard and fast targets and reduce its exposure to highly volatile fossil fuel imports,” said Dr Sian George, CEO of Ocean Energy Europe. “Economies across the world will have to transition to low-carbon. By staying ahead of this curve, Europe can tap into massive export and job creation potential. This is as true for the first generation of renewable energy as it will be for the next generations, such as ocean energy technologies.”

In 2009, Europe agreed to climate and energy targets for 2020 helping to bring first-gen renewable energy industries to market in part due to market certainty. The new targets need to be higher, said George, for renewables to move into second generation renewable energy technologies.

Thomas Becker, chief executive officer of the European Wind Energy Association, said the lower unenforceable targets create market uncertainty and for the wind industry this “clarity” is critical to investors who rely on long-term policies to provide stability.

“The interconnectivity target is bewildering given the current political challenges Europe is facing. We’re in the midst of an energy crisis with Russia holding Member States to ransom over gas supplies,” said Becker. “Yet Heads of State see fit to trot out a meaningless target that will do nothing to improve connection in the Iberian Peninsula or the security of supply in the Baltic States, let alone allow an internal energy market to develop. On GHG reduction, this weakens the position of the EU for the climate talks in Paris next year,” added Becker. “I can’t understand how Member States are going to reach this target and who is guaranteeing that this is not just an empty shell. I can assure you that the other climate negotiators are very good at finding the holes in the cheese.”

BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDFICM, Inc. has announced that the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana issued a sealed order on October 23, 2014 holding all asserted GS CleanTech’s corn oil separation patents invalid and not infringed.
  • Magic Dirt, an organic peat moss replacement and byproduct of DVO’s anaerobic digestion (AD) process, won the 2014 Bioproduct Innovation of the Year Award from the Bioproducts World Showcase and Conference.
  • Driven by increasing annual installations, the global capacity of wind turbines using gearboxes is set to rise from approximately 27 Gigawatts (GW) in 2013 to 44.7 GW by 2020, according to research and consulting firm GlobalData. The report states that China overtook the US in 2009 to become the largest wind power market globally in terms of annual capacity additions, and has since taken the lead in wind turbine deployment.
  • Worthington Industries, Inc. has acquired a majority interest in dHybrid Systems, a leader in compressed natural gas (CNG) fuel systems. Worthington will own 80% of the with the founder retaining 20% and continuing in a leadership role.

Patriot Renewable Fuels Signs Cellulosic Deal

Patriot Renewable Fuels has signed a Professional Services Agreement to install ICM’s Fiber Seperation Technology (FST) as well as their Generation 1.5 Grain Fiber to Cellulosic Ethanol Technology (Gen 1.5) for its biorefinery. According to Gene Griffith, Patriot’s CEO says they are considering beginning construction in February 2015 upon board approval.

According to ICM, FST is a value-added technology that increases ethanol yield and throughput as well as increased oil recovery. Patriot is currently adding a biodiesel plant ICM tank at Patriot Renewable Fuels Biorefinerythat will convert the ethanol’s corn oil to biodiesel. Production is anticipated to begin in early 2015. The FST process separates the fiber from the kernel before the traditional fermentation process.

Once the separation occurs, the Gen 1.5 process then ferments the fiber to produce cellulosic ethanol. With the combined technologies, ethanol production is estimated to increase by six to 10 percent. By removing the fiber prior to the standard fermentation process, FST allows the plant to produce each gallon more efficiently and creates the option of diversified co-products such as high protein feeds.

“With this step, Patriot will be better positioned to help lead the corn-based ethanol industry into increased production of cellulosic ethanol,” said Griffith “With board approval for these projects, Patriot could be the first ethanol plant to produce two Advanced Biofuels [corn-based biodiesel, and cellulosic ethanol]. We believe these processes will not only diversify our plant, but they will also improve ethanol yield of traditional corn based ethanol to over 3.08 gallons per bushel.”

Patriot VP/GM, Rick Vondra added, “We are excited that Patriot’s board approved this next step toward cellulosic ethanol by agreeing to complete the engineering and design for these processes. We appreciate the research and development that ICM has done to develop these new processes along with ICM’s Selective Milling Technology that we installed in 2013. Our team is positioned to continue working with ICM to grow our business. ICM’s ethanol technology is a logical platform on which to build our business as a biorefinery. There are many new products and growth possibilities using corn as our feedstock, and we have identified these as two high potential processes that we can adopt now.”