BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDFGTM Research is hosting a free webinar on Tuesday, September 23, 2014 at 2:00 pm ET. The focus of the webinar is increasing non-residential solar project return and decreasing risk. One of the most frequent questions solar companies hear from prospective clients is “what’s my payback?” The webinar will discuss several financial metrics that businesses must analyze and understand when assessing a potential solar project and will also explore the challenges that legacy solar has in non-residential solar development and provides insight on how to overcome them.
  • Supported by aggressive renewable targets, policy backing and a shift towards a greener climate, the UK propelled itself to the head of the global offshore wind power market in 2013, boasting a cumulative installed capacity share of around 52%, according to research and consulting firm GlobalData. The company’s latest report states that the UK’s cumulative offshore wind power installed capacity increased from just over 0.3 Gigawatts (GW) in 2006 to 3.7 GW in 2013, at an impressive Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 42.9%.
  • A report released by Forecast the Facts Action and SumOfUs.org, “Disrupt Denial: How big business is funding climate change denial in the 113TH Congress and Why They Should Stop,” exposes U.S. companies, such as Google, Ford, Microsoft, UPS and eBay, for their financial support of Senators and House Representatives who deny the science of climate change. While these corporations present environmentally progressive public images, including support for national climate policies, they continue to support members of Congress who reject established science linking pollution to global warming.
  • AltCar Expo, the nation’s leading forum for alternative fuel ride and drive, industry, fleet & public education and demonstration, will take place on Friday and Saturday, September 19-20, 2014, from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. PT at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium. The City of Santa Monica’s Ninth Annual AltCar Expo is free and open to the public.

RFA: Rail Congestion Must Get Resolved

Bob Dinneen, president and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) is speaking out again on the problems of rail congestion that is slowing down the delivery of ethanol and ethanol byproducts across the country. He submitted written testimony to the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation that held a hearing yesterday to examine rail congestion and the harmful impact it has had on agriculture and other commodities.

Dinneen stressed the role that Bakken Crude rail shipments have played in increasing dwell times and decreasing train speeds and pointed toward the negative impact these delays are having on ethanol producers. “The rail system didn’t collapse last winter because of a snow drift in North Dakota,” he said. “It was because of a 400% increase in oil shipments from the Bakkens.”

RailcarsIn the written testimony Dinneen said, “The recent crisis of congestion that has seemingly overtaken the rail industry has become a huge and costly problem … This crisis is one that is causing significant harm to the economic health and well-being of our nation’s economy, as well as driving up costs for a wide array of commodities that rely on the rail for transportation…it is becoming more and more apparent that surging crude oil shipments are coming at the expense of other goods and commodities.”

Listen to Dinneen’s comments here: RFA CEO Bob Dinneen comments on rail situation

Wave Energy Research Progressing

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has announced the funding of up to $4 million for continued wave energy technological research and monitoring efforts. Northwest National Marine Renewable Energy Center (NNMREC) faculty will also share in another $3.25 million grant to iWave Energy Researchmprove “water power” technologies that convert the energy of waves, tides, rivers and ocean currents into electricity.

The project team is comprised of NNMREC with support from Oregon State University and University of Washington will be expanded to add the University of Alaska Fairbanks. The partnership will also enable researchers to learn more about the energy potential of large, flowing rivers.

“We’re extremely excited about the opportunity to add Alaska Fairbanks to our program,” said Belinda Batten, director of NNMREC and a professor in the OSU College of Engineering. “Alaska has an enormous energy resource, both in its coastal waves, tidal currents and powerful rivers. Partnering with Alaska Fairbanks will allow us to expand the scope of our energy research and tap into additional expertise, to more quickly move wave, tidal, and river energy closer to commercial use.”

The new funding will allow NNMREC to develop an improved system for real-time wave forecasting; create robotic devices to support operations and maintenance; design arrays that improve the performance of marine energy conversion devices; improve subsea power transmission systems; and standardize approaches for wildlife monitoring. Federal officials said the overall goal is to reduce the technical, economic and environmental barriers to deployment of new marine energy conversion devices.

“Oregon State University has been a world leader in developing wave energy technology and it’s great that the Department of Energy has recognized this fact in awarding this grant,” said Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden, who helped obtain the new federal support for these programs. Along with its university partners in Washington and Alaska, this funding will help ensure that the Northwest National Marine Renewable Energy Center remains an important national center for ocean energy development not just for the Northwest, but for the entire country.”

Significant progress has been made in how to process, permit and monitor wave energy technology as it emerges from the laboratory to ocean test sites, and ultimately to commercial use. Wave energy’s sustainable generating potential equates to about 10 percent of global energy needs.

Book Review: Build Your Own PHEV

This week I went techie and read “Build Your Own Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle,” by Seth Leitman. I chose this book because I drive an EV – the Ford C-Max, and when I purchased my vehicle, I opted against the plug-in component because I didn’t have a place to charge my car (I live in an apartment complex). In the back of my mind I always wondered if I shouldn’t have planned for the future and purchased the PHEV version. Well now, I’ve discovered with Leitman’s help, it didn’t matter – I can covert my EV to  PHEV.

Build Your Own PHEVLeitman is a quite an expert. He writes for several publications including Mother Earth News and Huffington Post and is a consulting editor for the McGraw-Hill Green Guru Guides. He also runs the blog Green Living Guy.

For those that may be new to the terminology, an electric vehicle consists of a battery that provides energy, an electric motor that drives the wheels and a controller that regulates energy flow to the motor. The only difference between an EV and a PHEV is that the EV battery is recharged through regenerative energy (apply the brakes) while the battery in a PHEV can also be recharged by plugging it in to an outlet.

So the goal of the book is both to educate people on converting their gasoline cars to PHEVs – this is where the real fuel efficiency gains come – as well as to show people that the country can move to PHEVs quickly.

One area that Leitman explains well is how much it costs, or doesn’t cost to drive an PHEV. When using the average U.S. electricity rate of 9 cents per kilowatt (using 2009 numbers) 30 miles of electric driving will cost 81 cents. Assuming that the average fuel economy in the United States is 25 miles per gallon, at $3.00 per gallon, this equates to 75 cents a gallon for the equivalent electricity. Other factors he accounts for: the environmental cost of electricity production.

I don’t have any mechanical skills, but this book is so well-written and easy to use I could actually figure out how to convert my hybrid (or a friend’s car). Granted, I would probably need some professional help but it is amazing how relatively simple and inexpensive this is especially when you factor in higher gas prices and more renewable energy being produced by utilities. My only suggestion is to update the book based on 2014 technologies because with the billions of gas cars on the road, this book will be valuable for years to come. You can purchase the book here.

EWEA to New Commissioner: Rein in Energy Future

Alenka Bratusek has been named Vice President- and Commissioner-designate for Energy Union and Miguel Arias Canete has been named as European Commissioner-designate for Energy and Climate Action. In response to the news, the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) is calling on the new commissioner to take the reigns of the Europe’s energy future.

ewea-logo“We look forward to working with Vice President Bratusek and Commissioner Canete on building a new treaty-busting energy union in Europe, which is underpinned by renewables,” said EWEA Chief Executive Officer Thomas Becker. “For a true single energy market to flourish in Europe, energy policy must become the domain of EU lawmakers and should not be shackled to 28 diverging ministries, regulators and agencies at national level.”

Becker said added, “The announcement of Vice President-designate Bratusek, with responsibility for energy union, shows a commitment by the Juncker presidency to make strides toward a single electricity market that places renewable energies, such as wind power, at the heart of European energy security.”

Parliamentary hearings for the new College of Commissioners are expected to commence on the week beginning Monday September 29, 2014.

Polar Bears to Warm Up Elephants at Oregon Zoo

H_slinky-infographic-3What in the world do polar bears and elephants have to do with renewable energy? Lots with a creative use of geothermal energy at the Oregon Zoo where an underground heating-cooling system will improve energy efficiency. Polar bears like it cool and elephants like it hot and with the help of “Slinky” or a geothermal loop, the two endangered species will keep each other comfy. The innovative high-tech system will be buried 12 feet underground.

“Essentially, this system works the same way as your household refrigerator,” explained Jim Mitchell, zoo construction manager. “The condenser that cools the coils in your refrigerator produces heat, which is expelled away from the coils with a fan. Our system has just added another step: capturing that heat for use elsewhere rather than blowing it all away.”

According to Mitchell, heat is created as a byproduct of cooling the polar bear swimming pools at the zoo. And rather than just expel that heat, the geothermal system will direct it through rows of Slinky-like coiled pipes buried deep in the northern section of Elephant Lands.

The ground maintains a constant temperature, insulating the pipes. Then, when it’s time to crank the thermostat, pumps connected to the system will deliver heat to Forest Hall, the 32,000-square-foot indoor portion of Elephant Lands.

The geothermal loop and other energy-efficient design systems are expected to cut Elephant Lands’ energy requirements in half, reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent and serve as the primary heat source for what will be one of the country’s largest indoor elephant facilities.

Eventually, other renewable sources of heat will be fed into the geothermal system. While it won’t be readily apparent to visitors, the roof at Forest Hall will feature a huge array of solar panels.

“Gradually, we may eliminate the need for fossil fuels at the majority of buildings and exhibits at the zoo,” Mitchell said.

Curator Bob Lee, who oversees the zoo’s elephant program said of the project, “The beauty of this system is in how it gives elephants choice. Most of the time, the elephant family will be able to move freely indoors and out, and we’ll be able to sustainably maintain a comfortable temperature for them.”

Wind Turbines Outperforming Expectations at Honda

Wind turbine energy output is exceeding expectations just six months after installation at the Honda Transmission Mfg of America plant located in Russells Point, Ohio. The two wind turbines have exceeded the projected power output figures by 6.3 percent. The turbines, standing 260 feet tall with 160-foot blades, were initially projected to produce upwards of 10,000 megawatt hours (MWH) of electricity per year, accounting for approximately 10 percent of the plant’s annual power needs. The turbines have outperformed company projections in four of the six months since operation began. At their highest output, the turbines provided 16.26 percent of the plant’s power requirements for the month of April.

“We are extremely pleased with the performance of the wind turbines’ production over their first six months,” said Gary Hand, Vice President of Honda Transmission Mfg. of America. “The turbines’ operation has exceeded the projections established during the project development.”

The wind turbines have also contributed toward reducing the CO2 emissions of power production, helping HHondaturbinesSMrevonda reach its voluntary goals to reduce the environmental impact of its products and manufacturing operations by 2020. This includes a 30 percent reduction in CO2 emissions from Honda products, and significant CO2 reductions from the company’s plants and other operations, compared with year 2000 levels.

We are pleased to observe the performance of the two on-site wind turbines are achieving results over and above what Honda had anticipated. From the outset, we were confident that the site location selected would allow the GE turbines to produce a significant amount of the facility’s’ energy requirements,” said Tyler Juhl, vice president of operations for Juhl Energy who developed and installed the turbines.

The installation of the turbines makes the plant the first major automotive facility in the United States to receive a substantial amount of its power from on-site wind turbines. The two turbines are owned by ConEdison Solutions.

Michael W. Gibson, vice president of energy services at ConEdison Solutions, added of the wind power achievement, “ConEdison Solutions takes tremendous pride in our commitment to customers, and we are proud to be helping Honda implement its innovative energy program at Russells Point. With this initiative, Honda has set an excellent example for the American manufacturing sector, and we are gratified that they have been pleased with its success.”

BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDFBroadwind Energy, Inc. has announced $14 million in new tower orders from a U.S. wind turbine manufacturer. Broadwind will produce these towers in its Manitowoc, Wisconsin and Abilene, Texas facilities.
  • The 14th Annual Renewable Energy Roundup & Sustainable Living Expo starts on Friday, September 26th with the Grand Opening & “Save The Planet? – Kids Are The Answer,” a free educational opportunity for Middle and High School age youth to participate in special environmental educational activities. The Roundup is September 26 – 28 and takes place in Belton at the Bell County Expo Center, 301 W Loop 121 (at IH-35), Belton, TX 76513.
  • Toshiba has been selected as the battery supplier for the next generation, all-electric, zero-emission bus from Proterra Inc., the leading electric vehicle (EV) transit bus manufacturer. The new fleet will use Toshiba’s Rechargeable Batteries (SCiB™), a safe rechargeable battery solution with high-rate performance and long-life capabilities that is used in a wide range of applications, from EVs to grid energy storage.
  • SunEdison, Inc. announced that Google Inc. has agreed to provide $145 million in equity financing for the Regulus solar plant. When completed, the Regulus solar project will be SunEdison’s largest developed and constructed project in North America. Located in Kern County, Calif., the Regulus plant will begin operation later this year, and will supply power to Southern California Edison through a 20-year power purchase agreement.

Introducing Cellulosic Technology Cellerate

During the cellulosic ethanol celebration event at Quad County Corn Processors ethanol plant in Galva, Iowa yesterday, Syngenta unveiled the new brand for the cellulosic ethanol technology: Cellerate™. Enhanced by Enogen® corn enzyme technology, Cellerate is a collaboration between Syngenta and Cellulosic Ethanol Technologies, LLC.

Cellerate is unique in that it is designed to increase an ethanol plant’s production by Cellerate cellulosic ethanol technologyallowing the corn kernel fiber to be converted into cellulosic ethanol. Ethanol plants can easily integrate Cellerate process technology into their existing production process. Cellerate, in conjunction with Enogen corn, will deliver notable benefits to ethanol plants beyond what can be achieved through either technology alone.

“The combination of Cellerate and Enogen represents the next leap forward in ethanol production,” said Jack Bernens, head of marketing and stakeholder relations for Enogen corn enzyme technology at Syngenta. “Ethanol is helping America reduce its dependence on foreign oil, lower prices at the pump, improve the environment with lower emissions, and grow the economy with jobs that can’t be outsourced. Together, these technologies will make ethanol more sustainable.”

In July 2014, collaboration between Syngenta and Cellulosic Ethanol Technologies, LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Quad County Corn Processors (QCCP), produced the first commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol in Iowa.

“The synergy of Cellerate and Enogen will decrease natural gas usage and increase ethanol throughput, while reducing a plant’s carbon footprint,” said Delayne Johnson, chief executive officer of QCCP. “These advantages, combined with higher protein DDGs and increased corn oil production, make the technology package appealing for ethanol plants looking to improve their bottom line.”

Symposium Examines Critical Energy Infrastructure

The Midwest Energy International Symposium will look at how the U.S. will confront a host of energy environment and infrastructure challenges over the next two years. The event will take place on Thursday, October 9, 2014 at the Quad-Cities Waterfront Convention Center located in Bettendorf, Iowa.

Speakers and panelists will provide valuable information and insights regarding energy Midwest Energy Natl Symposiumexports including ethanol, biodiesel, biojet fuels and the supply chains and logistics for fuel transport systems including the trucking, railroad and water transport industries.

The featured keynote speaker is Dr. Gong Ping Yeh, Fermilab with the United States Department of Energy (DOE). His research and interests in sustainable energy include wind, solar, biofuels, electric vehicles and improving energy efficiencies. In recent years, he has focused on Accelerator Driven System and Thorium energy as a new source of energy. Dr. Yeh has been serving internationally as an advisor for sustainable energy in many countries.

Other keynote speakers include:

  • Lt. General Wallace “Chip” Gregson, Jr. (Ret.) will address United States Department of Defense Sustainable Energy Projects.
  • The Rock Island Arsenal, United States Army, will present energy program models for hydroelectricity.
  • Mexico: Creating an Energy Self Sufficient Region in NAFTA, Mexico Energy Ministry
  • Korea: Korea’s Energy Future, Global America Business Institute
  • Germany: Germany’s Current Energy Transition and Use of Biogas as a Fuel, German American Chamber of Commerce, Chicago.

More information about the event along with registration information can be found here.

California Surpasses 100K Plug-In Car Sales

California is leading the country on plug-in electric vehicle sales and has surpassed the 100,000 sales mark since the market started in 2010 according to the California Plug-In Electric Vehicle Collaborative. California Governor Brown has set a goal to have 1.5 million EVs on state roads by 2025.

“California’s plug-in electric vehicle market is ramping up, and we expect to see significant growth over the next ten years as customers realize how economical and convenient they are,” said California Plug-In Electric Vehicle Collaborative Executive Director Christine Kehoe.

P90138766_lowResAccording to data collected by the California Air Resources Board, new sales figures released this week from hybridcars.com and Baum & Associates, a Michigan-based market research firm, Californians bought 102,440 PEVs from December 2010 through August 2014 accounting for nearly 40 percent of all PEVs sold in the U.S.

In addition to automakers rolling out dozens of plug-in electric vehicle models for consumers over the next couple of years, utilities are working to provide a clean, reliable and affordable fuel source for plug-in car owners. Drivers also have increasing options to refuel at home overnight or charge at workplaces across the state.

“Electric vehicles are an integral part of California’s cleaner future. With more than 10,000 electric vehicles on the road in the San Diego Gas & Electric service territory today, it is evident that our customers are embracing the benefits of clean electric transportation,” said James P. Avery, SDG&E senior vice president of power supply. “SDG&E is committed to providing our customers with the clean energy, attractive electric rates and resources needed to support their electric vehicle needs.”

According to California Plug-In Electric Vehicle Collaborative driving on electricity is the equivalent of driving for $1 per gallon of gasoline while a gallon of gasoline hovers around the $4 mark in some areas.

Richard Lowenthal, founder and chief technical officer of ChargePoint, a leading company installing EV charging stations at a myriad of public locations throughout the state said of the announcement, “We’re pleased to be providing clean, affordable fuel for a growing number of drivers across the country. Gasoline is 4 dollars a gallon in California and rising. Consumers want alternatives and we’re here to help make the best alternative – electricity — more accessible, and to make electric vehicles more appealing.”

Michigan Next Stop for Ethanol Safety Seminars

Michigan is the next stop for the Ethanol Safety Seminars. Led by the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) and in conjunction with the Michigan Department of Agriculture, there will be five training stops with the first on September 17 in Albion. Additional seminars will take place on September 18 in Lansing, September 19 in Grand Rapids, September 22 in Saginaw and September 24 in Warren. Each seminar is funded by a Promotion and Alternative Fuels Education grant from the Michigan Department of Agriculture.

Ethanol Safety SeminarAll seminars are free and feature a morning session from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. and an evening session from 5:30 to 10:00 p.m. Certificates will be awarded to attendees at the completion of the course. While primarily targeting first responders, hazmat teams, safety managers, and local emergency planning committees, seminars are also open to the general public.

Ethanol Safety Seminars focus on numerous areas 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.

“With nearly 14 billion gallons of ethanol flowing across our country via railroads, highway cargo tank trucks, and barges, it’s vital that our first responders know how to safely and effectively handle the situation should a spill occur,” said Craig VanBuren, consumer protection section director at the Michigan Department of Agriculture. “This grant allows the Renewable Fuels Association the opportunity to provide boots-on-the-ground training for our emergency responders if an ethanol spill were to happen.”

In addition to the seminars, RFA will also host five free retailer workshops throughout the state on how to market ethanol-blended fuels, including E15, E85, and all mid-level blends in between. The workshops will discuss economics, the process of capturing RINs, equipment options, buying fuel locally, and available incentives to offset investment. Workshops will take place on Sept. 16 in Warren and Flint, Sept. 17 in Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo, and Sept. 18 in Ann Arbor.

Energy Management Solutions Signs New Agreements

Energy Management Solutions, Inc. (EMS), a subsidiary of ICM ,has signed two new plant management agreements with Red River Energy LLC, located in Rosholt, South Dakota and Midwest Renewable Energy LLC, located in Sutherland, Nebraska.

ICMlogo1The Red River Energy ethanol plant will come back online and into full production this week after sitting idle for the past 18 months. The plant has an operating capacity of 25 million gallons of ethanol per year. The Midwest Renewable Energy plant is currently operating at a capacity of 22 million gallons of ethanol per year.

Dave VanderGriend, CEO of ICM said, “We are excited about expanding our plant management efforts with the addition of these two facilities. We’re proud to be their operator of choice and we look forward to helping each plant run as efficiently as possible.”

In addition to these newly signed contracts, EMS provides plant management services for Tharaldson Ethanol, Casselton, North Dakota and Noble Americas South Bend Ethanol LLC, South Bend, Indiana., which is scheduled to come online in the 4th quarter of this year.

BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDFJeremy Leggett, a prominent international solar thought leader, entrepreneur, business leader and author, will provide one of the keynote speeches at the second edition of the solar energy conference “Desert Solar in Saudi Arabia“, September 17-18, 2014 in Riyadh. The conference will discuss opportunities for solar energy in Saudi Arabia and the Middle East region.
  • San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) announced it is seeking between 500 and 800 megawatts (MW) of new, local resources to help replace the power previously provided by the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station as well as the retirement of older, coastal power plants that use once-through-cooling technology. The California Public Utilities Commission’s (CPUC) Energy Division approved SDG&E’s procurement plans earlier this year outlining the company’s approach to procuring 500 to 800 MW of new resources by 2022, with a minimum of 200 MW coming from “preferred resources.”
  • Hanwha SolarOne Co. Ltd. announced it has signed its second supply agreement with Baotou Shansheng New Energy Co., Ltd. for delivery of 50 MW of Hanwha SolarOne’s PV modules. Deliveries will begin in October and are scheduled for completion by the end of November. The modules will be used in ground-mounted projects in Hohhot and Baotou, Inner Mongolia.
  • Amyris, Braskem and Michelin announced that Braskem is joining the ongoing collaboration between Michelin and Amyris. This collaboration was initiated to develop and commercialize renewable isoprene, sourced from various biomass as an additional sustainable pathway to produce isoprene. Under the terms of the agreement, Braskem, Michelin and Amyris will work together to develop a technology to utilize plant sugars, such as those found in Brazilian sugarcane or cellulosic feedstocks, to produce renewable isoprene.

Food, Water Security Focus of Water for Food Event

The role of data in wWFF_cvent_banner_670px_nogates2ater and food security will be explored in the upcoming Water for Food Global Conference taking place in Seattle, Washington October 19-22, 2014.

Global food demand is growing. With a changing climate and increased competition for scarce water resources, people are now faced with the complex challenge of needing to double agricultural production by 2050 with less water than is used today. A topic of interest is how to use the tremendous amount of data we now have—from technology ranging from remote sensing to smart mobile devices—to effectively address this problem.

Water for food logoHosted by the Robert B. Daugherty Water for Food Institute at the University of Nebraska in association with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, “Harnessing the Data Revolution: Ensuring Water and Food Security from Field to Global Scales,” will bring together international experts in the fields of science, technology, policy and practice to discuss potential solutions to achieve a more water and food secure world. The conference will focus specifically on how data can improve the productivity and sustainability of small and large farmers.

Don’t miss your chance to be part of this important discussion. The early registration discount ends September 18, 2014. For more details, visit waterforfood.nebraska.edu/wff2014/.