BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDFIn response to a shareholder resolution, Exxon Mobil, for the first time ever, has agreed to publish a Carbon Asset Risk report on the Company website describing how it assesses the risk of stranded assets from climate change. The report will provide investors with greater transparency into how ExxonMobil plans for a future where market forces and climate regulation makes at least some portion of its carbon reserves unburnable.
  • RGS Energy has appointed Dennis Lacey to the new position of senior vice president of finance. He will be responsible for implementing and managing the company’s residential lease financing program.
  • Altus Power America Management has announced the launch of a Clean Energy Land Program with Macquarie Group to finance up to $100 million in solar and wind land energy projects in the US. The program is designed to bring to the market the most cost competitive capital to acquire lands and rights under solar and wind assets, while allowing the developers and owners of these assets to monetize those values.
  • Sempra U.S. Gas & Power and Consolidated Edison Development have announced agreements to partner in five solar projects in Nevada and California. The projects include Sempra U.S. Gas & Power’s 250-megawatt Copper Mountain Solar 3 project near Las Vegas, and Consolidated Edison Development’s CED California Holdings, LLC portfolio: the 50-MW Alpaugh 50, 20-MW Alpaugh North and 20-MW White River 1 facilities in Tulare County, and the 20-MW Corcoran 1 facility in Kings County.

DISH Converts to Propane Fleet

DISH has deployed 47 customer service vans fueled by propane autogas in the Los Angeles (LA), California area. DISH unveiled 47 of its 200 propane autogas vehicle fleet during an event, “Driving Cleaner Solutions for Our Customers and Communities.” The ROUSH CleanTech Ford E-250 cargo vans will support residential and commercial customer service through the company’s Hawthorne and South El Monte locations.

logosmisc“DISH is proud to begin deploying a vehicle fleet in the LA area that emits fewer greenhouse gases and uses a domestically sourced fuel,” said Erik Carlson, executive vice president of service and installation at DISH. “This is just part of our larger propane autogas fleet rollout and we look forward to rolling out more across the country.”

According to DISH, there were four factors that helped them make their decisions to move to propane autogas: cost savings, national availability of a domestically sourced fuel, on-site fueling benefits and original equipment manufacturer choices that meet service requirements. As part of their move to propane, the company is also installing an onsite fueling station.

“Industry leaders such as DISH are recognizing the value that propane autogas brings to their operation,” added Todd Mouw, vice president of sales and marketing for ROUSH CleanTech. “The ability to reduce fuel costs in excess of 30 percent, significantly reduce harmful emissions and utilize an American-made energy source produces a positive ROI for all involved: shareholders, employees and the communities that DISH services.”

DISH serves 14 million customers. Currently, propane autogas is the only alternative fuel being implemented in DISH’s fleet.

Confidence Boost for Europe’s Renewable Energy

In a last minute addition to the European Council’s conclusions on 2030 energy targets, leaders stated the need for a “supportive EU framework for advancing renewable energies.” While an agreement has yet to be reached, European Council President Herman Van Rompuy said in a press conference that the Council would have a deal on the climate and energy framework by “no later than” October 2014.

European Council logo“This extra time could be a golden opportunity – for pro-renewables countries like Germany, Denmark and Portugal to rally round and start fighting for greater ambition for renewables and the energy security they bring,” said Thomas Becker, chief executive officer of the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA). “The conclusions show that Heads of State are wising up to the energy challenges that Europe is facing. I think the situation in the Ukraine is proving a sobering experience for policymakers over the frailty of Europe’s energy security.“ He added, “We must act and we must do it now.”

Over 160 companies and organizations have singed a statement calling for a stronger commitment from policymakers to Europe’s 2030 Climate and energy objectives. One ask: a legally binding target for renewable energy of 30 percent. If this target were met, it would reduce gas imports by nearly three times more than the 27 percent target put forward by the European Commission in January 2014, create 568,000 more jobs, save EUR260 billion extra in fossil fuel imports.

It remains unlikely that a 2030 deal will be in place before a United Nations meeting convenes in September 204, when global leaders are expected to set out plans to curb greenhouse gas emissions. The European Council is set to meet again for talks on June 26-27, 2014.

Stop Protecting Big Oil’s Bottom Line

A new TV advertising campaign is being launched in Washington, D.C. this Sunday by Americans United for Change calling for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to stop supporting Big Oil’s bottom line. The EPA is currently reviewing comments of their 2014 proposed rule for the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). The goal of the TV ad is to underscore the consequences for rural jobs and all American consumers if they ultimately give Big Oil what they want: crippling their cheaper, cleaner renewable fuels competition.

‘Bottom Line’ follows two previous Americans United TV ads in support of the RFS, “Simple Choice” and ‘Why Mess With Success?”, and its digital ad campaign ‘Big Oil Is the Real Winner’, fighting back against the oil industry’s lies.

“Big Oil needs another giveaway from Washington like our coastal environment and economies need another BP deep-water spill,” said Caren Benjamin, executive director of Americans United for Change. “The industry already enjoys absurd loopholes that allowed the biggest companies among them to pay no taxes or even negative taxes in recent years. And while the ethanol industry voluntarily gave up their tax credit at the end of 2011, Big Oil runs attack ads against lawmakers who dare to suggest they don’t need $4 billion a year in taxpayer subsidies at a time when they’re posting $100 billion in profit. And how does Big Oil pay back the taxpayers for all their generosity? By shaking them down at the pump and polluting their ground water.”

Benjamin noted that Big oil gets whatever they ask for from Washington and said they are now asking the EPA to help put out of business their 70 cent cheaper and cleaner renewable fuels competition. “It’s time to draw the line not just because gutting the RFS is another giveaway to Big Oil, but because it’d be a huge takeaway from our rural economies, our national security, environment, and innovation towards cleaner renewable fuels of tomorrow.”

With a call to action to stop messing with the RFS Benjamin concludes that it doesn’t make sense to “mess with the success of the RFS.”

An Energy Enthusiast Version of March Madness

March Madness is upon us. For those not living in the United States, it’s the two weeks where college men and women’s basketball teams battle it out on the court until the last team is standing and crowned champion. Now that the NCAA teams have been announced and the brackets determined, people are filling out their official tournament forms with hopes of also being the last one standing (this assures bragging rights for one year).

This year, the Americans United for Change has released its own version of March Madness: the 1st Annual Environment Protection Agency (EPA) Renewable Fuel Standard Elimination Tournament. Jeremy Funk, communications director, notes that there is only one possible upset in this tournament and its a long shot and that is the renewable energy industry coming out the victor. He says “everyone knows the fix is in at this tournament if the EPA ejects the RFS and guarantees victory for 1st seed team Big Oil over the 16th seed team, The American Consumers”.

tumblr_n2n687cBjP1ts83mmo1_1280The EPA is currently reviewing more than 100,000 comments submitted in response to its 2014 proposed Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) – an energy policy designed to reduce the use of imported oil while also reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

“Big Oil has been working the refs in Washington for decades, complaining they need billions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies, even when they’ve got $100 billion in profits on the scoreboard,” added Funk. “Now the oil industry has a full court press on Washington to once again rewrite the rules in their favor by ejecting the cleaner, cheaper renewable fuels competition from the game. Without a strong Renewable Fuel Standard promoting healthy competition, Big Oil would be free to give consumers the Bobby Knight treatment at the pump.”

He says he is confident that when the EPA’s referees review this call, they’ll see the RFS has been an incredible Cinderella Story for rural communities when it comes to creating jobs, income and opportunity.

Funk concluded, “They’ll see the RFS has meant our troops have has been playing stronger D by reducing our dependence on oil from unstable regions overseas. They’d see the RFS has been a slam dunk for innovations in cleaner burning, next generation renewable fuels to combat climate change. We’re confident in the end, the EPA will reverse this terrible call and make Big Oil play fair for a change.”

Lockheed Martin Advances Tidal Energy

Lockheed Martin has signed a contract with global tidal energy company Atlantis Resources Ltd to optimize the design of Atlantis’ new 1.5 megawatt tidal turbine. The AR1500 is designed to facilitate operation in highly energetic tidal locations, and will be one of the largest single rotor turbines ever developed and will have active rotor pitch and full nacelle yaw rotation.

According to Lockheed Martin, the increased capability and integrated, advanced functionality will help bring commercial tidal energy to reality, and will initially support the MeyGen project in Scotland’s Pentland Firth and deployment in Canada’s Bay of Fundy. Once completed, the MeyGen LOCKHEED MARTIN AR1000project – the world’s largest tidal stream project under development and in development to contributed to the country’s 100 renewable energy goal– is expected to deliver up to 398 megawatts of power, enough energy to power 200,000 homes.

“By 2040, world energy demand is expected to dramatically increase,” said Tim Fuhr, director of ocean energy for Lockheed Martin’s Mission Systems and Training business. “Lockheed Martin’s technology, development and expertise in ocean systems and global system integration skills will enable the AR1500 to use powerful tides to produce safe, clean renewable energy for homes and businesses around the world.”

Tidal turbines work like an underwater wind turbine. The tides’ ebb and flow force the blades to spin, which rotate the turbine and activate a generator that produces electricity. Tidal energy’s greatest advantage over other alternative energy sources, such as wind power and solar energy, is that it is almost entirely independent of the weather. The movement of the tides can be accurately forecast several years out.

“With us acquiring the MeyGen project, and receiving full consents to begin construction of the project’s first phase, it has been an amazing 12 months of growth for Atlantis,” said Tim Cornelius, chief executive officer of Atlantis Resources Ltd. “Our AR1500 development program with Lockheed Martin will ultimately deliver the rapidly growing tidal energy industry the most advanced, robust and powerful tidal turbine system available on the market.”

Last year, Lockheed Martin and Atlantis entered into an exclusive teaming partnership to develop technology, components and projects in the tidal power sector on a global basis.

BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDFEPA’s SmartWay Transport Partnership is celebrating 10 years as a market-driven initiative that empowers businesses to move goods in the cleanest most energy-efficient way possible, saving businesses money while protecting public health and fighting climate change. Over the last 10 years, SmartWay has eliminated 51.6 million metric tons of carbon pollution, resulting in savings of more than120 million barrels of oil, and $16.8 billion in fuel costs.
  • The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) has released the results of its 2014 Iowa Fourth Congressional District Candidate Renewable Fuels Survey, highlighting strong support for renewable fuels among the leading candidates: U.S. Rep. Steve King (R) and Jim Mowrer (D). The IRFA will continue to release candidate survey results for other races.
  • Vista Solar, a Santa Clara-based solar installer and SunPower Commercial Dealer, has received the SunPower “Commercial Regional Top Producer of the Year” award for its outstanding sales performance as a SunPower dealer in 2013.
  • The Alliance for Solar Choice has announced two new wins for rooftop solar in 2014 as the public continues to defeat attacks from anti-solar utilities, their national trade association Electric Institute (EEI), and the American Legislative Exchange Council. In Utah and the state of Washington, solar advocates preserved net metering with zero changes to this core rooftop solar policy.

Maryland Offers $70K for Offshore Wind Development

Maryland state flagThe Maryland Energy Administration (MEA) has launched a grant program to support the development of offshore wind energy. The Market Entry Assistance Grant Program is the first program born of the Offshore Wind Business Development Fund. The fund is designed to help Maryland businesses become participants in the state’s offshore wind industry. MEA will issue grants to support the immediate rollout of emerging businesses’ products and services throughout the state. The grants will also facilitate development of business opportunities within the offshore wind sector.

According to Abigail Ross Hopper, director of MEA, “This ground-breaking program is the result of the Business Development Fund’s Advisory Committee’s recommendations which will aid in job creation and provide greater opportunities throughout the State for emerging businesses, including minority owned emerging businesses.”

Maryland emerging businesses who are ready to supply products and services in the offshore wind market can apply for grant funds. The monies are designed to reduce the costs associated with establishing commercial offshore wind sector exports. The program will provide two types of grant assistance: Administrative Costs Grants will be available to cover up to $25,000 for organizational needs; and Capital Equipment and Facility Upgrades Grants for amounts up to $500,000 will offer financial support for significant equipment investments.

“It is important that we support innovative Maryland businesses that seek a dominant position in the offshore wind supply chain with products that challenge the established European market,” added Hopper. “It is our hope that with MEA’s help these burgeoning companies will develop competencies and become invaluable assets to Maryland’s clean energy economy and the global offshore wind supply chain.”

Scripps Research Develops Lower Cost Fuels

Researchers from the Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute (TRSI) have devised what they believe is a new and more efficient way to convert the major components of natural gas into useable fuels and chemicals. The research, led by TSRI Professor Roy Periana, uses chemistry and nontraditional materials to turn natural gas into liquid products at much lower temperatures than conventional methods.

“We uncovered a whole new class of inexpensive metals that allows us to process methane and the other alkanes contained in natural gas, ethane and propane, at about 180 degrees centigrade or lower, instead of the more than 500oC used in current Energy Diagramprocesses,” said Periana. “This creates the potential to produce fuels and chemicals at an extraordinarily lower cost.”

Methane, the most abundant compound in natural gas, is difficult and costly to convert into useable liquid products. With a need for lower carbon fuels, new processes are required to convert methane to fuel and chemicals in a way that is competitive with petroleum-based products.

Methane, ethane and propane, the major components in natural gas, belong to a class of molecules named alkanes that are the simplest hydrocarbons and one of the most abundant, cleanest sources of energy and materials. At the core of technologies for converting the alkanes in natural gas is the chemistry of the carbon-hydrogen. Because of the high strength of these bonds, current processes for converting these alkanes employ high temperatures (more than 500oC) that lead to high costs, high emissions and lower efficiencies.

Periana has been thinking about this type of problem for decades and has designed some of the most efficient systems for alkane conversion that operate at lower temperatures. However, when Periana and his team examined these first-generation systems they realized that the precious metals they used, such as platinum, palladium, rhodium, gold, were both too expensive and rare for widespread use.

“What we wanted were elements that are more abundant and much less expensive that can carry out the same chemistry under more practical conditions,” said Brian G. Hashiguchi, the first author of the study and a member of Periana’s lab. “We also wanted to find materials that could convert methane as well as the other major components in natural gas, ethane and propane.” Continue reading

BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDFThe global Concentrated Photovoltaic (CPV) market is expected to undergo a major growth spurt in the next five years, with its cumulative installed capacity forecast to jump from 357.9 Megawatts (MW) in 2014 to 1,043.96 MW by 2020, according to a new report from GlobalData. According to the report, China and the US dominated the global CPV market in 2013, with their cumulative installed capacity reaching shares of 35.4% and 33.3%, respectively. Spain stood third after the US with 12.2%, followed by Portugal and Italy, with respected shares of 5.1% and 4.3%.
  • Mr. Simon Doray has joined Purthanol Resources and its subsidiary Biocardel Quebec to oversee a new joint venture BioMix Fueling Solutions Inc. Doray also serves as chairman of the board for the Quebec Council of Biodiesel.
  • Midwest Energy and Clean Energy Collective have signed an agreement to build a 1MW community solar photovoltaic array, the largest in Kansas, with panels owned by Midwest Energy members. The 4,000-panel solar garden will be located within the Midwest Energy service territory, and the purchase price for panels will include all available rebates and tax incentives, as if the system were located on the customer’s roof. Customers will receive credit for the power their panels produce directly on their Midwest Energy electric bills.
  • Southwest Iowa Renewable Energy has joined the Renewable Fuels Association. The company is located in Council Bluffs, Iowa and produces more than 120 million gallons of ethanol and more than 330,000 tons of Dried Distillers’ Grain (DDG) each year.

E15 Comes to Cambridge, Nebraska

Anew E15 pump in Cambridge NebraskaAnew Travel Center in Cambridge, Nebraska is now offering E15 to consumers for use in 2001 and newer vehicles. E15 is currently available in 14 states.

“Anew Travel Center is pleased to announce the opening of our new fueling facility,” said Cliff Meeuwsen, member of Anew. “Through the installation of the Flex Fuel dispensers, we aim to promote the use of cleaner vehicles while also displacing the country’s dependence on foreign oil and creating employment positions that will benefit the local economy.”

The station will have ten pumps—five Flex Fuel dispensers that offer ethanol blends including E10, E15, E30 and E85, and five flexible fuel dispensers that offer biodiesel blends including B0, B2, B5 and B20. In doing so, Anew Travel Center also joins more than 3,000 retailers throughout the nation who have the infrastructure available to provide motorists with a choice of various ethanol blends.

“Seeing retail leaders like Anew, MAPCO Express, Murphy Oil and Minnoco offering E15 continues to validate that there is a viable market for higher ethanol blends. When given the choice, consumers will seek the fuel that costs less, is better for our environment and improves the performance of their vehicles. The momentum building around E15 is really quite impressive,” stated Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy whose association assisted Anew in the process of offering E15 at the pump.

Clean Jobs Increase 19% in 2013

Ecotech Institute Clean Jobs IndexThe Clean Jobs Index shows 2013 ended with a 19 percent increase in clean jobs. The study also shows more than 3.5 million clean jobs were available in 2013 with a 57 percent increase in solar jobs. Published by Ecotech Institute, the Clean Jobs Index was created to provide objective job information about the renewable energy industry. In addition, the index looks at various sustainability factors including alternative fueling stations, LEED projects and total energy consumption across the U.S.

The index found large growth in clean jobs when compared to 2012 job postings, with solar jobs increasing 57 percent, wind jobs up 20 percent and renewable energy jobs increasing 9.3 percent. The report also looked at states with the most incentives for sustainability and renewables: Minnesota, California, Oregon, Washington, Texas, Indiana, Colorado, Florida, New York and Iowa.

“Renewable energy is the future and this data proves that more than ever,” said Kyle Crider, Ecotech Institute’s Program Chair and Manager of Environmental Operations. “With solar jobs up 57 percent and clean tech jobs up overall nearly 20 percent, it’s definitely an exciting time in the sustainable energy industry.”

BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDFSunEdison along with Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company, National Bank of Arizona (NB|AZ), and Sol Systems have announced a $50 million fund to build a 13.4 megawatt (MW) solar portfolio for the State of California prison and hospital systems.
  • AltCar Expo, a forum for green car ride and drive, public education and demonstration of the latest green technology vehicles, will take place March 14 – 15, 2014 at Craneway Pavilion in Richmond, California. Showcasing the area’s largest selection of electric, hydrogen, natural gas, propane and hybrid vehicles in one location with accompanying rebate and infrastructure information, the AltCar Expo is free and open to the public. AltCar will be providing the first public opportunity to test drive the Honda FCX Clarity: a sleekly styled hydrogen fuel cell powered sedan propelled by an electric motor that runs on electricity generated in a fuel cell, while only emitting water.
  • Greenwood Biosar, a joint venture between Greenwood Energy and Biosar formed to provide engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) services for solar photovoltaic (PV) systems, has completed design and construction of a 2.4-megawatt (MW) solar PV project in Panama’s Herrera Province for Enel Green Power Panama. The solar array is located nine miles from the city of Chitre, is Panama’s first utility-scale solar PV installation, and can provide 30 percent of the surrounding area’s electricity demand – equivalent to 2,600 homes. The project has now been interconnected to the La Empresa de Generacion Electricita grid network.
  • Vestas has won a contract from BWP Eider for a 72.6MW citizen-owned wind power project in Germany. Under the contract, Vestas will supply 22 of its V112 3.3MW turbines for the wind farm located in the region of Eider in Schleswig-Holstein. The deal also covers installation and commissioning of the turbines along with a VestasOnline Business SCADA solution as well as a 15-year full-scope service agreement. Deliveries are scheduled to begin in the third quarter of 2014 and the wind farm is expected to becommissioned in the fourth quarter of 2014.

The Rise of E85

The latest edition of Today in Energy follows the rise of E85 (85% ethanol, 15% gas). According to the Alternative Fuels Data Center (AFDC), Minnesota leads the nation with 336 E85 retail locations, while states outside the Midwest are adding E85 stations most quickly. Today, 2 percent of all retail stations in the U.S. offer E85 serving 5 percent of the U.S. light-duty vehicle market, including flex fuel vehicles (FFVs) that can use E85.

In 2007, the majority of E85 stations were located in Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa and Wisconsin: the same states leading the nation in corn-ethanol production. Today, these states continued to add E85 stations while California, New York, Colorado, Georgia E85 retail stations by stateand Texas added 49 E85 stations through 2013. As a result, the share of nationwide E85 stations in the five traditional ethanol-producing states of the Midwest fell from 54 percent in 2007 to 36 percent in 2013.

California and New York have seen some of the fastest growth in new E85 fueling stations, increasing from fewer than a dozen stations combined in 2007 to more than 80 stations each in 2013. Only two states (New Hampshire and Alaska) currently have no E85 fueling stations, compared to nine that had none of these stations in 2007.

Growth in the number of E85 fueling stations has slowed in the past two years. The number of E85 fueling stations in the country nearly doubled between 2007 to 2011, from 1,229 to 2,442, but only increased by 7 percent from 2011 to 2013, when the total reached 2,625. Notwithstanding the increase in the number of retail outlets selling E85 since 2007, the vast majority of the nation’s approximately 156,000 retail motor fuel outlets do not offer E85.

Veterans Move Into Solar Industry Jobs

According to a new report released jointly from Operation Free and The Solar Foundation, veterans are employed within the solar industry at higher than average rates. The report finds that for a group facing high unemployment, the solar industry is one of the best industries for jobs.

The report, Veterans in Solar: Securing America’s Energy Future, highlights the contributions of veterans to the solar industry, using data derived from The Solar Foundation’s annual National Solar Jobs Census 2013. The findings show that America’s Veterans in Solarsolar industry has grown by 500 percent since 2008, providing more than 13,000 veterans with job opportunities as of November 2013. Veterans represent nearly 10 percent of all solar workers at a time when more than 15 percent of veterans aged 18-24 are currently unemployed. The report also discovered that the growth in the industry is continuing with nearly 62 percent of solar companies that employ veterans plan to add more solar workers within the next 12 months.

Congressman Scott Peters (CA-52), said of the news, “Our servicemen and women have made great sacrifices for our country and it is our responsibility to ensure that when they return home there are high-skill and well-paying jobs available. The solar industry offers our veterans a unique opportunity to use the knowledge they learned serving our country in a rapidly growing sector that is vital to both our national security and economic future.”

According to Operation Free and The Solar Foundation, this is the first time that the significant contributions of veterans to the solar industry have been documented. The two groups intend to amplify these findings in an effort to help more veterans enter into careers in the solar industry.

“This report highlights the ways solar strengthens the US economy and our national security,” added Nat Kreamer, CEO of Clean Power Finance and a former Intelligence Officer, Special Forces, US Navy. “Veterans are over represented in the solar industry because we know first-hand that clean, affordable domestic power makes America and the world safer.”

In addition to examining employment numbers, the report also suggests next steps to expand opportunities for veterans, including the creation of a tool for employers to translate veterans’ skills into language reflecting solar companies’ hiring needs.