BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDFStem and the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) have announced a pilot project to study the impact of high penetration solar photovoltaics (PV) on the grid. The two-year research project will utilize Stem’s unique high-resolution data collection, cloud-based power system analytics and intelligent energy storage capabilities to reduce electricity costs for customers.
  • Advanced energy CEOs believe that California’s energy policies have put the state on the cutting edge of advanced energy development and innovation, but a variety of obstacles are preventing the state from fully reaping the economic and environmental benefits of advanced energy, according to a new report from Advanced Energy Economy. The findings are based on a series of interviews with 30 CEOs and other senior executives of advanced energy companies located in California or doing significant business in the state.
  • Pristine Sun, LLC and Solar Mosaic, Inc. have executed several agreements to close on post-construction permanent loans on the first phase of a portfolio build-out of solar PV farms in California over the next nine months. Power from the six projects, totaling nearly 6 MW of Pristine Sun’s 250 MW portfolio of mid-to-late-stage California small utility solar projects, will be connected to the grid and sold to PG&E.  This represents enough clean energy to power approximately 6,000 homes.
  • Ecofys has released a comprehensive statement on the use of wind lidar, specifically ZephIR 300, to reduce uncertainty on wind farm developments. The statement reports that “lidar wind measurements have been extensively verified against reliable reference anemometers over many sites” and “there is now industry consensus that lidar is a proven technology for wind resource assessment” referring specifically to the ZephIR 300 which is one of the two systems most tested to-date. It is reported that other lidar systems commercially available would only attain the same status if successful on further verification tests.

How to Ensure Biofuel Crops Don’t Become Weeds

A Virginia Tech researcher, along with several others, have offered a way to ensure that plants grown for biofuels do not become an invasive weed. According to Jacob Barney, an assistance professor of plant pathology, physiology and weed science in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, careful introduction of new species for production of more energy per acre is increasingly critical, as is the evaluation of new or bioengineered plants for agricultural or horticultural uses.

L_030613-cals-jacobbarneyThe article, “Navigating the ‘Noxious’ and ‘Invasive’ Regulatory Landscape: Suggestions for Improved Regulation,” published in BioScience proposes a way to improve and streamline the regulatory methodology for evaluating the invasive potential of plants, especially biofuel feedstock. Biofuels are increasing in economic and ecological importance, said Barney, as the RFS continues to be implemented.

“We did this analysis to draw attention to state noxious weed lists and to suggest ways to help prevent additional plants from escaping cultivation and potentially becoming noxious or invasive species,” said Barney.

“According to our analysis, current noxious weed laws do not provide adequate protection to prevent invasions in natural areas, and we have a shared responsibility for proper stewardship of these landscapes,” said Lauren Quinn a research associate at the Energy Biosciences Institute at the University of Illinois-Urbana, and the lead author of the study. “Going forward, it will be essential to base legal reforms on an awareness of this responsibility and, more importantly, on a rational public dialogue that includes sound science.” Continue reading

Biofuels Beltway Fly-in Getting Ready for Take Off

ACE Biofuels Beltway LogoThe plane is starting to fill up for the American Coalition for Ethanol’s (ACE) Biofuels Beltway Fly-In in Washington, D.C. but there is still room! The event takes place on March 13-14, 2013 and the goal is to meet with dozens of key leaders and Congressional members to tell them personal stories about the benefits of ethanol.

“ACE has more than 40 grassroots ethanol supporters from 10 states registered to participate in the fly-in next week,” says Brian Jennings, Executive Vice President of ACE. “Meetings have been requested with Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle and Capitol, particularly Representatives on key committees and those new to Congress. We are looking forward to an exceptional event; the fly-in is the single best way for our members to share their story and impress upon Congress just how much the RFS has delivered for our country, and how important it is to maintain it..”

Earlier this week the President nominated MIT professor Ernest Moniz as energy secretary and EPA official Gina McCarthy as administrator for the agency. Here are two more people that the industry will need to work with to help ensure the RFS and E15 both continue to roll out and both are on the invitation for meeting list for the Biofuels Beltway Fly-in.

All ethanol advocates are invited. Register now. DomesticFuel will be there. Will you?

To participate, visit, or contact Shannon Gustafson at (605) 334-3381 ext. 16 or via email.

NW-REI Offers Wind Turbine Training

Northwest Renewable Energy Institute (NW-REI) is offering a Wind Turbine Technician program and is hosting three free informational sessions on the program this month: Tuesday, March 5th at 7:00 pm; Saturday, March 9th at 10:30 am; and Saturday, March rei-site-work23rd at 10:30 am. According to the U.S. Department of Energy energy map of installed wind capacity, Oregon and Washington are two of the top states in the country for wind energy use.

“This school has afforded me the chance to pursue a positive career change that fits in with my lifestyle and plans for the future. This field is growing and I can see it continuing to grow,” said Stephanie Staggs, a recent graduate of the program. “I love the accelerated program — it’s challenging, fast paced and very hands-on. The instructors are amazing and really work hard at helping you every step of the way.”

With green energy in high demand, NW-REI’s says its in-depth technical training and valuable on-the-job experience provides the tools necessary for success in this fast-growing industry. The program takes students out of a classroom and puts them 300 feet into the air on a wind turbine. Students can expect an innovative approach to wind turbine training that will include classroom-based training, computer-based training and hands-on training. The green energy training programs teach the technical skills necessary to service, repair, and maintain wind turbines.

Click here for additional information regarding NW-REI.

Love’s Expanding CNG Network

Love’s Travel Stops is expanding its fast-fill compressed natural gas (CNG) fueling stations to service Class 8 trucks. The corridor between Dallas, Houston and San Antonio, Texas will soon include eight new CNG pumps and should be operational by the fourth quarter of this year.  Love’s will add fast-fill CNG to the following locations in Texas: Ft. Worth – gI_63424_LovesCNG fueling laneI-35 W, Exit 40; Dallas – I-35/I-20, Exit 466; Rockwall – I-30, Exit 283; Willis – I-45, Exit 95; Houston – 610 Loop, Exit 24A; Katy – I-10, Exit 737; San Antonio – I-35, Exit 144; and Seguin – I-10, Exit 604.

“The major interstate corridors between Dallas, Houston and San Antonio are ideal locations to place fast-fill CNG for adopters of this natural-gas alternative,” said Jon Archard, director of fleet sales at Love’s. “A typical Class 8 truck can cover up to 450 miles after filling up with CNG, so Love’s locations near these three metro areas make sense. A gallon equivalent of CNG is significantly less than a gallon of diesel or LNG, so the drivers and fleets running on CNG see dramatic cost benefits.”

Love’s began offering CNG for light-duty and consumer vehicles at locations in Oklahoma in 2010. In 2012, the company opened its first fast-fill CNG dispensers for heavy-duty trucks at the Love’s Travel Stop off Interstate 40 in Oklahoma City.

“At our existing location in Oklahoma City, drivers are experiencing fill times comparable to fueling with diesel,” added Archard. “Speed is a top priority for Love’s because our fast-fill CNG dispensers are located on our diesel islands. We are focused on our customers and know professional drivers need to fuel quickly and get back on the road.”

Fat Worms Play Role in Algal Biofuels

Fat worms confirm are playing a role in improved biofuel and animal feed production.

Catapillar's on Arabidopsis thaliana plantsResearchers from Michigan State University (MSU) have successfully engineered a plant with oily leaves, a feat that could improve biofuel production. The research was led by Christoph Benning, MSU professor of biochemistry and molecular biology along with a team from the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center.

The results of the study were published in the journal, The Plant Cell, and show that researchers could us an algae gene involved in oil production to engineer a plant that stores lipids or vegetable oil in it leaves. This is uncommon for most plants.

To date, little research has been done to examine the oil production of leaves and stems because in nature, most plants don’t store lipids in these tissues.

“Many researchers are trying to enhance plants’ energy density, and this is another way of approaching it,” Benning said. “It’s a proof-of-concept that could be used to boost plants’ oil production for biofuel use as well as improve the nutrition levels of animal feed.” Continue reading

More Ethanol Education Needed in Tennessee

There is definitely a need for more ethanol education in Tennessee. I was recently traveling in the state and heard several radio commercials boasting about selling gas with no ethanol. Interestingly, all the reasons not to use ethanol, according to the radio ads, are exactly the reasons why drivers can use ethanol.

Honey's Market Crossville TN copyHere is a picture of a gas station, Honey’s Market, in Crossville, Tennessee that has signs around the station featuring its “ethanol-free” fuel. Ironically, this station also boasts that it is “American owned”.

I find several things interesting. First is that ethanol was used in the original Model T’s that were driving on the roads more than 100 years ago. And ethanol, specifically E15, is the most tested fuel in American history.

So how does a fuel like ethanol remain a fuel choice for more than 100 years if it is so harmful? If that were the case, than how has oil remained a fuel choice for more than 100 years?

Second, being an “American” owned station who only sells petroleum fuels seem counter to what an American owned station should be selling – American made fuel. How easy we forget what are troops are protecting in the Middle East.

Obviously this is just my opinion and many of you will find the same questions interesting and some of you will side with the retail station not selling ethanol-blended fuels. Bring on the debate, bring on change.

Cross Country on 10 Gallons of Ethanol

A few years ago, September 2011 to be exact, brought you the story about Urbee, a 3D printed car that was designed to bring in the age of cheaper, more economical travel. Since then, it was tested and sent on a trip to Canada. 3d-printed-carToday, Jim Kor, who owns the company that created the Urbee, Kor Ecologic, has announced Urbee 2. This car will also be printed on a 3D printer and according to Kor, is making its way to the production line.

Urbee 2 (a bit sy-fy no?), will take about 2,500 hours to print and measure 10 feet in length when completed. It will be put onto a 1,200 pound chassis to help it achieve better mileage. BTW  - many of the new cars coming out with better gas milage are achieving this with lighter chassis/lighter weight cars.

The Urbee 2, like its predecessor, is very aerodynamic and will be powered by hybrid engine featuring a 36-volt electric motor and a maximum of 10 horsepower. Its top speed is 40 miles per hour.

The plans for Urbee 2′s expedition? To travel from San Francisco to New York on just 10 gallons of ethanol.

AMP Americas Joins National Clean Fleets Partnership

CNG Station in Fair Oaks IndianaDuring the Indiana Greener Pastures and Beyond event today in Fair Oaks, Indiana, AMP Americas was invited to join the National Clean Fleets Partnership (the Partnership). The company helps organizations with large trucking fleets move from diesel to compressed natural gas (CNG). The Partnership is run by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Clean Cities program.

The announcement was made during the celebration of the grand opening of AMP Americas’ renewable compressed natural gas, I65/I75 Corridor March 4, 2013. This corridor from Chicago, Illinois to Orlando Florida. is anchored on the Northern end by the CNG Stations in Fair Oaks IN, and Sellersburg Indiana. The partnership consists of AMP Americas, Fair Oaks Farms, Greater Indiana Clean Cities and the Indiana Office of Energy.

IMG_0650“As we continue to reduce emissions and fuel costs, we are committed to cleaner and greener transportation and are very proud to join this elite group that contains some of the world’s most respected businesses,” said Nathan Laurell, CEO of AMP Americas. “By the end of the year we plan to open 13 more CNG fueling stations and to lease additional CNG trucks, lessening the financial barriers for companies transitioning to CNG.” The company operates one of the largest CNG fleets in the country in partnership with Fair Oaks Farms.

According to AMP Americas, the program will enable them to further its efforts to leverage cleaner alternative fuels and technologies, to increase efficiency and cost-savings, and to reduce emissions. The Partnership offers AMP Americas access to technical information, tools, resources and opportunities for collaboration with the DOE.

In addition to expanding its CNG fueling network, the company owns renewable-CNG assets including a CNG plant that produces natural gas from cow manure through anaerobic digestion.

NASA Researching Alternative Biofuels

NASA researchers are conducting a series of lights using the agency’s DC-8 flying laboratory to study the effects of biofuels on engine performance, emissions and aircraft generated contrails at altitude. The Alternative Fuel Effects on Contrails and Cruise Emissions (ACCESS) research involves flying the DC-8 as high as 40,000 feet while an instrumented NASA Falcon HU-25 aircraft trails behind at distances ranging from 300 feet to more than 10 miles. Research began February 28, 2013 and is expected to take 3 weeks to complete.

NASA DC-8 Aircraft“We believe this study will improve understanding of contrails formation and quantify potential benefits of renewable alternate fuels in terms of aviation’s impact on the environment,” said Ruben Del Rosario, manager of NASA’s Fixed Wing Project.

ACCESS flight operations are being staged from NASA’s Dryden Aircraft Operations Facility in Palmdale, Calif., and will take place mostly within restricted airspace over Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. During the flights, the DC-8′s four CFM56 engines will be powered by conventional JP-8 jet fuel, or a 50-50 blend of JP-8 and an alternative fuel of hydroprocessed esters and fatty acids that comes from camelina plants. While the flight are occurring, more than a dozen instruments mounted on the Falcon jet will characterize the soot and gases streaming from the DC-8, monitor the way exhaust plumes change in composition as they mix with air, and investigate the role emissions play in contrail formation.

If weather conditions permit, the Falcon jet will trail commercial aircraft flying in the Southern California region, in coordination with air traffic controllers, to survey the exhaust emissions from a safe distance of 10 miles.

ACCESS follows a pair of Alternative Aviation Fuel Experiment studies conducted in 2009 and 2011 in which ground-based instruments measured the DC-8′s exhaust emissions as the aircraft burned alternative fuels while parked on the ramp at the Palmdale facility. A second phase of ACCESS flights is planned for 2014. It will capitalize on lessons learned from the 2013 flights and include a more extensive set of measurements.

The ACCESS study is a joint project involving researchers at Dryden, NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland and NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virgina. The Fixed Wing Project within the Fundamental Aeronautics Program of NASA’s Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate manages ACCESS.

BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDFThe Federal District Court for the Southern District of California ruled in favor of the Ocotillo Wind project, being developed by Pattern Energy Group, and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in two separate suits before the Court.  The Court granted Pattern’s and the BLM’s summary judgment motions in a case brought by the Quechan Tribe of the Fort Yuma Indian Reservation and in a separate case brought by several other parties, including the Desert Protective Council.
  • Siemens Nederland has signed a contract with Ballast Nedam and Mammoet for the Near Shore Wind farm Noordoostpolder in the IJsselmeer in the Netherlands. Ballast Nedam’s contribution will consist of the engineering, supply and installation of the foundations for the 48 turbines. Afterwards, Mammoet will transport and install the 48 turbines.
  • Dominion has acquired a solar energy development project in Georgia from Smart Energy Capital and Jacoby Development. The project is to begin commercial operation late this year. Dominion’s Azalea Solar Power Facility, near Augusta in east-central Georgia, is planned to produce approximately 7.7 megawatts (AC) using photovoltaic technology.
  • RMT, a renewable energy engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractor, completed the design and construction of 555 megawatts of renewable energy in 2012.

Biodiesel Quality Reaches All Time High

AllemanNRELLabAccording to a National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) biodiesel fuel quality survey, a record 97 percent of the samples tested met requirements in ASTM D6751, the biodiesel fuel quality specification. NREL obtained B100 samples from 53 producers and 14 terminals between August 2011 and February 2011 and according to Teresa Alleman, a senior chemist with NREL’s Fuels Performance Group, the samples represented 94 percent of the biodiesel volume currently in the marketplace.

“This is a huge improvement over previous years,” Alleman said. She explained that in 2006, only 40 percent of samples in the survey were on spec, a major drop from 2004 when 85 percent met the ASTM spec. However, there were far fewer producers in 2004 with only a fraction of production capacity compared to 2006.

The 2006 quality results led to the passage of the Cold Soak Filtration Test, which she called one of the best improvements to the specification and to biodiesel quality. Since 2004 there have been 15 modifications to D6751, which demonstrates the industry’s efforts to continually improve biodiesel fuel quality.

For more on biodiesel fuel quality, including the industry’s voluntary BQ9000 quality assurance program visit,

Cellulosic Biofuels Begin to Flow

U.S. cellulosic biofuels production totaled about 20,000 gallons last year, way below the 500 million gallons target set by Congress. In a recent addition of “Today in Energy,” the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) looks at the American cellulosic biofuels industry and how production may sharply rise in 2013.

According to the brief, several companies combined to produce about 20,000 gallons of fuels using cellulosic biomass (e.g., wood waste, sugarcane bagasse) from commercial-scale facilities in late 2012. EIA estimates this output could grow to more than 5 million gallons in 2013, as operations ramp up at several plants. By 2015, EPA estimates that another 250 million gallons could be online by 2015.

biomasscapAlthough cellulosic biofuels volumes are expected to grow significantly relative to current levels, according to the brief, they will likely remain well below the targets envisioned in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. That law set a target level of 500 million gallons of cellulosic biofuels for 2012 and 1 billion gallons for 2013, growing to 16 billion gallons by 2022.

As many have rightly point out, the path the commercial cellulosic biofuels production has not been straight or smooth. Several biofuel projects, including one from BP Biofuels in Highlands County, Florida, have been canceled before starting major construction. Other projects have experienced delays in their commercialization attempts. According to Today in Energy, several reasons underpin slow growth in the commercialization of biofuels; Difficulties obtaining financing in the aftermath of the debt crisis; Technology scale-up difficulties at start-up companies; and strategic corporate shifts because of increased availability of low-cost natural gas.

The brief concludes that all EIA forecasts and projections have been too optimistic as anticipated large shortfalls are expected to continue.

BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDFRINAlliance has been selected as a 2013 Prometheus Awards finalist in the Clean Energy Innovation and Software Company of the Year categories. The Prometheus Awards showcase Iowa’s top technology innovators and entrepreneurs and is sponsored by the Technology Association of Iowa. Winners will be announced at the annual awards dinner on Tuesday, April 9, 2013.
  • Lee Enterprises had added Michael Heinemann to its group of experts. Heinemann has over 13 years’ of management experience in the biofuels and alternative energy industry, most recently as a General Manager with Beacon Energy.
  • MARC-IV, a longtime technical consulting firm for the National Biodiesel Board, has announced the addition of Rachel Burton. Prior to this position, she was with Piedmont Biofuels in North Carolina for 10 years.
  • Baker Tilly Capital, LLC, a subsidiary of Baker Tilly Virchow Krause, LLP, served as a consultant to GreenWhey Energy, Inc. in the recent closing of $28.5 million in construction and long term financing for an innovative anaerobic digester facility in Turtle Lake, Wisconsin.  When completed in the summer of 2013, the project is expected to be one of the largest facilities of its kind in the United States.
  • Don’t forget to register for the Ethanol 2013: Emerging Issues Forum taking place in Omaha, Nebraska April 18-19, 2013. New speakers have been announced. Attendees can register online here.

EPA Announces Climate Leadership Awards

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Center for Corporate Climate Leadership has announced the winners of its second annual Climate Leadership Awards, with the Association of Climate Change Officers (ACCO), the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES) and The Climate Registry (TCR). Twenty three winners were given awards for their leadership in reducing carbon pollution and addressing climate change.

Screen Shot 2013-03-01 at 10.43.44 AM“Our Climate Leadership Award winners are leading by example with their outstanding actions to reduce carbon pollution,” said Gina McCarthy, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation. “These organizations are tackling the challenge of climate change with practical, common-sense, and cost-saving solutions to improve efficiency and cut waste.”

The national awards program honors corporate, organizational, and individual leadership in reducing greenhouse gas emissions in internal operations and throughout the supply chain. A wide array of industries are represented by these organizations, including construction, finance, defense, transportation, retail, energy and technology.

The Organizational Leadership Award were given to: Boulder County, Colo.; City of Austin, Texas; Intel Corporation; Port of San Diego and Sonoma County Water Agency. The Individual Leadership Award was awarded to: Tamara ‘TJ’ DiCaprio, Senior Director of Environmental Sustainability, Microsoft Corporation; and J. Wayne Leonard, Former Chairman and CEO of Entergy Corporation. A list of all the winners is here.

“The 2013 Climate Leadership Award winners are leading the way on integrating climate response into their organizational culture,” said Daniel Kreeger, ACCO executive director. “They are demonstrating true commitment to managing and reducing GHG emissions in internal operations and throughout the supply chain, as well as integrating climate related risk management into their operational strategies. The winners are not only exemplary corporate, organizational, and individual leaders, but their actions provide a blueprint to catalyze the efforts of other organizations and individuals.”