Emotions are mixed regarding the findings in a recent report published by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) that was released in Rome during a meeting with ambassadors. The report found that biofuel from crops has a significant and direct impact on food prices and food availability. In response, ActionAid said the report shows how Europe’s biofuel targets are driving up food prices and increasing hunger among the world’s poorest people.
“It is a wake-up call to the EU to get its house in order on food and fuel. This means some hard work ahead for MEPs and Member States who are working on redefining EU biofuels policy,” said Anders Dahlbeck, ActionAid’s biofuels policy advisor. “However as we speak, the biofuels industry is lobbying hard against new proposals before the Parliament and Council to limit the use of food crops for biofuels. MEPs and member states must not bow to industry pressure – they must end the use of food for fuel.”
The global biofuels industry has in fact taken issue with the report and the Global Renewable Fuels Association (GRFA) says that there are several methodological and factual errors in the report including the omission of key co-products in calculating the net benefits of biofuels; the overly prescriptive policy recommendations; and the inclusion of unproven land use methodologies. It should be noted that the EU biofuels policy that is under review specifically does not take in to account indirect land use in its calculations. Continue reading →
Today is Iowa Swine Day (June 27) and the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) is taking a time to show how renewable fuels production is boosting the profitability of raising hogs in Iowa.
“On Iowa Swine Day, it’s important to remember that a strong renewable fuels industry means a strong hog industry here in Iowa,” said IRFA Executive Director Monte Shaw. “IRFA members have developed solid relationships with Iowa’s pork producers and the numbers show it. Whether it’s purchasing choice white grease for biodiesel production or supplying affordable distillers grains for feed, Iowa renewable fuels and Iowa pork production have a symbiotic relationship.”
IFRA says that ethanol production helps Iowa pork producers by providing an affordable, high protein feed called distillers grains (DDGS). The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and ProExporter Network recently noted that Iowa hogs are the number one in-state consumer of DDGS, utilizing approximately 1.2 million tons of each year. This represents 61 percent of in-state DDGS consumption.
In addition, biodiesel production not only lowers the cost of soybean meal, it also increases the value of animal fats benefiting Iowa’s pork producers. A recent study by Cardno ENTRIX found that an Iowa hog producer realizes a $4 per head boost in profitability because of Iowa’s biodiesel industry. Therefore, an Iowa farmer raising both crops and hogs would see nearly a 20 percent increase in net income because of Iowa biodiesel production.
Summer driving season is in full swing and with it comes grumbling over fluctuating gas prices. A new poll commissioned by Fuels America asked consumers their thoughts on gas prices and renewable fuels. The survey, conducted by Research Now, identifies specific budget items families give up when they are faced with high gas prices, and their attitudes around oil, renewable fuel and the impacts both have on the economy and environment.
Eighty percent polled think the nation (U.S.) should be using more renewable fuel and 73 percent support the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) that is helping this to happen. The poll also found that four of the top five things consumers give up when faced with high gas prices are social or family related activities. Other findings include:
55% said that if gas prices go up, they would likely take fewer road trips to visit friends and family
27% responded they would enjoy fewer meals out at restaurants
17% would cut back on clothes shopping
12% would spend less on gifts for birthdays and holidays.
Fifty-nine percent of respondents blamed the oil industry for high gas prices. In addition four in five said they want the nation to use more renewable fuel and three in four said they want more renewable fuel options at gas stations. “Oil companies will do anything to keep competition from cutting into their profits,” said Brooke Coleman, executive director of the Advanced Ethanol Council.
“That’s why they’ve launched an all-out assault on homegrown oil-alternatives like renewable fuel. Consumers aren’t being fooled, however. They know oil companies are to blame for high gas prices and demanding choices at the pump. The poll also looked at self-indentifying environmentalists and their opinion of these issues as well,” added Coleman.
Several new studies have been released on biofuels and investment needs of small-scale farmers released by the High Level Panel of Experts (HLPE) of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS). Report no. 5: Biofuels and Food Security finds that world biofuel production increased five-fold in the decade between 2001-2011. As a result, the report attempts to identify the impacts that biofuel policies and the development of biofuel markets are having on food security.
The report studies several specific issues including:
To what degree does the sector divert crops from food to fuel?
How does biofuel production factor into high food prices?
Is the biofuel development model pro-poor?
What are the implications for land availability and use and what do they mean for rural communities and the environment?
Report no. 6: Investing in Smallholder Agriculture for Food Security looks at how to promote greater investment in small-scale agriculture. This study finds that “a vast majority of the hungry people in the world are, paradoxically, small farmers” and calls for a “new deal” for smallholder farmers. This type of farmer constitutes the majority of farm families in the world and make crucial contributions to household, national and global food security.
The report examines:
The diversity of smallholder agriculture in the world
The constraints to investments
What types of investments are needed at farm and broader levels
It also proposes the development of national strategies for investment in smallholder agriculture.
DIRECTV is expanding its propane autogas fleet. The company currently operates 77 ROUSH CleanTech Ford E-250 propane autogas vans and will increase that number over the next year. After comparing alternative fuel options, DIRECTV said they chose propane autogas due to its low cost and accessibility of fuel; vehicle return on investment; domestic nature of the fuel source and vehicle supply chain; and accessibility to high occupancy vehicle lanes.
“The addition of more propane autogas fueled vehicles to the DIRECTV fleet strengthens our commitment to reducing the company’s overall gasoline usage,” said Brandon Morris, director of Fleet Services for DIRECTV. “We have learned a lot from analyzing our current propane fleet, and the benefits we are seeing from using propane as an alternative to gasoline include the lower cost of propane, ease of implementation, distribution network, and the high quality conversion kit produced by ROUSH CleanTech.”
Since its propane autogas vehicle deployment in November 2011, DIRECTV has reduced gasoline consumption by 75,000 gallons and saved nearly 50 percent on a cost per gallon basis compared to gasoline.
“For over a year and a half, DIRECTV’s service vans fueled by reliable, cost-competitive propane autogas have met the company’s goals — to cut back on high-priced gasoline with the use of a domestic, cleaner fuel solution,” added Todd Mouw, vice president of sales and marketing for ROUSH CleanTech. “With DIRECTV’s plan to increase the size of its propane autogas fleet, they’ll experience even greater cost-savings with this alternative fuel technology and further strengthen their position as a leader in alternative fuel initiatives.”
Those not in favor say the plan calls for unnecessary restrictions and is economically punishing and will actually stifle job creation – not create more jobs. Jay Lehr, Ph.D., science director with the Heartland Institute, said, “With clear evidence that the planet has not warmed in the past 15 years while carbon dioxide has increased, we know reducing emissions of CO2 will have only one impact: to increase the cost of American energy. Obviously this is Mr. Obama’s intent, and while it will thrill his anti-capitalist environmental supporters, it will hopefully wake up the general public to the fact that he does not have their best interests at heart in creating more radical environmental regulations.”
Lehr’s colleague Craig D. Idso, Ph.D who is a senior fellow, environment and co-editor, Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change, adds, “In discussing the rationale for his climate change and energy plan, President Obama claims that carbon dioxide, or CO2, ‘causes climate change and threatens public health’ and that ‘cutting carbon pollution will help keep our air and water clean and protect our kids.’ Unfortunately, President Obama’s statements could not be further from the truth. Far from being a ‘pollutant,’ carbon dioxide is the elixir of life.”
Nine university teams will race in the 2013 Formula Sun Grand Prix (FSGP) with solar vehicles powered by SunPower’s Maxeon solar cells. Various FSGP race events will be held from June 24 – 29, 2013 and are open and free to the public.
According to SunPower, the all-back contact solar cells collect and convert more sunlight into energy when compared to cells with contacts on the front. This all-back contact allows SunPower cells to generate maximum solar power when applied to limited surface areas found on some rooftops, as well as on the hoods of FSGP racecars.
“SunPower’s solar technology continues to be the choice for innovative projects that blaze new trails for renewable energy solutions,” said SunPower CEO Tom Werner. “SunPower cells fueling the Formula Sun Grand Prix cars, and the Solar Impulse airplane that recently journeyed above Texas, utilize the same solar technology that power residential rooftops, commercial applications and power plant installations around the globe.”
Of 12 university teams that registered to compete in this year’s FSGP, nine chose to build and race their solar vehicles with high efficiency SunPower Maxeon solar cells including: Illinois State University; Iowa State University; Missouri University of Science and Technology; Northwestern University; Oregon State University; Principia College; University of Texas at Austin; University of Waterloo; and Western Michigan University.
The FSGP is an annual, three-day race where university teams from around the world challenge their solar vehicles to successfully handle curves, braking and acceleration on a grand prix-style course. This year’s event will be held in Austin, Texas at the Circuit of The Americas™ on an official Formula 1® racetrack for the first time in FSGP history. The University of Texas at Austin Solar Vehicles Team from the Cockrell School of Engineering will act as local university host.
SunPower is an official sponsor and employees will be onsite to assist with race-day logistics.
Solar Energy International is training a workforce and enabling them to increase universal access to electricity through renewable energy development in Central America. La Academia de Profesionales Solares de las Américas (APSA) will train 50 people representing countries, communities, and organizations throughout Central America and Mexico to design, install, and maintain solar PV systems and to successfully launch and administer businesses in this critically important industry.
Intermountain Wind and Solar is offering a guide covering the benefits of wind and solar power in Utah and the impact they have on wallets and the environment.
National Fleet Hybrids has partnered with Lightening Hybrids to sell, install and distribute Lightning’s hydraulic hybrid retrofit systems. The partnership brings together two companies focused on providing fuel-efficient technologies to fleets of shuttle buses and other medium-duty vehicles.
U.S. Energy Initiatives Corporation has received a patent assignment of a proprietary biofuel patent entitled GREEN RECYCLED DERIVED BIOFUEL (RDBF). This patented fuel was designed for automotive, aviation and stationary electrical power applications.
To mark the 5th Annual Global Wind Day, held on June 15th, the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA) launched the second annual Power of Wind Blog Contest with bursary prizes for students entering post-secondary education. Students from across Canada can submit a 300 word blog on the subject of Building a clean energy future. Students should use their creativity and write about how they are or can become part of a renewable energy future.
Syngenta and its Enogen brand will be the presenting sponsor for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series at the Newton track on Saturday, July 13, 2013. The American Ethanol 200 presented by Enogen is a 200 lap, 175-mile event over Iowa Speedway’s 7/8 tri-oval featuring 36 NASCAR drivers racing with to win fueled by E15.
“We are thrilled to welcome Syngenta as the newest member of our family of promotional partners,” said Chuck Spicer, Iowa Speedway Vice President of Sales & Marketing. “We are especially proud that, given Enogen’s initial success in the ethanol production marketplace, Syngenta has chosen our ‘American Ethanol’ event to promote their unique brand of seed corn.”
Enogen corn features a corn output trait bio-engineered specifically for ethanol production. Syngenta says this technology helps drive dramatic process improvements in dry grind ethanol production and is delivered through a high-value grain system that has the potential to greatly benefit growers, local communities and the renewable fuels industry.
“Syngenta is excited about this opportunity to come together with key partners and show our support of American Ethanol,” said David Witherspoon, head of renewable fuels at Syngenta. “We understand the significant role ethanol plays in driving economic growth and creating value for our nation and in our rural communities. We are truly honored to be a part of this race and are committed to the long-term success of the ethanol industry.”
“Americans are already paying the price of inaction,” said President Obama today during his speech on climate change at Georgetown University. After using the “facts of science” to prove that climate change is real, he asked, “So the question now is will we have the courage to act now before it’s too late. We need to act. “I refuse to condemn your generation and future generations to a planet that’s beyond fixable. And that’s why today I’m announcing a new national climate action plan and I’m here to enlist your generation’s help.”
In anticipation of his plan, groups from around the country reacted to his new climate plan. Graham Richard, CEO of Advanced Energy Economy (AEE) said, “As a business voice for technology-driven energy progress, AEE believes that President Obama’s plan moves the United States toward a smarter energy future, for economic as well as environmental benefits.”
“Energy efficiency standards will save money as well as energy,” Richard continued. “Utilizing public lands for their solar and wind resources follows in the footsteps of mineral resources and forestry products and should be pursued in the interest of national prosperity. New regulations on emissions will accelerate the replacement of outmoded power plants with high efficiency and low emitting technologies. All of these steps will make the U.S. more of a leader in advanced energy, which is a $1 trillion global market opportunity for American companies and American workers.” Continue reading →
WindMade has launched the first global consumer label for products made with wind energy. This label completes the WindMade label portfolio. In tandem with the launch, the organization is calling on consumers to show their support for wind power by participating in the ‘Show You Care‘ campaign. The goal of the campaign is to demonstrate to leading brands that consumers around the world favor products that are manufactured with renewable energy.
“The WindMade product label provides consumers with the transparency they demand, and with a credible and intuitive tool to make informed purchasing decisions,” said Henrik Kuffner, WindMade’s CEO. “And in addition, it gives companies an instrument to tap into this large pool of environmentally conscious consumers.”
The WindMade Product Label can be applied to all products using a minimum share of 75 percent of renewable energy in their total electricity consumption, with wind power representing the largest share. A cradle-to-gate approach was adopted, which means that the label will cover the entire power consumption for all product components, from the extraction of the raw materials all the way to the product leaving the factory gate.
“Now it is time for consumers to speak out. We know that they care, and we know that they want to see more companies using wind power. With our campaign, we invite them to actively show their support, and to put pressure on their favourite brands to use this clean, emissions-free energy source for manufacturing our most beloved products,” added Angelika Pullen, WindMade’s Communications Director, who is managing the campaign.
Hanery Holding Group, a thin-film PV company, has issued its first annual Global Renewable Energy Report. The report provides a comprehensive overview of the renewable energy landscape, outlining patterns and trends in the industry and exploring effective measures to cope with climate change.
Hanery says the report clearly demonstrates the increasing role that new energy is playing within the world’s energy structure, with global investment in renewables reaching an impressive $268.7 billion in 2012. In spite of the global downturn in economic growth since 2008, investment in renewable energy increased at a compound annual growth rate of 19 percent between 2006 and 2012.
“Our research is showing that renewable energy, far from being a supplementary option, is already starting to become a genuine replacement for more traditional forms of energy across the globe, “said Hejun Li, chairman and CEO of Hanergy. “We estimate that by 2035, half the world’s energy will be generated from renewable sources.”
China was a clear leader in investments in 2012 totaling $67.7 billion, equal to 25 percent of total global investment. A large portion of China’s investment went to the photovoltaic (PV) industry where, in spite of EU and U.S. anti-dumping measures, companies with core technologies continued to prosper.
Elsewhere, developed economies continued to commit to investment to renewable energy resources. German, Italy and Japan have pledged to phase-out nuclear energy, and Japan invested 75 percent more in renewables in 2012 than in the 2011. Overall, Hanery says the report demonstrates that while huge challenges remain, a future with renewable energy at its core is well within sight.
Pure Energies Group and its U.S. subsidiary One Block Off the Grid have announced a new solar power educational partnership with trusted contractor, Mike Holmes, best known for his television show, Holmes on Homes, on HGTV. Holmes will feature residential solar power education on his website Make it Right.
JinkoSolar supplied 25.8 MW of solar PV modules to the first private solar park in India located in Mandrup Village, Solapur District, Maharashtra State, India.
The California Solar Initiative (CSI) Thermal program has qualified Skyline Innovations as a Program Performance Data provider (PPD) certifying that Skyline meets all the requirements for monitoring system accuracy and reliability, as well as technical expertise and capability.
Alterra Power Corp and Energy Development Corporation (EDC) have finalized their joint venture for the development of Alterra’s Mariposa geothermal project in Chile and the Crucero, Loriscota and Tutupaca Norte concessions in Peru.
Locus Energy has announced the beta launch of its solar forecasting service that provides a short-term (0-6 hours) forecast tool capable of predicting solar irradiance and power across an entire install base or geographic region. The service provides cloud motion by applying computer vision algorithms to real-time satellite imagery.
CNPV Solar Power SA and Cheenu Group of Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, India have announced the advancement of the first large scale captive consumption Solar utility project in India as part of their 10MWp strategic agreement.
Cheenu Group began the project due to ability to expand its business because of lack of available power and rising electricity acquisition costs. The company first established a 2 megawatt solar power plant using CNPV’s Optimal Premium Series Solar PV modules at their Coimbatore facility to supplement the power shortage concerns.
Mr. Prabhu Devarajan, chief executive of Cheenu Group said, “In the event that the local infrastructure cannot support our power needs, the effects to our business can be catastrophic. We also wanted to be the forerunner in fulfilling the Solar Power Obligation imposed by the state electricity utility and therefore decided to set up our own captive consumption solar power plant.”
“Our module selection was focused on quality and performance, and after compiling and comparing the technical features of several manufacturers concluded that CNPV are able to demonstrate the most significant benefits in terms of high quality, energy yield, and long term performance,” continued Devarajan. “We are extremely happy with the technical guidance and support extended by CNPV in the smooth execution of the module supply and look forward to developing the next tranche of the 10MWp with CNPV, during second half of 2013.”
There are additional expansion plans for the provision of EPC services and solar module distribution for off grid use in Southern India.
Waste-to-biofuels company, Enerkem, has raised C$50 million in financing bringing the total equity investment raised by the company in 2013 to C$87 million. As part of this financing, institutional fund Investissement Québec joins existing investors Waste Management of Canada, Rho Ventures, Braemar Energy Ventures, The Westly Group, Cycle Capital, Fonds de solidarité FTQ and Fondaction, who each increased their investment in Enerkem with this new equity financing round.
Investissement Québec, as a mandatary for the Government of Québec, is one of the largest institutional investors in Canada. Through structural investments, it supports the growth of innovative companies with a global competitive edge and the potential to accelerate the transition to a green manufacturing economy.
“This strategic investment by Investissement Québec will help us leverage and strengthen our capacity to build and assemble the various modules of our facilities through the network of local and high quality shops we are currently working with,” said Vincent Chornet, president and chief executive officer of Enerkem. “As we are finalizing the construction of the Enerkem Alberta Biofuels facility in Edmonton and developing our next facilities, we take this new corporate equity investment as a vote of confidence in Enerkem’s growth strategy.”
According to Quebec Premier Pauline Marois, “climate change, the dwindling supply of hydrocarbons and other environmental challenges have made it necessary to rethink our very lifestyles, not to mention the way we transport people and goods. By redefining our economic approach and adapting it to 21st-century realities, we can make Quebec one of the greenest and most prosperous regions of the planet. Enerkem is living proof that biofuels can be a wonderful opportunity for economic growth. Enerkem’s projects not only create jobs but also reduce the carbon footprint left by our transport systems, and they can clearly have a beneficial effect on our balance of trade.”