BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDFGenscape is sponsoring the first New York Energy Week, a cross-sector energy event series launched to stimulate industry investment and innovative energy solutions. The event will take place in New York City June 24-28, 2013. Genscape energy experts will be sharing their insights during a number of headline events throughout the week including the Oil and Gas breakfast panel and the Energy Data Jam at Google headquarters.
  • Green EnviroTech Holdings Corp. has appointed Kim Johnson as VP
    of Marketing. Johnson has more than 30 years of experience in the energy industry. Prior to joining the company, she was the President of eBarton LLC.
  • NuMat Technologies, a materials technology company that captured top honors at cleantech business competitions across the country, has announced it closed a $2 million seed round, bringing the nanotech startup’s total funding to $2.4 million. The GOOSE Society of Texas, an angel network, led the round, which included participation from Owl Investment Group.
  • Renewable Energy Systems Americas Inc. has been selected as the balance of plant constructor for phase two of the Lower Snake River wind farm. The 267 megawatt wind farm is located near Dayton, Washington, northeast of Walla Walla, and will utilize 116 Siemens Energy wind turbines with a capacity of 2.3 megawatts.
  • Real Goods Solar, Inc. has announced that Jirka Rysavy resigned from his position as a director and chairman of the board of the company. Rysavy has served as the chairman of the company’s board of directors since its inception. Until recently, Gaiam was the largest shareholder of the company.

Sioux Indian Tribes Adopt Wind Energy

Leaders from six Sioux Indian Tribes along with former U.S. President Bill Clinton have announced a new wind power initiative for South Dakota. The project is being assisted by Arent Fox a team including former Senator Byron Dorgan, co-chair of the Government Relations practice, and Communications, Technology & Mobile partner Jonathan E. Canis and associate G. David Carter. The project is supported by the Clinton Global Initiative.

Crow-Lake-Wind-Farm-S-Dakota“Having served as Chairman of the US Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, I understand the strong desire of the Indian Tribes to build ‘Indian owned’ wind power projects to create new jobs and affordable power for their Tribes,” said Senator Dorgan. “This project is a unique opportunity for the Sioux Tribes in South Dakota to chart their own destiny. They live on lands that are rich with wind resources and they can use those resources to build a large wind energy project that can both help the Tribes and produce clean, renewable power for our country for decades to come.”

Dorgan continued, “Together with my colleagues at Arent Fox, I have been honored to work with elected leaders of the Tribes to plan this project and I am especially proud of the recognition given it today by President Clinton and the Clinton Global Initiative.”

Through the project, the Tribes stand to infuse up to $3 billion directly into the South Dakota economy, an amount roughly equal to the impact of the entire manufacturing sector in South Dakota in a given year. The planned project could generate 1-2 gigawatts of power annually. Measured conservatively, that’s more than enough power to electrify the homes in Denver, Colorado for the next 20 years, the typical useful lifespan of the wind turbines.

The majority of the project’s funding will come through the sale of bonds by a Multi-Tribal Power Authority, which are expected to be made available to investors in about two years, following a critical planning and preparation stage. For this reason, the Tribes have partnered with the crowdfunding platform to seek funding and raise general awareness for the project.

The Tribes participating in the project include Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, Crow Creek Sioux Tribe, Oglala Sioux Tribe, Rosebud Sioux Tribe, Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate, and Yankton Sioux Tribe.

SiNode Systems Wins 2013 Clean Energy Challenge

SiNode Systems has won the top prize in the 2013 U.S Department of Energy National Clean Energy Business Plan Competition. The company was also a finalist in Clean Energy Trust’s 2012 Clean Energy Challenge and earned a sport at the national competition after SiNode Systemswinning the 2013 Rice Business Plan Competition.

SiNode’s game-changing battery technology will change the way we use cell phones, computers and even electric cars,” said Amy Francetic, CEO of Clean Energy Trust. “We are enormously gratified that we could help advance such a dynamic and creative company since its initial formation through the 2012 Challenge.”

SiNode, a cleantech startup from Northwestern University, is commercializing an anode for lithium-ion batteries that allows the battery to charge more quickly and hold a charge 10 times longer than current technology.  SiNode’s anode could greatly enhance battery life for electric vehicles and smartphones. The startup won first prize and more than $800,000 at the 2013 Rice Business Plan Competition.

“These wins validate the Midwest’s clean energy ecosystem and demonstrate its ability to launch viable businesses with homegrown technology from our world-class research institutions,” Francetic said. “We are thrilled to have a Clean Energy Trust company win the national title two years in a row.”

Hybrids, EVs Causing States to Ponder New Road Taxes

According to an article on Fox News, several states, with the latest being North Carolina, are looking at how to tax hybrid and electric vehicle (EV) owners. The states are trying to recoup road funding, earned via taxes at the pump.

Politicians are taking the stance that all drivers, no matter what they drive, are responsible for helping to maintain the roads they use as well as build new ones. Whereas hybrid and Nissan_LeafEV drivers along with other alternative fuel vehicles say this is the wrong approach to promoting U.S. energy independence with sustainable infrastructure funding.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), gas taxes comprise nearly 40 percent of all state highway revenues and more than 90 percent at the federal level. However, the Institute on Taxation on Economic Policy says revenues are not keeping up with rising construction costs, falling 41 percent in real value at the federal level since they were last increased 18 years ago. State are facing the same problems.

Some say the solution is to overhaul the gas tax system to miles traveled but this approach has not been well received. Continue reading

U.S. Firms Sign Climate Declaration

Twenty-two American investment firms with nearly $240 billion in assets under management have signed a Climate Declaration, calling on U.S policymakers to seize the American economic opportunity of addressing climate change. The move was timed with the start of the Global Investor Forum on Climate Change that took place this week in Hong Kong. The declaration asserts. “Tackling climate change is one of America’s greatest economic opportunities of the 21st century … There must be a coordinated effort to combat climate change—with America taking the lead here at home.”

Jack Ehnes, chief executive officer of CalSTRS, one of the organizations who signed the Climate Declaration said, “As the global economy moves toward a low-carbon future, governments that act aggressively to enact strong, long-term climate and energy policies will reap the biggest rewards. In order to tackle the global climate crisis, we must realize the strength of our combined efforts. That is why CalSTRS signed the Climate Declaration. U.S. policy leaders need to step up on this issue and embrace climate change policies as an economic opportunity.”

Investors have been an important force in supporting policy changes related to clean energy and efficiency. Last year, investors managing $800 billion in assets called on Congress to renew the Production Tax Credit for renewable energy, which was ultimately extended for another year. Investors have also been outspoken proponents of state Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPSs) that more than two-dozen states have enacted to boost sourcing of wind, solar and other renewable energy. RPSs have catalyzed billions of dollars of investment, thousands of new projects and hundreds of thousands of good-paying jobs, including 30,000 new jobs in 2012 alone.

“Being smarter when it comes to climate change is the right thing to do for all of our families, and it also will translate into economic and investment opportunities,” said Oregon State Treasurer Ted Wheeler, who has previously called for better disclosure of climate-related opportunities and risks and who also signed the declaration. “I am proud to stand with Oregon’s largest employers and premier ski destinations to recognize that a cleaner future will also be a more profitable one.”

Continue reading

API Still After RFS

The American Petroleum Institute (API) is still after the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and E15, a blend of 15 percent ethanol, 85 percent gasoline by filing yet another waiver. Bob Dinneen, president and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) responded by Dont Mess with RFSsaying this is another example of oil companies unnecessarily scaring people and “it’s just flat out wrong.”

“The Renewable Fuel Standard has created jobs, helped the economy and saved consumers money at the pump. It’s ironic that the industry that brought us MTBE, benzene, tar sands, fracking chemicals, Deepwater Horizon, Exxon Valdez, and other environmental disasters is suddenly concerned about ‘consumer safety’.

Dinneen continued by asking the question, “How many times is API going to trot out the same tired study? They have pointed to their self-sponsored NERA study over and over again. But as we have noted in the past, that study ignores the flexibility of the RFS to make it easier for refiners to meet their RFS obligation. API is simply misleading people in suggesting the RFS will increase gasoline costs. The opposite is true. Ethanol is less expensive than gasoline today. It lowers prices at the pump. That’s the fact.”

“API is being irresponsible in suggesting ethanol harms vehicles. API points to the Coordinating Research Council (CRC) study on E15 that has been widely criticized by the Department of Energy and many others. Ten percent ethanol is safe and approved for all vehicles on the road today. E15 is safe for all vehicles for which EPA has approved its use, 2001 and newer,” added Dinneen.

Click here to see a review of the facts.

Ethanol Veterans Honored During FEW

few13-schwartzkopf and hicksTwo 30-year ethanol veterans were honored during the Fuel Ethanol Workshop in St. Louis, Missouri this week. Kevin Hicks, research leader for the Sustainable Biofuels and Coproducts Research Unit of the USDA’s Eastern Regional Research Center, received the Award of Excellence. And long-time friend of DomesticFuel, ethanol dragster, and true ethanol champion Dan Schwartzkopf with ICM, was presented with the High Octane Award.

Listen to Kevin Hicks’ remarks here: Award of Excellence

Listen to Dan Schwartzkopf’s remarks here: High Octane Award

Visit the 2013 FEW Photo Album.

Study: Alt Fuels Developing Faster Than Expected

According to a new study commissioned by a coalition of investors, utilities and makers of alternative fuels, the alternative fuels market has developed faster than anticipated. Electric vehicle sales are beating early projections, the surge in natural gas supply is helping decrease the carbon intensity in trucking, and consumption of biodiesel and renewable diesel supplies are growing rapidly, according to the report. The coalition includes CalETC, Ceres, E2, the California Natural Gas Vehicle Coalition, the National Biodiesel Board, and the Advanced Biofuels Association.

Screen Shot 2013-06-17 at 9.43.40 AM“The Low Carbon Fuel Standard is exceeding our expectations and driving us towards a clean fuels future,” said Eileen Tutt, executive director of the California Electric Transportation Coalition (CalETC). “The standard is doing exactly what it was designed to do – open the way for new fuels and technologies to compete fairly in the marketplace.”

The report analyzes recent developments in the transportation sector and presents three scenarios that ratchet down the carbon intensity of transportation fuels 10 percent, to meet the goal of California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard by 2020. All three projections point to an increasingly diverse fuel supply, with more innovation leading to more renewable fuels and advanced vehicles.

Emerging as the report’s biggest surprise is the promise of substitutes for diesel, including biodiesel, renewable diesel, and natural gas – all of which can be produced from waste materials, including animal fats, corn oil, and the gas that would otherwise escape from landfills. The report stated, “2013 promises to be a banner year for biodiesel consumption in California.”

The report also highlights the benefits in terms of greenhouse gas reductions from two additional low-carbon fuel strategies: the addition of off-road electrification (such as electric locomotives and battery-powered forklifts), and improvements to California’s fuel-recovery and extraction processes (using solar energy in crude oil extraction or installing carbon capture and storage technologies at oil and gas wells).

Global Wind Day Puts Pressure on G8 Summit

This Saturday, June 15, is Global Wind Day, and this year the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) is asking people globally to put pressure on world leaders leading in to the G8 summit to keep their commitment to phase out fossil fuels and adopt renewable energy.

According to EWEA, the level of fossil fuel subsidies has increased nearly 30 percent to $620 billion since 2010. Today, fossil fuels receive six times more subsidies than renewable energy. Simultaneously, global carbon dioxide (CO2) levels have reached a record high of 400 ppm, a level that climate change experts say is hindering efforts to bring human-produced emissions under control.

“While world leaders pay lip service to combating climate change, what they are actually doing is subsidizing CO2 emissions to the tune of US$110/tonne. Fossil fuel energy GWDAppsubsidy reform could take us a long way towards protecting the climate,” said Steve Sawyer, Secretary General of the Global Wind Energy Council.

EWEA says wind energy has become a mainstream technology: it is already cheaper in Australia and Brazil than conventional energy sources and directly competes with them in an expanding number of markets including Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa and parts of China and the U.S. Wind power is turning into the power technology of choice as utilities, energy planners and governments seek to diversify their energy mix, reduce CO2 emissions and air pollution, protect their economies from volatile fossil fuel prices and benefit from increased investment and job creation. EWEA says with the right policy support wind could reach 1,000 GW by 2020 avoiding over 9 billion tonnes of CO2 emissions per year.

Opinion polls and surveys across the markets show overwhelming public support for wind power providing an important signal to decision-makers: According to a Eurobarometer survey 89 percent of EU citizens are in favor of wind energy, compared to 43 percent for coal and 36 percent for nuclear. In 2012 a survey conducted in the U.S. showed that 71 percent of Americans want to see more wind power development and in Canada a research poll found that 78 percent of Ontarians say that wind is one of the safest forms of electricity generation. In a recent survey in the UK, two-thirds of the Britons voted in favor of wind energy.

NACS Survey Shows Good News for E15

A recent survey conducted by the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) has very good news for E15 and the ethanol industry. The survey found that 59 percent of surveyed drivers would by E15 (15 percent ethanol, 85 percent gasoline) if it was priced the same as regular fuel. This, according to Ron Lamberty, senior vice president for the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) demonstrates there is public interest in E15 blended fuel.

zarco-ethanol pump“I think this shows that despite all of Big Oil’s misinformation and scare tactics, consumers are interested in purchasing E15 as an alternative to gasoline, even if the price were the same as gas. It’s especially encouraging when you consider the fact that at current prices, E15 would be 15 to 20 cents less than gasoline, and two to five cents under E10,” said Lamberty. He noted the survey results “mirror what we have been hearing from the marketers that are selling E15. In most cases, E15 becomes one of the top sellers in stations that add it.”

Howerver, Lamberty called NACS’ announcement of the survey “puzzling”. “NACS calls demand for E15 ‘insufficient’. I’ve been working in the convenience store industry for over 30 years and don’t think I’ve ever seen a product – much less a fuel product – that three out of five customers say they want. If there was, I can’t imagine that NACS would call that kind of demand ‘insufficient’. Most stations don’t sell one-tenth that much premium gasoline, and that has always been enough for oil companies to mandate it’s sale in their customers’ stations.”

NACS also said consumers need to be “educated about the positive attributes of these new fuels.” Lamberty responded by pointing out, “ACE, RFA, and our joint BYO Ethanol campaign hope that NACS will take us up on our standing offer to assist with E15 education. Over the past few years, most of the “education” marketers have received about E15 have been recycled ghost stories from the oil industry – which stands to gain the most if E15 is stopped before it even starts.”

Lamberty concluded, “Marketers that we have been able to educate on the real risks and real rewards of E15 and E85 have seen incredible benefits, especially this year, as control of RINS have added literally tens of thousands of profits to their bottom line. This survey shows EXACTLY why we want consumers to have the option of E15 and why Big Oil is fighting so hard against E15.”

PERC Offers Propane Farm Incentive Program

The Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) is encouraging producers to upgrade their grain dryers with a $5,000 incentive through the Propane Farm Incentive Program. Producers who purchase a new qualifying propane-fueled dryer from GSI Group or Mathews Co. now through the end of 2013 can apply for the incentive through PERC’s nationwide research program. In exchange, producers report post-harvest performance data to PERC.

Propane Farm Incentive Program LogoFor many farmers this spring, planting has been a challenge with cool, wet and rainy conditions. This has led to planting delays that may lead to more grain drying in the fall, and today, nearly nine of of 10 farmers dry grain using propane-fueled equipment. New models can offer energy efficient designs that produce even, consistent drying and can save producers money.

New and improved grain drying equipment is a profitable investment for producers, according to Mark Leitman, director of marketing and business development at PERC. “Mew propane-fueled grain dryers can be 30 to 50 percent more efficient than older models. These machines can produce huge energy savings for farmers, and we offer a $5,000 incentive on select, new models.”

The eligible models for the incentive include the GSI X-Stream series and Mathews Trilogy series dryers. PERC co-supported the development and testing of these machines because they’ve been proven to offer increased capacity, improved grain quality, and they can dry up to twice as many bushels per gallon of propane as previous models.

All the World’s A Stage

With debate on Capitol Hill on the future of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and pressure from oil companies to lower cellulosic fuel mandates as part of the legislation, BBI FEW-13-World-Stagerealized that the time was right to feature a panel discussing the progress to commercialization of several major renewable fuels players to bring advanced biofuels to market.

All the World’s a Stage: A Front Row Seat to the Construction and Commissioning of the Industry’s First Cellulosic Facilities panel during the Fuel Ethanol Workshop in St. Louis, Missouri, was moderated by Brooke Coleman, executive director of the Advanced Ethanol Council. Also on the panel (from left to right):

  • Henrik Maimann, CEO New Bio Solutions Section & VP, Dong Energy Power
  • Mark Niederschulte, Chief Operating Officer, INEOS Bio
  • Steve Mirshak, Global Business Director – Cellulosic Ethanol, DuPont Industrial Biosciences
  • Chris Standlee, Executive Vice President, Abengoa Bioenergy
  • Wade Roby, POET-DSM Advanced Biofuels

Each panelist gave an update on their company’s project and from there, an open question and answer dialogue occurred. One of the major themes: how to bring and keep investments in the advanced biofuels sector to ensure commercialization is achieved.

Listen to the full panel discussion here: All the World's A Stage

Visit the 2013 FEW Photo Album.

Association Roundtable: Mid-Year Ethanol Policy Update

This year’s general session during the Fuel Ethanol Workshop diverged from past years. Rather than have a keynote speaker, the three leaders of the country’s largest ethanol associations came together on one stage to discuss current U.S. ethanol policy. The Association Roundtable: Mid-Year U.S. Ethanol Policy Update, panel was moderated by Tom Bryan, president of BBI International and FEW13-Association-Roundtablefeatured Bob Dinneen, CEO and president of the Renewable Fuels Group (RFA), Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy and Brian Jennings, executive vice president of the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE).

The discussions ranged from market access and how Big Oil is trying to block higher blends of ethanol, such as E15 and E85 from being sold to consumers, RINs, the ongoing debate over the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and the recent three white papers that were released for comment and the status of a farm bill. Interestingly, all three ethanol advocates, who are also Washington insiders, noted that all of the current issues and debates have been fueled by Big Oil.

The panel was informative, entertaining and at some points downright uncomfortable but Buis, Dinneen and Jennings all agreed that although there is a battle, they are confident ethanol will win. The groups’ final call: each and every person needs to be involved in the fight.

Listen to the full panel discussion here: Association Roundtable: Mid-Year Ethanol Policy Update

Visit the 2013 FEW Photo Album.

Ethanol Fuels Promotion in Minnesota

E85 PumpFriday, June 14, 2013, drivers of flex-fuel vehicles (FFVs) can fill up for less at the Short Stop Quick Mart at 4725 Quail Road NE, Sauk Rapids, Minnesota. FFVs drivers can use any blend of ethanol from E10 to E85, 85 percent ethanol, 15 percent gasoline. The promotion will take place from 4:00 pm – 7:00 pm and there is a 25 gallon limit per vehicle.

The Short Stop Quick Mart is one of a growing number of fuel retailers in Minnesota with a flex pump that offers both E85 and mid-level blends of ethanol fuels. During the promotion, prices will be discounted by the following amounts:

  • 85¢ off per gallon E85
  • 50¢ off per gallon E50
  • 30¢ off per gallon E30
  • 20¢ off per gallon E20

Kelly Marczak, director of environmental programs for the American Lung Association in Minnesota, said flex fuel vehicle owners who use E85 instead of gasoline are helping to reduce air pollution. “Vehicle emissions are the single largest source of air pollution in Minnesota, and an FFV fueled by E85 emits less than the same vehicle fueled with gasoline. These fuels are cleaner-burning, made in Minnesota and almost always cost less than regular unleaded.”

Supporters of the promotion include Short Stop Quick Mart (Bauerly Oil), Benton/Sherburne County Corn Growers Association, Minnesota Corn Growers Association, American Lung Association in Minnesota and the Minnesota Clean Air Choice Team. To see if you drive an FFV, click here.

Mike Bryan’s Call to Arms

FEW13-mbyranMike Bryan, CEO of BBI International kicked off the 29th International Fuel Ethanol Workshop (FEW) with a call for action for not only the biofuel associations, but for every single person who attended the event. He began by asking the standing room only crowd if they were getting angry, frustrated and a little nervous over the bashing from some legislators as well as ethanol detractors such as Big Oil.

“Ladies and gentleman, I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, we are at war,” said Bryan. “And this morning, I’m going to issue a call to arms. We are in a battle for the very survival of this industry.”

Listen to Mike Byran’s opening session remarks here: Mike Bryan, BBI

Visit the 2013 FEW Photo Album.