Fuels America has released a new video highlighting the truth behind high gas prices and how renewable fuels can help. Many studies, including a report from the American Security Project, have shown that the country can’t drill its way out of high gas prices and vulnerability to global oil markets. In addition, recent International Energy Agency (IEA) data shows drilling will still leave us with oil that costs upwards of $215 per barrel.
Other studies have shown that renewable fuel lowers gas prices by an average of $1.09 per gallon in 2011, reducing the average American’s gas bill by more than $1,200 per year.
The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) today congratulated the Iowa Senate for voting unanimously to pass Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 5 (SCR 5) that urges the United States government to continue its commitment to energy independence and maintain its support of the federal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).
SCR 5, in part, states: “The United States government is urged to renew its commitment to this nation’s energy security, move the United States toward greater energy independence and security as required by the federal Energy Independence and Security Act, and use all efforts to meet the highest possible renewable fuel volume requirements set forth in RFS2 in order to ensure that this nation achieves energy independence.”
“I commend the Iowa Senate for showing solidarity with the Iowa Congressional delegation by urging the federal government to stand behind the federal RFS, our nation’s most successful energy policy,” stated IRFA Executive Director Monte Shaw. “The RFS forms the bedrock of Iowa’s economic resilience – creating good-paying Iowa jobs, boosting Iowa’s farm income, and reducing prices at the pump for Iowa consumers. The RFS is vital to Iowa’s economic future and IRFA will oppose any effort to undermine it.”
Randy Olson, CEO of the Iowa Biodiesel Board said of the bill, “The legislature’s resolution makes clear our state’s commitment to renewable fuels like biodiesel, and shows backbone to the few but vocal opponents of the RFS-2. It is gratifying to see continued support from our state’s leaders, who recognize the RFS and federal tax incentive for biodiesel as smart energy policy living up to their promise. On behalf of the biodiesel industry in Iowa, we thank the state legislature for standing up for biodiesel. It’s not only in our state’s best interest, but also our nation’s, and we’re proud to see Iowa once again at the forefront of leadership in this important industry.”
The bill passed by a vote of 50-0 and now goes to the Iowa House for consideration.
The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), and DOE’s Sandia National Laboratories (Sandia) have extended their support for the truSolar Working Group’s efforts to develop uniform open source risk scoring standards and rating criteria for solar projects. These standards would facilitate lower transaction and capital costs and improve project finance liquidity within the commercial and industrial solar segment.
“truSolar represents a valuable opportunity to create a common approach to characterizing solar project benefits and risks and more precise alignment on pricing of project capital,” said NREL Senior Financial Analyst Michael Mendelsohn.
Roger Hill, principal member of technical staff at Sandia, added, “This initiative could potentially lower transaction costs, and improve access to financial capital critical to solar project deployment. We will be examining the risks inherent in projects to sharpen our analytical tools for criteria and assessment in technical areas including yield and reliability.”
The truSolar Working Group was established on January 14, 2013 as a collaborative consortium of 16 solar industry market leaders dedicated to addressing a broad array of project risks through the development of uniform standards. The founding members of truSolar, led by Distributed Sun and DuPont Photovoltaic Solutions, are among the leaders in solar project asset management, development, financing, manufacturing, insurance and ratings agencies. Founding member companies include ABB, Assurant, Inc., Mosaic, PanelClaw, SMA America, Standard & Poor’s, Booz Allen Hamilton, and the Rocky Mountain Institute.
“On behalf of our founding members, we are pleased to welcome the National Labs to our initiative,” said Chase Weir, chief executive officer – Distributed Sun a member of the consortium. “We are excited about the opportunity to work closely with the National Labs, and the SAPC initiative currently led by NREL, to develop comprehensive, complementary solutions for the solar industry, by the industry.”
A new technology has been released for the offshore wind turbine industry. According to DNV who developed the software, it includes dynamic simulations, advanced fatigue calculation and code check in one analysis package. The module is powered by FEDEM Windpower and is integrated with Sesam. Sesam Wind Coupled Analysis powered by FEDEM Windpower has capabilities ranging from the purely mechanical aspects of a wind turbine to customizable control systems and detailed wind and wave load simulations. The company says its software will increase efficiency and save cost.
“It saves costs by optimisation of wind turbine design and work processes, says Svein Gjølmesli, Fedem Technology’s software manager. He notes that this software is a complete solution for wind turbine design, strength and fatigue analysis.
“The demand for renewable energy is growing rapidly and offshore wind is a significant part of renewable energy sources. Offshore wind installations are facing the same structural integrity challenges as traditional offshore engineering with structural design, hydrodynamic loads, global stresses and fatigue,” said Are Føllesdal Tjønn, Managing Director at DNV Software.
Tjønn concluded, “In addition there are challenges with loads generated from the turbine itself and turbine rotor blades. As offshore wind is moving into deeper waters, engineering of offshore wind installations will take full benefit of Sesam, whether the installation is based on fixed structures, floating structures, shallow waters or deeper waters. With its leading position within offshore engineering, the offshore wind segment is a natural part of the Sesam strategy going forward.”
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has proposed a series of changes to make it easier for agricultural producers and rural small businesses to apply for renewable energy and energy efficiency funding.
“These changes are intended to help agricultural producers and rural small businesses throughout America,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said. “They will streamline and simplify the application process and give businesses more time to do what they do best: innovate, create jobs and serve their rural communities.”
Reduce paperwork, especially for projects under $80,000;
Implement a more objective and uniform system to score applications;
Authorize funding for refurbished and retrofitted renewable energy systems;
Reduce certain reporting requirements; and
Establish a quarterly application period for applicants seeking only guaranteed loans. This change is intended to make the program more appealing to lenders and to ensure that funds are available year-round.
USDA is accepting comments on the proposed rule through June 11, 2013. For details on how to submit comments, or for additional information, see Page 22044 of the April 12 Federal Register.
Biofuel opponents are crying wolf, so it would seem, claiming that the blend wall is insurmountable. However, the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) today has published an infographic that busts the myths surrounding the blend wall.
“This graphic perfectly captures the ridiculous myth that an insurmountable blend wall exists,” said Bob Dinneen, RFA CEO and president. “The blend wall is a false façade built by the oil companies to protect their oil monopoly. The real walls are the ones they are building to keep legitimate, well-tested, cost-saving renewable fuel alternatives, like E85 and E15, out of the marketplace. They are building walls between consumers, gas stations, and the freedom to choose. Denial is the mortar holding these walls together — the denial that the Renewable Fuel Standard is a proven success and a powerful energy policy that needs to continue unchanged well into the future if the gains we have made in reducing our dependence on foreign oil, creating valuable jobs domestically, and improving our environment are to be sustained.”
Dinneen continued, “You could say oil companies are building a wall between America’s future and America’s petroleum-dependent past… but given recent events in Arkansas and New Hampshire, perhaps it is more of a moat of toxic ground water and spilled oil.”
Still need the thousand words behind the picture? A brief explanation of each brick in the wall blocking proper implementation by the oil industry of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and E15 is available here.
As part of the American Solar Energy Society (ASES) National Solar Conference that is kicking off tomorrow, April 16-20 at the Baltimore Convention Center, the 38th Annual Passive Solar Conference will explore two broad themes – the emerging architectural discipline of passive solar design, and the rapidly growing science of building technology. A free lecture open to the public will be given by American Institute of Architects (AIA) Fellow and architect Travis Price, author of “The Archeology of Tomorrow: Architecture and the Spirit of Place,” on Friday April 19 at 3:30. Price will discuss “The Mythic Modern: Mythology, Ecology and Technology…the Spirit of Place.”
The Passive Solar Conference will cover a broad range of themes in emerging architecture, including the Department of Energy road map for Building Integrated Solar Technologies (BIST), which aims to double building efficiency by 2050. ASES notes that today buildings in the US consume more than 70 percent of the electricity and 50 percent of the natural gas produced, accounting for 40 percent of U.S. energy consumption.
Other sessions will explore “Passive Haus,” design, a concept originating in Germany to minimize energy consumption, the trend in Net Zero building, and the impact of climate change on regional design. In a series of sessions oriented around building technology, the conference will present the latest research on energy modeling for buildings, automated controls, and daylighting strategies. Finally, several forums will address important regulatory issues including building codes, zoning and the right to solar access.
The conference exhibition hall will be open to the public starting at 10:00 am from April 17-19 for $10, with a special public day on Saturday, April 20 priced at $5. On Thursday, April 18, two evening sessions, Young Professionals in Renewable Energy (YPiRE) and Emerging Transportation, beginning at 6:30 pm and 7:00 pm respectively, are free and open to the public. The Travis Price lecture on Friday April 19 at 3:30 pm is also free and open to the public.
More than a dozen of Israel’s top academic and industrial biofuels research scientists and innovators will be arriving in Washington this week to begin a week-long dialogue with their American counterparts at the U.S. Departments of Energy (DOE) and Agriculture (USDA), as well as with the Navy, FAA and the private sector. The group be meeting with White House officials and with top government energy program managers and scientists in Washington, DC and will also be meeting with researchers from DOE labs in Oak Ridge Tennessee and in California. The scientific exchange is designed to help build U.S.-Israel collaboration mechanisms for research and innovation to produce alternative fuels that can substitute for petroleum-based gasoline, diesel oil and aviation fuel currently produced from imported oil.
The elite Israeli delegation was chosen through a competition held over several months, ‘The U.S.-Israel Bio-Energy Challenge,‘ in which the initial selection was made in Israel and the final participants were selected with input from the U.S. agencies. The project has been sponsored and coordinated by two U.S. not-for-profit organizations, The Israel Energy Partnership (TIEP) and the U.S.-Israel Science and Technology Foundation (USISTF) and by the Israeli Industry Center for R&D (MATIMOP) on behalf of the Office of the Chief Scientist (OCS) in the Ministry for Trade and Industry.
Project sponsors stress the importance of finding alternatives to petroleum imports at a time when high oil prices once again are a drag on the economy and some oil-producing nations are using oil revenues to develop weapons that threaten their neighbors.
“The one-half trillion dollars of oil revenue OPEC nations collect each year provides enormous geopolitical power to nations that oppose U.S. and Israeli interests, helps fund terrorism, undermines peace, and drains money from our economy,” said TIEP President Jack Halpern. “So, this effort to reduce the industrialized world’s dependence on oil imports will be of benefit to both Israel and the U.S. One of the most important benefits will be the reduction of income for Iran, half of whose government revenue comes from the sale of oil. Without that oil revenue, it will be much more difficult for them to pursue their nuclear ambitions.”
Neil Goldstein, Vice president of TIEP noted that Israel’s role as a scientific, engineering and entrepreneurial leader is well known. “Cutting-edge research and development is taking place in Israel in the selection, bio-engineering, and modification of fuel feed-stocks; in growing novel feed-stocks on non-arable land and without using fresh water; and in the more-efficient and cost effective production of fuels from feed-stocks using innovative chemical, physical and biological processes. Building on that research base, we are establishing a scientific, technical and economic collaboration between Israel and the U.S. to help both nations achieve our energy goals.”
With Earth Day a week away (Monday, April 22) there is a greater focus on climate change and the environment. According to Ceres, a nonprofit organization mobilizing business leadership on climate change, a growing chunk of American tax dollars is footing the bill for increasing floods, fires, droughts and other climate-related changes. Ceres compiled data showing rising costs to three federal programs, as well as growing financial exposure for state taxpayers in hurricane-prone states.
“Climate change is fundamentally changing the United States, and American taxpayers are paying a huge price for it,” said Ceres President Mindy Lubber. “The cost of withered crops, submerged streets, hurricane damage and wildfires eventually comes out of our own wallets. Crop insurance losses from last year’s drought alone cost every person in America $51.”
The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is staggering under massive losses after Hurricane Sandy, which triggered more than 115,000 new claims in just the first two weeks after the storm. Although NFIP collects about $3.5 billion a year in premiums, the amount of claims the agency has paid out has exceeded the amount of premiums collected in four of the past eight years. Last year’s losses in Sandy’s wake are expected to approach $8 billion.
“That’s $25 for every American, and that figure doesn’t even include the $50 billion of disaster relief that Congress approved in January for Sandy-impacted states,” Lubber said. Continue reading →
Yesterday Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner introduced legislation that would stall the roll-out of E15. Many in the renewable fuels industry responded to the proposed legislation including Fuels America who noted that the legislation ignores the long track record of successful, rigorous testing that E15 has undergone. “What the bill is clearly geared toward, however, is promoting the interest of oil compaines looking to retain control over America’s fuel option.”
“E15 is the most tested renewable fuel in history and to suggest otherwise ignores a wealth of facts. In multiple tests, E15 has been put through the paces in more than 6 million miles of testing. The results of these tests were so satisfactory that E15 is used in NASCAR vehicles – high-performance racecars that can top 200 miles an hour – have opted to use E15, continued the Fuels America statement.
“The reality is that E15 provides options to Americans and the choice to power their cars with clean and renewable fuel. Unfortunately, Rep. Sensenbrenner’s legislation would limit that choice by favoring the oil industry over hardworking American families and businesses.”
The American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) who recently had a team of more than 70 ethanol supporters meeting with Congressman in DC, noted that the legislation would require another 18 months of E15 testing at taxpayers expense. Senior Vice President Ron Lamberty called the bill “A transparent attempt to protect Big Oil’s profitable monopoly by taking away a driver’s right to choose which fuel to use in his or her own car.”
“Congressman Sensenbrenner is basing his opposition of E15 primarily on two studies that clearly selected vehicles and components based on their history of performing poorly regardless of the type of fuel that was in them,” said Lamberty. “All Mr. Sensenbrenner is proving is that he either doesn’t know what the studies actually say or he does know, and is misrepresenting the findings. Neither should be acceptable to those who serve with him on the House Science and Technology Committee. In the event the bill passes out of committee, we would hope Congress would recognize this bill for what it actually is and not pass it.”
Lamberty continued, “Jim Sensenbrenner has a well-known history of refusing to accept science that doesn’t agree with his personal opinions. And after repeatedly saying two years of E15 testing by EPA and DoE testing was a “rush to judgment,” does anyone think he’ll accept a smaller, shorter test from the National Academy of Sciences when it says E15 is safe? No, this isn’t about science, it’s about delaying to protect BP and Exxon-Mobil.”
“Congressman Sensenbrenner loves to talk about “individual choice and free-market competition” when he talks about health care, and “defending the freedom and individual responsibilities” of motorcycle riders to not wear helmets, but he doesn’t trust people to make their own choice at the gas pump? Ridiculous,” added Lamberty.
According to EIA data, ethanol production averaged 854,000 barrels per day (b/d) — or 35.87 million gallons daily. That is up 47,000 b/d from the week before and the highest rate since the week ending 6/29/2012. It is the largest week-to-week increase since October 2011. The four-week average for ethanol production stood at 819,000 b/d for an annualized rate of 12.56 billion gallons. Stocks of ethanol stood at 17.8 million barrels. That is a 1.8% increase from last week. Imports of ethanol showed zero b/d, down from last week. Gasoline demand for the week averaged 356.0 million gallons daily. Expressed as a percentage of daily gasoline demand, daily ethanol production was 10.07% — the highest since the first week of 2013.
Gevo, Inc. has announced that the United States District Court for the District of Delaware entered a final judgment in favor of Gevo and against Butamax Advanced Biofuels, LLC (Butamax), a 50/50 joint venture between DuPont and BP, ending the trial court proceedings on Butamax’s Patent Nos. 7,851,188 (‘188 Patent) and 7,993,889 (‘889 Patent).
The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) is calling for support of the “Race to the Top” for energy efficiency and grid modernization, which is included as part of the proposed Department of Energy budget. The energy race would create a competitive grant program for states and communities that adopt innovations in energy efficiency, clean energy deployment and smart grid technologies. The initiative would support the President’s goal of doubling energy productivity from 2010 levels by 2030.
Sandia National Laboratory has developed several complementary technologies to help the algae industry in detecting and recovering from pond crashes, and is making use of the AzCATI test-bed facility to collect data and apply its technologies. The research focuses on monitoring and diagnosing algal pond health and draws upon Sandia’s longstanding expertise in microfluidics technology, its strong bioscience research program and significant internal investments.
According to researchers, because of the way algae is grown and produced in most algal ponds, they are prone to attack by fungi, rotifers, viruses or other predators. Consequently, algal pond collapse is a critical issue that companies must solve to produce algal biofuels cost-effectively. The issue was identified as a key component in the Department of Energy’s National Algal Biofuels Technology Roadmap.
To address the problem, Sandia is addressing the algal pond crash issue in three complementary ways:
Developing a real-time monitoring tool for algal ponds that can detect indications of a problem days in advance of a crash;
Successfully applying pathogen detection and characterization technologies honed through the lab’s Rapid Threat Organism Recognition (RapTOR) work; and
Employing its innovative SpinDx diagnostic device to dig deeper into problems after they’ve occurred and help to identify specific biological agents responsible for crashes.
Sandia’s Tom Reichardt, a researcher who works in the lab’s remote sensing unit, led development of an online algal reflectance monitor through an internally funded project. The instruments are typically set up alongside the algal pond, continuously monitoring, analyzing the algae’s concentration levels, examining its photosynthesis and performing other diagnostics.
“In real-time, it will tell you if things are going well with the growth of your algae or whether it’s beginning to show signs of trouble,” said Reichardt. However, he cautioned, while this real-time monitoring will warn pond operators when the ponds have been attacked, it may not be able to identify the attacker. He notes that quick identification of organisms in ponds is the key to mitigation.
Now that the core principles of pathogen detection and characterization technologies for pond crash forensics have been successfully proven, the next step for the team will be to conduct more robust demonstrations. The research team will be continuing their work as part of the Algae Testbed Public-Private Partnership (ATP3) led by Arizona State University (ASU), the first national algae testbed. The Sandia team will apply the technologies, collect more data and seek additional collaborations.
Advanced Biofuels USA is teaming up with HEAT, an environmental advocacy team based at Hood College in Frederick, Maryland, to present a showing of the documentary “FREEDOM“. Following the screening, there will be a panel discussion featuring local leading advanced biofuel researchers and supporters. The event takes place on Earth Day, Monday, April 22, 2013 at Hodson Auditorium in Rosenstock Hall. The event is FREE to the public.
The two groups plan to bring to light the finiteness of the fossil fuel industry, the grip it has on our country’s economy, and the negative impacts on our environment. They will also inform attendees about the growing biofuel industry and how it can help to remedy America’s dependence on fossil fuels.
The documentary FREEDOM, created by Josh and Rebecca Tickell, the makers of the Sundance Film Festival Award Winning “FUEL,” takes place in the aftermath of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The documentary includes insightful and inspirational interviews from former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, former NATO Commander Wesley Clark, Amy Smart, and more.
FREEDOM invites people, “Not to just get mad, but get motivated and calls for ‘a revolution in how we live.’ The documentary states a need for, “a shift in the types of houses and cities we live in. We must rethink the way we work and the way we treat each other and the planet. And most importantly, we must transform ourselves.” The New York Times stated that their previous movie, ‘FUEL’ “would make, “Al Gore weep all over his PowerPoint.”.
Following the showing of the documentary, the two organizations plan to hold a group panel discussion featuring local leaders in the research, use, and education of advanced biofuels. The panel will tentatively include: moderator Joanne Ivancic, the president and executive director of Advanced Biofuels USA; Robert E. Kozak, treasurer of Advanced Biofuels USA and president of Atlantic Biomass Conversions will talk about policy roadblocks currently confronting the industry; Dr. Craig Laufer, Hood College biology professor and secretary of Advanced Biofuels USA will talk about the science of advanced biofuels research.
ICM’s Director of Sales and Product Management, Brock Beach, will serve as ICM’s liaison to the consulting group. “As ICM continues to expand our presence into other alternative fuels, we are delighted to work with Lee Enterprises Consulting,” said Beach. He notes the new alliance allows the immediate pursuit of discussions with respect to projects combining various types of alternative and renewable fuels.
“We continually seek alliances with the top companies to further our ability to fully serve every alternative and renewable fuels industry client,” said Wayne Lee, principle owner of Lee Enterprises Consulting. “As a leading biofuels and technology provider, ICM has been involved with the global development of 102 ethanol facilities, representing 6.6 billion gallons of annual ethanol production.”
Lee notes that ICM has focused its innovation efforts on cellulosic ethanol and gasification technologies, and adds “In addition to having the best ethanol, cellulosic ethanol and gasification partner available, I think our collaboration will also open the door to many combination projects, so I am very excited to work with ICM.”
The American Fuel and Petroleum Manufacturers Association (AFPM) had compared the recent New Hamsphire Methyl tert-butyl ether (MTBE) lawsuit loss by the oil industry to E15. MTBE has been found to contaminate ground water and as a result nearly half the states in the U.S. have banned its use. E15, the most test fuel in the history of the country has never been shown to contaminate ground water and is a more environmental friendly option.
Bob Dinneen, CEO and president of the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), called the statement “reckless” and “revisionist”. “AFPM and the oil companies are living in a fantasy parallel universe if they think they can revise history to tarnish E15 and the RFS. MTBE did not go through the same 211F waiver process that E15 did. MTBE did not undergo six million miles of testing like E15 did. The oil companies pushed 15 percent MTBE approval under a much less rigorous waiver process that did not require the robust emissions and drivability testing that E15 has successfully completed.”
“Oil companies also did not conduct extensive 211(b) health effects testing prior to the registration of MTBE for commercial use,” continued Dinneen. “Oil companies chose MTBE over biodegradable ethanol because it was a product they produced and it increased their profits. In fact, they used MTBE to keep ethanol out of the market because the two fuels could not be used together. Unfortunately, MTBE was not compatible with the fuel distribution system. It leaked from tanks and quickly migrated to drinking water supplies. MTBE is toxic. Oil companies losing the court case in New Hampshire screams a dire warning that oil companies should not be trusted with our energy future. Oil companies have a disturbing track record of putting their monopoly ahead of innovation and progress, and their profits ahead of consumer pocketbooks.”
Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy called the statement “absurd” and noted that in terms of the New Hampshire lawsuit, AFPM, refiners and oil companies refused to use cleaner-burning, biodegradable ethanol, and instead chose to use an oil-derived alternative that ended up contaminating water systems throughout the U.S., and is also suspected of having carcinogenic properties.
“This is just another example of the length the refiners will go to avoid using renewable fuels,” said Buis. “They chose MTBE over ethanol until it polluted water systems because of leaks – and switched to ethanol after states and local communities started banning its use. The only consistency among the oil companies and its affiliates like AFPM is that they will say and do anything to block market access for biofuels to protect their near monopoly on the liquid fuel system, as well as their bottom line – even if it is at the expense of their customers.”
“In a wild stretch of the imagination that ignores reality and facts, AFPM are trying to say the most tested fuel ever in American history, which is cleaner and biodegradable, will have the same negative effects as a toxic additive produced by AFPM. Give me a break. Big Oil – why don’t you tell the American people just what is in the oil spilling in communities across America, such as the Yellowstone river, the Mississippi river, Kalamazoo, Mayflower Arkansas and all over the Gulf of Mexico? I can tell you one thing – it isn’t environmentally safe, biodegradable ethanol,” concluded Buis.