Renewable jet fuel will be taking flight during the upcoming Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in Brazil on June 19, 2012. Azul Airlines, powered with renewable fuel produced from sugarcane by Amyris, has scheduled a demonstration flight on an Azul E195 aircraft powered by GE’s CF34-10E engines. The flight is being coined “Azul+Verde,” which means “a greener blue”.
Amyris’s renewable jet fuel offers lower greenhouse gas emissions including a reduction of carbon dioxide. The fuel is being developed to be compliant with Jet A/A-1 fuel specifications and should provide equal performance to traditional jet fuel. Sugarcane is a major crop in Brazil and supplies the biofuels industry with feedstock.
Additional flight plans will be released once the demonstration test is approved by Brazil’s National Civil Aviation Agency.
New Mexico is set for biodiesel with the soon to open B100 biodiesel terminal in July. Once online, this will be the state’s largest biodiesel terminal, which is owned and operated by the Renewable Energy Group (REG), the country’s largest biodiesel producer. Product will be available from the Clovis, New Mexico facility in July.
“Renewable Energy Group believes this new terminal infrastructure demonstrates our commitment to offering our customers better access to biodiesel blending locations throughout the Southwest and West,” said REG President and CEO, Daniel J. Oh. “We intend to complete construction of REG Clovis as a biodiesel production site, the timing of which depends on a variety of factors. Using the location as a terminal is an important initial step in the process to meet local market demand.”
REG Clovis is set to produce 15 million gallons per year and is nearly 40 percent complete. The company is converting the site’s liquid storage and truck load-out into a wholesale terminal for REG-9000® branded biodiesel sales via truck and rail.
The California Energy Commission (CEC) has awarded Propel Fuels a $10.1 million grant to install more than 100 Flex Fuel E85 stations over the next four years. This will more than double the number of E85 stations across the state that has nearly one million flex fuel vehicle drivers. The award is funded through the State of California’s AB 118 Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program and will aid in the state’s goal of moving toward more clean energy transportation fuels.
“With America’s largest base of alternative fuel-capable vehicles, California’s drivers are rapidly embracing new fuel choices,” said Matt Horton, CEO of Propel Fuels. “This funding will enable us to provide greater access to E85 in the state’s most underserved markets and provide a critical link to the next generation of low carbon fuels coming into production.”
Over the next four years with completion scheduled for 2016, more than 600 jobs will be created. Once complete, the use of E85 has the capacity to displace 145 million gallons of petroleum and 470,000 tons of CO2 emissions.
Propel is matching the grant with more than $24 million in private investment. The company will manage construction, operations and maintenance of the fueling structure that will exceed 200 Flex Fuel E85 stations by 2016.
“These awards support a diversity of alternative fuel and vehicle types, including biodiesel production, natural gas vehicle technologies and incentives, and E85 fueling stations, which together provide a crucial boost to the development of clean energy transportation in the state,” said Energy Commissioner Carla Peterman.
She concluded, “They will enable the deployment of more advanced technology vehicles on the roadways – and support the development of the fueling infrastructure needed to keep them rolling. Investing in these innovative projects will benefit all Californians by improving our air quality, creating jobs, and providing the diverse transportation options that we need today and in the future.”
“Proud History, Bright Future” is the theme for the upcoming 25th annual ACE Ethanol Conference to be held August 8-10th in Omaha, Nebraska. The conference will cover topics such as an outlook on markets and policies that will impact ethanol plant profitability; the role octane and vehicle technology innovations will play for ethanol demand; an update on E15 implementation; product and technology process innovations at ethanol plants; an update on cellulosic and advanced ethanol technologies; and more.
“Our 25th anniversary conference will provide forward-looking previews on the policy and market development opportunities and challenges facing the U.S. ethanol industry,” said Brian Jennings, ACE’s executive vice president. “Ethanol producers are feeling the effects of the E10 blend wall; we are in the midst of introducing E15 to the market; and expectations are high for progress on the advanced and cellulosic ethanol front.”
Jennings said the conference is a mix of general sessions and breakout sessions and many of them will be very useful for ethanol plant board members and management. Session titles include:
- ABC’s of E15
- Quality Assurance for Distillers Grain
- Fiduciary and Governance Responsibilities for Ethanol Plant Board Directors
- Feedstock Quality and Its Impact on Profitability
- Energy Market Price Outlook
Jennings added, “As we celebrate ACE’s 25th year, the conference will show how far we’ve come as an industry and how we as a grassroots organization are positioned to help the industry evolve, innovate, and succeed well into the future.”
Speakers will be announced soon. Click here for more information about the conference and to register.
The Florida Opportunity Fund’s (FOF) Clean Energy Investment Program has awarded funds to LS9 to aid in the company’s grand opening plans for its biorefinery in Okeechobee, Florida. Earlier this year, FOF awarded LS9 $4.5 million to help fund the retrofit of their demonstration facility that when in operation will produce biodiesel and renewable chemical products. With the retrofit complete, the company will begin scaling up its technology to commercial production levels.
LS9 will be hosting a grand opening event on Tuesday, June 12th at its facility to showcase its technology and products. U.S. Congressman Tom Rooney (R-Fla.) will be on hand along with other notable persons and company representatives. The company anticipates production will begin this summer.
“LS9 has been working diligently to complete the retrofit of our Okeechobee facility, and we greatly appreciate the support of the Florida Opportunity Fund on this project,” said Ed Dineen, LS9 President and CEO. “We are honored to have the support of Congressman Rooney for our Grand Opening event and believe this facility can be a magnet for attracting other advanced agricultural and bio-product technologies to the state. Our Florida location is ideal as it allows for prime access to the feedstocks required to produce our renewable products.”
The company plans on producing biodiesel as its first product. In addition, the demonstration biorefinery will produce commercial samples for testing and product qualification by key partners and potential customers. The plant will also test and optimize new process conditions – all in preparation for commercial scale production.
Jennifer Dunham with Florida First Partners, the manager of the FOF Clean Energy Investment Program added, “The State of Florida recognizes the need for adoption of renewable energy products and remains committed to supporting companies, such as LS9, striving to produce these technologies.”
An integrated food, energy and forest business, CleanStar Mozambique, has gone online. Located in Dondo, the ethanol component of the facility will produce fuel from cassava, sourced from the local communities. The cooking fuel will be sold to residents of Maputo. American-based ICM, who has experience with food and fuel integrated biorefineries, helped to design and construct the plant. Last week, CleanStar held a ribbon cutting ceremony and representatives from ICM joined the biorefinery employees and community for a celebration.
Dave Vander Griend, CEO of ICM, attended to ceremony. “ICM is honored to be among the key partners involved in this historic milestone of launching the world’s first sustainable cooking fuel facility. The extraordinary level of commitment demonstrated by CleanStar Mozambique/CleanStar Ventures, Novozymes, and Bank of America Merrill Lynch made our decision easy when it came to supporting the project.”
The project had strong support because the biorefinery was designed to reduce poverty and environmental degradation and improve the health of families in Africa. Many in the country spend a large percentage of their income on purchasing charcoal to burn for fuel and burning charcoal causes health issues. A portion of the burden will be reduced because the fuel produced from biorefinergy will provide community members with a lower cost fuel.
The facility also provides a new income source for local farmers. The farmers will be able to sustainably grow the crops while the facility will produce fuel in a safe and sustainable method.
“Growing up on a farm, it was taught that wealth comes from the ground, crops are cultivated – nourishment is provided and the promise of agriculture is unleashed through producing more food and a stronger local economy,” continued Vander Griend. “We believe passionately in improving the health, wealth, and environment of the Mozambique people. Through unique collaborations like this, we can come together to improve African agriculture and potentially replicate this model throughout other developing countries in the world,” he concluded.
The Nebraska Corn Board recently hosted some meetings, sponsored by the Blend Your Own (BYO) ethanol campaign, to discuss the roll-out of E15. Nearly 75 people attended the meetings ranging from producers, fuel retailers and petroleum marketers to representatives of the ethanol and agricultural industries. Director of Market Development for the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), Robert White, offered information on the next steps needed to bring E15 to pumps across the country.
“There is a lot of misinformation about E15 such as requirements for ethanol plants and fuel retailers that is coming from various sources. This meeting was necessary to get the right information to the right people,” said White. “We want to see E15 introduced legally and safely.”
Several requirements were put into place by the EPA before the fuel became legal this year. An E15 label had to be approved. A fuel survey had to be conducted. In addition, the ethanol industry, working with the fuel retail industry, was required to devise a misfueling mitigation plan as well as create a consumer education campaign designed to tell consumers what vehicles could safely use E15. These requirements were discussed as well as data on health effects and incentives available to assist retailers with the installation of E15 pumps.
Curt Friesen, District 3 Director on the Nebraska Corn Board, concluded, “It is crucial that all the necessary steps are taken before offering E15 at the pump. The Nebraska Corn Board is pleased to take a leading role in the introduction of E15 in Nebraska.”
This week Republicans, led by Rep. Conaway, submitted a proposal that will prohibit the Defense Department from buying alternative fuels that cost more than traditional fuels. This has come at a time when the Defense Department is moving full speed ahead with the testing of renewable fuels in various military equipment including planes, boats, helicopters, and other military vehicles. The military is also researching the use of solar and wind energy and partnering with American companies to develop and deploy the technologies.
While it is true that in most cases advanced biofuels cost more per gallon than traditional petroleum based fuel, the only way to reduce the per gallon cost of advanced fuels is to bring them to market at commercial scale – something many groups are fighting tool and nail. The same is true in reaching per watt parity with solar and wind energy.
In response to this proposed action, Operation Free sent a letter to the Senate Armed Services Committee calling on Congress to support the military’s efforts as it leads the way in development of advanced biofuels and renewable energy. The organization criticized members of Congress who advocate for policies that have already proved to be failures. The letter states, “We must change how we use energy in this country — and the military is leading the way. ”
Danger Room’s Noah Shachtman summed up the ramifications of the proposal well, “ If the measure becomes law, it would make it all-but-impossible for the Pentagon to buy the renewable fuels. … And it might very well suffocate the gasping biofuel industry, which was looking to the Pentagon to help it survive.”
Algasol Renewables, based in Palma De Mallorca, Spain, has agreed to work with OriginOil on the development of an integrated algae growth and harvesting system. Algasol has a patented technology for low-cost cultivation of micro algae for biofuels and byproducts. By bundling their products, the companies hope to achieve new levels of cost and performance in micro algae cultivation for biofuels and bioproducts.
NASA and Lawrence Berkley are working with Algasol to refine their technology, and also collaborates and maintains a close relationship with Arizona State University’s Center for Algae Technology and Innovation.
Miguel Verhein, executive director of Algasol Renewables said, “With customer demand for an integrated algae production process rising, we need to offer our customers a means of harvesting as well. We plan to recommend OriginOil’s field-proven chemical-free, high flow and low-energy harvesting system, and once available, the integrated biocrude system they are developing with the Department of Energy.”
Algasol’s floating bags or photobioreactors (PBRs) can operate in the ocean or in land-based salt water ponds, and have received a patent in 70 countries. Because they float, Algasol believes their PBRs achieve optimal light exposure with strong productivity results and avoid the high temperature and excess salinity often encountered in solar growth systems.
“Algasol’s patented system focuses on how to grow algae in floating bags, and their testing has indicated this can be much more efficient than other cultivation methods,” said Riggs Eckelberry, OriginOil’s CEO. “Now with NASA and Lawrence Berkley working with Algasol, we are excited and eager to contribute our own breakthrough harvesting system to help us collectively achieve a cost breakthrough in the race to compete with petroleum.”
This week U.S. Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Charles Schumer (D-NY) launched a proposal aimed at reducing China’s hold on the global solar panel market. The proposal would bar Chinese-made solar panels from qualifying for the 30 percent tax credit that U.S. individuals and businesses receive for purchasing and installing solar panels. U.S. installations of solar panels has grown 70 percent per year since 2008, but the majority of these panels were manufactured in China.
The new legislation would reduce the scope of solar panels eligible for the existing 30 percent tax credit. To become eligible, 70 percent of the parts of the qualifying solar panel must be made in America. If the final point of manufacture is in the U.S, then only 50 percent of the parts would need to be American made.
“We can’t trade our dependence on foreign oil for a dependence on Chinese-made solar panels,” said Senator Brown. “We went from a solar trade surplus with China to a solar trade deficit in a matter of years. Ohio workers can compete with anyone in the world, but they deserve access to a level playing field. When the Chinese government provides direct export subsidies to its solar manufacturers, that’s not competing – it’s cheating. And it’s costing American jobs in solar manufacturing.”
“The American tax code should not make matters worse by encouraging the purchase of Chinese-made solar panels. Our plan will ensure that American tax incentives support American solar panel manufacturers,” added Brown.
Chinese companies, according to Brown and Schumer, have been able to take hold of the solar industry at a rapid rate, in part because they have taken large, government-subsidized loans from banks. This has led to plunging prices for U.S. wholesale solar panel makers. Today, prices are around $1 a watt of capacity today, down from $1.80 in January and $3.30 in 2008.
The American Petroleum Institute (API) has publicly said that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) jumped the gun on giving approval for the use of E15. Jack Gerard, President and CEO of API told reporters that testing by the Coordinating Research Council showed that use of E15 – gasoline with 15 percent ethanol – could harm car and truck engines, potentially affecting millions of cars and trucks.
The ethanol industry was quick to respond and Ron Lamberty, Senior Vice President for the American Coalition for Ethanol said, “The real problem here is that people may read about this project and think that it actually has some connection to the real world. The parameters of the test, the definitions of “pass” and “fail” and even the cars selected were carefully chosen to produce the results the study’s funders wanted.”
Lamberty noted that the Department of Energy (DOE) responded to the API study saying that they deliberately included engines with known durability issues, and one engine failed the API tests while running on gasoline without ethanol. Renewable Fuels President and CEO Bob Dinneen echoed the words of DOE and emphasized the importance – and public desire – to diversify our fuel supply including using higher level ethanol blends.
“How Big Oil can trot out this small, slanted, flawed study as something we should take seriously, while calling EPA’s two and a half years of E15 testing a “rush to judgment” is beyond me,” added Lamberty. “Saying it more often and louder won’t make it the truth. All this latest hit piece proves it that ethanol’s opponents are becoming more desperate to keep ethanol – which could help consumers save more at the pump – completely out of the marketplace.”
Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy, noted that E15 is the most tested fuel blend in history and is safe to use in cars and light trucks newer than 2001. “Most concerning of all, is a resistance by groups to end our addiction to foreign oil by refusing the American people the voluntary choice of E15 in a free market. While the large oil companies continue to espouse their support of a free market, they have put roadblocks up at every opportunity to prevent the free choice they claim to champion so dearly,” concluded Buis.
According to a new study released by the Center for Agriculture and Rural Development (CARD), ethanol lowers gas prices in Iowa by at least $1.69 per gallon. This saves the average Iowa family $2,363 per year on gas. What could you use your savings to buy? Fuel, lodging and fun for an Orlando family vacation or 262 movie tickets.
“Bolstering domestic fuel supplies by 10 percent, ethanol reduces demand for high-cost, foreign crude oil,” said Lucy Norton, Managing Director of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA). “With the average wholesale price of gasoline jumping 30 percent in the last year, ethanol is helping take the sting out of price shock at the pump.”
Each year CARD updates its study. When compared to 2011 data, ethanol has reduced the cost of a gallon of gas by an additional 32 cents. In a post from Cindy Zimmerman earlier this week, Dermot Hayes, ISU professor and one of the authors of the study, explained the methodology of the study, commissioned by the Renewable Fuels Association.
“The greatest contributor to pump prices per gallon is the cost of crude oil according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA),” added Norton. “Ethanol adds 10 percent to the fuel supply displacing the heart of the problem – high-priced crude oil. In fact, while ethanol is 10 percent of a gallon of gasoline, it accounts for only 5 percent of the pump price.”
With the help of consulting firm Natural Power, the Pen y Cymoedd wind farm in South Wales has been given consent to move forward with its 299 megawatt project. The news was given after the submission of a full environmental impact assessment and now the 76 turbine wind farm owned by Vattenfall is one step closer to reality. The wind farm is located between Neath and Aberdare on the southern side of the Value of Neath.
Vattenfall‘s Development Director Piers Guy said his company wanted to work with Natural Power because of their consenting success record. This project increases Natural Power’s wind portfolio to 1 gigawatt. “They were a key part of the team and were proactive, engaging within the team as well as with external stakeholders,” said Guy.
John Woodruff, Senior Development Manager at Natural Power added, “We are overjoyed in delivering this 299MW successful consent with Vattenfall – the single largest onshore consent in Wales and England to date. We have had to be innovative in dealing with various constraints that this particular project threw at us but, working with local stakeholders such as CCW, the two local planning authorities and RSPB who ultimately supported the project, we have managed to deliver solutions that meet both the environmental and economic objectives of such a project.”
Algae.Tec has begun operations at its biorefinery, Shoalhaven One, located in Nowra, Australia. Executive Chairman Roger Stroud said the commissioning was on track for production of algae biomass in early June. The biofuels facility should be at full capacity by the end of that month.
The Shoalhaven One showcase facility team has the bioreactor technology and associated racks, piping, and separation tanks in place, and full testing and final validation is now underway. The bioreactors were assembled and shipped from The Algae Manufacturing and Development Centre in Atlanta, Georgia.
“The Algae.Tec facility is positioned to take a carbon dioxide feed from the Manildra Groups manufacturing facility,” added Stroud.
The company also has carbon capture biofuels projects underway in China and Sri Lanka.
ARA’s ReadiJet Alternative Fuel Initiative has a new member: Chevron Lummus Global (CLG) a 50-50 joint venture between Chevron Products Company and Lummus Technology. The goal of the project is to create drop-in diesel and jet kero biofuels. The two companies will work together to combine ARA’s CH PROCESS technology with CLG’s ISOCONVERSION process technology to create drop-in biofuels for jet and diesel engines.
“The integrated ARA/CLG process provides a pathway for fulfilling the military and civilian markets’ requirements for alternative fuels at parity with petroleum while spurring opportunities for America’s farmers without subsidies,” said Rob Sues, ARA’s President and CEO.
ReadiJet fuel is currently being produced in anticipation for a number of upcoming activities including ground engine testing at OEM facilities, a test flight planned for June 2012 and generation of fit-for-purpose data necessary for ASTM certification.
According to Ed Coppola, ARA fuels principal engineer, the CH Process uses water to reduce hydrogen and catalyst consumption as well as carbon emissions when compared to other conversion processes. Once the project proves successful and construction is complete on commercial scale biorefineries, CLG will provide licensing and engineering services, reactor engineering, catalyst supply, and start-up assistance.
“With the combination of ARA’s CH PROCESS and CLG’s ISOCONVERSION process technology, we can now produce fungible distillate fuels that meet full ASTM quality requirements and can be blended into refiners’ distillate fuel pools without the density and blending quality issues associated with other biodiesel processes on the market,” said CLG’s Co-Managing Director, Leon DeBruyn.
He added, “We’re also excited that our process works just as well with any other fatty acid bio-derived oils, plant seed oils, and algal oil, which will provide long lasting value for our customers by giving them flexibility to process what is available in the market.”