About John Davis

Domestic Fuel welcomes our newest blogger, John Davis. John is a 20 years+ veteran of traditional news and is getting his first taste of this "new media." We've known John since Chuck hired him to work at the Brownfield Network in January, 2000 after he served an 11 year stint in the U.S. Air Force as a broadcast journalist. John lives in Jefferson City, Missouri with his wife, two sons, two dogs, a cat, a mouse, and a fish! You can read more about him and his thoughts at his own website John C. Davis Online.

IEA: Solar and Wind Part of Plan to Halve CO2 Emissions

A report out from the International Energy Agency (IEA) says the world will need to spend $45 trillion if it wants to cut in half the amount of carbon dioxide emissions by 2050. And part of that money will need to be spent on solar and wind power.

In this story posted on Bloomberg.com, Nobuo Tanaka, the IEA’s executive director, says the U.S. and leading economic nations will need to go through a “Global Energy Revolution”:

“A global energy technology revolution is both necessary and achievable, but it will be a tough challenge,” Tanaka said in the statement. “The world faces the daunting combination of surging energy demand, rising greenhouse gas emissions and tightening resources.”

The world needs to build 32 new nuclear power plants and 17,500 wind-power turbines each year to halve emissions by 2050, according to the Paris-based energy adviser. G-8 environment ministers last month pledged to achieve such a reduction. By contrast France, Europe’s biggest nuclear power, has 58 reactors.

The agency said that increased use of nuclear power, the development of renewable energy sources, such as solar power, and carbon capture and storage are vital to reducing emissions. Carbon capture is a technology in which carbon dioxide emissions are caught in the air and stored underground.

So, if environmental reasons aren’t enough to get you on board with clean energy, consider this: non-renewable petroleum jumped more than $11 a barrel today… closing at a record $139+! And its expected to climb to $150 a barrel by July 4th. Happy Independence Day, huh?

Biofuels Revenues Expected to Nearly Double by 2012

While some other sectors of the U.S. economy are struggling right now, the future looks pretty bright for making money producing biodiesel and ethanol.

Wisconsin Ag Connection reports that an analysis from Frost & Sullivan titled “North American Biofuels Market: Investment Analysis,” shows that market earned revenues of nearly $10 billion last year will grow to $18.52 billion in 2012:

“Regulatory support coupled with the need to address the geopolitical risk posed by relying on the turbulent Middle East and Venezuela is driving the growth of the North American biofuels market,” notes Frost & Sullivan Research Analyst Shrikanth S. “Furthermore, there is a strong venture capital investment climate in the next-generation biofuels, which are expected to be more efficient, using algae, waste, straw, wood, and other forest-based inputs that can be found in abundance in the United States.”

The expanded Renewable Fuel Standard, Volumetric ‘Blender’ Tax Credit, Small Agri-biodiesel Producer Tax Credit, and Alternative Fuel Refueling Infrastructure Tax Credit provide the necessary regulatory support for the North American biofuels industry.

The article goes on to say that the U.S. is importing $1 billion a day from foreign countries… many times from countries not very friendly to the U.S., like Venezuela and Iran. Biofuels will help relieve some of that pressure, producing more than 15 billion gallons annually, up from today’s approximate 9 billion gallons a year.

Turning Weeds Into Biodiesel

As the prices of better-known biodiesel feedstocks, such as soybeans, remain high, more refiners are looking for additional sources for the green fuel. The latest feedstock might be some of the weeds you’re battling in your garden this year.

This story from the Albany (NY) Times Union says Innovation Fuels Inc., already producing 40 million gallons of biodiesel at its New York Harbor location from nonedible animal fats and used vegetable oils, is looking to what many people are NOT trying to grow as a source for two other plants at Fulton and Hampton, NY:

Innovation Fuels also is looking at other plant sources — mustard seeds, pennycress and camelina — that could produce the oils for biodiesel, said chief executive John Fox.

“They grow in northern regions, and grow in the shoulder months,” he said in a phone interview Thursday. The plants could be interplanted with corn and soybeans, and harvested with the same equipment. “You can do two plantings a year.”

In the past, the plants have been considered annoyances. “There’s a lot of research on how to eradicate them, but very little on how to cultivate them,” Fox said.

He said the weeds being explored as oil sources can yield 80 to 100 gallons of biodiesel per acre, compared to 40 gallons per acre for soybeans.

Recently, Innovation Fuels set up $15.5 million in financing, possibly for the new biodiesel plants.

Lobos Riding on Biodiesel

Students at the University of New Mexico are going to be able to get to class using the green fuel biodiesel.

This story in the university’s newspaper, UNM Today, says the school in Albuquerque is running four of its shuttle buses in the Parking and Transportation Services (PATS) Department on biodiesel:

“Biodiesel was an obvious choice” says Alexander A. Aller, Manager, Public Transit Operations. “Right now, all of our large shuttles are alternatively fueled with either biodiesel or compressed natural gas. Although we have a small fleet, we are pleased to contribute to efforts that reduce carbon dioxide emissions, dependence on foreign oil, and the pace of global warming.”

What has been the reception given to the new vehicles as they hit the routes in and around campus?

“Generally, very favorable,” Aller said. “We could have continued maintaining our existing fleet, but older vehicles are far less reliable and more expensive to operate and maintain. Plus, the publicized overall environmental footprint associated with biodiesel is notably smaller than fossil fuel.”

UNM plans to use the buses for the next 10-15 years.

Georgia Gets First Solar Cell Builder

Atlanta-based Suniva, Inc. has announced it will build its first solar cell facility at Norcross… a first for the state of Georgia as well.

This story posted on Chattanoogan.com says the company will use technological advances developed at the Georgia Institute of Technology to make high-efficiency solar cells:

“This new solar cell facility is a perfect example of the way Georgia’s investment in research and development pays dividends by producing innovative technologies that help companies grow,” said Gov. Perdue. “Suniva’s production commitment and highly-qualified workforce will expand our clean energy success as the nation’s renewable energy corridor into the solar arena.”

Suniva’s new Gwinnett County facility will manufacture high-efficiency, low-cost solar cells. Production capacity of the first line will be 32 megawatts. The company plans additional lines that will scale to more than 100 MW over the next two years, potentially adding more jobs to its workforce.

“As the solar industry looks to bring down costs and compete with conventional power, Suniva has built the team and the technology to execute on our vision of low-cost, high-efficiency solar energy,” said John Baumstark, CEO of Suniva. “We are pleased to be moving into our next phase of growth close to home, and we are interested in working with state and local government to create an ecosystem of clean energy companies in the Atlanta metro area.”

The new plant is expected to employ 100 people in the first year.

US, UK Firms Team Up to Make Biodiesel

An American biofuels company is teaming up with a British company to build several biodiesel plants able to make the green fuel from a variety of sources, including non-food feedstocks.

This story in the Houston (TX) Business Journal says Houston-based Endicott Biofuels will use Davy Process Technology Ltd.’s esterification technology to make the flexible refineries:

Endicott is already developing its first plant in Houston, a 30 million-gallon biodiesel plant financed by Haddington Ventures LLC, a Houston-based midstream private equity firm. The plant should come online by 2010.

Endicott did not release possible site locations for the next round of plants.

“Our goal is to build multiple plants in strategic geographic locations throughout North America to gain logistical advantages,” said Richard Wyatt, a principal at Endicott. “Demand for biodiesel … is expected to increase dramatically over the next few years as fossil-based fuels continue to increase in price as international demand from rapidly growing countries such as China and India pressures supply.”

Biofuel Battle at UN Summit

World leaders are meeting this week in Rome, Italy to discuss the current world food crisis.

While some there are trying to blame biofuels for the recent spike in food prices, this CNN story says the industry has some heavy-hitting allies who argue before the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization that green energy is not to blame for more green being spent on grocery bills:

The president of Brazil, whose country’s sugar cane has long been used to produce ethanol that fuels cars and trucks, delivered an impassioned defense of biofuels.

“It is frightening to see attempts to draw a cause-and-effect relationship between biofuels and the rise of food prices,” said Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. “It offends me to see fingers pointed against clean energy from biofuels, fingers soiled with oil and coal.”

And U.S. leaders are there as well to dispute claims that biodiesel and ethanol production are fully responsible for raising food prices worldwide by 30 percent or more:

While agreeing that sustainability and innovation are needed, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer insisted that biofuels contribute only 2 or 3 percent to a predicted 43 percent rise in prices this year.

“The use of sustainable biofuels can increase energy security, foster economic development especially in rural areas, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions without weighing heavily on food prices,” Schafer said in his address.

The talks continues through Thursday.

Report: US Workers Ready for Green Economy

A new report says millions of workers in the U.S. will benefit from a green economy… and many workers already have the skills to make the jump to clean energy jobs.

The National Resources Defense Council, a coalition of environmental organizations, has released a report titled “Job Opportunities for the Green Economy.” The paper, put together by the University of Massachusetts Amherst, takes a look at the potential of green jobs in 12 key states. This press release from the NRDC says the state-by-state report looks at existing jobs skills and how those skills will translate into clean energy jobs:

“Achieving a clean energy economy through green industries like wind and solar are just part of the story. This report is also about job security. Making homes and offices more energy efficient not only saves money and energy, but also represents growth opportunities for workers who build our communities and keep them running,” said Dan Lashof, director of NRDC’s Climate Center. “We’re talking about jobs at every skill level from construction to research, already available here at home.”

Hundreds of thousands of workers in the U.S. already possess the vast majority of skills and occupations necessary to reduce global warming and make the shift to a clean energy economy. For instance, constructing wind farms creates jobs for sheet metal workers, machinists and truck drivers, among many others. Increasing the energy efficiency of buildings through retrofitting relies on roofers, insulators and electricians, to name a few.

“Everyone is talking about how the transition to a clean energy future will create millions of new ‘green-collar’ jobs,” said Carl Pope, executive director of the Sierra Club. “This report shows that millions of Americans are already working in exactly the kinds of jobs we’ll need to build that clean energy future. Those millions and millions more—from steelworkers to software engineers—stand to benefit from implementing the clean energy solutions we need to fight global warming.”

The report breaks down the clean energy climates of 12 states: Florida, Indiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, and Wisconsin. The full text of the report is available here.

Siemens to Open Wind Research Center in Colorado

Siemens Energy has announced it will open a wind research and development center in Colorado.

This story in the Denver Business Journal says the German energy company made the announcement at the American Wind Energy Association annual conference in Houston that the center will bring 50 new green-collar jobs to Boulder:

“We are very pleased to establish our first wind turbine R&D competence center in Boulder. The proximity of important institutions such as NREL and the NWTC, as well as the support received from the State of Colorado and the City of Boulder, make Boulder the perfect location for a R&D center in the U.S.,” Randy Zwirn, head of Siemens’ Energy Sector in the U.S., said in a statement.

“This is another great testament to Colorado’s growing New Energy economy,” Gov. Bill Ritter said in a statement. “We continue to establish ourselves as a worldwide leader in renewable, sustainable and modern energy. The arrival of Siemens Energy’s U.S. wind turbine research center draws particular attention to the creative and groundbreaking work being done in energy R&D in Colorado.”
The Siemens Energy facility will focus on testing basic wind turbine characteristics, performance-enhancing characteristics, and reliability in severe weather conditions. It also will partner with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory on a pilot wind project for the National Wind Technology Center.

The AWEA conference wraps up tomorrow (June 4th) with sessions on a variety of subjects ranging from making decisions about wind turbine supplies to dynamics of structures and rotors.

REG Buys US Biodiesel Group

Iowa-based Renewable Energy Group is buying the large assets of U.S. Biodiesel Group… a move that is expected to greatly enhance REG’s ability to distribute biodiesel on the West Coast and the Texas Gulf Coast.

This story in the Chicago Tribune has details of the $80-million deal:

Acquisition of the 35 million gallon per year biodiesel plant near Houston and the Stockton, Calif., storage terminal provides REG access to strategic locations with deepwater, pipeline and rail accessibility, said Jeff Stroburg, CEO of Ames, Iowa-based REG.

“Integrating additional infrastructure into our production network will aid in REG’s continued growth as we distribute high quality biodiesel through petroleum infrastructure nationwide,” he said in a written statement.

The Houston biodiesel plant is located within a terminal in Seabrook, Thttp://domesticfuel.com/wp-admin/post-new.php
Domestic Fuel › Create New Post — WordPressexas, which is adjacent to the Houston Ship Channel, a key petrochemical and pipeline complex.

The Houston plant is about 350 miles west of a REG biodiesel plant being built in New Orleans. It offers REG another strategic location for distribution of large volumes of biodiesel.

The California liquid storage terminal will enhance REG’s ability to distribute biodiesel along the West Coast. Planning and permitting to expand the site for construction of a commercial-scale biodiesel production plant is under way. Construction plans remain to be determined, the company said.

REG has seven plants in production cranking out 220 million gallons a year.

Biodiesel Boat Breaks Prop; Limps Toward Record

A 100% biodiesel boat trying to break the world record for circumnavigation of the globe has run into a bit of trouble in the East Indies. The Earthrace hit some debris near Palau and is limping toward Singapore for more permanent repairs:

Here’s an update from the captain of the 78-foot racing boat:

Day 34 – 1st June

Having made a swift 3 hours 15 minutes turnaround in Palau, Earthrace encountered some sea debris, which has damaged the port prop. The boat returned to port where the prop was removed and the drive shaft tested. The shaft has been put out of line and will require repair in Singapore. Earthrace left Palau at 0400 local time and will journey to Singapore on one engine. Her reduced speed of 16 kn will still maintain her lead on the current record, and help mitigate any further damage from possible sea debris, which is a known problem in this stretch of water. Ground Crew will arrive in Singapore on Monday 2nd June as planned, and will prepare for the repairs. The weather forecast is good and the revised ETA for Earthrace in Singapore is Friday 6th June. An update will be posted later today.

The Earthrace was 15 days ahead of schedule to break the old record, but this latest setback is putting some doubt as to whether it will get the job done… never mind that the boat and crew is approaching pirate-infested waters.

Follow the Earthrace’s progress at www.earthrace.net.

More Than Slime is Green at Nickelodeon

Nickelodeon, the kids’ network known for dumping copious amounts of green slime on participants of its silly contests, is taking its show on the road. And while it won’t be green slime fueling the “Slime Across America” tour, there will be green fuel in the tank.

This press release from the network says that biodiesel will be helping its 18-wheeler make the 10-city tour across the country:

Nickelodeon’s revamped 18-wheel Slime Mobile has adopted more environmentally friendly practices like using biodiesel fuel and solar panels to power the Slime Mobile Virtual Slime Station. At each stop, recycling will be offered and Nickelodeon and attendees will plant a tree.

Check out Nick.com for a stop near you!

Green Host Urges Passage of Green Jobs Bill

A host of the Discovery Channel’s new “Planet Green” channel, which dedicates itself to earth-friendly causes, has written a pretty good opinion piece, urging the passage of a measure before Congress that will help create jobs in the renewable energy sector.

In the piece on ItsGettingHotinHere.org titled, “Green-Collar Jobs or Rust-Belt Future,” model and environmental scientist (I know, I almost couldn’t believe the title when I wrote it!) Summer Rayne asks people to call their senators and tell them to vote for the Investing in Climate Action and Protection Act (iCAP). She answers the question: how will the bill help create jobs?:

Simple, it would create the jobs of the future, new local jobs, jobs that cannot be outsourced—in other words, Green Jobs. And these jobs span the gamut, yet with one important thing in common. From installing solar panels and constructing transit lines to retrofitting buildings for energy-efficiency, reclaiming mine sites, and refining vegetable waste oil into biodiesel, all these jobs benefit the economy and improve our environment.

As a child, I learned first-hand what struggling families go through, growing up in a single-parent household in Northeastern Pennsylvania. For the latter part of my childhood, I was raised by my mom, who armed with no more than a high school degree had to take two jobs and maintain a 14-16 hour workday. We lived paycheck to paycheck and without a refrigerator, phone, or television for quite some time—not by choice, but by necessity. Finally, before I even turned 15, to find a better job that could sustain us and my dream of a college education, she had to make a choice—leave Pennsylvania for greener pastures.

It shouldn’t have to be that way. Pennsylvania and other struggling areas should be a land of opportunity. Much of the U.S. workforce is ideally suited to green-collar work—many are middle-skill jobs that are well within reach for low income workers if they have access to effective training programs and support. Whether it’s learning the new skills needed to become a renewable energy technician or retraining workers for a clean energy economy, i.e., fixing an electric engine, our universities, technical schools, businesses and governments need to lead the way.

Rayne goes on to point out that if the bill passes, there could be $125 million annually for green jobs training, providing 30,000-35,000 jobs that won’t be outsourced to some foreign shore.

USDA Chief to Defend Biofuels at UN Summit

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Ed Shafer is defending biofuels ahead of next week’s United Nations conference that will address the growing world food crisis.

This story in the New York Times says Shafer is taking a stand that biodiesel and ethanol are making a minimum contribution to any price hikes in food worldwide while making a major contribution to extending world energy resources:

Mr. Schafer took the offensive at a press conference on Thursday that discussed the food summit, planned for Rome. He said an analysis by the Agriculture Department had determined that biofuel production was responsible for only 2 to 3 percent of the increase in global food prices, while biofuels had reduced consumption of crude oil by a million barrels a day.

“We think that policy-wise in the United States of America — and certainly in the rest of the world — as we see the price of oil and petroleum escalate dramatically beyond anyone’s imagination, that one of the ways to deal with that is to produce biofuels which are renewables, better for the environment and help lower that cost,” he said.

Mr. Schafer’s remarks came as ethanol and biofuels are coming under increasing criticism from foreign leaders and members of Congress, as grocery prices climb in the developed world and malnutrition and hunger threaten to spread in the poorest nations.

Even a report critical of biodiesel and ethanol… released just hours before Shafer offered his counterpoint… admits that drought has played a major factor in food price hikes, and prices are expected to go down as weather returns to normal.

Wind Power Company Receives Endorsement

A Minnesota-based wind energy development company has received an endorsement from a maker of safety gear and clothing for the construction industry.

This press release from National Wind Assessments says the wind energy company picked up the product endorsement from Ergodyne. But why a deal of this kind?:

“National Wind Assessments and its parent company, National Wind have received a lot of press coverage and will soon be featured in an episode of Sustainable Planet, on National Geographic. When the filming takes place, they will be wearing our products,” says Howard Huber, Marketing Director, Ergodyne Work Gear. “We strongly believe in creating partnerships and relationships with high profile companies such as this, to showcase our innovative products.”

National Wind Assessments will utilize the company’s safety products, such as gloves, outerwear, elbow pads, back supports, and visibility vests when they complete on-site installations of meteorological towers and when they are photographed and filmed. National Wind Assessments will be featured in Ergodyne’s upcoming promotional materials.

“We are thrilled to endorse Ergodyne,” says Kevin Romuld, President of National Wind Assessments. “We feel a bit like a sports superstar. However, our employees love the gear and it helps us do our jobs safely. Ergodyne has a great, high-quality product line.”

As you might remember from my May 20th, 2008 post, National Wind has been selected to put in 10 meteorological towers in Northern Nebraska and will be using the Ergodyne products. The company has also completed advanced wind resource analysis for more than 100 wind energy projects across the United States.