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.

McCain, Obama Call for More Renewable Energy

Presidential candidates Republican Sen. John McCain and Democrat Sen. Barack Obama are back at this evening, debating from the campus of Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn… and I’m here on my couch watching and listening carefully to what they say, paying special attention to what they say about renewable energy.

Both have just touched on the renewable energy issue, mostly from the standpoint of weaning America from foreign sources of non-renewable petroleum. McCain says we need to take an “all of the above” approach that includes biofuels, wind and solar energy, as well as nuclear and domestic petroleum. Obama counters that we need to have an energy plan that frees us from foreign oil in 10 years time, once again, through renewable energy.

Obama says we each need to think about how we use energy and how we gather more petroleum and alternative energy sources. He says incentives and tax breaks for people who buy American-made, fuel-efficient vehicles are very important, as are home conservation efforts.

Pretty light on any specifics on either side on renewable energy… or any other issue for that matter.

I’ll keep my eye on them and update again if something comes up. Stay tuned…

HEC to Build Hydrogen V8

Algona, Iowa-based Hydrogen Engine Center, Inc. has teamed up with Eliminator Performance Products with the intention to build the largest spark-ignited hydrogen V8 engine ever.

This press release from HEC says it’s designed for large hydrogen-fueled electrical power generation systems and for buses:

Ted Hollinger, HEC Founder, says “This 572 cubic inch engine will give us a much needed power source. Hydrogen is very light and it takes a lot of displacement for every kW of power produced. Compacted Graphite Iron will increase the strength and life of the engine by more than five times and thus give very long engine life which is essential for engines running 24/7. This is our first Distributed Generation engine. After years of work I believe that HEC has an engine that can achieve the efficiency and durability that the industry has long been looking for. We are also proud to build this engine in the United States.”

Michael Bowery states “Eliminator Performance Products, Inc. is proud to manufacture the new 9.3L Oxx Power® block and cylinder heads designed for a wide variety of industrial applications. Eliminator will provide Hydrogen Engine Center, Inc. with 100% American made blocks and heads, which includes both castings and machining.”

The release goes on to say that the new Oxx Power® blocks and heads are made of Compacted Graphite Iron (CGI), based on a recipe used in current NASCAR blocks.

Biodiesel Maker Now Making Diesel Additive

A biodiesel refiner from Georgia has re-tooled its business a bit and now is cranking out the nation’s first, non-petroleum diesel additive.

This story in the Macon (GA) Telegraph says Alterra Bioenergy is producing DieselMaxx, touted as lubricating and improving diesel engine performance while cutting down on polluting emissions:

“When I started this business, I expected to buy, process and sell traditional biodiesel locally as a basic fuel, and now it’s taken on all these other dimensions,” [Alterra President Wayne Johnson] said. “With a little ingenuity, we turned it into a value-added product.”

Johnson said DieselMaxx has been distributed in Colorado and close to 200 locations in Georgia for the last 60 days. It’s sold at truck stops and auto parts stores in gallon jugs that will treat about 400 gallons of fuel each, he said.

Johnson anticipates rolling out nationwide distribution early next year at a price that is cheaper than many products in the $5 billion American diesel additive market.

DieselMaxx has some testing to back up its emission-reducing, fuel-extending claims. The University of Georgia found that it cut nitrogen oxide emissions by 10 percent, while showing promise in fuel efficiency.

Transition to a Bioeconomy: Part III

In just about a week and a half, government officials, bioenergy experts and leaders in the private industry will gather in St. Louis, Mo., for the third in a series of conferences sponsored by the Farm Foundation addressing the issues facing rural areas as they move to a bioeconomy.

Michael Popp, professor of Agricultural Economics at the University of Arkansas, is one of the coordinators for the Transition to a Bioeconomy: Environmental and Rural Development Impacts conference, Oct. 15th-16th at the Hyatt Regency St. Louis at Union Station.

“The purpose of the conference is to provide an unbiased presentation of issues that are going to affect us in agriculture and otherwise as we transition to a bioeconomy.”

Popp defines the bioeconomy as the complex supply chain associated with providing the agricultural feedstocks, including biomass, to turn into fuel. He includes solar and wind energy in that definition as well.

Among those attending the conference will be U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Ed Schafer, who will address public policy challenges for the bioeconomy and USDA Under Secretary for Rural Development Thomas Dorr.

Popp says with the this particular conference will talk about rural development issues and the environmental factors, especially for the second-generation biofuels plants. And he says he expects
a good turnout for this more centrally-located conference.

“[Those] who should attend would be the financial community that might be asked to provide loans to these kinds of biofuels investments, rural development people – be that from municipal, state or federal governments, and finally, academia and industry to get more information on what’s truly out there and going on.”

There’s still time to sign up to attend the conference. Click here for more information, and I’ll see you in St. Louis!

To hear more of Cindy’s interview with Michael Popp, click here:

Report: Biodiesel, Ethanol & Renewables to Create 4.2 Million US Jobs

A new report from the U.S. Conference of Mayors says 4.2 million Americans will have green industry jobs by 2038… a dramatic increase from the current 750,000 green jobs in the country now.

“This report proves that being green is not optional, it is necessary for a healthy and robust economy,” said U.S. Conference of Mayors President Miami Mayor Manny Diaz. “Creating green jobs is an investment we must continue to make.”

Under assumed scenarios and with government commitment and investments, the report projects Green Jobs could contribute 10% of new jobs through 2038, representing the fastest growing job segment in the U.S. economy. By 2038, the report forecasts that renewable electricity production will create 1.23 million jobs; alternative transportation fuels 1.5 million jobs; engineering, legal, research and consulting positions will be more than 1.4 million; and commercial and residential retrofits at 81,000 jobs, for a total of 4.2 million.

The report assumes that 40 percent of the country’s electricity will come from alternative sources, such as wind, solar and biomass, 30 percent of gas and diesel for the nations vehicles will come from renewables, and homes and businesses will reduce their energy use by 35 percent by 2038.

The report was released during a Forum on the Environment and Energy held in Miami.

Debt Repayment Could Help Biodiesel Refiner

Investors have stepped in to give troubled Imperium Renewables, which operates a 100-million gallon biodiesel refinery in the Seattle area, a boost to repay some of its debts.

This story from the Seattle Times says Imperium has also hired a third-party debt restructuring firm to help it negotiate down debt with other creditors:

“With this recapitalization and cooperation of our creditors, we hope to resume operations as soon as possible,” said Chief Executive John Plaza in a statement.

Neither the sum contributed by investors nor the total outstanding debt were disclosed.

Closely held Imperium raised significant amounts of cash and obtained a $41 million loan and a $60 million credit facility from Societe Generale as it built one of the nation’s largest biodiesel plants, the first in a planned global network.

But plans for further expansion and a public stock offering were scrapped as the company struggled with the high cost of raw materials and financial markets unreceptive to biodiesel ventures.

Officials believe that this will be significant step in turning the company’s fortunes around but admit it still has an uphill battle ahead.

Wall Street Bailout Bails Out Stalled Biodiesel, Solar & Wind Credits

The U.S. House of Representatives has reversed direction from just a week ago and approved 263-171 the Senate’s version of the $700 billion bill to fix the nation’s financial crisis.

And this story from Reuters says incentives for biodiesel, wind and solar are also the big benefactors from the vote:

Legislation to extend the renewable energy tax credits, which were set to expire at the end of the year, had been stalled by a dispute between the House and the Senate over how to pay for the tax breaks.

However, attaching the energy tax credits to the economic rescue package gave them new life.

The legislation extends for one year the production tax credit for wind energy, with an eight-year extension for investment tax credits for businesses and homeowners to install solar energy equipment.

Buyers of plug-in electric cars would receive tax credits ranging from $2,500 to $7,500.

The bill also extends a $1 per gallon production tax credit for biodiesel through 2009. This measure closes a “splash and dash” loophole where companies mixed foreign biofuels with U.S. biodiesel to receive the U.S. subsidy, but then sold the fuel at a discount to European markets.

Miami Biodiesel Plant Seen as Alternative to ‘Drill, Baby, Drill’

As some folks call for more offshore drilling of non-renewable petroleum, a place known for its beautiful beaches is looking to biodiesel as an alternative to drilling platforms breaking up that breath-taking views.

This story from Miami Today says Biomix Energy Corp. wants to build a biodiesel plant on the Miami River:

The first phase of the project, expected to be operating by the end of next summer, could yield 15 million gallons of production a year, said Steven Karpel, chief operating officer of Biomix Energy Corp.

The completed facility, an estimated $40 million to $50 million investment, is expected to produce 30 million gallons annually beginning in 2011, he said.

The company is in the process of securing a three-acre site on the river and an official OK from Miami-Dade County’s Department of Environmental Resources Management, as well as planning and zoning officials.

The article goes on to say that the Biomix Energy plant might need a zoning change to become a reality, however, commissioners lacked a quorum at the latest meeting and could not vote on it.

Just last month, Dade County commissioners debated about what more drilling would do to the area’s vital tourist industry, and the article reports Commissioner José “Pepe” Diaz as saying that the more we drill, the less we’ll consider alternative fuels.

Camelina Biodiesel to Fuel Jets

The world’s leading producer of camelina… a non-food oilseed… is teaming up with the University of North Dakota to produce biodiesel jet fuel from the grain.

Great Plains – The Camelina Company and the Energy & Environmental Research Center (EERC) at UND have agreed to allow the EERC to use Great Plains’ proprietary technology to produce advanced fuels:

Great Plains has studied the science and agronomy of camelina for over 10 years and for the past three years has contracted with growers throughout the United States and Canada to grow the crop. Currently, the company is processing camelina seed to create biodiesel, but the EERC technology will maximize the biofuels potential for the crop.

The EERC has developed a feedstock-flexible process that can utilize various crop oils to produce combinations of jet fuel, diesel, gasoline, and propane that are identical to petroleum-derived fuels, enabling direct substitution with these fuels and providing renewable options across the spectrum of fuel needs.

“The EERC has strategically positioned itself to be the first to produce a truly sustainable renewable fuel that can be used the same way as traditional fuels with no special requirements,” said EERC Director Dr. Gerald Groenewold.

“This is an exciting opportunity for us and we can’t wait to hit the ground running,” says Sam Huttenbauer, CEO of Great Plains. “Not only is camelina a non-food crop, but it will also provide for an identical replacement of the traditional petrochemicals with the technology that the EERC has pioneered.”

VP Candidates Spar Over Domestic Energy

Here at Davis Debate Central once again tonight… OK, so it’s just my couch as I blog with my laptop on my lap and watch the Vice Presidential debate… as Democrat Sen. Joe Biden and Republican Gov. Sarah Palin duke it out.

Renewable energy has gotten a little bit of attention, in the form of Palin and Biden sparring over American energy policy. Palin jabbed with a charge that Biden and Sen. Barack Obama voted to give the big oil companies a tax break, while you and I pay at the pump. Biden countered that the vote she mentioned was also one that had a brad range of alternative energy incentives, designed to wean this country from the influence of foreign petroleum oil.

And just a minute ago, Biden hit again on the renewable energy theme by pointing out that Sen. John McCain has voted 20 times against alternative energy sources.

Palin points out that we need an all-encompassing energy that includes drilling for more petroleum, as well as developing alternative sources.

They’re moving on to other subjects so I’ll get this posted now. Stay tuned. I’ll post more as they say more about renewable energy sources.

Bently Biofuels Opens Green Station

Not only is the fuel they sell green, but a new biodiesel and ethanol station near Lake Tahoe, Nevada will be good for the environment as well.

The new Bently Biofuels retail pump in Minden, Nevada is now selling B99, B20 and B5 biodiesel, as well as E10 and E85 ethanol. In addition, the building that houses the store and the fuel pumps are up for a special environmentally-friendly building designation… and is being recognized for that effort by some folks who just moved into a green building of their own, the National Biodiesel Board:

The fueling station is unique in that it has applied for LEED silver certification, a prestigious green building designation. Features include outdoor lighting that uses LED bulb technology, which reduces energy consumption up to 70 percent and reduces light pollution in the night sky. Solar tubes were installed in the restrooms to eliminate the need for daytime lighting along with flush toilets that reduce the amount of water consumed per use. Furnishings include cabinets made of fast-growing bamboo plywood and recycled countertops.

“We believe that this is the model for biofuels stations as we move into a greener, more sustainable future,” said Don Bently, owner of Bently Biofuels. “As the makers of an eco-conscious fuel, we’re big proponents of being sustainable from planting the first seed to filling the tank, and our station is a part of that process.”

If Bently gets the LEED certification… developed and administered by the U.S. Green Building Council and designed to promote design and construction practices that increase profitability while reducing environmental impacts… it would be the first retail convenience store to do so.

Bently Biofuels also has the capability to make about a million gallons of biodiesel each year from inedible plant oils or second-use oils, such as recycled restaurant grease.

Hydrogen Hybrid Hot Rod to be Ethanol Ready

A hot rod built to run on hydrogen is expanding its horizons to run on another green fuel… ethanol.

Austin, Texas-based Ronn Motor Company has announced its eco-exotic hybrid, the Scorpion™, the first production automobile to produce Hydrogen on Demand (HOD) through its proprietary H2GO™ system, will be ethanol compliant and built to run on a 70% gasoline or ethanol and approximately 30% hydrogen mix. Officials say it will reduce fuel costs and greatly reduce emissions:

While hydrogen and ethanol have traditionally been used separately, the combination of these two alternative fuels gives consumers more choices and reduces dependence on foreign oil.

COO Damon Kuhn added, “Ronn Motor Company is dedicated to alternative fuel strategies to help lower our dependence on foreign oil and we want to give our customers access to these solutions. To the best of our knowledge, no other automobile manufacturer is working on the possible combination of these processes.”

First Wind Public Offering Has Successful Close

The nation’s first intrastate public offering for the development of a wind project has had a successful completion… just four months after it was made available to the public.

National Wind’s High Country Energy, LLC, has announced that it has raised an undisclosed amount of capital from Minnesota investors that will be used to develop a series of utility-scale community-owned wind farms in Dodge, Olmsted and Mower Counties, Minnesota:

“Through the offering we now have approximately 60 additional Minnesota investors in High Country Energy, helping solidify our goals for community participation,” says Mark Lucas, Vice President of National Wind, and Project Lead for High Country Energy. “The wind energy business represents an exciting growth and investment opportunity and this offering has allowed interested investors to purchase a position within it. Wind energy is more mature than other renewable energy sectors–it has good track record and is growing rapidly. The U.S. wind industry is expected to grow from 16,800 megawatts of installed capacity in 2007 to over 49,000 in 2015.”

Proceeds from the offering will be used to develop High Country Energy’s multiple phases.

Company officials expect the High Country Energy wind projects to cost hundreds of millions of dollars to build. They add the money raised will help cover initial development, and more will be needed for construction of the wind farms.

USDA: Corn, Soybean Stockpiles Up

Rains and flooding kept farmers in the Midwest corn and soybean belts out of their fields for a long time this spring. But according to a new report from the USDA, the actual stockpiles of the main feedstocks for ethanol and biodiesel are higher than expected.

This story in Forbes says the U.S. has a 30-day stockpile of soybeans… a relief for biodiesel producers who have been worried what a tight supply could do to their industry:

A survey of farmers and warehouses pegged the stockpile at 205 million bushels on Sept. 1, compared with the U.S. Agriculture Department’s Sept. 12 forecast of 140 million bushels or a three-week supply.

Soybeans are widely used by food makers and livestock feeders, besides being exported. Some 3.1 billion lbs, or 13 percent, of soybean oil will be used to make biodiesel in the coming 12 months, USDA said.

USDA revised its estimate of the 2007 soybean crop to 2.676 billion bushels, up 3.5 percent, based on the stockpile figure, reports on exports and processing, and farm program data.

In a pair of reports, USDA said the corn and wheat stockpiles were larger than a year ago. This year’s wheat crop totaled 2.5 billion bushels, up 2 percent from its previous report and the largest wheat crop in a decade.

Corn and soybean prices on the Chicago Board of Trade fell on the news… once again, good news for the ethanol and biodiesel industries… with November beans down 25 cents at $10.69 a bushel and Decemmber corn off six-and-a-half cents at $5.06-3/4.

Wind, Biodiesel Tax Credits Could Be in Trouble

As lawmakers wrestle over a bailout for Wall Street, some renewable energy producers on Main Street are wondering if they’ll at least get an extension of some valuable tax credits.

This story from Agriculture Online quotes Senator Chuck Grassley, the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, as saying that if Congress adjourns without passing a tax relief bill, it would be a catastrophe because of how reliant wind and biodiesl are on their tax breaks:

The tax bill, which also would prevent more Americans from being caught by the Alternative Minimum Tax when they file next April, contained several alternative energy tax breaks championed by Grassley. It extended a tax credit for wind energy through 2009, as well as a $1-per-gallon tax credit for biodiesel.

The House on Monday refused to take up the legislation, partly because conservative Blue Dog Democrats refused to support it unless more of the tax breaks were offset by spending cuts.

Grassley said he wasn’t certain what the effect of not extending alternative energy tax credits beyond the end of this year would be. In 2004, a similar delay in extending the tax credits for wind shut down that industry for six months, he said, adding that he believes the industry is stronger today.

Grassley says he doesn’t think Congressmen will want to go home and face constituents who would now have to pay the Alternative Minimum Tax. About 23 million people would have to pay the AMT… as much as an extra $2,000 in the tax bills for those who make less than $200,000.