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.

DuPont Claims Win in Ethanol Enzyme Lawsuit

DuPont_logoDuPont is claiming victory in a lawsuit over a patent on an enzyme to help produce ethanol. Ethanol Producer Magazine reports the case between DuPont-owned Danisco and Novozymes has been ordered to be returned to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

A DuPont spokesperson noted that the ruling was a win for Danisco DuPont. DuPont acquired Genencor International, an ethanol enzyme company, in 2011. “A panel of three judges ruled that the trial court should not have dismissed as premature Danisco’s declaratory judgment lawsuit against Novozymes given the two companies’ extensive history of patent litigation and Patent Office disputes involving alpha amylase enzymes (genetically modified industrial enzymes used for converting corn and other plant material into ethanol),” the statement said. “In the lawsuit that is now revived, Danisco sought a declaration that (1) its RSL alpha amylase enzymes did not infringe Novozymes’ ‘573 patent; (2) that the Novozymes ‘573 patent was invalid, and (3) that Danisco’s ‘240 patent had priority over Novozymes’ ‘573 patent.”

Meanwhile, Novozymes officials say they now consider the case closed, and the “decision does not in any way change or limit Novozymes’ product offerings to customers and the decision does not affect Novozymes’ financial outlook.”

Award for Solar-Powered Remote Weather Monitoring

vantageconnectA solar-powered system to remotely monitor the weather has been recognized for its use in the bioenergy and agriculture industries. California-based Davis Instruments picked up a Gold Award for Remote Monitoring at the 2014 Connected World Conference in Chicago for its Vantage Connect.

“With the growing need to manage water resources, protect crops from frost and mitigate damage to our environment, we believe that remote weather data is more important than ever.” said Susan Foxall, Marketing Director, Davis Instruments.

Solar-powered, Vantage Connect does not require an external power source and uses the cellular network to transmit weather data to the Internet. Real-time alarms for specific weather conditions alert users via text and email messages to changing conditions, allowing them to identify and manage potential problems.

The Connected World award was one of two awards Davis won, also picking up honors for CarChip ConnectR, Davis’ telematics solution for fleet monitoring.

New Jersey Offshore Wind Farm Gets Endorsement

fishermensenergyA New Jersey offshore wind farm is reeling in an important endorsement. This article from The News Journal says the aptly named Fishermen’s Energy has received endorsements for its proposed offshore wind farm from the Atlantic County Freeholders and the Greater Atlantic City Chamber of Commerce. It comes as the company awaits approval of its funding from the State of New Jersey Board of Public Utilities.

“As stated in the resolution, the creation of new, well-paying jobs is vital to the economic success of Atlantic County” stated Freeholder Colin Bell. “Wind energy is a growing sector of the economy that provides construction, manufacturing and professional employment opportunities.”

Chris Wissemann, CEO of Fishermen’s Energy, said: “Having the support of the Atlantic County government, as well as the local business community shows how valuable the project is to the local economy. The project meets everything required by the Offshore Wind Economic Development Act, including, most importantly, bringing hundreds of jobs to New Jersey.”

The five-turbine, Fishermen’s Energy wind farm would be the first off of New Jersey’s shores, and if approved, would be the first to get an offshore wind renewable energy credit from the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities.

Propane Summit to Start AltCarExpo Texas

PropaneSummit1Clean-burning propane will be the featured opening of the AltCarExpo Texas. Taking place March 27 in Irving, Tx., the Propane Engine Fuel Summit will be a daylong summit to feature Texas schools and businesses using the clean, economical alternative fuel.

Kicking off the AltCarExpo Texas, the propane summit has invited Texas municipalities, school districts and businesses to discuss the challenges and benefits of fueling with propane autogas, an environmentally friendly and cost effective engine fuel. Presentations from the City of Fort Worth, CleanFUEL USA, Dallas County Schools, Dallas-Fort Worth Clean Cities and Northwest Propane Gas Co., will cover topics such as refueling infrastructure, economic and environmental factors, propane industry equipment and more.

Curtis Donaldson, managing director and founder of Georgetown-based CleanFUEL USA, will discuss what’s to come during his presentation, “The Future of Propane Autogas.”

“As the leading alternative fuel in the United States, propane autogas has come a long way since it first appeared as an engine fuel in 1913. The possibilities for this fuel are just getting started,” Donaldson said. “This American-made resource is saving more than just cash at the pump. It’s driving job creation and energy security by keeping our fuel dollars within our own economy.”

Organizers say laws and incentives in Texas are friendly to propane.

Partners for the Propane Engine Fuel Summit include: U.S. Energy Department’s Dallas-Fort Worth Clean Cities, North Central Texas Council of Governments, AltCar Conference & Expo and TSN Communications.

Aruba to Get Methes Energies Biodiesel Maker

denami600A biodiesel producer on the tropical island of Aruba is going to the Great White North to get its biodiesel maker. Ontario-based Methes Energies International Ltd. is building a Denami 600 for Antilla Energy VBA (formally known as BioFuel Aruba) to brew biodiesel from local waste cooking oil.

Nicholas Ng, President of Methes Energies, said, “We’re very excited about this project as it fits well with our business model. I believe that this is the first of many more manufacturing orders we will receive this year. We have been working with several clients that are, just like Antilla, at a point where they now need to order their Denami. It is a sometime a long process but at the end it is very rewarding for our clients and our company.”

Gregory Fung-A-Fat, Managing Director of Antilla Energy VBA, added, “Our due diligence exercise took a bit longer than we first anticipated, but we are finally there and ready to go. We now look forward to receiving delivery of our first Denami with commissioning happening in the fourth quarter of this year. The plan is to grow our facility to about 6 million gallons per year so we are setting up in a way that will make it easy and cost effective to add 4 more Denami’s 600′s as the market conditions allow. We’re glad to be doing our part to help Aruba reach its Green Aruba 2020 targets.”

Antilla Energy VBA is focused on on producing biodiesel from non-food crop biodiesel feedstocks.

EPA “Add-Up” for RFS & Biodiesel Tax Credit

The government’s proposed change in how to figure biodiesel and ethanol use for purposes of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) could end up being a boost for the green fuels. This analysis from the University of Illinois looks at how the EPA’s method of “adding-up” the market potential for E10 and E85 ethanol, biodiesel and other non-ethanol fuels changes how we should look at the RFS and Biodiesel Blenders Tax Credit.

In its proposed rule for the 2014 RFS, EPA announced a plan to waive a portion of the RFS from 2014 on, a notable break from previous proposals.

The EPA proposal maintains the hierarchy, but replaces the set targets of the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) with annual estimates of how much renewable fuel use is ‘expected’ (Figure 1). The Add-Up method sets the biomass-based diesel requirement at the higher of a base level of 1.28 billion gallons or expected use… Higher RIN prices would appear to lead to additional E85 consumption would then potentially lead to greater future mandates.
A blender’s tax credit, such as the $1.00 per gallon credit given to biodiesel blenders which expired at the end of 2013, gives an incentive to blenders to use more biofuel. Under the EPA’s previous method, the credit may simply make the mandate less costly to achieve… If the RFS was then easy to exceed or if obligated parties wanted extra RINs to carry into the next year, biodiesel use might rise but perhaps not very much. If extra biomass-based diesel was used beyond its own requirement, then it might displace ethanol used for advanced or overall requirements.

The analysis concludes that using the Add-Up method, the RFS renewable fuel requirements will respond to market conditions and other policies, not remain at set EISA targets.

Google Hopes for Good Results from Wind Project

makaniSearch engine giant Google is hoping the expansion of a California wind energy operation by one of its companies will give good results. This story from KCBS in San Francisco says Google-owned Makani Power is expanding its presence at, or maybe more accurately, ABOVE the formal naval base in Alameda.

When Google bought Makani Power in 2013, the seven year-old start up was leasing 17, 000 square feet at Alameda Point. The new lease calls for 127,000 square feet—with an option to take over the adjacent hangars and buildings as they become available.

“It’s exciting to the city of Alameda on number of different levels,” Alameda Mayor Marie Gilmore told KCBS. “One, we get to keep a tenant and who is seriously on the cutting edge of technology, and with Google’s investment. Who wouldn’t want to have a high profile tenant like Google?”

Makani Power is trying to build off-shore wind farms using tethered-winged devices that capture wind energy at high altitudes or above deep waters. Check out the video on that project:

Gas Station Offers Ethanol, Biodiesel and Your Mail

protecfuel1The folks in Raleigh, N.C. can now pick up their mail when the stop in to fill up on ethanol or biodiesel. The New Bern E85/B20 Crown Station, the first station in that city to offer both E85 and B20, held a grand opening for the new Village Post Office housed within its store.

“We’re pleased to have New Bern Station as a Chamber member,” said Chamber member, Richard Urquhart. “We welcome them as our newest Village Post Office to the Raleigh area and wish them much success going forward.”

“The USPS plans to use our E85 in its area flex-fuel vehicles. We hope that alternative fuel will become the future norm for commuters and state and local government agencies to help support domestic fuel initiatives and meet certain environmental targets,” said Girish Amin, owner, New Bern Crown Station. The USPS, in a 2011 Sustainability Report, demonstrates its commitment to targets; see “What we are doing” USPS environmental initiatives report.

Protec Fuel supplies the E85 for the station. Officials hope that one day they’ll be able to provide EPA-approved retrofits that can convert vehicles to use the high blends of ethanol.

Solar Leads U.S. in Clean Energy Jobs in 2013

Solar power generation operations led the U.S. in the number of clean energy jobs announced in 2013. The nonpartisan business group Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2) says solar was the top sector of the 78,600 clean energy and clean transportation jobs last year with 21,600 jobs announced.

Solar Farm in Las Vegas Photo- Joanna Schroeder“Our report makes it clear. When we invest in clean energy and clean transportation, we put people to work in every corner of the country. Whether it’s a new wind farm in Iowa, an energy efficiency retrofit in Massachusetts, or a utility-scale solar array in Nevada, these projects require American ingenuity and labor. The sector is helping stimulate our economy,” said E2 Executive Director Judith Albert.

“As a business owner, I see a strong need for long-term policies that can stimulate private investment in clean energy and energy efficiency. Businesses in this sector create jobs, save consumers money, and help our environment.

“But ongoing regulatory uncertainty takes a serious toll. Elected officials shouldn’t be holding back economic growth – they should be encouraging it,” said Geoff Chapin, CEO of Next Step Living, a Boston-based energy efficiency company.

California topped the overall list of jobs announced that also includes building efficiency and public transportation. A strong fourth quarter helped Texas finish second in the report.

Bulk of Advanced Biofuel Payments Go to Biodiesel

USDA Rural Development LogoThe biggest portion of money recently paid out for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Advanced Biofuel Payment Program went to biodiesel operations, indicating that green fuel is the leading advanced biofuel in the U.S. Biodiesel Magazine reports that about $40 million of the $60 million paid out went to biodiesel production. USDA officials say the entire $60 million announced last week shows the the Obama Administration’s commitment to support an “all-of-the-above” energy strategy.

“The Bioenergy Program for Advanced Biofuels is building the foundation for a clean energy economy and protecting our environment while making America less dependent on foreign and fossil fuels and increasing rural economic growth,” said Paco Valentin, USDA Rural Development State Director.

Through this program and others at USDA, the department is working to support the research, investment and infrastructure necessary to build a robust and lasting biofuels industry that creates jobs and broadens the range of feedstocks used to produce renewable fuel. More than 300 producers in 47 states have received $279 million in payments since the program’s inception. It has supported the production of more than 4 billion gallons of advanced biofuel and the equivalent of more than 40 billion kilowatt hours of electric energy.

The funding was first established with the 2008 Farm Bill and reauthorized in the recently signed 2014 Farm Bill.

Vestas Becomes World Wind Leader, Adds US Jobs

vestasmachosprings1Danish wind turbine builder and installer Vestas has become the world’s leader in wind energy installation, while adding jobs right here in the U.S. The company says it installed 13.2 percent of all wind energy in 2013, nearly a third more than its closest competitor. And this record-setting year for Vestas prompted the company to hire about 400 workers at its Colorado factories, with another 450 expected to be hired this year.

Vestas installed turbines in 31 countries last year. According to Vestas’ own figures, our largest market for installations in 2013 was Germany, followed by China, Canada, and Brazil. Vestas’ largest market for sales in 2013 was the United States, followed by Germany, Canada, and Sweden.

CEO Anders Runevad says, “Vestas has been through a tough two-year turnaround process to return to profitability. That we simultaneously achieved our financial goals in 2013 and solidified our market leadership is a testament to the strength of the company.”

One of the best years for wind-turbine orders for Vestas has led to significant hiring at its four Colorado factories. The company’s blade factory in Windsor, blade and nacelle factories in Brighton and tower factory in Pueblo expect to add more than 850 production workers this year after Vestas secured orders in 2013 for nearly 900 turbines.

“We are going to be extremely busy making blades, nacelles and towers this year through at least 2015,” said Chris Brown, President of Vestas’ sales and service division in the United States and Canada.

Vestas’ V110-2.0 MW and V100-2.0 MW turbines are made in Colorado and shipped out all over the world.

Ill Winds Blow for Energy Production Tax Credit

single wind turbine Photo Joanna SchroederThings could be looking bleak for a federal tax credit that helps wind power projects. This article from Bloomberg Businessweek says the production tax credit is facing a bumpy ride as Congressional Republicans look for a bigger tax break overhaul.

“Maybe there will be some in the Senate who will try to revive it but I really do think it’s dead in the House,” said [Representative Charles] Boustany, a Louisiana Republican and member of the House Ways and Means Committee, said in an interview today in New York. While the credit might be revived as part of lame-duck legislation after the November elections, that seems unlikely, he said.

The 2.3-cent per kilowatt-hour production tax credit, which pays owners for power produced during a project’s first decade, expired at the end of last year. A broader tax reform proposal released last month by Representative Dave Camp, chairman of Ways and Means, would reduce the amount project owners can claim to 1.5 cents, boosting government revenue by an estimated $9.6 billion.

President Obama has proposed a permanent extension and expansion of the production credit at a cost of $19.3 billion over the next decade. His efforts might be boosted by Oregon Democratic Senator Ron Wyden, who is planning a vote on restoring the measures in the next few months.

Meanwhile, officials with the American Wind Energy Association promise to stay engaged in tax-reform discussions.

Better Sites for Algae Helps Biofuels Production

ABOA new process for identifying and evaluating algae production facilities could help with biofuels production. The article, “Siting Algae Cultivation Facilities for Biofuel Production in the United States: Trade-Offs between Growth Rate, Site Constructability, Water Availability, and Infrastructure,” in the journal Environmental Science and Technology, talks about the new method developed by the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and Sapphire Energy and was welcomed by the Algae Biomass Organization (ABO), the trade association for the algae industry.

“Effectively siting algae cultivation facilities for commercial biofuel production is critical to the success of every commercial algae project,” said Margaret McCormick, chair of the Algae Biomass Organization and CEO of algae company Matrix Genetics. “The biology is so complex, existing ‘off-the-shelf’ measurement tools fall short. Because this analysis considers numerous variables along with real-world algae cultivation data, it offers project developers a much more complete and rigorous evaluation of sites.”

Site selection for large construction projects is a complex task, but a particularly challenging one in the case of algae cultivation in open ponds, where facilities could be thousands of acres in size. The factors that drive success include: a warm and sunny climate, available water, economically available land with soils good for construction, and proximity to transportation and utility infrastructure. In addition, special consideration must be given to local issues that are difficult for national-scale models to address, such as regulatory constraints, tax incentives, receptivity of local populations and ecological constraints.

The study found that there is good potential for cultivating green algae along the Gulf of Mexico, especially on the Florida peninsula. It also says that the type of algae to be grown is a big factor when choosing a site.

Hawaiian Biodiesel Pioneer to Give Energy Lecture

bobkellyking1A pioneer in the biodiesel industry in Hawaii will talk about energy at a lecture in Kona next week. This article from BigIslandNow.com says Kelly King, vice president and co-founder of Pacific Biodiesel Technologies, will speak next Wednesday, March 19 at the NELHA Gateway Visitor Center in Keahole.

King, the company’s director of marketing and communications, has helped develop 13 biodiesel plants in the US and Japan, including one on Oahu and another which opened in 2012 in Keaau.

Company officials say the Keaau plant uses the most up-to-date technology to generate up to 5.5 million gallons of biodiesel annually.

Since its founding, Pacific Biodiesel has been involved in all aspects of the biodiesel business, from fuel-crop research and waste oil collection to fuel processing, quality management, and distribution. The company designs, owns, builds and operates scalable, multiple-feedstock biodiesel plants utilizing used cooking oil, yellow grease, soybean oil, cottonseed oil, canola oil, tallow and other feedstocks.

Several years ago, Kelly partnered with actress Daryl Hannah and Willie and Annie Nelson to found the Sustainable Biodiesel Alliance, a national nonprofit organization developing a certification process for sustainable biodiesel practices.

This lecture is part of the Hawaii Energy Resource Center’s five-part Exceptional Energy Lecture Series.

GE Space Frame Revolutionizing Wind Tower Tech

A new wind turbine tower is changing the game in tower technology. This article from Clean Technica says GE’s Space Frame Tower is helping along a rapidly growing wind energy sector.

From the outside, the Space Frame Tower looks like a regular tube-shaped turbine tower with a bit of an Eiffel Tower splay to the bottom, and there’s your clue regarding what’s hidden behind that plain white exterior: a new approach to turbine tower design that GE hopes will play into the demand for taller wind turbines.

spaceframe1With taller turbines, wind energy can be harvested more efficiently from a broader range of sites, so in case you’re wondering why we’re making such a fuss over a tower, there’s your answer.

Now let’s cut to the mustard. Those of you who are familiar with the engineering term “space frame” already know what’s afoot under that plain white exterior. A space frame refers to latticework, with the Eiffel Tower being one classic example.

The article goes on to point out that the new tower cuts down the amount of steel required for the frame, and the five-sided lattice inside allows for a much wider base than the usual tube-style turbine towers, allowing the tower to climb higher into the sky where it can work more efficiently.