NASCAR Races 6 Million Miles on E15

On Sunday, July 20, 2014 NASCAR drivers raced at the Brickyard in Indianapolis, Indiana and hit a historic milestone – 6 million miles raced using Sunoco Green E15. The feat was three years in the making and took place at one of the most famous racetracks in the world – Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

In 2011, NASCAR and American Ethanol partnered to bring E15 to the sport. Since the beginning of the 2011 season, Sunoco Green E15 has fueled every car and every truck in each of NASCAR’s national race series. According to NASCAR, the introduction of Sunoco Green E15 has been a pivotal part of the NASCAR Green initiative, and has successfully increased horsepower and decreased emissions for the sport.

NASCAR 6 Million Miles on E15Brian France, CEO of NASCAR, released a statement in response to the 6 million mile-milestone saying, “NASCAR conducted an exhaustive analysis before making the seamless transition to Sunoco Green E15, a race fuel blended with 15 percent American Ethanol. As we eclipse six million tough competition miles across our three national series, we can definitively say this renewable fuel stands up to our rigorous racing conditions while significantly reducing our impact on the environment. We are proud to celebrate this milestone at Indianapolis Motor Speedway along with our partners at the National Corn Growers Association and Growth Energy.”

The 6 million mile-mark is especially significant because it mirrors the 6 million miles of testing conducted by the U.S. Department of Energy to initially approve E15 for all light duty cars and trucks, model year 2001 and newer.

“NASCAR validates what a great performance fuel [E15] is, said Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy. “If you meet with the teams and talk with the owners – they’ve got increased horse power, they’ve got higher performance, and, as Richard [Childress] said, it’s cleaner.”

Through NASCAR, Buis said American Ethanol has proven that E15 is a high performance, low cost fuel option that is homegrown and better for our environment. It supports American jobs that will never be outsourced, bolsters rural economies and enhances our nation’s energy and national security.

Listen to the press conference here: NASCAR Races 6 Million Miles on E15

RFA to DOE: Update Your E85 Data!

Today the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) is calling on the Department of Energy (DOE) to accurately account for all stations selling E85. According to RFA, the DOE’s Alternative Fuels Data Center is missing a vast number of E85 stations – nearly 1,000- after comparing the list to the “crowd-sourced” website E85Prices.com that lists 3,449 retail locations offering E85.

RFANewlogo“The AFDC database is way off in its reporting of E85 stations, and this is negatively influencing discussions over the 2014 Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) blending requirements. It isn’t just a handful of stations that are missing; we are talking about the exclusion of hundreds of stations nationwide. In fact, they missed 40 percent of the stations that are included in other databases! That’s simply unacceptable,” said Bob Dinneen, president and CEO of the RFA.

In a letter sent to the DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, the RFA illustrates the central role of the database in crucial policy decisions, stating, “EPA’s mistaken belief that existing E85 refueling infrastructure is insufficient to distribute the 2014 RFS volumes specified in the statute is based in large part on information from the AFDC. As a result, the Agency wrongly proposed to reduce required renewable fuel blending volumes in 2014.”

Dinneen stressed the urgent need for updated, accurate information as the EPA decides the final 2014 RFS blending requirements. He noted, “Accurate data is the foundation of well informed decisions. The so-called ‘blend wall’ — the level at which oil companies claim they can no longer blend ethanol into gasoline — can be scaled through increased use of E85. Therefore, an accurate accounting of E85 stations distributing low-cost, renewable fuels is vital to informing the debate over RFS implementation.”

The letter concludes, “The correctness and completeness of the database has never been more important, as crucial policy and regulatory decisions are being informed by the information. Inadequate data leads to ill-informed policy decisions, which can have significant consequences for affected industries.

ACE Announces Final Ethanol Conference Agenda

The 27th annual Ethanol Conference agenda is set and will include an update on the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) from the Environmental Protection Agency. The event is taking place August 4-6, 2014 in Minneapolis. In addition to the RFS update, Paul Machiele, director for fuel programs for the EPA will also be discussing other agency ethanol priorities. Registration is still available.

“As EPA and the White House close-in on a final decision about the 2014 RFS we’re pleased that Paul Machiele will be on hand to meet with our members,” said ACE Executive Vice President Brian Jennings.

ACElogo“Consistent with our conference theme of ‘Power by People’ we’re pleased that the 2014 conference will feature updates from ACE members and other speakers on the policy, marketing, and innovation initiatives that will help position the industry for future profitability,” Jennings added.

The ACE conference will also feature new findings from an economic study on “Eco-Performance Fuel,” an Innovators panel of four ACE-member ethanol producers who are adding new processes and technologies, a Retailer Roundtable involving gas station owners who are making money and attracting new customers by selling higher blends of ethanol fuel, and panel discussion focusing on international sales opportunities for ethanol and distillers grain.

Three breakout session tracks will be offered for ethanol plant board directors, mangers/CEOs, and operators focused on technology advances. Breakout session topics include risk management, the impact of proposed FDA regulations on plant operations, and technology to speed or increase yeast fermentation rates.

White House Gathers Senate Dems on RFS Proposal

nbb-senatorsIn what could be seen as a sign that an unpopular decision is about to be rendered by the Obama Administration on ethanol and biodiesel, a select group of Senate Democrats have met with the White House. The Hill reports White House adviser John Podesta met with the group on Thursday to discuss the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) plans regarding the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

The senators said they wanted to discuss “urgent concerns” with the RFS, which requires that diesel and gasoline refiners mix a certain amount of renewable fuels such as biodiesel and ethanol into their traditional fuels each year. The Environmental Protection Agency proposed last year to keep the biodiesel volume in 2014 at least year’s level, despite an increase in biodiesel production, and reduce the ethanol volume.

The EPA has not yet finalized its 2014 volumes for renewables.

[Minnesota Senator Al] Franken and his colleagues took particular issue with the biodiesel mandate.

“Such a decision would not only harm the economic growth surrounding biodiesel production in our states, but would be a setback in our national efforts to continue boosting U.S. energy security while also reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” they wrote.

The National Biodiesel Board (NBB) seems concerned about the meeting as well and issued a statement from from Vice President of Federal Affairs Anne Steckel:

“While we are encouraged by these discussions, the biodiesel industry remains concerned that the Administration still appears to be considering a proposal that would backtrack from last year’s proven production and that threatens biodiesel plants around the country. The fact is that biodiesel is the most successful Advanced Biofuel under the RFS, yet it could see its production cut significantly. This meeting, which was originally requested by a diverse group of 14 Democratic senators from across the country, makes clear that there are serious concerns about the impact that the proposal would have on jobs and economic growth nationwide, in states from Rhode Island to Minnesota to Washington state. This is a critical decision, not just for the biodiesel industry but for the future development of clean, American-made renewable fuels that will help us reduce our dangerous dependence on petroleum.”

Many of those senators participating in this week’s meeting were also critical back in May on the Obama Administration’s proposal to cut the amount of biodiesel and ethanol to be mixed into the nation’s fuel supply, with some of the President’s staunchest backers calling it “disastrous” and a miserable failure of policy.

USDA Selects 36 Energy Facilities for Biomass Deliveries

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has selected 36 energy facilities in 14 states to accept biomass deliveries as part of the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP). Biomass owners who supply these bioenergy facilities may qualify for BCAP delivery assistance beginning July 28, 2014. BCAP was reauthorized in the 2014 Farm Bill.

bcap_logo_368Of the total $25 million per year authorized for BCAP, up to 50 percent ($12.5 million) is available each year to assist biomass owners with the cost of delivery of agricultural or forest residues for energy generation. Some BCAP payments will target the removal of dead or diseased trees from National Forests and Bureau of Land Management public lands for renewable energy, which reduces the risk of forest fire.

“This program generates clean energy from biomass, reduces the threat of fires by removing dead or diseased trees from public forest lands, and invests in rural businesses and new energy markets,” said Tom Vilsack, USDA ag secretary. “The fires we are seeing right now in the west underscore the need for forest restoration and fire prevention. Pairing this effort with forest restoration on public lands will help guard against these fires while promoting economic opportunity for rural communities.”

Farmers, ranchers or foresters who harvest and deliver forest or agricultural residues to a BCAP-qualified energy facility may be eligible for financial assistance for deliveries. The USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA), which administers BCAP, will begin accepting applications from biomass owners from July 28 through Aug. 25. Deliveries of residues for approved contracts may be made through Sept. 26, 2014.

“Climate of Opportunity” Theme for Biofuels Conference

Screen Shot 2014-07-18 at 12.23.20 PMSome biofuels producers have had some profitable times in the last couple of years, and an upcoming conference will give attendees information on how to take advantage of the opportunities put before them. Nationally known accounting and consulting firm Christianson & Associates will host its 10th annual Biofuels Financial Conference with the theme “Climate of Opportunity,” Aug. 27-28, 2014 in Minneapolis, Minn. at the Bloomington Embassy Suites.

This year’s Biofuels Financial Conference is focused on the best ways to take advantage of the many opportunities to optimize financial health and stability in today’s changing biofuels industry. By understanding current policy and knowing all available options for improving and diversifying production, attendees will learn how to capitalize on current strengths, identify and shore up any potential weaknesses, and create a strategic plan for growth creates an ongoing climate of opportunity.

“It’s important for board members and financial decision-makers to understand the opportunities in the current liquid fuels marketplace,” said [John Christianson, CPA and Partner at Christianson & Associates]. “What is the impact of the latest legislation changes, what are the marketplace opportunities, what are the technology investments that will bring a plant successfully into the next generation?”

Those attending the conference will be able to network with and learn from biofuels professionals from across the industry. More information is available here.

UN: Biofuels to Grow Faster than Food Crops

UNoecdfaoTwo United Nations agencies say biofuel production will grow faster than food crops. This report from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations says prices for the major crops worldwide have dropped significantly from record highs in the last couple of years due to the recent bumper crops of 2013 and 2014. In addition, ethanol and biodiesel prices are down due to plenty of feedstocks for the green fuels.

In the next decade, livestock and biofuel production are projected to grow at higher rates than crop production. This changing structure of global agricultural production prompts a relative shift toward coarse grains and oilseeds to meet demands for food, feed and biofuel, away from staple food crops like wheat and rice. The bulk of the additional production will originate in regions where determining factors, such as land and water availability, and policy regulations, are the least constraining.

Crop prices are expected to drop for one or two more years, before stabilizing at levels that remain above the pre-2008 period, but significantly below recent peaks. Meat, dairy and fish prices are expected to rise. In real terms, however, prices for both crops and animal products are projected to decline over the medium term. The expected stock-to-use ratios for cereals improve significantly, which should ease concerns about their price volatility.

The report goes on to say that the Americas will be the dominant export region for crops and biofuels, while Africa and Asia will increase their net imports to meet their growing demands.

Crop Residues, Manure Hold Great Potential for Bioenergy

Crop residues and manure hold great potential as bioenergy sources, especially in areas such as the Midwest where row crops and livestock provide all the ingredients. This report from the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) says those resources will need some help, though, from the right policies, practices, and investments.
UCSreport
UCS analysis finds that by 2030, U.S. farmers could sustainably produce up to 155 million tons of crop residues, many times the current level of production. U.S. livestock could produce another 60 million tons of manure, to be turned into clean-burning biogas.

The right policies, practices, and investments will help these clean energy sources realize their potential—with huge benefits for farmers, communities, and the environment…

Fuel and electricity made from agricultural biomass is potentially clean too. With the right practices, ethanol made from crop residues can produce 90 percent fewer lifecycle emissions, compared to gasoline.

Many states could significantly scale up their use of crop residues and manure. The largest include Iowa, a leading producer of corn ethanol, and Arkansas, the nation’s top rice producer.

Texas and California offer a lot of potential as well because of those states’ large agricultural outputs.

Nebraska Corn Farmers, Aventine In Sugar Fight

According to a Reuters article, the corn-based ethanol industry in Nebraska is fighting an ethanol sugar-based ethanol plant over its feedstock. The Aventine Renewable Energy Holdings plant re-opened its Aurora, Nebraska ethanol plant back in May 2014. However, the plant, located in corn country, is reportedly using sugar from sugar beets to produce ethanol.

The United States Agricultural Department (USDA) has as program where ethanol plants can purchase cheap beet sugar for use in producing biofuels or biochemicals and Aventine is producing ethanol from this sugar source. Aventine’ use of sugar is the first large-scale production of sugar alcohol in Nebraska since the Prohibition.

sugar beetHowever, local corn farmers have sued Aventine claiming their use of sugar violates an agreement to use their grain exclusively as a feedstock for ethanol production. Aventine denies any wrongdoing, saying it has abided by its contract.

George Hohwieler, president and chief executive of the Aurora Cooperative Elevator Co., was quoted in the article as saying, “Hamilton County, Nebraska, by any measure is one of the most productive corn-producing counties in the world,” he said. “The message being sent to the marketplace is that they’re making ethanol out of sugar.”

Aventine chief executive Mark Beemer was quoted as saying the farmers’ coop was being short sighted in suing the company. “We’ve been very blunt. This is just a very short-term pathway to get the plant open and then convert back to corn ethanol,” he said.

There has been a long-running dispute between Aventine and the Nebraska farmers’ coop. In February, when Aventine received delivery via rail of the sugar, the coop filed suit claiming they were not allowed to use the rail line to receive any feedstock other than corn. The coop also filed suit in 2012 when the plant did not produce its nameplate capacity of 110 million gallons of ethanol per year, costing them $1.7 million.

As the lawsuits and harsh words continue to fly, Aventine argues that using sugar allowed them to re-open the plant, that had been idled for nearly 5 years and bringing jobs back to the area. At this point, Aventine says they have begun bidding to buy corn as an ethanol feedstock but because of the lawsuits, they are not negotiating to buy corn from the Aurora Cooperating Elevator.

As the lawsuits continue, it can only be said in a fight between corn and sugar, no one wins.

Don’t Miss the Biofuels Financial Conference

Screen Shot 2014-07-18 at 12.23.20 PMDon’t miss the annual Biofuels Financial Conference: Climate of Opportunity hosted by Christianson & Associates. This year’s event takes place August 27-28, 2014 in Bloomington, Minnesota. The conference is aimed at plant managers, board members, plant CFO’s and more.

This year’s featured session is Expanding Beyond the Baseline. Industry experts will provide critical information about financial opportunities and options available for ensuring that your organization explores all avenues for maximizing the value of your plant’s production capabilities. Topics will cover:

  • Jonathan Olmscheid of Christianson & Associates will provide background on grandfathered volume and on the valid pathways to maximize RIN value beyond your plant’s grandfathered production volume. Since the export market provides another avenue for ethanol sales and thus increased production, Olmscheid will also touch on some key points about the export market and Canadian RINs.
  • Experts from plants and from Merjent will describe in detail the process of petitioning for pathways using two advanced technologies, from an engineering perspective as well as a general plant management perspective.
  • Paula Emberland of Christianson & Associates will review best practices and formulas for evaluating such improvement projects including diversifying co-products and improving processes, to calculate ROI, and an expert from Hydrodynamics will discuss, as an example, their bolt-on biodiesel production technology.

Early bird registration ends July 21. Click here to learn more about the Biofuels Financial Conference and to register online.

QCCP-Syngenta Collaboration Produces Cellulosic Ethanol

Syngenta and Quad County Corn Processors (QCCP) are collaborating to produce cellulosic ethanol from corn kernels as well as to license the technology to other ethanol plants. The first-of-its-kind technology is known as Adding Cellulosic Ethanol and was developed by QCCP, who expects to produce one million gallons of cellulosic ethanol in 2014 and two million gallons in 2015.

This breakthrough was made possible through the integration of Adding Cellulosic Ethanol technology at QCCP, a 35 million gallon per year capacity ethanol production facility. The introduction of the technology Delayne Johnson Quad County Corn Processors will enable QCCP to increase ethanol yield per bushel by six percent, produce an additional two million gallons of cellulosic ethanol per year and realize a number of other important benefits including increased production of corn oil and distillers grains (DDGs).

Delayne Johnson, CEO of QCCP discussed the technology during a press conference held at the Iowa Speedway last Friday. The event was part of the American Ethanol 200 presented by Enogen sponsorship. The NASCAR Camping Truck World Series races on E15.

“Adding Cellulosic Ethanol technology will help us to increase the protein content of dried distillers grains (DDGs) by 40 percent, improve corn oil extraction by 200 percent and realize more ethanol out of the same kernel of corn,” said Johnson. “The commercialization of this technology represents a major advance in the production of cellulosic ethanol. For example, Adding Cellulosic Ethanol technology could produce one billion gallons of cellulosic ethanol by converting the corn kernel cellulose from corn currently being processed in existing dry grind ethanol plants. And, once hemicellulosic yeast is FDA-approved, Adding Cellulosic Ethanol will be capable of producing an additional one billion gallons – all from corn already being processed.”

Johnson said tests have also shown that Adding Cellulosic Ethanol technology, in conjunction with Enogen® trait technology, will deliver significant benefits to ethanol plants beyond what can be achieved through either technology alone.

“The combination of Adding Cellulosic Ethanol and Enogen corn is expected to generate significant synergies when used together in dry grind ethanol plants,” Johnson added. “It will produce advanced and cellulosic ethanol while decreasing natural gas usage, increasing ethanol throughput and reducing an ethanol plant’s carbon footprint. These advantages, combined with higher protein DDGs and increased corn oil production, make the technology package appealing for ethanol plants looking to improve their bottom line.”

Jack Bernens SyngentaCellulosic Ethanol Technologies is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Quad County Corn Processors. Earlier this year, Syngenta announced an agreement with Cellulosic Ethanol Technologies to license Adding Cellulosic Ethanol technology to ethanol production facilities.

“Ethanol is helping America reduce its dependence on foreign oil, lowering prices at the pump, improving the environment with lower emissions, and growing the economy with jobs that can’t be outsourced,” said Jack Bernens, head of marketing and stakeholder relations for Enogen Trait Technology at Syngenta. “The combination of Adding Cellulosic Ethanol technology and Enogen could represent the next leap forward for ethanol production.”

Listen to my interview with Delayne Johnson here: Delayne Johnson interview

Visit the 2014 American Ethanol 200 presented by Enogen photo album.


Lincolnland Agri-Energy Celebrates 10 Years

Lincolnland Agri-Energy is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. The Palestine, Illinois-based ethanol plant is now producing 57 million gallons of ethanol per year and employs 41 local residents. In 10 years, the ethanol plant has produced 470 million gallons of ethanol. Over the weekend, Lincolnland Agri-Energy hosted an open house for the community to celebrate its milestone.

Since they began operating in 2004, Lincolnland has actively taken steps to develop and expand their facilities. They broadened into corn oil extraction, added a fermenter, and implemented selective milling technology.

Lincolnland Agri-Energy“We are proud to produce cost-saving, renewable ethanol that furthers America’s energy independence. Lincolnland’s ethanol production facility has helped revitalize the community, create demand for our local farmers, and save Illinois drivers money at the pump,” said Eric Mosbey, general manager of Lincolnland Agri-Energy. “This is an exciting day for everyone involved in making Lincolnland a success. The past 10 years of production would not have been possible without the support of our stakeholders, the dedication of our employees, and the cooperation of the local community. We look forward to another 10 years.”

The ethanol plant has fostered an active presence in the local community by hosting elected officials including then-Senator Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and Congressman John Shimkus (R-Ill.). Both elected officials were given a warm welcome as they learned more about ethanol production and the impact it has on the local community. The company also partners with the local junior college to offer internships and donate equipment so students can learn more about the ethanol production process. Lincolnland supports many local programs and is a long-time sponsor of the annual Labor Day rodeo in Palestine, Ill.

“What started as an idea by a group of local farmers has turned into a successful ethanol plant that is run with integrity and gives back to the local community. The hours, days, and years of dedication can be seen in every aspect of this business today,” said Bob Dinneen, president and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association. “This truly is a day to celebrate and honor the 10 years of hard work that has gone into making this business a success.”

Former Team Ethanol Driver Wins Iowa Corn Indy 300

Ryan Hunter ReayEver since I met Ryan Hunter Reay as the driver for the Indy Team Ethanol Car I’ve been following him as his racing gets better and better. He showed it this weekend when he roared to a dramatic finish and won the Iowa Corn Indy 300. Ryan is a winner of this race previously.

With the Indy cars running on the same fuel that we can put in our flex fuel vehicles – E85 – this renewable fuel was on the big stage again. Our Joanna Schroeder was on location for the American Ethanol 200 presented by Enogen, NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, on Saturday and will have some stories to share from that event as well.

#51 Eric Jones Wins American Ethanol 200

Erik Jones No 51 winner of 2014 American Ethanol 200 presented by SyngentaErik Jones driver of the No. 51 Toyota Tundra for Kyle Busch Motorsports held off Brad Keselowski Racing’s Ryan Blaney for the win of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series American Ethanol 200 sponsored by Enogen.

Jones said during Victory Lane, “Glad we could get out and command the race and bring it home.” Jones led 131 of the 200 laps dominating the 3/4 mile track and lapping several other drivers. This is his second NASCAR Camping World Truck Series win of the season.

Jones was given the award and congratulated for his win in Victory Lane by David Witherspoon, head of renewable fuels at Syngenta. All the drivers in the series compete with Sunoco’s green E15 racing fuel – the same E15 blend of ethanol that consumers with cars manufactured after 2001 and newer can use. To date, NASCAR has raced more than 6 million miles with E15.


Visit the 2014 American Ethanol 200 presented by Enogen photo album.

Syngenta Donates $108K for Flex Fuel Infrastructure

During the American Ethanol 200 presented by Enogen taking place at the Iowa Speedway today, Syngenta announced that they are donating $108,000 to the renewable fuels industry to make flex fuels more widely available. The funds will be used for flex fuel pump infrastructure to help bring more mid-level ethanol blends such as E15 and E30 along with E85 available to consumers. The donation is part of a three-year commitment, known as the $1 per acre donation, announced in 2013 to contribute $1 to the ethanol industry for every acre planted with Enogen trait technology.

Syngenta 2014 $1 per acre donationIn addition to this year’s $1 per acre donation, Syngenta is also working with Iowa FFA chapters in a collaborative effort to match those dollars through a fund raising initiative taking place during the American Ethanol race weekend.

“Syngenta is pleased to continue its support for the ethanol industry by donating $1 for every acre of Enogen® seed planted during 2014 – and to be partnering with the FFA to make that donation go even further,” said David Witherspoon, head of Renewable Fuels at Syngenta. “Last year, the money was used to defend the Renewable Fuels Standard. The focus of this year’s donation – and matching dollars – will be to make flex fuels more accessible and provide consumers with a choice at the gas pump.”

According to Growth Energy, more than 170 million cars – those manufactured since 2001 – are eligible to use E15. And, there are more than sixteen million flex fuel vehicles on the roads today, with more on the way. Witherspoon added that helping the industry expand its flex fuel pump footprint will enable consumers to have a choice to purchase a superior higher octane fuel, and pay less.

“Clearly, we have the vehicles capable of using blends higher than E10 – but consumers need greater access to stations capable of providing it – and the petroleum marketing industry’s support to make that access a reality,” Witherspoon said. “The widespread availability of flex fuel vehicles – as well as those eligible to use E15 – demonstrates that there is a market ready for a less expensive, higher octane, more environmentally friendly alternative fuel.”

Listen to my interview with David Witherspoon here: David Witherspoon interview

Visit the 2014 American Ethanol 200 presented by Enogen photo album.