Dazed & Confused at National Ethanol Conference

Led Zep 2I never got to see Led Zeppelin live but last night I found out what it would have been like when Led Zeppelin 2 performed for the National Ethanol Conference. This band is fantastic. You can see what I mean in the video below (Dazed and Confused).

Playing Jimmy Page on stage is Paul Kamp, founding partner of Leifmark and heads the commercialization efforts for Inbicon Biomass Refinery technology. In other words, he’s directly involved in the ethanol industry. After his performance I got to talk with him about his dual role career.

You can listen to my interview with Paul here: Interview with Paul Kamp, Led Zep 2

There are lots of photos from last night’s event in our photo album:

2014 National Ethanol Conference Photo Album

NEC Coverage sponsored by Patriot Renewable Fuels LLC

Live Stream of State of Ethanol Industry Speech

National Ethanol ConferenceHello from the National Ethanol Conference in Orlando, FL. This morning we’ll live stream Bob Dinneen’s, Renewable Fuels Association, annual state of the industry address. Introductions will start at 8am, est., with Bob scheduled at 8:15am. We’re also recording it to post afterward. When you click on the player below it will start with a short commercial before the live feed.

Post Update: You can now watch the recorded video of the live stream below.



Video streaming by Ustream

2014 National Ethanol Conference Photo Album

NEC Coverage sponsored by Patriot Renewable Fuels LLC

Biofuels’ Feedstock Growers to Host Ag Secretary

vilsackccThe growers of the two biggest biofuels feedstocks, corn for ethanol and soybeans for biodiesel, will once again host the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture for their biggest meeting of the year. For the fifth time in a row, Tom Vilsack will deliver the keynote address to Commodity Classic, the annual convention and trade show for corn, soybean, wheat and sorghum growers. This news releases says Vilsack speaks to an expected crowd of more than 6,000 during the event’s General Session on Friday, Feb. 28, in San Antonio, Texas.

“We are honored to welcome Secretary Vilsack-someone who has been a strong advocate and voice for agriculture-to a conference that is both focused on and led by farmers,” said American Soybean Association President Ray Gaesser. “As we face many challenges in this industry throughout this next year- trade agreements and access, conservation and water quality, moving the RFS forward and access to innovative technology-we are excited to hear the secretary speak on these issues and other important topics that impact farmers who grow the nation’s food.”

“Secretary Vilsack has done a lot to support our growers, and to encourage all farmers to speak out and represent their industry at a time when the general public is more removed than ever from the farms that feed them,” said National Corn Growers Association President Martin Barbre. “We’re looking forward to his visit to Commodity Classic so he can speak with our growers and learn more about our great efforts to rebuild consumer trust in what we do.”

The 19th annual Commodity Classic is Feb. 27-March 1, 2014, along the banks of the famous River Walk at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in San Antonio, Tex. Your ZimmComm New Media team will be there, including myself, bringing you the latest from this annual meeting of the National Corn Growers Association, American Soybean Association, National Association of Wheat Growers and National Sorghum Producers, America’s largest farmer-led, farmer-focused convention and trade show.

Check out the 2014 Commodity Classic website www.commodityclassic.com for additional information.

National Ethanol Conference Kicks Off

National Ethanol ConferenceBreaking news. Ethanol industry gets break from winter. How? By attending the 2014 National Ethanol Conference in Orlando. The Domestic Fuel team is on the scene.

It’s a beautiful sunny day to start things off with some fun activities like the annual golf tournament or an Everglades airboat ride. I took golf pictures while Cindy is checking out the Florida wildlife.

To kick off our coverage of this year’s conference I interviewed the Reverand of Renewable Fuels, Bob Dinneen, Renewable Fuels Association. As you might expect, Bob says they’ll be talking a lot about the EPA and the Renewable Fuels Standard. He likes the mood of attendees and says they’re optimistic. I personally think the sunshine and warm temps are helping!

You can listen to my interview with Bob here: Interview with Bob Dinneen

Here’s where you can find golf tournament photos to download and share: 2014 National Ethanol Conference Golf Tournament Photo Album

NEC Coverage sponsored by Patriot Renewable Fuels LLC

Growth Energy is Taking it to the Streets

Growth Energy is holding its fifth annual executive leadership conference at the JW Marriott Desert Ridge in Phoenix, Arizona, from February 27, 2014 through March 2, 2014.
The conference will open on Thursday at 7:00 am and will showcase a number of speakers, including Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

Growth_Energy_logo-1During the opening day of the conference, there will be key addresses, including a “Chairman’s Report” from Growth Energy Board of Directors Co-Chair and Executive Chairman of POET, Jeff Broin and a “State of the Industry” address from Growth Energy CEO, Tom Buis.

The theme of this year’s conference is “Taking it to the Streets,” and a major focus will be on building out the necessary infrastructure so higher blends of renewables, such as E15, will be available to retailers and consumers. Another important topic will be the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), its future and how this policy has successfully helped drive innovation, investment and growth within the biofuels industry.

Guests will also hear unique global perspectives on the future of agriculture, the future of energy, NASCAR and the political landscape from speakers including: Harry Stine of the Stine Seed Company; Richard Childress and Austin Dillon from Richard Childress Racing; noted political analyst, Charlie Cook; and several others.

To cap off the conference, all attendees are invited to join Growth Energy at the Phoenix International Raceway during the Sprint Cup race on Sunday to cheer on American Ethanol, one of NASCAR’s official sponsors.

Growth Energy will be live streaming much of the conference at for those unable to attend.

Rep. Loebsack Introduces Infrastructure Re-FUEL Act

Congressman Dave Loebsack (D-IA) has introduced the Renewable Fuel Utilization, Expansion, and Leadership (Re-FUEL) Act. The goal of the legislation is to create a competitive grant program to assist fuel retailers with investments in renewable and alternative fuel/energy sources. The program would be administered through the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and will help create new and retrofit existing infrastructure, including pumps for biofuels and hydrogen, tanks, piping and electric vehicle chargers. Loebsack points out that the legislation is already paid for and does not add to the deficit.

made in the usaI believe in making things in America and there is no reason our fuel sources shouldn’t be made here as well,” said Rep. Loebsack. “It’s also important that consumers are able to choose where their fuel source comes from when they go to fill up. Too often, infrastructure constraints are cited as the reason for not giving consumers the choices they deserve. This holds back the development of our renewable and alternative energy sources that create jobs in Iowa and across the country.”

To be eligible for the grant, projects must be capable of dispensing fuel or energy currently not widely available. Projects can be new infrastructure projects or retrofits to existing infrastructure and can include infrastructure such as biofuel and hydrogen pumps, tanks, piping, and electric vehicle chargers. A minimum of 30 percent non-federal match is required and the maximum grant per year per entity is $100,000. In addition, the grant program covers infrastructure for renewable or alternative energy, which includes renewable energy, energy for charging electric vehicles, and hydrogen and fuel cells.

“I commend Congressman Loebsack for introducing legislation that supports America’s consumers, rural communities and growing biofuels industry,” said Tom Buis CEO of Growth Energy. “By supporting renewable fuel infrastructure, this legislation will help push our nation toward energy independence and give consumers some much needed choice and savings at the pump. This legislation also emphasizes the importance of investing in and revitalizing rural America.”

The Re-FUEL Act does not add to the federal deficit. The program would be paid for by setting aside 1 percent of offshore oil royalties each fiscal year. This amounted to about $54.34 million in fiscal year 2013 and $52.16 million in fiscal year 2012. In addition, no other required disbursements from natural resources accounts such as those for state sharing, reclamation fund, or Land and Water Conservation Fund will be affected.

“The pace at which the renewable fuel advantages will be available to American drivers is greatly sped up by the fact that the proposed grants can be used for infrastructure like new blender pumps as well as retrofitting existing pumps, pipes, tanks and chargers,” said Bob Dinneen, president and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association. “Placing a priority on rural America is a welcomed approach. The small communities of rural America are amongst the most challenging locations for economic development. Rep. Loebsack recognizes that ethanol production has created and supports over 386,000 jobs with very real potential to expand on that success.”

Farm Service Co-Op Offers E15

E15 signFarm Service Cooperative (FSC), located in Harlan, Iowa, is now selling E15 for 2001 and newer vehicles. The entry of this new station brings the Iowa total to 15. FSC also offers E30, E50 and E85 to flex-fuel vehicle (FFV) owners.

“Being farmer-owned, we wanted to support the agriculture industry by offering more ethanol options to our customers,” said FSC Energy Manager Mike Evers.

Farm Service Cooperative is located in Western Iowa at 2050 Chatburn Avenue in Harlan.

Lucy Norton, managing director of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association, said, “While Big Oil continues to spread misinformation on E15, Iowa’s list of registered E15 stations continues to grow as retailers see the value E15 provides. E15 saves their customers money, plus it supports local jobs and makes our air healthier to breathe.”

ACE Elects 2014 Board Officers

The American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) has elected its 2014 board officers this week with a continued emphasis on providing opportunities for independent ethanol producers, farmers, and grassroots advocates to innovate and succeed.

Ron Alverson, founding chairman and current board member of Dakota Ethanol, a 48 million-gallon-per-year (MGY) ethanol producer in Wentworth, SD, was re-elected as President of the ACE Board of Directors. “I am eager to work with such a diverse group. The ACElogoexperiences and perspectives of the ACE board are well suited to represent our members as we continue to highlight the potential of a strong Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and higher blends like E15 and E85, and what kind of benefits they offer for the consumer and the rural economy,” said Alverson.

Duane Kristensen, General Manager of Chief Ethanol Fuels, a 62 MGY ethanol producer in Hastings, NE, was elected Vice President of the ACE board. He noted, “ACE and Chief Ethanol Fuels are a great combination in that we share many of the same ideals and background, I look forward to this opportunity to help highlight ethanol’s rural success story and I’m enthusiastic about the potential to focus on long-term efforts that will help support the industry, agriculture, and American independence.”

Dave Sovereign, who represents Golden Grain Energy, a 100 MGY ethanol producer in Mason City, IA, on the ACE board, and also serves on the board of Absolute Energy, a 115 MGY ethanol producer in Lyle, MN, was elected Secretary of the ACE Board of Directors. Sovereign also owns Cresco Fast Stop, a convenience store that specializes in selling E15, E30 and E85. “I am excited about this opportunity. I know firsthand how the ethanol industry has brought quality jobs for quality people while revitalizing rural communities across the country. And I’m looking forward to helping promote the industry and its growth so future generations of rural Americans can prosper.“

ACE officers and two additional board members comprise the ACE Executive Committee. The 2014 ACE Executive Committee is as follows:

  • Ron Alverson, Dakota Ethanol, President
  • Duane Kristensen, Chief Ethanol Fuels, Vice President
  • Dave Sovereign, Golden Grain Energy, Secretary
  • Owen Jones, Full Circle Ag Cooperative, Treasurer
  • Lars Herseth, Herseth Ranch, Member
  • Scott Parsley, East River Electric Cooperative, Member

Global Demand for Transportation Biofuels To Grow

According to a new report from Navigant Research, global demand for biofuels used for road transportation will grow from 32.4 billion gallons in 2013 to 51.1 billion gallons by 2022.

The report, “Biofuels for Transportation Markets,” analyzes the emerging markets and future growth opportunities for biofuels, including ethanol, biodiesel, and drop-in biofuels. The report provides an analysis of the major demand drivers and market challenges related traffic-jam in U.Sto biofuels technologies. The report also examines the key technologies associated with biofuels, as well as the competitive landscape.

“Developed nations in Europe and North America are beginning to see declines in liquid fuels consumption from the road transportation sector, due to increased vehicle fuel efficiency and growing interest in alternative fuel vehicles,” said Scott Shepard, research analyst with Navigant Research.

“The continued growth of conventional biofuels relies either on policies increasing biofuel blend requirements, or on growing vehicle markets in the Asia Pacific region. Meanwhile, advances in biofuels derived from non-food feedstocks, and biofuels that require no changes to infrastructure or vehicles, promise to significantly alter the petroleum industry landscape,” added Shepard.

According to the report, petroleum consumption by the road transportation sector in the United States is expected to peak in 2016, according to the report, as biofuels grow to account for 8.7 percent of demand. Major stakeholders, including the airline industry and the U.S. Department of Defense, stand to benefit greatly from advances in drop-in biofuels and will continue to spur development of the technology, driving the price per gallon down to competitive levels.

President Signs Farm Bill

President Barack Obama traveled to Michigan State University to sign the Agricultural Act of 2014 at the alma mater of Senate Agriculture Committee chair Debbie Stabenow (D-MI).

fb-signing“Despite its name, the farm bill is not just about helping farmers,” President Obama told the small crowd invited for the signing. “Secretary Vilsack calls it a jobs bill, an innovation bill, an infrastructure bill, a research bill, a conservation bill. It’s like a Swiss Army knife.”

The president also gave a shout out to biofuels production in Michigan in his address prior to the bill signing. “I just got a tour of a facility where you’re working with local businesses to produce renewable fuels,” said Obama. “This bill supports businesses working to develop cutting edge biofuels, like some of the work being done here at Michigan State.”

Listen to the president’s speech here: President Obama farm bill signing

What do you think of the new farm bill? Which part is most important to you? Tell us in this week’s ZimmPoll.

Get Your Sustainable Energy in America Factbook

Bloomberg New Energy Finance has released the 2014 installment of the Sustainable Energy in America Factbook. The resource was developed for The Business Council for Sustainable Energy, and found that renewable energy, natural gas and energy efficiency advancements are leading a transformation of America’s energy.

The 2014 Factbook documents the upward trajectory of energy efficiency, natural gas and renewable energy, using the latest data from 2013. The report finds renewable energy provided 13 percent of U.S. electricity generation in 2013, up from 12 percent in 2012 and just 8 percent in 2007. At the same time, renewable energy costs reached all-time 2014 Sustainable Energy in America Factbooklows, allowing clean energy, with the aid of incentives, to be cheaper than fossil fuel electricity in some parts of the country. Small, distributed generators and off-grid installations, meanwhile, began to emerge as a transformative force in the power industry. Financiers who back small-scale solar systems have raised nearly $6.7 billion since 2008.

“The U.S. energy transformation that began in the mid-2000s gained additional momentum in 2013,” said Lisa Jacobson, president of The Business Council for Sustainable Energy. “The Factbook plays a vital role in chronicling this fast-moving transformation, which is creating whole new industries and thousands of new jobs in the energy efficiency, natural gas and renewable energy sectors.”

The factbook also found that energy efficiency financing is on an upward trend. Spending by energy service companies and by electric and gas utilities totaled more than $12 billion in 2012. Today 31 states and the District of Columbia, representing 77 percent of the U.S. population, have legislation in place to enable the financing of energy efficiency via property-assessed clean energy programs (PACE). Technology for smart grid and for smart homes is making its way into the market and has potential to be pervasive in the future, driving even further efficiency gains in the years ahead.

“The changes unfolding in the U.S. energy industry have been profound and, by the typical time scale of the industry, abrupt,” said Michel Di Capua, Head of North American Analysis for Bloomberg New Energy Finance. “The effects of these changes will be felt in seemingly every nook and cranny of the American economy, from military bases to manufacturing plants, from homes to highways. 2013 saw some detours from the long-term trends, but overall, it is clear that the long-term transformation of how the U.S. produces and consumes energy continues.” Continue reading

Q&A on EPA 2014 RFS Proposal

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has received more than 15,000 comments on its 2014 proposed rules for the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). According to the thousands of Third Way logocomments, should the renewable fuel volumes go forth as proposed, not only would the first generation biofuel industry be harmed, but significant harm would bestow advanced biofuel development including cellulosic ethanol and efforts to develop drop-in biofuels just as biojet fuels and algal-based biofuels.

In response to the many questions surround the proposed rule, with a big one being is it legal or does it go against statue, the online think tank, Third Way, has released a Q&A on EPA’s proposed rule to lower the 2014 renewable fuel volumes.

The document addresses questions on the importance of biofuels, Renewable Identification Numbers (RINS), the status of cellulosic ethanol and more.

We Have A Farm Bill!

baby-farm-billToday the U.S. Senate voted 68-32 to pass the 2014 farm bill after years of work by both Agriculture Committees. The House passed its version of a conference bill Jan. 29, and now the farm bill goes to President Obama’s desk.

The President is expected to sign the bill into law. The Agricultural Act of 2014 expands bio-energy production, supporting non-food based advanced biomass energy production such as cellulosic ethanol and woody biomass power. Specifically, the new Farm Bill funds biomass initiatives for the next five years:

  • Bio-Based Markets for $3 million per year
  • Biomass Research and Development for $3 million per year
  • Biorefinery, Renewable Chemical and Bio-Based Product Manufacturing Assistance Program for $100 million in 2014 and $50 million in 2015 and 2016
  • Biomass Crop Assistance Program for $25 million per year
  • Bioenergy for Advanced Biofuels for $15 million per year

“America’s farmers are core to the innovation that’s driven down our dependence on foreign oil – and this policy will keep them doing it, said Adam Monroe, regional president of the Americas for Novozymes, a global leader in bioenzyme production. There’s already enough concern about energy policy in America with EPA’s proposed revisions to the Renewable Fuel Standard. It’s a power sign to see policy certainty surrounding the energy programs in the farm bill. We thank Congress for taking action and we urge President Obama to swiftly sign it.

Growth Energy is also supportive of the Farm Bill with CEO Tom Buis commenting, “This legislation will encourage further development in biofuels by continuing to fund essential programs such as the Biorefinery Assistance Program, Rural Energy for America Program and Biomass Crop Assistance Program.

“The bottom line is that this bill helps create jobs in rural America and advances first and next generation biofuel production that will help improve our environment and reduce our dangerous addiction to foreign oil.

Louis Dreyfus Purchases ICM SMT Technology

Louis Dreyfus Commodities has signed a contract to purchase two Selective Milling Technologies (SMT) from ICM. The systems will be installed at Louis Dreyfus Commodities Grand Junction, LLC, located in Grand Junction, Iowa, and Elkhorn Valley Ethanol, LLC, Louis Dreyfus Commodities logolocated in Norfolk, Nebraska. According to ICM, SMT is a value-added technology that increases ethanol yield, reduces viscosity and increases oil recovery.

“Our ethanol plants are both located in areas of high feedstock production and we are committed to responsibly investing in these assets to give them further strategic advantages in the industry,” said Bruce R. Chapin, Vice President – Chief Operating Officer, North American Region for Louis Dreyfus. “We are excited to choose Selective Milling Technology as a value-added technology not only because of its proven ability to increase ethanol and oil recovery yields, but also because of the potential we see with ICM’s line of sight that builds upon the SMT platform.”

Chris Mitchell, president of ICM, Inc., said, “ICM is very pleased to continue offering SMT as a yield enhancement solution for our ethanol plant customers. SMT is ICM’s platform technology to our proprietary Fiber Separation Technology and Generation 1.5 Technology. We appreciate the opportunity to work with Louis Dreyfus Commodities, a global merchandiser of commodities and processor of agricultural goods.”

Iowa RFA President Steve Bleyl Seeks Advocates

The new Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (Iowa RFA) President Steve Bleyl is seeking advocates for biofuels. Iowa RFA President Steve BleylWhile giving his remarks to kick off the 8th Annual Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit held in Altoona, Iowa, he had people who were driving flex-fuel vehicles, using E15 or mid-level ethanol blends and driving biodiesel vehicles stand up. Most of the 600 plus attendees were still sitting.

Thus, said Bleyl who works for Green Plains Renewable Energy (they have three ethanol production facilities in Iowa), the industry and consumers need to become better advocates for renewable fuels such as ethanol and biodiesel.

Bleyl noted that Iowa is a motivated state to have higher ethanol blends. The state incentivizes retailers to blend over 10 percent ethanol (E10), and he said you’re starting to see that effect take off. He noted that the IRFA board has given his staff some pretty lofty goals. They want E15 in the state and his goal is to have 100 E15 pumps in Iowa by the end of this year.

I asked Bleyl, so how exactly do we make this goal happen? “I’m in a unique situation. l  will actually write someone at a retail gas chain and tell them, hey, I was at your gas station today and your E85 is not competitively priced. I know what the price should be,” answered Bleyl. But he said he’s not doing it in a way to tell them how to price their fuel, but in a way that let’s them know he realizes they want to do more and he wants to help.

He challenged me and all those at the conference as well as in his interview to be better advocates and call retail chains and write letters and ask for E15 and E85 and biodiesel. He stressed that if retailers know consumers want these fuels, then most of them will offer the fuels to their customers.

His last piece of advice, “Fight globally, but act locally.”

Listen to my interview with Bob Dinneen here: Iowa RFA President Steve Bleyl Seeks Advocates

View the 2014 Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit photo album.