Farmers Co-op Breaks Ground on Renewable Fuels Station

Farmers Cooperative Company has broken ground on the future site of its new Mount Ayr, Iowa renewable fuels retail location. The station will offer consumers higher blends of ethanol and biodiesel including ethanol blends E10, E15 as a registered fuel, E30 and E85, as well as biodiesel blends B10, B20 and B99 for jobbers and special use customers.

Groundbreaking-Group.2“The price of [E10] in Iowa is 17-30 cents below gasoline, so the savings is even greater with higher ethanol blends,” Iowa Governor Terry Branstad told the audience at the groundbreaking ceremony. “I’ve told the EPA, if E15 is offered to give consumers a choice, they will choose cheaper renewable fuels.”

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey told attendees, “For this project, we have a great partnership with [Iowa State University] who will be conducting a study to find out why motorists choose the fuels they do. This is a great opportunity to convince others to make the same type of investment.”

Farmers Cooperative Company was selected to receive $125,000 in funding for the new site from Iowa Governor Terry Branstad’s “Fueling Our Future” program, administered by the Iowa Department of Transportation (IDOT) and the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS). In addition, Farmers Cooperative will receive $100,000 in funding from the Iowa Renewable Fuels Infrastructure Program. Construction will begin later this year.

“We congratulate Farmers Cooperative Company on this great event to celebrate the groundbreaking on a true renewable fuels retail location that will provide consumers with greater access to clean, locally-produced ethanol and biodiesel,” added Iowa Renewable Fuels Association Managing Director Lucy Norton. “With the help of Gov. Branstad’s ‘Fueling Our Future’ program and the Iowa Renewable Fuels Infrastructure Program, Iowans will continue to benefit from fuel choice at locations like this one.”

CHS to Aquire Illinois River Energy

Sinav Limited, based in London, England has signed an agreement with CHS to sell 100 percent of their stock that includes Illinois River Energy. The ethanol plant is based in Rochelle, Illinois and produces 133 million gallons of ethanol per year. Providing all conditions are met, the transaction is expected to close in June.

Illinois River EnergyIllinois River Energy is a top-tier ethanol plant, well-situated in a strategic growth area that will add value to our farmer-owners through expanded grain origination, additional renewable fuels gallons and distillers grain by-products,” said Mark Palmquist, CHS executive vice president and chief operating officer, Ag Business.

CHS markets renewable fuels to energy customers across the U.S. and through 1,400 Cenex- branded retail petroleum outlets, including more than 1,000 Cenex convenience stores, and markets dried distillers grains with solubles (DDGS) globally on behalf of more than 20 ethanol plants across the United States.

“We have enjoyed a strong business relationship with CHS as they have been our ethanol marketer since the start of Illinois River Energy operations in 2006. Today, we look forward to formally joining CHS and adding value to the global cooperative as an ethanol, DDGS, and distillers corn oil producer,” added Richard Ruebe, CEO, Illinois River Energy.

Saudi Oil Money Backing Ethanol Smear Campaign

americans-changeAmericans United for Change and VoteVets.org held a press call today to reveal IRS documents showing that Saudi Oil money is helping to finance the multi-million dollar anti-renewable fuel smear campaign ads that the American Petroleum Institute (API) is waging against ethanol and the Renewable Fuel Standard. Also today, the API held a press call to once again call for the lowering of ethanol volumes as mandated by the RFS. As of today, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has not published its final renewable volume obligations (RVO) for 2014 as they continue to sift through more than 25,000 comments submitted in response to their proposal.

In response to the continued attacks on biofuels, Americans United for Change is launching a Sunday show TV blitz aimed at both the public, legislators and key decisions makers in the Beltway in an attempt to set the record straight. Part of the ad calls out how foreign oil interests are attempting to keep America addicted to dirty petroleum products. According to tax documents, Saudi Arabia has been a funder of API dating back to 2008 and an employee of Saudi Aramco – a company with an estimated worth of $7 trillion by Financial Times, actually held a seat on API’s board.

‘The Kingdom’ will air May 4, 2014 on Meet the Press, Face the Nation, This Week and Fox News Sunday in the Washington, D.C. market.

Listen to the full conference here where Brad Woodhouse, Americans United for Change president “follows the Saudi money”: Saudi Oil Money Backing Ethanol Smear Campaign

Brad Woodhouse, President, Americans United for Change said during the press call, “API’s agenda is very simple and very greedy: they want EPA to cut the amount of renewable fuel in gasoline while raising the amount of crude oil. This is about market share, plain and simple.”

“You see, for every gallon of renewable fuels that is blended into gasoline,” he continued, “it’s one less gallon of gasoline the oil industry can sell. And since the United States already consumes far more oil than we can produce, all of that additional oil will have to be imported. Oil demand goes up, which means prices go up, and consumers send more of our paychecks overseas. So we decided to follow the money, and based on what we found, American Petroleum Institute President Jack Gerard ought to be using air quotes whenever he utters his outfit’s name.”

Woodhouse notes that having a lobbyist for the Saudi King helping call the shots at API, is “deeply troubling.” “They’re funneling Saudi Oil money into a campaign to force us all to buy more Saudi oil, and passing it off as American as apple pie.” Continue reading

ACORE & Lockheed Martin Partner on Energy Education

Lockheed Martin and the American Council On Renewable Energy (ACORE) have formed a partnership to promote renewable energy education through a sponsorship with NASCAR Green, the sustainability arm of the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing, Inc.

“At Lockheed Martin, we’ve been committed to providing innovative energy solutions for decades and we are thrilled to now work alongside ACORE and NASCAR to educate and inspire fans to go green,” said Frank Armijo, vice president of energy solutions at Lockheed Martin. “By helping fans learn more about renewable energy, we can help build a strong, sustainable future.” ACORE Lockheed NASCAR Green Infographic

The goal of the sponsorship is to promote careers in the renewable energy community by highlighting the life-long value of studying science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) in order to build a strong, secure, economically viable and sustainable future. “This is the perfect vehicle for encouraging and engaging young people and lifelong learners to find careers in STEM using renewable energy as their focus,” said ACORE President and CEO, Michael Brower. “A mirror of America, NASCAR fans thrive on the initiative, innovation and determination of their favorite NASCAR drivers and teams. And our renewable energy industry equally mirrors America with our dramatic successes building the new energy infrastructure and bringing down costs in an amazingly short time.”

ACORE and Lockheed Martin will provide educational materials on renewable energy, sustainability and energy security at three NASCAR races in 2014, showcasing various renewable energy technologies and surveying NASCAR fans on their knowledge of renewable energy. The green messages will include technology features of ACORE members including solar panels, biofuels and wind turbines.

“With the educational components of this partnership, ACORE will help to ensure our nation’s youth are equipped to become the next generation of American renewable energy innovators, inventors and industry builders, well-prepared and fully able to create a more prosperous American future built on clean, renewable energy,” said Brower.

In other news, the partners will also target college-aged students for summer fellowship programs for students interested in pursuing a career in alternative energy, renewable energy or energy efficiency. The fellowships were announced during the USA Science and Engineering Festival and begin in the summer of 2015.

DF Cast: Fuels America Fights Back with “Oil Rigged”

Backers of renewable fuels say when it comes to the fight against Big Oil, the fight is rigged… oil rigged.

Recently, Fuels America held a pair of news conferences. The first was to announce the launch of its “Oil Rigged” television and digital ad campaign and OilRigged.com, designed to “expose the many ways the oil industry is rigging the system to protect their profits and block the transition to clean, American renewable fuels.” In addition, Fuels America is backing up its claims with more than just talk, unveiling a new survey showing how renewable fuels have added significantly to the country’s economy, especially in rural areas.

In this edition of the Domestic Fuel Cast, we hear from Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis, Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) president Bob Dinneen, Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) Executive Vice President Brent Erickson, and Jon Doggett with the National Corn Growers Association, talking about how they want to rig the debate back to the facts.

Listen to what they had to say after they listened to ACE: Domestic Fuel Cast - Oil Rigged

You can also subscribe to the DomesticFuel Cast here.

Simplifying Pyrolysis for Bio-Oil Production

pyrolysisoilU.S.Department of Agriculture (USDA) researchers are getting closer to developing a system that will help farmers make their own energy on the farm or produce biofuels for commercial purposes. This article from the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) says scientists have found a way to simplify the pyrolysis processes for bio-oil.

These findings by ARS scientists Charles Mullen and Akwasi Boateng promote the USDA priority of finding new bioenergy sources.

Fast pyrolysis is the process of rapidly heating biomass from wood, plants and other carbon-based materials at high temperatures without oxygen. Using pyrolysis to break down tough feedstocks produces three things: biochar, a gas, and bio-oils that are refined to make “green” gasoline.

The bio-oils are high in oxygen, making them acidic and unstable, but the oxygen can be removed by adding catalysts during pyrolysis. Although this adds to production costs and complicates the process, the resulting bio-oil is more suitable for use in existing energy infrastructure systems as a “drop-in” transportation fuel that can be used as a substitute for conventional fuels.

The article goes on to point out that bio-oils made from oak and switchgrass by the new process had considerably higher energy content than those produced by conventional fast pyrolysis. Oak bio-oil’s energy content was about one-third higher and contained about two-thirds of the energy contained in gasoline. Switchgrass did even better with an energy content that was 42 percent higher, slightly less than three-fourths of the energy content of gasoline.

Get a Piece of the Renewable Energy Funding Pie

Find Grant Funding Now coverProsperity Consulting, LLC has identified two grant programs from the Department of Energy Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) that could make significant investments in alternative forms of energy.

EERE has announced the Biological and Chemical Upgrading for Advanced Biofuels and Products Grant. The grant is focused on supporting production of the fuels from cellulosic sugars, lignocellulose derivatives, lignin, cellulosic alcohols, bio-solids and biogases. Awards range from $1 million to $3.5 million. Concept papers are due on May 1, 2014, and full proposals are due June 13, 2014.

The second grant program from EERE focuses on solar energy. The Solar Market Pathways Grant seeks to drive down solar energy costs and encourage a significant increase in solar deployment. The funding includes costs for planning and stakeholder meetings. Awards range from $1 million to $4 million. Concept papers are due on May 28, 2014, and full proposals are due July 3, 2014.

For companies, universities, communities and others interested in applying for these grants who are seeking assistance, Prosperity Consulting is available to assist. The company aids it clients in market research and feasibility study development as well as the development of strategic plans.

Forbes Flubs Ethanol Facts

forbes_logoA Forbes article by a contributing editor proclaiming that “corn ethanol is of no use” contained such blatant fact errors that the author had to change it.

“Thanks to … commenters for pointing out some errors, especially my failing to mention the tax credits and tariffs have expired,” wrote author James Conca after removing that reference from the story.

Not changed is the manipulation of corn usage data in the story to avoid comparing apples to apples.

In 2000, over 90% of the U.S. corn crop went to feed people and livestock, many in undeveloped countries, with less than 5% used to produce ethanol. In 2013, however, 40% went to produce ethanol, 45% was used to feed livestock, and only 15% was used for food and beverage (AgMRC).

What those simple statements do not say is that:
1. Production in 2000 was 9.968 billion bushels, 40% less than the record 13.9 billion bushel crop harvested last year.
2. The 90% in 2000 included exports.
3. In 2013, 36% of corn usage went to “ethanol and by-products” which includes the equivalent of about one third of that amount returned as distillers grains for livestock feed.
4. Adding in exports, the total usage in 2013 outside of ethanol and by-products is 63%. If you add in about a third of the ethanol number (8.4% according to the source cited by Conca), that would be over 75% going to livestock feed, food uses, seed and exports.

Conca claims he is not “pro-oil” in one of his comment responses about the facts in the article, yet he states as a fact a statement that is blatantly false. “The grain required to fill a 25-gallon gas tank with ethanol can feed one person for a year, so the amount of corn used to make that 13 billion gallons of ethanol will not feed the almost 500 million people it was feeding in 2000.” Only livestock eat the field corn that produces ethanol and while exports of U.S. corn have declined some in recent years, global production continues to increase.

In response to a very well written comment pointing out some of the facts omitted from the article, Conca writes that he “did not know that China was importing so much Distillers Grain, that’s wonderful and does change the economics. And thank you for pointing out the taxes and tariffs have expired.”

He adds that he thinks the United States needs to “proceed full-steam on all fronts, including biofuels, and that all technologies should be supported thoroughly.” Unfortunately, articles like these perpetuating misinformation and flat out falsehoods make it difficult for biofuels to compete against detractors.

Growth Energy Celebrates Earth Day

Today is Earth Day and people from all over the country are doing “green” things to celebrate Mother Earth. Growth Energy is taking today to discuss how the ethanol industry is committed earth_day_2014_wallpaperto improving the environment through the development of biofuels that reduce greenhouse gases.

“Our industry is committed to taking steps to mitigate harmful greenhouse gas emissions that have been shown to be a driving force in environmental damage,” said Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy. “That is why we are committed to producing clean, green, renewable and biodegradable fuels that are reducing our dependence on fossil fuels and are better for our environment.”

Buis notes that the benefits of using renewable fuels such as ethanol are tremendous.

For example, here are some facts about renewable fuels and the policy that promotes them: the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS):

  • As a result of the RFS, ethanol is reducing greenhouse gases by an average of 34 percent compared to gasoline, according to the Argonne National Laboratory.
  • In fact, in 2013, the 13.2 billion gallons of ethanol blended into gasoline in the United States helped reduce greenhouse gas emissions from on-road vehicles by approximately 38 million metric tons, which is the equivalent of removing roughly 8 million automobiles from the road.
  • A main source of air pollution is automobile exhaust. A solution is to add oxygenates like ethanol to fuel. By increasing the amount of oxygen in the fuel, ethanol enhances engine combustion and reduces harmful tailpipe emissions of carbon monoxide, particulate matter, oxides of nitrogen and other ozone pollutants.
  • Just a 10 percent blend of ethanol in fuel reduces tailpipe fine particulate matter emissions by 50 percent, while also reducing secondary particulate matter formation by diluting the aromatics contained in gasoline. This blend also reduces carbon monoxide emissions by up to 30 percent.

“As you can see, homegrown American fuels are truly making a difference when it comes to improving our environment. That is why it is imperative on this Earth Day to impress upon lawmakers the importance of the RFS and ensure they continue to support this successful energy policy,” added Buis.  “We need to continue on the path of innovation, and the partnership between first and next generation clean burning, biodegradable, environmentally friendly fuels, and the RFS is doing just that. We have come so far. Now is the time to move forward, not backward.”

Ethanol Groups Fight Back with “Oil Rigged”

fuels-americaA coalition of biofuels organizations is fighting back against the oil industry by launching a new campaign called “Oil Rigged.”

Members of Fuels America today unveiled the details of its new “Oil Rigged” television and digital ad campaign and OilRigged.com designed to “expose the many ways the oil industry is rigging the system to protect their profits and block the transition to clean, American renewable fuels.” The announcement included representatives of member organizations Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), Growth Energy, and Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO).

“They’ve rigged Washington,” said Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis, noting the oil industry has spent $855 million on lobbyists and campaign contributions over the past five years “more than a million dollars for every member of the House and Senate.” He added that the oil industry has also rigged the market “by refusing to invest in the infrastructure” to sell higher blends of ethanol, rigged the tax code and rigged the debate over renewable fuels.

oil-rigged“They are trying to rig the debate with misinformation, junk science and misleading ads all designed to scare consumers and Congress about ethanol to protect their market share,” said RFA president Bob Dinneen.

The group chose Earth Day for starting the campaign to make the point that biofuels are making a positive difference for the environment. “What we’re really talking about here is doing the right thing for the planet,” said Brent Erickson, BIO Executive Vice President. “Of everything the United States is doing from a policy standpoint to reduce carbon pollution, the Renewable Fuel Standard is making the biggest impact by far.”

Listen to all the comments from Buis, Dinneen and Erickson here: Fuels America Oil Rigged Campaign

Ethanol First Spotlight Topic for MyNewHolland.com

MyNewHolland.comToday is the launch of MyNewHolland.com. This new virtual community is set up to provide a meeting place to share information, contribute to farming related discussions and access premium contents and services. It is very simple to create your account by visiting MyNewHolland.com. Then you’ll have access to the features currently active.

A list of features includes:

  • My New Holland: a new online community for all
  • The Spotlight: discussions on a variety of topical subjects in the farming world
  • The first Spotlight: ethanol and renewable energy
  • Valuable information resources: instructional videos, white papers and more
  • Premium content: owners of New Holland equipment and Precision Land Management products gain access to useful materials that will help them get the most from their machines
  • Easy registration and log in through social networks

The Spotlight discussion is a key feature of MyNewHolland.com. Each discussion will feature a guest farmer or industry expert who supports a farming-related topic. All My New Holland members are invited to contribute their comments, opinions, material or images, driving the conversation forward. Each discussion will be open for a number of weeks; subsequently a white paper will be produced and made available for downloading.

Ron Clauson MyNewHolland.comThe first Spotlight discussion topic is “Ethanol: Renewable Energy for America – Profit for American Farmers.” Our guest is Indiana farmer Ron Clauson. His farm has produced corn for ethanol production for the last eight years and he’s passionate about it.

“One hundred percent of the corn and soybeans we produce go into ethanol and biodiesel,” Clauson says. “It makes me proud to be able to say we market our crops to produce fuel that reduces dependence on imports.”

There are several questions being posed in this first Spotlight discussion for you to respond to and your feedback is highly appreciated.

  • Are you producing a crop for ethanol production? If so, what type and why?
  • How would a change in the Renewable Fuel Standard impact your community and you personally?
  • What do you think about the misleading claims against ethanol by critics and what can farmers do about it?

I am very proud to be assisting our long time sponsor in the daily management of MyNewHolland.com in this startup phase. To get some more perspective on it I spoke with New Holland Director of Marketing for North America, Mark Hooper, while visiting headquarters in Pennsylvania recently. He says there are many more features planned for MyNewHolland.com as the community grows and develops.

You can listen to Mark talk about MyNewHolland.com here: Interview with Mark Hooper

So there you have it. The website is live and available for you to create your personal login and let New Holland know what you think, especially about the first Spotlight discussion. See you there.

Biofuel Groups Oppose RFS Delay Request

Leading biofuel industry groups are opposing a delay requested by petroleum industry in a 2013 Renewable Fuel Standard case.

Dont Mess with RFSThe Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) and Growth Energy together filed a joint response yesterday in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in opposition to the American Petroleum Institute’s and American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers’ motion to “sever and hold in abeyance their challenge to the 2013 Renewable Fuel Standard” that was filed on Friday. The case is Monroe Energy, LLC v. United States Environmental Protection Agency, which was argued before the Court on April 7.

As the groups explained in their response to the motion, “Respondent-Intervenors Biotechnology Industry Organization, Growth Energy, and Renewable Fuels Association oppose the motion to sever API and AFPM’s petitions and place them in abeyance. The petitions have been fully briefed, responded to, and argued. No purpose is served by pulling API and AFPM’s petitions back a week after argument, to hold them indefinitely and consolidate them with hypothetical later-filed petitions.”

Farm Group Agrees with Climate Change Report

NFUlogoThe National Farmers Union (NFU) agrees with the new Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report that renewable energy must play a significant role in climate change mitigation.

“The working group’s report complements NFU’s long-held, member-led policy positions by recognizing the need for a comprehensive renewable energy strategy,” said NFU vPresident Roger Johnson. “Tripling or even quadrupling the share of zero- and low-carbon energy supply from renewables, as the report recommends, will require significant investments in energy technologies that utilize rural America’s renewable and human resources. These investments would pay off not only by helping to mitigate the effects of climate change but by driving significant rural economic development.”

WGIII_AR5_Cover_webThe IPCC third working group report released this week finds that climate change is occurring at a rapid rate, but mitigation strategies such as scaling up renewable energy production could substantially reduce anthropogenic greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

According to the report, total anthropogenic GHG emissions have continued to increase over 1970 to 2010 in spite of a growing number of climate change mitigation policies. Total anthropogenic GHG emissions were the highest in human history from 2000 to 2010. Without additional efforts to reduce GHG emissions beyond those in place today, emissions growth is expected to persist, driven by growth in global population and economic activities.

U.S. Clean Energy Struggling from Policy Uncertainty

According to research from The Pew Charitable Trusts, the U.S. clean energy sector continues to be buffeted by policy uncertainty with 2013 investment down 9 percent from 2012 to $36.7 billion. The annual report, “Who’s Winning the Clean Energy Race? 2013,” found that steep declines in the installation of wind overshadowed a record annual deployment of 4.4 gigawatts of solar.

THE PEW CHARITABLE TRUSTS“Lower technology prices have made the small-distributed solar market very competitive, and the United States has been a leader in developing innovative financing models that are spurring steadily increasing deployment,” said Phyllis Cuttino, director of Pew’s clean energy program. “We also remain a world leader in venture capital, biofuels, and energy-smart technologies, like smart meters and LED lighting. Wind, however, has been subject to the vagaries of U.S. energy policy. As Congress debates tax extenders, it should aim to level the playing field, accelerate clean energy deployment, and provide long-term certainty to investors.”

The report found in the U.S. marketplace, solar technology prices have declined 60 percent since 2011, and new financing models have spurred more than $17 billion in investment, a 7 percent increase from 2012. The U.S. continued to garner world-leading financing in the biofuels and energy efficient/low-carbon technology subsectors. It also remained the dominant recipient of public market and venture capital/private equity investment, attracting $6.8 billion and $2.2 billion, respectively.

Although wind investment was relatively stable at $14 billion, U.S. wind installations in 2013 were down more than 90 percent—from more than 13 GW in 2012 to less than 1 GW last year found the report. When the production tax credit was renewed in early 2013, slight changes in the law precipitated deferrals in deployment of new wind capacity into 2014, when a strong rebound in capacity additions was forecast. By comparison, China deployed 12.1 GW of solar and 14.1 GW of wind capacity.

The regional and global market remains dominated by China, attracting $54.2 billion, with the U.S. in second place. Japan was third with $28.6 billion. Globally, clean energy investment fell 11 percent, to $254 billion, and renewable power generating capacity additions declined by 1 percent in 2013. Overall, installed clean energy capacity reached 735 GW.

USDA Rural Development Supports Biofuel Investment

USDA Rural Business-Cooperative Service Administrator Lillian Salerno went on a three-state Midwest tour last week to highlight USDA investments that are helping expand business opportunities in the bio-economy, including biofuels.

usda-salerno“Creating jobs and expanding economic opportunity for rural small businesses are top priorities for the Obama Administration,” said Salerno, who visited companies in Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota. “The new Farm Bill expands the potential for economic growth in rural America by maintaining momentum for the emerging bio-based industry and the more than 3,000 bio-based companies across the country.”

Salerno’s tour started with a visit to Quad County Corn Processors near Galva, Iowa where they are working on a process to turn corn kernel fibers into cellulosic ethanol and as a result boost the plant’s ethanol production. “It’s a co-op, so all the farmers around there have a vested interest in making this processing unit work,” she said. The company has received nearly $22 million in USDA Rural Development loan guarantees since it opened 13 years ago.

Salerno noted that the United States has the capacity to provide one billion tons of biomass per year by 2030. “This has a possibility of hundreds of thousands of jobs – actually 1.7 million estimated,” she said.