Ethanol Advocates Unite for RFS

Eight ethanol-advocating organizations joined together to champion the success of the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) in a letter to Congressional leaders this week.

The letter addressed to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), Senator Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), House Speaker John Boehner(R-OH) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) highlighted “ethanol’s proven ability to lower gas prices and reduce this country’s dependence upon foreign oil” and pointed out that any changes to the RFS “could dampen investment in the development of next generation biofuels.”

The groups signing the letter were the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE), the Advanced Ethanol Council (AEC), Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), the Energy Future Coalition, Growth Energy, the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA), the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), and the 25×25 Alliance.

“Today, ethanol is approximately $1 cheaper than gasoline and blending ethanol into U.S. gasoline saves consumers at the pump,” the letter noted. “Thanks in part to the RFS, U.S. oil imports fell below 50 percent in 2010 for the first time since 1997, and, oil imports stand at just 45 percent today. Ethanol accounts for 81 percent of all new domestic fuel production since 2005.”

Ethanol advocates are also meeting with Congressional representatives this week on Capitol Hill to talk about the importance of renewable, domestic fuels. “This week, I am with a number of other corn growers and leaders in the biofuels industry in Washington to drive home the message that the ethanol industry is an important part of the rural economy and that it plays an important role in moving our nation’s energy independence forward,” said NCGA President Garry Niemeyer, a corn grower from Illinois. “The Renewable Fuel Standard is an important tool to help decrease our reliance on foreign oil by supporting jobs here at home.”

More than 60 grassroots members of the American Coalition for Ethanol are in Washington this week for the annual “Biofuels Beltway March.”

Dates for 2012 Process Optimization Seminar Announced

It may seem like only yesterday the last Process Optimization Seminar took place but the next seminar is right around the corner. You do not want to miss out; every past seminar has been sold out well before the deadline. This year’s conference will be taking place on July 17-18, 2012 at the Hilton President Kansas City.  The seminar is targeted for operators of ethanol plants and is focused on helping a plant achieve its highest level of profitability from its fermentation process.

The seminar features four separate areas of education:

  • Antimicrobials – This session will focus on solutions for and preventing infection and is sponsored by Phibro Ethanol Performance Group.
  • Water Treatment – This session will build on the basic of proper water treatment and is sponsored by Fremont Industries.
  • Yeast Management – This session will address the specific needs of the bioethanol producer in terms of fermentation performance and is sponsored by Fermentis.
  • Enzyme Management – This session will address optimization needs from an enzyme perspective in bioethanol processing facilities and is sponsored by Novozymes.

Attendees will be broken into groups and during the two-day seminar will attend each in-depth session. The knowledge gained by the operator will be able to be put to immediate use in the plant.

The Process Optimization Seminar is not just all about hard work and invaluable information, it is also about fun. All attendees will also have the opportunity to attend a Kansas City Royals versus Seattle Mariners game on July 17th and will watch the game in a suite at Kauffman Stadium. So don’t miss out! Early registration is now open for the investment of $325 and ends on July 6th. Registration after July 6th is $375 based on availability. You can register at  www.processoptimizationseminar.com.

Low Carbon Fuel Standard Could Double Gas Prices

A new study released today by the Consumer Energy Alliance (CEA) indicates that a low carbon fuel standard (LCFS) in Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states could result in doubling gasoline prices and other negative economic impacts.

The study, “Analysis of the Economic Impact of a Regional Low Carbon Fuel Standard on Northeast/Mid-Atlantic States,” estimates that an LCFS over ten years would result in the loss of 147,000 jobs, decrease disposable income by $28.8 billion, and result in a combined negative economic impact of $306 billion.

Eleven Northeast and Mid-Atlantic (NE/MA) states have been evaluating the implementation of a LCFS through an initiative coordinated by the Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management (NESCAUM), which released a final report in August of last year – an analysis that CEA believes was “lacking in depth, methodology and analysis, and failed to account for the region’s energy needs.”

CEA Executive Vice President Michael Whatley said their study found that “NESCAUM relied on flawed assumptions about the market’s ability to secure an adequate supply of biofuels, the infrastructure needed to support that demand, and the projected replacement of existing vehicles. These findings further support an analysis conducted by IHS-CERA in October 2011 that found NESCAUM’s economic analysis to be deeply flawed and riddled with unrealistic assumptions regarding the availability and price of advanced biofuels, electric and natural gas powered vehicles during the timeframe of the potential LCFS mandate.”

Listen to or download comments from Whatley during a press conference this morning: CEA's Michael Whatley

Read the study here.

All-Florida Ag Show Announced

April 25-26, 2012 is the date for the new All-Florida Ag Show sponsored by Florida Grower and the Highland County Farm Bureau. The event will take place at the Highlands County Fair Convention Center in Sebring, Florida and will bring together a diverse group of agribusiness leaders ranging from fruits to vegetables to livestock to biofuels. There will also be a wide array of topics discussed during the show including labor, water, alternative energy, crop opportunities and more.

“The All Florida Ag Show is an important event to support as it provides a unique opportunity to anyone who has interest in Florida’s agriculture to meet under one roof and learn about new opportunities, as well as common challenges that our industry faces today and in the future,” stated Scott Kirouac, president of Highlands County Farm Bureau.

Several speakers have confirmed including Rich Budell, FDACS Water Policy Chief and Jack Payne, senior vice-president, UF/IFAS, John Hoblick, president, Florida Farm Bureau. In addition, Adam Putnam, Florida Agriculture Commissioner has been invited along with many other agricultural experts. There is also an expansive trade show area planned for the event.

For more information visit: www.allfloridaag.com.

Volkswagen Partners to Promote Renewable Fuels

In a collaborative partnership to promote the use of renewable diesel in its current and next-generation clean diesel passenger vehicles, Volkswagen of America Inc. is partnering with Amyris Inc. and Solazyme Inc., two of the world’s leaders in renewable fuels, to evaluate emissions reductions and demonstrate the performance of Volkswagen’s TDI Clean Diesel technology.

Under the agreements, Volkswagen will provide each company with two products—a new 2012 Passat TDI and a 2012 Jetta TDI—in order to closely examine the effects that the fuels produced by Amyris and Solazyme will have on Volkswagen clean diesel technology and the environment.

“Partnering with two leaders in advanced biofuel technology supports Volkswagen’s goal of offering a competitive suite of technologies that help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve fuel efficiency and fit the diverse needs of our customers,” said Jurgen Leohold, head of Volkswagen Group Research. “In order to achieve our long-term desire of bringing CO2-neutral mobility to the market, advanced gasoline and diesel engines like TDI Clean Diesel technology must play a major role; and renewable energies to power these advanced powertrains are needed on a large scale.”

During the year-long evaluation, Volkswagen will measure the environmental impacts from the use of cleaner burning renewable diesel formulas. Initial analysis indicates that while advanced biofuels are comparable to standard diesel blends in terms of performance, there are tremendous opportunities to reduce vehicle emissions.

“Amyris’ renewable diesel’s proven superior cold weather performance, high cetane and comparable energy density to petroleum diesel have enabled us to obtain one of the highest blending registrations certified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency,” said Mario Portela, Chief Operating Officer, Amyris. “Our partnership with Volkswagen, like our work in Brazil, where nearly 200 buses are running on various blends of Amyris diesel, is another important milestone in expanding OEM acceptance by showing our fuels eliminate the performance challenges of first generation biofuels while still enabling significant reductions in greenhouse gas and tailpipe emissions.”

“Volkswagen has continually been at the forefront of automotive innovation providing safe, quality, and environmentally sound vehicles to consumers,” said Rogerio Manso, Chief Commercialization Officer, Solazyme. “Solazyme’s 100 percent drop-in renewable diesel is compatible with existing infrastructure and vehicles, and provides the world-class engine manufacturer with an advanced diesel replacement that drives significant Greenhouse Gases (GHG) as well as ground-level emission reductions.”

IFRA: Back Biodiesel

The rule to increase the 2013 Biomass-Based Diesel volumes under the RFS to 1.28 billion gallons needs swift action by President Obama according to the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IFRA). The organization sent a letter to the president urging his administration to keep its track record of support for biodiesel and approve the requested increase for 2013.

IRFA President Brad Albin said that with biodiesel plants in nearly every state in the U.S, including 13 plants in Iowa, the increase in volumes would “support family-wage, skilled, green-collar jobs while decreasing our reliance on costly foreign oil and harmful tailpipe emissions.”

According to a study by Cardo ENTRIX, the .28 billion increase would support more than 10,000 new jobs. In total, the industry would contribute $2.7 billion to household income and $4.9 billion in GDP. As a U.S. Senator, Obama was an active biodiesel supporter. However, at the end of 2011, his administration announced that it would delay the decision on the RFS volume increase and the industry is still waiting for an answer.

“This is an important issue for the biodiesel industry and absolutely critical here in Iowa. IRFA calls on the Obama Administration to approve this modest volume increase as soon as possible,” said IRFA Biofuels Manager Grant Menke. He added that by the end of 2011, the industry was operating at a capacity of 1.4 billion gallons and is capable of meeting the increased target.

USDA Plays Biofuels “Matchmaker”

USDAThe U.S. Department of Agriculture will be hosting a “match making day” later this month to promote connections between agricultural producers of energy feedstocks with biorefiners seeking to produce biofuels for commercial sale and consumption.

Officials from the U.S. Department of Navy, U.S. Department of Energy, and the Federal Aviation Administration will also attend the March 30 event at USDA headquarters with the goal being to improve awareness and increase understanding of the biofuels supply-chain links between those involved in feedstock production and the processors of that feedstock into biofuels, including logistical challenges, potential roles of service providers, and potential pitfalls.

At this meeting, federal officials will provide a short profile of each section of the supply chain and representatives from the participating stakeholders will respond with brief presentations that outline their experiences in that respective supply chain sector, barriers encountered and lessons learned. They will outline potential growth and opportunities.
Short presentations will be made at the top of each hour leaving time for discussion at each table, at which a representative from each of the sectors of the biofuels supply chain should be seated, as well as one or more government official.

The event is free but participants must register by sending an email to: OSEC-RESupplyChain@osec.usda.gov with information on company, names and titles of attendees and position on the biofuels production value chain (i.e., feedstock seed developer or provider, feedstock grower or harvester, feedstock processor, feedstock transporter, feedstock storer, bio-refiner, feedstock machinery manufacturer/provider, other). More information is available by calling 202-401-0461.

Cobalt Forms New Bio n-Butanol Partnership

The Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division (NAWCWD) is in the final stage of a biojet fuel project using bio n-butanol produced by Cobalt Technologies. Albemarle Corporation, a chemical company, will use NAWCWD technologies to process Cobalt’s fuel into renewable jet fuel. The project is underway in Albemarle’s Baton Rouge, Louisiana processing facility.

Dr. Michael D. Seltzer, head of NAWCWD’s Technology Transfer Program said its production run of Cobalt’s bio n-butanol is proving to be another attractive pathway to create sustainable jet fuel for both the military as well as commercial aviation.  “We are proud to be working in partnership with Cobalt and Albemarle to create this renewable jet fuel and we look forward to testing the end result.”

The project is funded by NAWCWD and was launched in February 2012. Once completed the bio jet fuel will be tested by the U.S. Naval Air Warfare Center – Aircraft Division as part of the process to achieve military certification for the use of the fuel. The next step after testing will be to engage in larger production runs and additional test flights.

“This is a significant milestone not only for our collective team, but for the greater industry looking to advance sustainable jet fuels,” commented Bob Mayer, CEO of Cobalt Technologies. He added that it has been a pleasure working with the U.S. Navy to advance testing and are pleased with the choice of Albemarle as their processing partner.

Susie The Biodiesel Bike Ready For The Highway

The COO for the National Biodiesel Board, Donnell Rehagen, proudly displayed Susie, the Biodiesel Bike, to a local audience at the organization’s headquarters in Jefferson City, MO. The event happened just in time for National Biodiesel Day on March 18.

National Biodiesel Board member CIMA Green partnered with Paul Sr. and Orange County Choppers to craft a high performance diesel motorcycle ready to run on biodiesel. The motorcycle will be featured on two episodes of the hit Discovery Channel show American Chopper on March 19th and April 9th.

Originally unveiled at the Biodiesel Conference & Expo in Orlando, FL, the bike is scheduled for several stops from coast to coast to promote biodiesel.

• March 22-24, Mid-America Trucking Show – Louisville, KY
• May 1-3, Atlantic Region Energy Expo – Atlantic City, NJ
• May 14-17, ACT Expo – Long Beach, CA
• August 28 – September 3, Farm Progress Show – Boone, IA
• October 2-3, Green Fleet Conference – Schaumburg, IL

You can listen to my interview with Donnell here: Interview with Donnell Rehagen

Sorghum for Ethanol Increases

Early March is an important time for the agricultural industry when they come together for Commodity Classic. With the challenges facing both the ag and energy industries, which go hand-in-hand, Terry Swanson, Chairman of the National Sorghum Producers said, “We have to be unified.”

When compared to other commodities used to produce biofuels, sorghum growers are a relatively small group. Today, about one third of the sorghum crop is used to make ethanol. However, the industry is hoping to see that number grow. For this to happen, Swanson said they need to speak with one voice.

Swanson, who is a grower in Colorado, said that biofuels and the issues surrounding them, including the RFS, are very important. The RFS is the major driver of increased ethanol use in the U.S. today.

To learn more about sorghum and ethanol, listen to Chuck Zimmerman’s interview with Terry Swanson. Interview with Terry Swanson

Sustainable Biofuels Awards Presented

biofuelsThe Sustainable Biofuels Awards were presented this week at the World Biofuels Markets 2012 Congress in Rotterdam, Netherlands.

The awards include biofuels leadership, technology, adoption, bioethanol, biodiesel, feedstock innovation, innovation in aviation, biopower generation and bio-based chemicals and are determined based on judging by an elite panel of independent industry experts, with final voting by individuals in the general biofuels industry.

2012 Sustainable Biofuels Awards Winners:

Biofuels Leadership Award – Novozymes
Sustainable Biofuels Technology Award – LS9
Biofuels Adoption Award – City of Stockholm
Sustainable Bioethanol Award – Abengoa
Sustainable Biodiesel Award – Vale
Sustainable Feedstock Innovation – DuPont Cellulosic Ethanol
Innovation in Aviation – Boeing
Sustainable Biopower Generation Facility – Envergent Technologies
Leader in Bio-based Chemical Industry – Kiverdi

Bioenergy Interests Invited to Attend Capitol Hill Day

A diverse group of bioenergy stakeholders is holding a Capitol Hill Day for Bioenergy in Washington, DC on March 21.

The event is being sponsored by a number of organizations including the 25x’25 Alliance, American Farm Bureau Federation, Advance Biofuels Organization, Algal Biomass Organization, American Council on Renewable Energy, Biomass Power Association, Energy Future Coalition, National Alliance of Forest Owners, National Farmers Union, and SAFER Alliance.

The groups are holding the event to draw attention to the fact that renewables make up nearly 12 percent of all energy produced in the U.S., such as fuels, electricity and thermal energy from biomass, and that bioenergy reduces the nation’s risks from dependence on foreign oil, strengthens our economy and ensures the continued, sustainable management of our natural resources.

The day will include a morning briefing with congressional members and trade group association leaders on bioenergy issues, small group visits to educate Congressional leaders and their staffs, an evening reception on Capitol Hill to network with other industry stakeholders, Congressional staff, and association partners.

Anyone in the bioenergy sector is welcome to take part in the event – registration and other information is available on-line.

Progress in Blueprint for Secure Energy Future

The White House today released a one-year progress report on the “Blueprint for a Secure Energy Future,” the Administration’s all-of-the-above approach to American energy.

Among the highlights noted in the report is that the plan has resulted in a doubling of renewable energy generation from wind, solar, and geothermal sources since 2008. According to the report, “Since 2009, DOI has approved 29 onshore renewable energy projects—about 6,600 megawatts—including: 16 solar projects, 5 wind farms, and 8 geothermal facilities. These projects include the first solar projects ever permitted on public lands.”

In the area of developing advanced alternative fuels, the report notes that in 2010, “President Obama set a goal of breaking ground on at least four commercial scale cellulosic or advanced biorefineries by 2013. That goal has been accomplished, one year ahead of schedule. Together, these projects, and associated demonstration and pilot projectswill produce a combined total of nearly 100 million gallons per year of advanced biofuels capacity.”

In addition, EPA’s continued implementation of the National Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) has supported a growing domestic renewable fuels industry. Last year, industry reported production of approximately 14 billion gallons of renewable fuels, about 8% of total U.S. highway vehicle fuel. In fact, U.S. biofuel production is at its highest level, as average monthly production increased more than 40 percent between 2008 and 2011. EPA worked with stakeholders in evaluating new fuel technologies and feedstocks to support expanded opportunity for these fuels to be an important part of the domestic transportation fuel market. To help support deployment of advanced fuel infrastructure, in 2011, the Department of Agriculture provided over $4 million in grants to fund 265 flex fuel dispensers in 30 states.

The report also made note of progress in the development of aviation biofuels, more alternative fueled vehicles in the federal fleet and the launch of the National Clean Fleets Partnership, an initiative to help large, private sector companies improve the efficiency of their fleets and reduce the country’s dependence on oil.

Read the report here.

Butamax Granted Patent for Iso-Butanol

butamax Butamax Advanced Biofuels LLC, has been granted patent number 8,129,162 for production of iso-butanol from biological resources.

This latest patent was issued from a series of applications covering modified KARI enzymes that optimize production of biobutanol by Butamax’s proprietary microorganisms. These microorganisms are engineered with the isobutanol biosynthetic pathway invented by Butamax that includes five enzymatic steps that convert sugar to isobutanol. The KARI enzyme performs the second step of the pathway which is fundamental to achieving high biobutanol yield. This latest invention is essential to best cost of manufacture position.

Since 2003, the Butamax team has pioneered new technology innovations in order to offer the most cost-effective production of biobutanol for the transportation fuels market. The company will continue its commitment to innovation in the areas of biocatalyst, engineering design and end-use applications to deliver maximum value to licensees.

“With these new KARI enzymes, we have achieved a significant improvement in performance, which is necessary for low-cost commercial production of biobutanol,” said Paul Beckwith, Butamax CEO. “We are pleased that our research team continues to be recognized for their innovation in biobutanol technology. Their work has led to the only cost-effective retrofit option that enables existing ethanol manufacturers to produce drop-in biofuels.”

Amendment Would Extend Domestic Energy Tax Credits

Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) introduced an amendment to the Transportation Bill (S.1813) Thursday that would extend tax incentives for domestically produced energy sources, including biodiesel, ethanol, cellulosic biofuels, electric vehicles, wind energy and solar.

The measure would re-instate and extend the $1 per gallon biodiesel tax incentive, which expired at the end of last year, and the Advanced Energy Manufacturing Tax Credit, which expired in 2010.

The amendment also includes extending tax credits for companies that install charging stations for electric vehicles and alternative fuel dispensers, like ethanol blender and E85 pumps. It would extend the $1.01/gallon production tax credit for cellulosic biofuel production through 2014, for grants in lieu of tax credits to eligible solar projects, and the Production Tax Credit for wind energy. “We cannot allow a tax increase on American businesses that are creating clean energy jobs in America,” said Senator Stabenow.

The amendment is one of 30 the Senate is considering before a vote on the final legislation takes place, possibly next week. Several of those were considered Thursday, most were rejected, and the remaining amendments are scheduled to be taken up on Tuesday.

Stabenow, who chairs the Senate Agriculture Committee, spoke to members of the agriculture community gathered in Washington DC Wednesday night for National Ag Day festivities. During a brief interview, she was asked if she thought maintaining the Renewable Fuel Standard was more important to agriculture than a new Farm Bill. “I think they’re both important. The farm bill covers everything from support for production agriculture, risk management, crop insurance, nutrition in schools,” she said. “Obviously energy is important to that as well. We need both.”

Listen to Senator Stabenow comment here: Senator Debbie Stabenow

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