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.

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

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.

Americans Vote for Biofuels

According to a new national poll conducted by American Viewpoint on behalf of the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), Americans support the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and other key federal initiatives that support the expanded use of biofuels such as ethanol. Sixty-five percent of adults support the RFS, up from 61 percent in 2012.

E85 pump in Ottumwa Iowa

Photo: Joanna Schroeder

Bob Dinneen, RFA president and CEO said of the poll results, “It is telling that support for the RFS continues to grow in spite of the relentless attacks on ethanol and the RFS financed by Big Oil’s deep pockets. Repeatedly Americans have decisively said they place a premium on energy independence, job creation, and a cleaner environment.”

For these reasons and more, Americans overwhelmingly support the RFS for its ability to strengthen this great nation,” continued Dinneen. “Members of Congress and the Obama Administration should review this data before taking action to reduce or eliminate a program with broad national appeal and tangible energy and environmental benefits.”

Expanding on the polling results, Dinneen added, “Americans see great value in investing in the next generation of fuel, cellulosic ethanol, and they support the idea of an open fuel standard which encourages the manufacturing of cars that run on any number of alternatives to petroleum. In fact, Americans appear to have a visceral dislike for the billions and billions of dollars in government subsidies and special tax treatment that Big Oil has enjoyed for 100 years.”

Sixty-six percent of the respondents favor incentives for the expansion of cellulosic ethanol while 78 percent of respondents favor auto manufacturers to build cars that will run on fuel other than oil. In addition, 66 percent of respondents oppose oil company subsidies while only 22 percent favor oil subsidies.

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DuPont Calls for Support of RFS

In testimony before the Senate Agriculture Committee, Jan Koninckx, global business director for Biorefineries at DuPont, called on Congress to preserve the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), which Koninckx said has spurred hundreds of millions of dollars of private investment in advanced biofuels and is expediting the transition from a petroleum-based to a bio-based global economy.

Koninckx delivered his testimony as part of a Committee hearing on advanced biofuels’ role in creating jobs and lowering gasoline prices. He emphasized the scope of the opportunity and also how quickly the promise of biofuels has been realized.

“The bottom line here is that driven by the RFS, we have completely re-imagined how we fuel our planet. We do so with renewable resources without adding any additional CO2 into the atmosphere. It is a remarkable DuPont Logoachievement. And when you look at this from the perspective of a science company – this has actually gone quite fast,” said Koninckx.

“Certainly faster than the fossil fuel industry developed over a century ago and with a footprint they still can’t come close to achieving today. DuPont has over 210 years of bringing scientific innovation to market. In my estimation, we’ve never delivered this type of disruptive technology so quickly,” he added.

Koninckx cited DuPont’s investment in biofuels, including cellulosic technologies that use corn stover – or the crop waste left over after a corn harvest – to produce ethanol.

“For the past four years we have brought together growers, academia, public institutions like the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and custom equipment makers to conduct harvest trials on corn stover. Together, we have developed an entirely new model for biomass harvest, transportation and supply to a biorefinery. It is cost competitive and fully sustainable – preserving the land for generations to come.”

DuPont also is leading the industry in the development of another type of advanced renewable fuel, biobutanol, Koninckx noted, pointing out that the company’s joint venture Butamax with partner BP, is on track for commercial scale production in the United States around 2015. Biobutanol, with advanced fuel properties and high energy density helps to further secure U.S. leadership in the global biofuels market.

“The Renewable Fuel Standard is working as intended. 2014 is a watershed in our history as an industry – the year we take this technology commercial – and a critical year for all parties to remain steadfast in their commitment to biofuels,” Koninckx concluded.

Syngenta Partners with Cellulosic Ethanol Technologies

Syngenta has reached an agreement with Cellulosic Ethanol Technologies, LLC, to license its Adding Cellulosic Ethanol technology, a new process for ethanol plants. Adding Cellulosic Ethanol technology has been shown to significantly increase a plant’s ethanol production while delivering other benefits such as increased corn oil production and higher protein content in dried distillers grains (DDGs).

Quad County Corn Processors SignCellulosic Ethanol Technologies, LLC, is a wholly owned subsidiary of Quad County Corn Processors (QCCP), and is currently being added to the QCCP ethanol plant in Galva, Iowa. The process is expected to go online in May 2014. Testing to date demonstrates the concept will run successfully at full commercial scale.

“We are continuously looking at new technologies that will contribute to the future success of the ethanol industry, and we are very excited about the opportunities that are emerging,” said David Witherspoon, head of renewable fuels for Syngenta. “We believe the new Adding Cellulosic Ethanol process will be a critical component in the development and commercialization of advanced and cellulosic ethanol.”

By converting corn kernel fiber into cellulosic ethanol in a bolt-on process, Adding Cellulosic Ethanol technology is designed to increase a plant’s ethanol production. In combination with the Enogen corn trait from Syngenta, Adding Cellulosic Ethanol technology allows the corn kernel fiber and starch to be converted into ethanol. Syngenta says Enogen trait technology is the only corn output trait designed specifically to enhance ethanol production.

“The integration of the Adding Cellulosic Ethanol process into the QCCP plant operation will help create a higher protein feed, 2.5 times more corn oil and more ethanol out of the same kernel of corn,” said Delayne Johnson, chief executive officer of QCCP. “This launch represents a major advance in the production of cellulosic ethanol.”

“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 increased corn oil production and high-protein DDGs, make the technology package appealing for ethanol plants looking to improve their bottom line.”

Advanced Biofuels in Tax Extenders Bill

aeclogoThe cellulosic biofuels industry was very pleased to see the Senate Finance Committee markup of a package of tax extenders that includes the Producer Tax Credit (PTC) and the special depreciation allowance for advanced biofuels.

“The cellulosic biofuel industry is just breaking through at commercial scale. Today’s markup sends a clear signal to the marketplace that Congress is making progress on extending its support for one of the most innovative, low carbon industries in the world,” said Brooke Coleman, Executive Director of the Advanced Ethanol Council (AEC). “It will be very important to move this package along quickly, as executives in our industry are weighing the pros and cons of developing the next wave of projects here or abroad.”

Advanced-Biofuels-Association-Logo“We applaud the Finance Committee and Chairman Wyden for supporting the advanced biofuels tax incentives included in the extenders legislation,” added Advanced Biofuels Association president Michael McAdams. “These extenders send a significant signal to the advanced and cellulosic industry and to the markets regarding the sustained support at the federal level, and our members appreciate the certainty of a two-year extension.”

Companies like Novozymes that are members of these organizations are very happy with the action. “When you’re on a road trip, you don’t stop every 10 minutes to put in one gallon—you fill up for the long haul. That’s what these tax credits and renewable fuel policies like the RFS need too: Fuel for the long haul to drive investment, create jobs and move our economy forward.” said Adam Monroe, Novozymes President, Americas.

The Second Generation Biofuel Producer Tax Credit, Special Depreciation Allowance for Second Generation Biofuel Plant Property, Biodiesel and Renewable Diesel Fuels Credit, and the Alternative Fuel and Alternative Fuel Mixture Excise Tax Credit all expired at the end of 2013. This package extends them through 2015 adding certainty for the advanced biofuel industry and its investors.

BIO Calls on EPA to Approve New Biofuel Pathways

The Environmental Protection Agency has announced it will halt new petitions for renewable fuel pathways for six months or so. In response, the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) urged the agency to speed up rather than slow down the Petition Process for New Renewable Fuel Pathways under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). The petition process was established in March of 2010 during the process of finalizing the rules for the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

“EPA’s effort to improve the petition process for new renewable fuel pathways under the RFS is welcome. But the agency should aim to complete this review process in a more timely manner,” said Brent Erickson, executive vice president of BIO’s Industrial & Environmental Section. “Advanced biofuel companies need a pathway to the fuel market in order to attract necessary investment to build and start up new production facilities that create new jobs. The lengthy wait for approval of new pathways chills job creation and investment in the sector.”

alamo_switchgrass_2Erickson noted that in the last four years, the EPA has completed less than half of the 62 petitions it has received for approvals for new renewable fuel pathways. In fact, he said there are 36 petitions are still waiting action with an average wait time of nearly 17 months. Companies filing cellulosic biofuel pathway petitions have faced the longest wait times, an average of 24 months. Erickson said this delay has slowed deployment of new advanced biofuel technologies.

Erickson concluded, “Combined with the proposed rule the proposed delay of the petition process may further undermine the development of advanced and cellulosic biofuels just as they are set to produce millions of commercial gallons and launch a rapid scale up.”

POET-DSM Joins Advanced Ethanol Council

aeclogoPOET-DSM Advanced Biofuels is the newest member to join the Advanced Ethanol Council (AEC).

“As cellulosic ethanol becomes a growing force in fulfilling biofuel requirements in the U.S., it’s important for POET-DSM Advanced Biofuels to work with other industry leaders to help shape policies that ensure consumer understanding of – and access to – its environmental, economic and energy-security benefits,” said Steve Hartig, General Manager – Licensing for POET-DSM Advanced Biofuels.

The joint venture between ethanol production company POET and Royal DSM, a Netherlands-based bio science company, is nearing completion of a 25 million gallon per year cellulosic ethanol biorefinery called Project LIBERTY, located in Emmetsburg, Iowa. The technology developed for the facility is available for licensing to develop other low-carbon, cellulosic ethanol production plants.

“As a key player in the industry that has the proven know-how to scale up its advanced technology to commercial scale, POET-DSM is a strong, strategic addition to the Council’s ranks as cellulosic ethanol moves from the development stage to full-scale commercial production in 2014,” said Brooke Coleman, Executive Director of the AEC.

Biodiesel, Ethanol Educator Wins Ag Teaching Award

junco1A high school chemistry teacher is honored, in part, for his work to teach his students about biodiesel. This article from The Grower says Gustavo Junco, an advanced-placement chemistry teacher at West Broward High School in Pembroke Pines in south Florida, taught his class how to power a go-kart with biodiesel made from corn and sunflower seed oil and picked up the 2014 Excellence in Teaching about Agriculture Award.

The award is sponsored by the Florida Agriculture in the Classroom, a Gaineville-based non-profit group that promotes agricultural education to students ranging from kingergarten to high school.

Junco has been teaching agro-eco0logy and advanced-placement chemistry to 10th, 11th and 12th graders at West Broward High for 10 years.

His chemistry students grow sunflowers in the school garden, then extract oil from the seeds that is then converted to biodiesel.

In addition, Junco’s honors chemistry class is turning sugarcane juice into cellulosic ethanol.

He’ll join three other Florida teachers going to the 2014 National Agriculture in the Classroom conference this summer in Hershey, Pa.

Idea Leads to Cellulosic Ethanol, Scholarship

classic14-basf-soyAn idea that started back when he was just an elementary school student has led a Tennessee high schooler to picking up a substantial scholarship that he says will help him further his own energy business. Caleb Brannon of Puryear, Tenn. was selected as the recipient of the 2014-2015 ASA Secure Optimal Yield (SOY) Scholarship, a $5,000 award presented to an outstanding high school senior who has achieved high academic and leadership requirements, and is planning to pursue a degree in an agriculture-related field at an accredited college or university.

“I’m really thankful to the American Soybean Association and BASF who were so generous in this scholarship,” he says. Brannon, a senior at Calloway County High School, will pursue a degree in agricultural business at Murray State University, Murray, Ky. beginning this fall. He already has his very own business, Brannon Agri-Energy, a company focusing on cellulosic ethanol that he actually thought up way back in the fifth grade!

“Our family farm was in a partnership with the University of Tennessee to grow switchgrass in a pilot program to be bailed and put in a coal-fired plant [in Alabama].” While other area farmers gave up after a few years, it led Brannon to researching other crops for what is now his cellulosic ethanol business, finding his own markets.

He adds that the scholarship money will free up what he would have spent on college to invest back into his business. But he says this is more than just his future; it’s the Nation’s future.

“I want to help our country become just a little bit more energy independent. That’s really important to me.”

Listen to Cindy’s interview with Brannon here: Interview with BASF SOY Scholarship Winner


BASF at the 2014 Commodity Classic Photos

Camp Releases 2014 Tax Reform Draft

Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) has released draft of the “Tax Reform Act of 2014,” which he says will spur stronger economic growth, greater job creation and put more money in the pockets of taxpaying Americans. Camp’s goal is to fix America’s broken tax code by lowering tax rates and making tax policy simpler and fairer for families.

Based on analysis by the independent, non-partisan Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT), without increasing the budget deficit, the Tax Reform Act of 2014:

  • Create up to 1.8 million new private sector jobs.
  • Allow roughly 95 percent of filers to get the lowest possible tax rate by simply claiming the standard deduction (no more need to itemize and track receipts).
  • Strengthen the economy and increases Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by up to $3.4 trillion (the equivalent of 20 percent of today’s economy).

organization of the ways and means committeeUsing data provided by JCT, Camp says the average middle-class family of four could have an extra $1,300 per year in its pocket from the combination of lower tax rates in the plan and higher wages due to a stronger economy.

“It is no secret that Americans are struggling. Far too many families haven’t seen a pay raise in years. Many have lost hope and stopped looking for a job. And too many kids coming out of college are buried under a mountain of debt and have few prospects for a good-paying career,” said Camp about the need to fix America’s broken tax code. “We’ve already lost a decade, and before we lose a generation, Washington needs to wake up to this reality and start offering concrete solutions and debating real policies that strengthen the economy and help hardworking taxpayers. Tax reform is one way we can do that.”

The tax code would also affect energy companies including those who are developing and providing renewable energy. In response to the draft proposal, Brooke Coleman, Executive Director of the Advanced Ethanol Council (AEC), said, “While the draft plan falls well short of the goal of ensuring that the multi-trillion dollar global clean energy sector sets up shop in the United States, Chairman Camp should be commended for taking tough positions on many of the most distortive oil and gas subsidies in the federal tax code.”

“Inequitable provisions like percentage depletion, last-in/first-out (LIFO) and various incentives for the production of marginal oil and gas distort investment decision-making and drive capital away from renewable fuels,” continued Coleman. “Chairman Camp is right to point out that only extractive industries are allowed to recover more than their investment under current percentage depletion and depreciation rules. Doing away with these provisions will do little to dissuade oil and gas investment given the magnitude of the opportunity, but will help level the playing field when it comes to investments in next generation fuels of all types.”

Coleman concluded that while AEC is not supportive of the proposal’s treatment of the emerging cellulosic and advanced ethanol industry, they are looking to working with the Committee to ensure the U.S. is in the best position to develop  new technologies and commercials clean energy on American soil.

Novozymes Joins Advanced Ethanol Council

aeclogoNovozymes has become the newest member of the Advanced Ethanol Council (AEC). The global company is best known in the biofuels space for its work on first and second generation enzymes used to improve biofuel production, including cellulosic ethanol.

“Novozymes and the Advanced Ethanol Council share a strong focus on facilitating the commercialization and growth of advanced biofuels,” said Adam Monroe, Americas Regional President at Novozymes. “Advanced biofuel plants are commercializing now and we must continue engaging in policy discussions along with the AEC to ensure the long-term stability and success of advanced renewable fuels.”

Novozymes operates the largest enzyme plant dedicated to biofuels in the United States, located in Blair, Nebraska. The $200 million plant specializes in making world-leading enzymes, a key technology component for both the conventional and advanced biofuel markets.

“We are very pleased to be working with Novozymes,” said Brooke Coleman, Executive Director of the AEC. “The cellulosic biofuels industry is breaking through at commercial scale and it is absolutely critical that the industry speak with one voice and stay together when it comes to how we engage on policy and regulatory matters. Novozymes is highly engaged on both the business and political fronts, and we look forward to working with them on strategies that will put the industry in a position to succeed in 2014 and beyond.”

The Advanced Ethanol Council (AEC) represents worldwide leaders in the effort to develop and commercialize the next generation of ethanol fuels, ranging from cellulosic ethanol made from dedicated energy crops, forest residues and agricultural waste to advanced ethanol made from municipal solid waste, algae and other feedstocks.

Advanced Ethanol Here at Last

nec14-cellulosic-panelDuring the National Ethanol Conference, representatives of four leading companies talked about how advanced ethanol is here at last. Moderated by Advanced Ethanol Council Executive Director Brooke Coleman, the panelists included Chris Standlee with Abengoa; Kenneth Hill with DuPont Cellulosic Ethanol; Delayne Johnson, CEO of Quad County Corn Processors; and Steve Hartig, Licensing General Manager for POET-DSM Advanced Biofuels, LLC.

nec14-standlee-2

“Ladies and gentlemen, I am thrilled to finally be able to say that this is the pivotal year for second generation ethanol for the United States and perhaps in the world,” said Chris Standlee with Abengoa Bioenergy, who talked about the upcoming launch of their 25 million gallon/year cellulosic ethanol facility in Hugoton, Kansas. The company has invested nearly 10 years into developing its own proprietary second-gen technology and the biorefinery in Kansas that will go online in 2014 is the fruition of this commitment. Learn more about Abengoa’s cellulosic refinery here: Remarks by Chris Standlee, Abengoa

Kenneth Hill with DuPontKenneth Hill with DuPont noted that his company is focused on bridging the gap between agriculture and advanced materials. This includes enzymes and cellulosic biofuels. DuPont is working with companies around the world to develop cellulosic biofuels, yet the project that may have the most attention is currently under construction in Nevada, Iowa. Learn about this project and others here: Remarks by Kenneth Hill, DuPont

Delayne Johnson Quad County Corn ProcessorsDelayne Johnson said that since Quad County Corn Processors went into production in 2002 they have continuously been looking for niche ways to add value to a kernel of corn. With the aid of R&D expert Travis Brotherson, five years ago he developed a now patented cellulosic process. The technology has added 6 percent to their yield, they are getting 2 1/2 times more corn oil than they had been getting, and are able to produce a higher protein feed product (DDG) than they had in the past. Quad County is currently in the process of building the technology out at full-scale and the cellulosic portion of their biorefinery is expected to begin production this summer. Learn more about Quad County’s cellulosic technology here: Remarks by Delayne Johnson, Quad Council Corn Processors

Steve Hartig with Poet DSMFor many years Poet has been talking about the future of cellulosic ethanol using corn residue – corn stover, corn cobs, etc. According to Steve Hartig, With major strides over the past few years and a key strategic partnership with DSM, Project Liberty is set to go into production later this summer. Project Liberty is co-located with a first generation ethanol plant in Emmetsburg, Iowa. Once in production, co-location will be their key strategy for several reasons included excess energy, infrastructure and personnel. Learn about Poet-DSM’s take on the advanced biofuels here: Remarks by Steve Hartig, POET-DSM

2014 National Ethanol Conference Photo Album

NEC Coverage sponsored by Patriot Renewable Fuels LLC

Abengoa Honored With RFA Award

nec14-gersonTo recognize the advancement of cellulosic ethanol in a pivotal year, Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Bob Dinneen presented the “RFA 2014 Industry Award” to Gerson Santos-Leon, the executive vice president of Abengoa Bioenergy New Technologies.

The award was given by RFA at the National Ethanol Conference this week in Orlando “in gratitude for the sustained vision, innovation, and devotion to making cellulosic ethanol a commercial success.”

“Gerson is truly one of the great pioneers in the cellulosic ethanol industry. His work at the Department of Energy two decades ago helped provide the scientific foundation many companies are relying upon today to move advanced biofuel technologies forward.” said Dinneen. “And his continued leadership over the past 10 years in bringing cellulosic ethanol to commercial success at Abengoa is a testament to his grit, his genius and his creativity.” 2014 RFS Industry Award

nec14-standleeOn Tuesday at the conference, Abengoa Bioenergy executive vice president Christopher Standlee participated in a panel on advanced ethanol plants coming on line this year, including their facility in Hugoton, Kansas. “We’re very excited to finally start that up and we’re in the process of that right now,” he said.

I talked with Standlee about the new plant, what the impact of changing the RFS could have on future plans for Abengoa, and mood at the 19th annual National Ethanol Conference. Interview with Chris Standlee, Abengoa

2014 National Ethanol Conference Photo Album

NEC Coverage sponsored by Patriot Renewable Fuels LLC