ACE: When Telling the Truth About Ethanol, It’s Easy

Troy Prescott Cardinal EthanolAs members of the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) gather in Des Moines, Iowa this week to “Unite and Ignite” for their 26th annual conference, we’re reminded of some previous advice from Troy Prescott with Cardinal Ethanol about telling the good news story of ethanol.

“When you’re telling the truth, it isn’t hard to keep telling the story,” he told Joanna back when she talked to him during ACE’s Biofuels Beltway event last March in Washington, D.C., as about 70 ethanol backers gathered on Capitol Hill to tell that ethanol story (and you thought no one ever spoke the truth in Washington!).

Troy said they faced some real doubters in the Nation’s capital, including Utah Senator Orrin Hatch, who had just sponsored legislation to keep E15 from going to the marketplace. But he said they stuck to the facts about ethanol, and giving credit to the senator, Hatch’s office listened. Troy explained that while Utah is not a cornbelt state, it’s still in the senator’s and his constituents’ best interests to see ethanol succeed now, because today’s support of corn ethanol will pay off when the industry is able to move more to cellulosic, and places like Utah can reap the benefits.

“You just have to find the niche that gets them to start thinking, ‘Hey, this could be good for my state.’”

While he realizes he’s not going to convert everyone, Troy believes continuing to tell ethanol’s factual story, even to those in the cornbelt, will pay off in the long run, bit-by-bit.

“You just gotta keep chippin’ away, getting your word out,” he concluded.

Listen to Joanna’s interview with Troy here: Troy Prescott, Cardinal Ethanol

Visit the ACE 26th Annual Ethanol Conference photo album.

DF Cast: Agencies Work Together on Biofuels Targets

On August 6, 2013, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued its final rule for the 2013 Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) based on analysis provided by, the U.S. Energy Information Administration, which revised downward its cellulosic biofuel forecast for 2013 to 4 million gallons (or 6 million ethanol-equivalent gallons) target for cellulosic biofuels use in 2013, less than half what was proposed just six months ago… and well below the 1 billion gallon target specified in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.

But how did the EIA come up with its numbers, which ended up being part of the basis for what the EPA projected in its 2013 RFS final rule? In this edition of the Domestic Fuel Cast, we talk with Mindi Farber-DeAnda, Team Lead, Biofuels and Emerging Technologies, Office of Petroleum, Natural Gas, and Biofuels Analysis at EIA, who explains how the two agencies work together.

Hear more of the conversation here: Domestic Fuel Cast - EIA & EPA Work Together on Biofuels Targets

You can also subscribe to the DomesticFuel Cast here.

How the Make the RFS Attainable

According to Purdue University energy policy specialist Wally Tyner, the U.S. can likely produce federally mandated levels of biofuels under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) in 2014 if the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reduces its requirements by 2.3 billion gallons. The RFS requires a minimum amount of biofuels to be blended into transportation fuels such as gasoline and diesel. For 2013, that level is 16.55 billion gallons. As it stands now, the volume requirement continues to rise each year until 2022.

tyner-w10Tyner projects that refiners could reasonably expect to produce 15.85 billion gallons of biofuels, less than the 18.15 billion that the EPA requires in its RFS for 2014. The EPA said on Aug. 6 that it will “propose adjustments” to next year’s volume requirements in the next few weeks. One element that has caused the EPA to change required volumes is the lack of commercially available “advanced” and “cellulosic” biofuels. However, despite the lowering of these category volumes, the EPA has maintained the overall biofuels production requirement.

“The devil is in the details. However, it is clear that if the EPA does what is implied … the RFS moves from being unworkable to quite manageable,” Tyner says in his article, “The Biofuels Renewable Fuel Standard – EPA to the Rescue.”

The RFS has been a topic of debate for several years in part because of the corn ethanol “blend wall,” the point at which the market cannot consume as much ethanol as the EPA requires to be produced. One reason, and one that was not factored in during the development of the RFS, is the decreased consumption of gasoline nationwide -  from 141 billion gallons in 2007, when the RFS mandates were last updated, to a rate of 133 billion now.

Tyner calculates in the report that 15.85 billion gallons of biofuels can be produced in 2014 if the EPA reduces its volume targets for corn ethanol to better align with the blend wall, Wheat Straw credit: Flickr Creative Commons:and by lowering its requirements for production of cellulosic biofuels such as from corn stover, straw and Miscanthus grass to what the EPA might deem to be available.

He said blend requirements could be met in 2015 and 2016 with similar reductions. With no changes in the RFS, the energy industry would have to blend 20.5 billion gallons of biofuels into gasoline in 2015 and 22.25 billion gallons in 2016. His calculations would reduce those totals to 16.58 billion in 2015 and 17.3 billion the following year.

The EPA has shown willingness to reconsider the blend mandates and using information it has at hand, along with analyses done by the Energy Information Administration (EIA), plans to announce final 2014 volumes sometime this fall.

Edeniq & Pacific Ag to Colloborate

Edeniq and Pacific Ag, have announced today a five-year exclusive collaboration agreement to assist existing corn-based ethanol production facilities to add cellulosic ethanol production. The technology will help corn-based ethanol plants diversify their feedstock sources and enhance long-term production margins. In addition, the cellulosic ethanol produced will qualify for as “cellulosic” fuels under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

edeniq“This collaboration holds the potential to enhance the commercial viability of cellulosic ethanol production in the US,” said Brian Thome, the President and CEO of Edeniq. “By combining Edeniq’s bolt-on production technologies for corn ethanol plants with Pacific Ag’s agricultural biomass supply capabilities, we will provide the best turnkey solution for today’s producers to economically integrate cellulosic production into their existing facilities.”

Today there are about 200 operating ethanol plants in the U.S. in 28 states. They produce nearly 14 billion gallons annually representing approximately 10 percent of all gasoline sold. The majority of these plants use corn as their primary feedstock, a commodity grain that has been subject to wide fluctuations in price and supply over the past decade, driven by competing end uses, market speculation and weather.

In an effort to diversify the feedstock pool, the Department of Energy issued its “billion ton” study in 2005. That study determined that U.S. agriculture and forest resources have the capability to produce at least one billion dry tons of biomass annually in a sustainable manner, enough to produce biofuels to meet more than one-third of the current demand for transportation fuels. Yet today, only a small amount of biofuels are produced using biomass and much more is needed.

PACAG-001 Final Logo CMYK “This collaboration agreement brings together two companies at the forefront of solving a big risk factor to commercial production of cellulosic ethanol: getting biomass from the field to the plant with maximum reliability and efficiency and successfully converting that biomass at a low per gallon capital investment for existing production facilities,” added Bill Levy, founder and CEO of Pacific Ag. “For Pacific Ag, this potential market represents a key additional sector in our strategy to maximize the role of ag biomass in the nation’s energy supply.”

Government Lowers Cellulosic Biofuels Targets

eiaIn the wake of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issuing its final rule for the 2013 Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), the government revised down targets for cellulosic biofuel use this year. The U.S. Energy Information Administration reports the new rule sets a 6 million gallon target for cellulosic biofuels use in 2013, less than half what was proposed just six months ago… and well below the 1 billion gallon target specified in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007:

By law, EPA can lower the required volumes of advanced biofuels and total renewable fuels by up to the amount that it reduces the required volume of cellulosic biofuels. EPA chose not to reduce the advanced biofuels and total renewable fuels targets for 2013, leaving the required volume of total renewable fuels in 2013 at the 16.55 billion gallons specified in EISA 2007. However, the final rule states that EPA anticipates the need to adjust those targets for the 2014 RFS program year, for which EISA 2007 specifies a total renewable fuels target of 18.15 billion gallons. EPA’s forthcoming notice of proposed rulemaking for the 2014 RFS program year will provide further information.

As discussed in previous TIE articles, a May 2013 letter from EIA cited in EPA’s final RFS rule, and recent testimony by EIA Administrator Adam Sieminski, production of cellulosic biofuels has grown at a much slower pace than envisioned in EISA 2007. The RFS consists of four nested volumetric targets for specific types of biofuels. By 2022, EISA 2007 specifies a 36 billion gallon target for total renewable fuels in transportation fuel, including 21 billion gallons of advanced biofuels, of which 16 billion gallons are cellulosic biofuels.
EIArfs
The EIA goes on to say that some parts of the RFS have been hard to implement because of lower-than-anticipated gasoline consumption, as well as issues with the E10 blend wall and using higher blends in current vehicles and infrastructure.

Praj Cellulosic Plant Breaks Ground

Praj Industries is set to be the first company in South Asia to produce bioethanol. The company has broken ground on its integrated 2nd Generation (2G) Cellulosic ethanol plant. Praj’s Executive Chairman Mr. Pramod Chaudhari, was at the groundbreaking ceremony at Shirala in Sangli District in Maharashtra (India) along with Chairman of Viraj Alcohols & Allied Industries Limited (VAAIL), Mr. Mansinghrao Naik.

The 2G Cellulosic ethanol demo plant will operate on different varieties of biomasss with a capacity of 100 dry tonnes of biomass per day, which includes agricultural wastes such as corn stover, cobs and bagasse. The demo plant will enable Praj to consolidate its 6 years of R&D efforts, starting with laboratory trials to pilot scale trials. The same plant will also enable Praj to develop various biochemicals and bioproducts.

The demo plant will seek to demonstrate various technical parameters including optimization of water and energy integration and its impact on the capex and opex. The plant will also develop the entire value chain including biomass handling and biomass composition and its impact on the operations. Praj expects the project cost to be in the region of US$ 25 million (Rs. 145-150 crore).

For this project, Praj will associate with VAAIL, an existing ethanol producer located in Western Maharashtra and a long term client of Praj. VAAIL will provide the land and allied services for the smooth operation of the project.

Commenting on the ground-breaking, Chaudhari said, “Ground breaking of 2G Cellulosic ethanol plant is a giant leap in biotechnology and towards a more sustainable world. The greenhouse gas savings from cellulosic ethanol is greater than those from 1st Generation crop-based biofuels as well as fossil-based fuel and hence this project will play a vital role in reducing carbon footprints.  The project site at Shirala gives us a locational advantage in terms of sourcing of biomass, utilities and manpower. We are delighted to work with VAAIL who has been our long term client.”

Naik, added, “Viraj has more than a decade’s experience in operating ethanol plants based on both, molasses as well as grains. Praj has supplied both these plant. It gives me great pride to be associated with Praj as it will give us the opportunity of participating in a path- breaking project.”

EPA Publishes 2013 RVOs

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has published the final 2013 Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) volumetric blending requirements, or Renewable Volume Obligations (RVO). The EPA determined that based on an evaluation of the volumes of cellulosic biofuel expected to be available for 2013, the 2013 standard for cellulosic biofuel will be 6 million ethanol-equivalent gallons.

The renewable fuels industry has come out in support of the rule. Following are some brief statements from several leading biofuel organizations.

aeclogoBrooke Coleman, Executive Director, Advanced Ethanol Council (AEC): “It is clear that U.S. EPA has done its homework when it comes to setting the 2013 standard. The commercial cellulosic biofuel facilities that U.S. EPA projected to start up in 2013 are indeed operating, and the adjusted targets reflect the number of actual gallons expected to be available through the end of the year. We agree with U.S. EPA that there will be sufficient quantities of advanced biofuels in the market to maintain the broader advanced biofuel standard, which is consistent with the legislative intent of the RFS to promote advanced renewable fuels.

nbb-logoAnne Steckel, Vice President of Federal Affairs, National Biodiesel Board (NBB): “With this decision, the EPA is helping consumers, creating jobs and reducing emissions. This target will clearly be met, and it will continue to diversify our fuel supplies so that we’re not at the mercy of global oil markets every time we fill up at the pump.”

Growth_Energy_logo-1Tom Buis, CEO, Growth Energy: Tom Buis CEO of Growth Energy:  “Growth Energy is pleased that the EPA has finalized the 2013 biofuel volumes and has continued to show its strong commitment to the RFS.  We look forward to closely reviewing the final rule and we strongly support increasing levels of renewable fuel into our nation’s fuel supply. The RFS continues to be a resounding success, helping create jobs in America that cannot be outsourced, revitalizing rural economies across the country in addition to reducing our dependence on foreign oil and improving our environment, all while providing consumers with a choice and savings at the pump.”

RFA-logo-13Bob Dinneen, CEO and President, Renewable Fuels Association (RFA): “First and foremost, by decreasing the cellulosic requirement by 99.4 percent to a very realistic, achievable number, the EPA has totally obliterated Big Oil’s myth that the RFS is inflexible and unworkable. As in years past, the finalized annual requirements are a testament to the inherent flexibility that is the backbone of the RFS.”

ACElogoBrian Jennings, Executive Vice President, American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE): “ACE appreciates that the EPA has issued the final volumes for 2013, keeping the total volume intact and thoughtfully used the flexibility given to it by Congress to set the final cellulosic target at 6 million gallons. We think that total is realistic to reach this year. To ensure that the RFS drives sufficient demand for E15 and higher blends of ethanol, and serves as a catalyst for innovation in advanced and cellulosic biofuels, ACE will continue our constructive dialogue with EPA as it considers its flexibility to address the volumes for 2014 and beyond.”

Advanced Biofuels Association LogoMichael McAdams, President of the Advanced Biofuels Association (ABFA): “ABFA salutes the EPA and today’s announcement of the 2013 RVOs. We are delighted to see EPA validate the significant contributions that advanced and cellulosic biofuels are making to the American biofuels sector. Today’s announcement of 6 million gallons of cellulosic fuels should put to an end the argument that refiners are being taxed to pay for phantom fuels.  Advanced and cellulosic biofuels will continue to grow over time, giving Americans a diversity of lower carbon fuels for our future.”

ZeaChem Recieves EPA Approval on Cellulosic RINS

zeachemlogoZeaChem Inc. has announced that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has given registration approval for the cellulosic biofuel produced at the company’s demonstration biorefinery in Boardman, Oregon. The EPA Fuels Programs Registered Company/Facility ID List has been updated accordingly with ZeaChem’s biorefinery verified as an approved registered facility for the production of Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS2) qualifying D3 cellulosic biofuel RINs. Carbon Solutions Group, a project development, environmental asset management and advisory firm in Chicago, Ill., provided registration services to ZeaChem.

ZeaChem is a producer of sustainable and economical advanced biofuels and bio-based chemicals from domestic, renewable agricultural and forestry resources. Earlier this year, ZeaChem successfully produced the first volumes of cellulosic chemicals and ethanol at its demonstration biorefinery on the path to commercialization. With facility registration complete, cellulosic ethanol production will now generate RINs to achieve the national RFS2.

DOE Heralds Cellulosic Benchmark

The Department of Energy (DOE) is thrilled with the announcement that INEOS Bio’s Indian River BioEnergy Center in Vero Beach, Florida is producing cellulosic ethanol at commercial scale. Often hailed as the “phantom fuel,” the success of the plant is demonstrating that advanced biofuels are “no longer around the corner” and here today. The company’s technology was originally developed with DOE support back in the 1990′s – to convert grass clippings photo scottswood scraps, grass clippings and other waste materials into transportation fuels as well as energy for heat and power.

“Unlocking the potential for the responsible development of all of America’s rich energy resources is a critical part of our all-of-the-above energy strategy,” said Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz. “Today’s announcement of commercial-scale cellulosic production represents an important benchmark for American leadership in this growing global industry. It also demonstrates the need for early-stage investment in innovative technologies that will help diversify our energy portfolio, reduce carbon pollution and lead to tomorrow’s energy breakthroughs.”

The Indian River County BioEnergy Center (Center) will have an annual output of eight million gallons of cellulosic ethanol per year from vegetative, yard and municipal solid waste as well as six megawatts of clean, renewable power annually – enough to run the entire facility and provide excess power to the local community.

The project’s gasification-fermentation technology – which produces fuel, heat and power – has its roots in a University of Arkansas research project, supported by a $5 million DOE investment over fifteen years. The Department’s early support helped this technology obtain a number of patents, with the core intellectual property purchased by INEOS Bio in 2008.

Ethanol Report on ACE Project

ethanol-report-adThis edition of “The Ethanol Report” features comments from the groundbreaking of a new cellulosic project in Galva, Iowa where first and second generations of ethanol are literally ‘bolted’ together. Quad County Corn Processors biorefinery broke ground Monday on its Adding Cellulosic Ethanol (ACE) project and this report includes comments from plant general manager Delayne Johnson, Renewable Fuels Association president and CEO Bob Dinneen and Congressman Steve King (R-IA).

Listen to or download the Ethanol Report here: Ethanol Report on ACE Project

Subscribe to “The Ethanol Report” with this link.

Commercial Scale Cellulosic Ethanol Is Real

INEOS Bio’s biorefinery, Indian River BioEnergy Center, is now producing cellulosic ethanol at commercial scale. The first ethanol shipments will be released in August. According to the company, this is the first commercial-scale production in the world using their gasification and fermentation technology for conversion of biomass waste into bioethanol and renewable power.

“We are delighted with the progress made by our team at Vero Beach,” said Peter Williams, CEO of INEOS Bio and Chairman of INEOS New Planet BioEnergy. “They have successfully addressed the challenges of moving a new technology to large production INEOS BIO BIOETHANOL FIRST FACILITYscale for the very first time. Consequently, we are now pleased to announce that we are producing commercial quantities of bioethanol from vegetative and wood waste, and at the same time exporting power to the local community – a world first. We expect to spend the remainder of 2013 putting the plant through its paces, and demonstrating full nameplate capacity.”

Dr. Williams added, “All that we have seen so far validates the technical and economic viability of the technology. We remain convinced that the ability to divert waste materials from communities by converting them into competitively priced renewable fuel and power offers an excellent value proposition. It helps solve waste disposal issues, contributes to the supply of affordable and renewable fuel and energy, creates attractive jobs, and provides a sustainable source of value for the community. We look forward to taking the next steps in building a global business based on the broad deployment of this advanced technology.”

The BioEnergy Center is a joint venture project between INEOS Bio and New Planet Energy. The facility has already converted several types of waste biomass material into bioethanol, including vegetative and yard waste, and citrus, oak, pine, and pallet wood waste. It will have an annual output of eight million gallons (24kta) of cellulosic ethanol and six megawatts (gross) of renewable power. The Center is also permitted to utilize municipal solid waste (MSW), quantities of which will be used for bioethanol production at the Center during 2014.

ACE Hails “ACE” Project

ACE hailed “ACE” yesterday in Galva, Iowa during an event where Quad County Corn Processors broke ground on its Adding Cellulosic Ethanol “ACE” project a bolt-on technology innovation that will specialize in converting corn fiber into cellulosic ethanol. On hand for the groundbreaking ceremony was American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) Executive Vice quadcounty13-jennings-acePresident Brian Jennings who noted that the cellulosic ethanol project is a great example of American ingenuity that was intended when the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) was enacted.

Jennings explained that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed to allow corn kernel fiber to qualify as a cellulosic biofuel feedstock under the RFS. Quad County’s technology, called “Adding Cellulosic Ethanol,” will convert corn kernel fiber into two million gallons of cellulosic ethanol, in addition to the 35 million gallons of corn starch ethanol already produced at the plant. It will improve the facility’s yield by 6 percent, result in three times more corn oil, and produce a new high-protein low-fiber feed for livestock.

“Quad County Corn Processors is likely to be the first production facility on the planet to produce corn and cellulosic ethanol from the same feedstock at the same site,” remarked Jennings. “Some of the biggest and most profitable companies in the world have tried to perfect and commercialize the process of converting cellulose to biofuel. But it should come as no surprise that the 35 employees and 353 farmer shareholders of Quad County Corn Processors will be one of the first to do it, because some of the sharpest minds of this industry are the innovative and hard working people in rural America. This shows how the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) is a catalyst for innovation.”

Listen to Brian Jennings’s remarks here: ACE Hails ACE Project

Visit the Quad County Corn Processors “ACE” Groundbreaking photo album here.

RFA Congrats Quad County Corn Processors

There was great news for the biofuels industry yesterday afternoon as Quad County Corn Processors, a biorefinery based in Galva, Iowa, broke ground on its Adding Cellulosic Ethanol (ACE) project. There were dozens from the local community on hand for the celebration and joining them was Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) President and CEO, Bob Dinneen.

quadcounty13-Dinneen-rfaIn speaking to the crowd gathered Dinneen said, “I applaud Quad County for proving that the first and second generations of ethanol are literally ‘bolted’ together. The future is now and the present is future. Cellulosic production will soon begin side-by-side with conventional ethanol. Delayne Johnson and his team are to be congratulated for their vision, determination, and innovation.”

“The technology behind today’s announcement is a direct result of Quad County Corn Processors Cooperative receiving a $4.25 million investment from USDA and the Department of Energy as part of the Biomass Research and Development Initiative. The R&D process spanned four years,” he continued.

Dinneen added, “Milestones like the one we celebrate today demonstrate the U.S. ethanol industry’s barrier-breaking innovation and unparalleled ability to create jobs, particularly in small cities and rural communities all across the country. Today is also further proof of the success of the Renewable Fuel Standard to spark innovation and investment, to stimulate job creation and economic development, and most important to produce millions of gallons of domestic renewable fuel in the name of energy independence.”

Listen to Bob Dinneen’s remarks here: RFA Bob Dinneen Congrats Quad County Corn Processors

Visit the Quad County Corn Processors “ACE” Groundbreaking photo album here.

Quad County Breaks Ground on “ACE” Project

quadcounty13-johnsonQuad County Corn Processors officially broke ground today in Galva, Iowa on its Adding Cellulosic Ethanol “ACE” project. Dozens of local community members joined ethanol industry reps and local politicians to celebrate the milestone that ethanol plant General Manager Delayne Johnson said was four years in the making in the R&D lab.

Delayne explained during his remarks, “With the addition of this new cellulosic process, we will stretch the production capacity of each and every corn kernel that passes through our plant. We will increase our ethanol yields by 6 percent, increase our corn oil extraction three times over, while also creating a higher protein livestock feed. This is value-added agriculture at its best.”

quadcounty13-groundbreakingAs a result of the new process, Johnson noted, the DDGs will be much more similar to a corn gluten meal. It will increase the protein content by about 40 percent.

“The greatest benefactors will be the Galva community, our shareholders, the ethanol industry, and the consumer,” added Johnson. “Investing $8.5 million in our new process will add several jobs here at the plant, allow us to produce more ethanol from the same amount of corn, help us contribute to the nation’s supply of cellulosic ethanol, and will continue to lower prices at the pump for consumers.”

You can listen to Delayne Johnson’s comments here: Delayne Johnson's Opening Remarks

You can view Sandy O’Brien’s reading of Senator Tom Harkin’s comments here or listen to her comments here: Senator Tom Harkin Remarks

You can listen to Delayne’s reading of Iowa Ag Secretary Bill Northey’s comments here: Iowa Ag Secy Bill Northey Remarks

Visit the Quad County Corn Processors “ACE” Groundbreaking photo album here.

EPA Can Fix RFS Problems

hearing-martinThere may be some issues with the Renewable Fuel Standard that need to be addressed, but they could be done at the administrative level, rather than repealing the entire law or having Congress make changes. That according to a Senior Scientist with the Union of Concerned Scientists Clean Vehicles Program.

Dr. Jeremy Martin testified at a House Energy subcommittee hearing this week that they believe the RFS is an important policy tool and should remain in place and no legislative changes should be made to it. “Fortunately the RFS was designed with a great deal of flexibility,” Dr. Martin said. “We’re not moving forward as fast as we hoped to be in 2007 but the RFS is still pointing us in the right direction.”

Martin noted that the real goal of the RFS is to move beyond corn-based ethanol into advanced and cellulosic biofuels, but that can only be achieved if the law remains in place. “The RFS is based on smart goals, not just more biofuels but better biofuels,” he said, noting that repeal or legislative changes “would lock in place the status quo of 90% gasoline and 10% corn ethanol and chill investment in cellulosic biofuels just as the first commercial facilities are starting up.”

Dr. Martin and other witnesses, including Bob Dinneen with the Renewable Fuels Association and Mike McAdams of the Advanced Biofuels Association, pointed out that several commercial advanced biofuels facilities are starting up or under construction now.

Listen to Martin’s testimony here: Dr. Jeremy Martin, UCS