BlueFire Renewables to Receive $270M

BlueFire Renewables has received a Letter of Intent from the Export Import Bank of China to provide up to $270 million in debt financing for its bioenergy project located in Fulton, Mississippi. As advanced bioenergy companies struggle with private financing, BlueFire said the the financing is “unprecedented” and significant for the U.S. market.

“This is a significant feat, not just for BlueFire as it also provides a model for the U.S. small business community because it is a strong indication of China’s commitment to support and fund U.S. renewable energy technologies to improve the environment and build a strong foundation for cooperation between China and the U.S. in the field of renewable energy,” said Arnold Klann, CEO of BlueFire Renewables.

BlueFire Renewables logoAccording to Klann, BlueFire has been working with China EXIM in response to the China Strategic and Economic Dialogue with the U.S. that encourages U.S./China cooperation in the renewable energy field including financing. Klann believes his company’s technology could be the path to commercialization for many languishing renewable energy projects.

“There are significant opportunities for replicating the BlueFire Fulton size or larger facilities in China and the U.S. to deal with problematic agricultural and urban waste currently being burned or buried,” added Klann. “Debt financing has been the most difficult part of the financing to obtain for the cellulosic biofuels industry. BlueFire’s business model and relationships with China EXIM will set the standard for future debt financing arrangements and could be the spark that leads to the more beneficial use of cellulosic wastes in the biofuels industry in the U.S. and China. We are cracking the code when it comes to striking a win-win business deal for China, the U.S. and energy consumers.”

The Letter of Intent continues the international collaboration between U.S. and China initiated by BlueFire. The companies will continue to work together to complete the standard due diligence procedures of the China EXIM bank and meet all credit criteria and condition precedent to reach definitive agreements in order to complete the financing as soon as possible. Once completed, China Three Gorges Corporation and its U.S. subcontractors will begin construction of the Fulton Project.

AgWired Gets a Facelift

When you visit the ZimmComm New Media websites dedicated to agriculture, you will see a new integrated AgWired brand Animal.AgWired.comand new website names to better serve the animal agriculture segment of the industry.

WorldDairyDiary.com will now be known as Animal.Agwired.com, which will offer news and information about all segments of livestock and poultry. “We regularly cover events such as the International Production and Processing Expo, World Pork Expo, and national beef cattle meetings, in addition to World Dairy Expo,” said ZimmComm president Chuck Zimmerman. “We wanted to consolidate all of our animal agriculture coverage into one site to make it easier for our readers to access.”

Precision.AgWired.comPrecisionPays.com is now Precision.Agwired.com and will continue to include the latest news and information about precision agriculture, conservation, biotechnology and more. “Both websites (PrecisionPays and WorldDairyDiary) will remain accessible under the old URLs,” explained Zimmerman. “But they will now also be prominently featured on the AgWired.com home page.”

In addition, the AgWired App for the iOS and Android store has also been innovated and users can now create the AgWired App on their mobile device themselves. To do this, just visit AgWired.com on your mobile device of choice and a popup will ask if you want to create a desktop icon. AgWired will then open with a click of the app in a very user-friendly format. Full instructions are included in an instructional video on YouTube.

The New AgWired.comAgWired.com is ZimmComm’s flagship agribusiness news and information site, started in August of 2004. WorldDairyDiary began the following year and Precision Pays was started in February 2007. “The new design will provide consistency in the look of ZimmComm’s major agricultural websites,” Zimmerman added. DomesticFuel.com, started in September 2005, will also sport a new look consistent with the other sites, but will remain under its current name. So keep an eye out for a DF Facelift as well.

Other ZimmComm online services of interest include AgNewsWire.com dedicated to news release distribution and audio combined from all websites and available to all agricultural media.

BioFuel PR Launches to Tell Ethanol’s Story

The ethanol industry knows that if it is going to be successful in the current political climate, they need to tell their personal ethanol stories. But this is easier said then done with the role of ethanol employees to produce fuel, feed and fiber – not be savvy BiofuelPRlogocommunicators. With several requests for help last fall from ethanol plants to help tell the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) their stories as part of the 2014 proposed rules for the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS), ethanol veteran Joshua Morby and alternative energy veteran and ZimmComm New Media writer Joanna Schroeder teamed up to form a unique partnership: Biofuel PR.

The new communications firm is the first and only of its kind dedicated to the biofuels industry and according to Biofuel PR Partner Joshua Morby, brings together expertise from two decades of experience working with ethanol trade associations, key stakeholders and legislators to offer the biofuel industry a new communications solution.

JoshuaMorbyHeadshotDFMorby notes that there are a number of effective national trade and industry organizations that are doing a great job developing messaging, framing the issues and providing content. But while the associations allow their members to utilize their materials in the local market, many ethanol plants just don’t know how.

“The challenge that exists is the missing link at the local level. There’s no argument about the need for activity in communities across the country. The issue has always been who at the biofuels plant is tasked with telling the local story. That’s where we come in,” says Joshua.

Not only is enhancing a biofuel plant’s message in the local community important, but DF blogger and communications expert Joanna Schroeder notes that as a writer looking for new and intriguing angles, its hard to find great personal ethanol stories. But when she does, they receive great coverage around the world of the web.

SchroederheadshotDF“If there is one thing I understand, it’s that the role of a biorefinery is to produce renewable, cost competitive biofuels and byproducts – not to be communication experts,” explains Schroeder, Biofuel PR partner. “Our firm is able to serve in this role and take the lead on telling Americans the personal and often emotional stories about what the biofuels industry means to them, their families and their communities. Since I am always looking for the story, I know how to help biofuel plants better tell their stories and as a result, help gain awareness and support for ethanol around the country.”

Granite Falls Ethanol was one of the plants assisted by Biofuel PR during the EPA comment period.

“The team at Biofuel PR was helpful to us in our efforts to motivate local supporters and members of our community during the RFS comment period,” says Granite Falls Ethanol General Manager Steve Christiansen. “Biofuel PR understands our industry, the local communities were we live and operate as well as the world of communications.”

Patriot Adds ICM Selective Milling Technology

Patriot Renewable Fuels TeamPatriot Renewable Fuels LLC of Annawan, Illinois has purchased ICM’s patent-pending Selective Milling Technology (SMT). According to ICM, the technology increases ethanol yield, reduces viscosity and increases oil recovery. In addition, with the Patriot Renewable Fuels contract announcement, ICM and its partners have used this technology to increase ethanol yield to surpass more than one billion gallons of annual ethanol production.

“It gives us great pleasure to announce the purchase of our Selective Milling Technology by Patriot Renewable Fuels,” said ICM President Chris Mitchell. “Today we celebrate two milestones – the first which illustrates ICM’s ability to provide our customers with this technology towards increasing the yield of more than one billion gallons of annual ethanol production. The second milestone we celebrate is Patriot’s five year anniversary as an ethanol producer, and as a solid contributor to the economic growth of Annawan and the surrounding region. We’re thrilled to continue delivering this successful yield enhancement solution that can improve our customers’ bottom line and strengthen their communities.”

Patriot Renewable Fuels general manager Rick Vondra added, “Today, we are a 120 MGY producer that draws upon the strength of ICM’s revolutionary platform technology and the ability of SMT to increase our ethanol yields, increase oil recovery yields, and ultimately increase our revenues. With our 200 local/Midwestern investors, we’ll harness that strength and continue to make an impact on agriculture and economic development.”

GEA Announces Finalists for GEA Honors

The Geothermal Energy Association (GEA) has announced the finalists for the GEA Honors, which recognize companies and individuals that have made significant contributions during the past year to advancing technology, spurring economic development and protecting the environment. Now in its third year, GEA also provides special recognition of companies and individuals who have made notable advances and achievements for geothermal energy.

gea_logo“This diverse group of honorees is leading the development, financing and implementation of geothermal energy both within and outside the United States,” said GEA Executive Director Karl Gawell. “It takes a community of stakeholders to develop and operate a renewable, sustainable energy source. We at GEA are pleased to honor these companies and individuals for their contributions to this growing industry.”

GEA has named the finalists for GEA Honors in the following categories: Technological Advancement, Economic Development and Environmental Stewardship. GEA will announce a final winner in each category in December. Additionally, GEA will award the Special Recognition award to GEA or non-member companies or individuals making significant contributions to the geothermal energy industry.

Technological Advancement is awarded to an individual or company that has developed a new, innovative, or pioneering technology to further geothermal development. Finalists include: AltaRock Energy, SPX Heat Transfer LLC, and U.S. Geothermal’s 22 MW Neal Hot Springs Geothermal Power Plant.

Economic Development is awarded to an individual or company that has made a substantial contribution to the development of local, regional or national markets through the development of geothermal systems. Finalists include: GGE Chile and GeothermEx.

Environmental Stewardship is awarded to an individual or company that has fostered outstanding environmental stewardship through the use of geothermal systems. This award will be presented in conjunction with the Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI).  Finalist is Dale Merrick with Canby Geothermal.

The Special Recognition Award is open to individuals or companies either within the GEA membership or beyond for outstanding achievement in the geothermal industry. This award will be announced later this year when the winners in the categories above are announced.

Click here for more information about the finalists.

POET Plants to Add Liquefied Carbon Dioxide

POET_LogoTwo POET biorefineries in Ohio are installing liquefied carbon dioxide facilities on site.

POET Biorefining – Marion and POET Biorefining – Fostoria will be operating in the Greater Ohio Valley liquid carbon dioxide marketplace. The plants will be able to serve the traditional food freezing and beverage carbonation markets as well as secure new carbon dioxide customers.

“One of our priorities at POET is to get the most value from the corn kernel,” POET Biorefining – Marion General Manager Cliff Brannon said. “We don’t just produce biofuel here. We produce Dakota Gold high-protein animal feed, Voila corn oil and more. We’re excited to add carbon dioxide to that list.”

With the latest two plants coming online this year, nine POET plants will be producing liquefied carbon dioxide.

DuPont Gets Win in Court

DuPont LogoThe Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, D.C. has issued a ruling affirming the May 2012 decision of Judge Barbara Crabb of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin that the Novozymes patent on an alpha-amylase enzyme used in the ethanol industry is invalid for lack of an adequate written description.

Ms. Soonhee Jang, vice president, IP Strategy and Chief IP Counsel, DuPont Industrial Biosciences said of the decision, “We are gratified the Court of Appeals affirmed the Wisconsin court’s ruling that the Novozymes patent is invalid. From the outset of this case, we have firmly believed Novozymes’ patent to be invalid. Today, the Court of Appeals recognized our rights in the marketplace as a true innovator providing customers with choices.”

Kawa Capital to Buy Conergy

U.S. based financial investor Kawa Capital Management has announced it intends to acquire the majority of sales units from Conergy as well as necessary associated Kawa Logo copyadministrative, management and infrastructure functions of Conergy AG, including the “Conergy” brand. Production subsidiaries Mounting Systems GmbH and Conergy SolarModule GmbH & Co. KG are not part of this transaction.

Kawa, the Conergy Management Board and the preliminary insolvency administrator have signed a letter of intent. The parties intend to finalize the details of the envisaged transaction and the purchase agreement in the next four weeks. The purchase agreement is expected to be executed in the second half of August, subject to a number of conditions precedent including the approval of Conergy’s creditor committee.

“Kawa is our preferred partner. We have been in intense negotiations about an investment in Conergy for months and have agreed on the future concept for Conergy already a long time ago,” said Conergy CEO Dr. Philip Comberg. “Our expertise is highly complementary. Conergy logoIn the last two years we have consistently focused Conergy on our strengths in international sales and services. At the same time, we have developed new financing and asset management services.”

Comberg continued, “With this setup, Conergy is ideally suited for the future challenges in the global solar growth markets. We want to sustainably implement this ‘downstream strategy’ in the international solar markets with a strong financial and strategic partner who is investing in the company for the long term. Kawa’s financing and structuring capabilities combined with Conergy’s global platform, track record and unparalleled expertise in downstream solar PV creates a unique and leading market player.”

Kawa’s objective is to acquire the two German entities Conergy Deutschland GmbH and Conergy Services GmbH as well as the subsidiaries in the U.S. and Canada, Singapore and Thailand, Australia, Spain, Italy, France, Greece, Cyprus and the United Kingdom. Continue reading

ICM & NCAT Sign Software Deal

ICM has signed a software development and marketing agreement with Houston, Texas -based NCAT, Inc. to co-develop and market the Inseo Suite line of software services. ICM has been granted exclusive rights to market the first release to Inseo Suite, the Key Performance Indicator (KPI) Module, to the biofuels and alcohol manufacturing industry worldwide The Inseo Suite application utilizes NCAT’s Plant Intelligent Life Cycle Platform data repository.

The KPI Module was the first Inseo Suite application developed with ICM for the biofuels industry, and integrates ethanol plant operational data and produces dashboard-driven information that provides both critical overview and detailed views ICM Inseo Suiteof plant performance. The KPI Module gathers, analyzes and stores over 30 key process metrics including: cook, fermentation, distillation and evaporation, key enzyme ratio, dried distillers grain (DDGs) and modified distillers grains.

Tom Ranallo, ICM vice president of operations said, “ICM is pleased to collaborate with NCAT to market the Inseo Suite and introduce its first KIP module product release. This proprietary suite of products has the capability to convert data into actionable information and deliver sustained profitability for our customers. We look foward to working with NCAT in the rollout of the Inseo Suite product line in our industry,” added Ranallo.

According to ICM, the Inseo Suite design greatly reduces the need for paper records, graphically illustrates all KPI metrics on one display and allows deep analysis into the data to better understand and proactively correct issues with out-of range processes as they arise. In addition, the software enables plant operational and management personnel to manage optimal plant ethanol yield based on current market conditions.

“We feel very proud to have been chosen by ICM as their software development partner for the Inseo Suite,” added Bobby Anderson, chief operating officer and chief marketing officer of NCAT. “Our professionals have spent their careers in developing leading edge software for process plant industries and our team will bring the latest thinking in integrating the operations, maintenance and financial information for ethanol plants. It’s ultimately about driving shareholder value and that only happens with elegantly managed data collection, analysis and decision making.”

Growth Energy Promotes Frohlich

Growth Energy has promoted Michael Frolich to Director of Communications. He joined the ethanol organization in May 2012 as the press secretary. In his new role, he will continue to serve as the primary spokesperson and media contact.

Michael Frolich Growth EnergySince its inception, Growth Energy has advocated for increasing the use of ethanol in the American fuel system by promoting ethanol’s benefits among the general public. “The appointment of Michael to Director of Communications will help strengthen and focus the strategic vision of our efforts to communicate the numerous benefits of renewable fuels to the economy, the environment and to consumers,” said Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis.

Prior to joining Growth Energy, Frohlich served as Director of Media Relations with the National Association of Manufacturers as well as Director of Federal Communications at the National Biodiesel Board. He is a native of Rochester, N.Y. and earned his bachelor’s degree from Gettysburg College.

Brazil’s GranBio Open US Operations

Brazil-based GranBio has announced plans to expand to the U.S. with an office in San Francisco and has name Vonnie Estes as the managing director. In this new role, Ms. Estes will lead GranBio’s efforts to access new technologies and establish key public and private collaborations for the company’s continued global expansion in advanced biorefinery development.

Screen Shot 2013-04-26 at 10.13.42 AMMs. Estes joins GranBio from Codexis, a developer of engineered enzymes for pharmaceutical, biofuel and chemical production, where she most recently was Vice President of Corporate Development. Prior to Codexis, she was the Chief Commercial Officer at DuPont Danisco Cellulosic Ethanol (DDCE)as Executive Vice President, Business Development. Prior to joining DDCE, she led DuPont’s commercialization program for cellulosic ethanol. Her multifunctional team was responsible for the $140 million joint venture between DuPont and Danisco.

“GranBio intends to expand its profile in North America and our new office in the United States will allow us to build a team and execute our strategy,” said Alan Hiltner, Executive Vice President, GranBio. “We are extremely pleased that Ms. Estes will lead our effort. Her track record of success at large, established multi-national and early stage start-up companies is the mark of a true entrepreneurial spirit and savvy industry trendsetter. These are exactly the qualities we want to be known for as GranBio begins its strategic global expansion.”

In April, GranBio completed the acquisition of a 25 percent equity investment in the North American Cleantech pioneer American Process Inc. (API). Under the agreement, GranBio will have access to a proprietary biomass pretreatment platform that makes it possible to cost-effectively develop cellulosic sugars as a feedstock for conversion to a variety of biochemicals and biofuels.

DOE Awards Novozymes $2.5M

Corn Stover Photo Credit Joanna SchroederThe U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has awarded Novozymes an award of up to $2.5 million to find new and more efficient enzymes for turning corn stover into fuel for cars and trucks. The specific project that was awarded funds by the DOE is called ‘SynTec,’ and is a two-year collaborative project between Novozymes and MBI. The companies will screen natural enzyme diversity for the best performing enzymes. Each enzyme combination will then be tested on pretreated agricultural waste that can first be converted into sugars and then into bio-based products and advanced biofuels.

According to Novozymes, many chemical-based industrial processes have inherent drawbacks from a commercial and environmental point of view. These drawbacks can be nearly eliminated with enzymes:

  • Enzymes can be used in mild conditions such as moderate temperatures and pH levels.
  • Only small amounts of enzymes are needed in order to carry out chemical reactions on an industrial scale.
  • Enzymes reduce the impact of manufacturing on the environment by reducing the use of chemicals, water and energy, and the subsequent generation of waste.

Novozymes’ work will support DOE’s focus on research, development and demonstration efforts to achieve affordable, scalable and sustainable advanced biofuels. According to the company, it has already reduced the cost of enzyme production for biofuels by 90 percent. Once the new screening process is proven, it can be used to rapidly develop tailored cost-effective enzyme solutions for specific industrial biorefineries. This is the third time Novozymes has partnered with the D.O.E. for bioenergy enzyme development.

Abengoa US Formed

International company Abengoa has announced the creation of a new American subsidiary, Abengoa, US, which will be responsible for all its business in the country. The formation of the new subsidiary supports the company’s strong commitment to the U.S. market.

abengoa logoAccording to the company, Abengoa US has assets in excess of $5.8 billion, more than $1.7 billion in shareholders’ equity, and its revenues account for approximately 20 percent of the company’s total sales.  Today, U.S. projects are coordinated from three offices located in Washington D.C., St. Louis and Denver with R&D+i centers in Denver and St. Louis. In addition, the company has projects completed or underway in 12 sates.

Currently,, Abengoa US is engaged in various landmark projects in the country, including Solana, the world’s largest solar plant using parabolic-trough solar-thermal technology based in the Arizona desert, which has up to six hours of electricity storage, and one of the first commercial second-generation bioethanol plants located in Hugoton, Kansas, which will come into operation at the end of this year.