Passive Solar Conference Offers Free Public Lectures

Solar 2013As part of the American Solar Energy Society (ASES) National Solar Conference that is kicking off tomorrow, April 16-20 at the Baltimore Convention Center, the 38th Annual Passive Solar Conference will explore two broad themes – the emerging architectural discipline of passive solar design, and the rapidly growing science of building technology. A free lecture open to the public will be given by American Institute of Architects (AIA) Fellow and architect Travis Price, author of “The Archeology of Tomorrow: Architecture and the Spirit of Place,” on Friday April 19 at 3:30. Price will discuss “The Mythic Modern: Mythology, Ecology and Technology…the Spirit of Place.”

The Passive Solar Conference will cover a broad range of themes in emerging architecture, including the Department of Energy road map for Building Integrated Solar Technologies (BIST), which aims to double building efficiency by 2050. ASES notes that today buildings in the US consume more than 70 percent of the electricity and 50 percent of the natural gas produced, accounting for 40 percent of U.S. energy consumption.

Other sessions will explore “Passive Haus,” design, a concept originating in Germany to minimize energy consumption, the trend in Net Zero building, and the impact of climate change on regional design. In a series of sessions oriented around building technology, the conference will present the latest research on energy modeling for buildings, automated controls, and daylighting strategies. Finally, several forums will address important regulatory issues including building codes, zoning and the right to solar access.

The conference exhibition hall will be open to the public starting at 10:00 am from April 17-19 for $10, with a special public day on Saturday, April 20 priced at $5. On Thursday, April 18, two evening sessions, Young Professionals in Renewable Energy (YPiRE) and Emerging Transportation, beginning at 6:30 pm and 7:00 pm respectively, are free and open to the public. The Travis Price lecture on Friday April 19 at 3:30 pm is also free and open to the public.

“Farm to Fly” Agreement to be Signed at ABLC

ABLC2013-1As I mentioned earlier, I’ll be at the Advanced Biofuels Leadership Conference at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center near Washington, D.C. on Monday. And I just got this breaking news item in my email box from our friend, Jim Lane from Biofuels Digest:

vilsack-lahoodAgriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood will announce that the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Federal Aviation Administration, along with other partners, are extending an agreement to help develop viable renewable fuels for the aviation industry.

Secretary Vilsack and Secretary LaHood will both deliver remarks at the 2013 Advanced Biofuels Leadership Conference. This extension follows the initial success of the 2010-2012 “Farm to Fly” partnership to strengthen research and capacity building for aviation biofuels.

I’ll be there to get their comments on this agreement and more! Hope to see you at the ABLC!

See You at Advanced Biofuels Leadership Conference!

ABLC2013-1We’ll see you next week at the Advanced Biofuels Leadership Conference (ABLC) in Washington, DC!

Our friends from Biofuels Digest are promising this will be a great forum running April 15-17 at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center with real dialogue on the real issues facing the biofuels industry. Just look at some of the folks who will be attending!

Thomas Vilsack, Secretary of Agriculture, USDA
Brooke Coleman, Executive Director, Advanced Ethanol Council
Brent Erickson, Executive VP, BIO
Joe Jobe – CEO, National Biodiesel Board
Mike McAdams, President, Advanced Biofuels Association
Mary Rosenthal, Executive Director, Algae Biomass Organization
Harry Baumes, Director, Energy Policy, USDA
Mindi Farber-DeAnda, Head, Biofuels & Emerging Technologies, Energy Information Agency
Gerald Ostheimer, FAS Science Advisor, USDA – US technical lead, Global Bioenergy Partnership (GBEP)
Congressman Joe Garcia (D-FL)
Valerie Sarisky-Reed, Acting Director, DOE Biomass Program

Plus, many, many more from industry, financing and the military.

I’ll be there Monday to catch all the action and post it right here on Domestic Fuel. See you in DC!

Agenda Announced for Int’l Fuel Ethanol Workshop

FEWMore than 140 speakers will be talking during four track session at the upcoming 2013 International Fuel Ethanol Workshop & Expo, the ethanol industry’s largest and longest-running conference. Officials released the agenda for the June 10-13, 2013 event in St. Louis, Mo.

“Attendees of the 29th annual FEW will gain extremely important information about the ethanol industry,” said Tim Portz, Vice President of Content & Executive Editor at BBI International. “This year we had an overwhelming number of speaker abstracts. The large number of submissions, coupled with the feedback from last year’s attendees, that included producers representing 87 percent of all U.S. installed capacity, is helping to shape this conference’s agenda into the most current and relevant FEW we’ve ever produced.”

The 2013 FEW is expected to draw more than 2,000 attendees and will include national and international ethanol producers, investors, industry suppliers and policymakers. During the course of the event, they’ll discuss issues categorized into four tracks:

Track 1: Production
Track 2: Leadership & Financial Management
Track 3: Coproducts
Track 4: Cellulosic & Advanced Ethanol

Check out the entire agenda, and find more information at www.FuelEthanolWorkshop.com.

EDF & Citi’s Energy Conference Succussful

The Environmental Defense Fund and Citi teamed up to host an energy conference, “Innovations in Energy Efficiency and Distributed Generation Finance II,” earlier this week. The event will bring together experts from around the country to explore innovative ways to fund energy efficiency projects in California.

EDF logo copy“California continues to take bold steps toward clean energy and provide the private sector with clear opportunities to invest in energy efficiency and renewables, a critical part to growing our nation’s economy,” said former Governor Bill Ritter during his keynote presentation. “A key part of achieving our clean energy potential, and creating jobs in America, is ensuring access to quality financing for homes and businesses that want to participate in the new energy economy.”

Ritters is currently the director of the Center for the New Energy Economy at Colorado State University. The Center’s mission is to incorporate best practices from around the world to help guide the country to a more secure, sustainable and affordable energy future.

citi logoCalifornia State Sen. de León focused on SB 37, a key bill he currently authors that would establish a first-in-the nation On-Bill Repayment (OBR) program allowing consumers a creative way to save money and energy by financing energy efficiency retrofits and renewable energy projects through their utility bills. “We need to continue with the bold action that has made California a leader in energy efficiency,” Sen. De León said. “This is a priority because it helps build an economy that is forward thinking.”

Using data from a 2009 McKinsey study, EDF estimates that there are at least $40 billion of investment opportunities for energy efficiency projects in commercial buildings in the U.S. alone that will provide annual returns in excess of 20 percent. Yet despite this attractive potential, few of these projects are being funded. Today’s conference was designed to facilitate discussion of current and emerging innovative solutions, new partnerships, lessons from recent transactions and remaining obstacles to developing and scaling the market.

Global Hydropower & Geothermal Growth Slow

According to a new report from the Worldwatch Institute, although the global consumption and installed capacity of hydropower and geothermal technologies have increased steadily since 2003, both types of energy saw slower growth in 2011. Global installed capacity of hydropower reached 970 gigwatts (GW) but there was only a 1.6 percent increase from the year before. Total geothermal capacity reached 11.2 GW, slowing to below 1 percent for the first time since 20o2, according to the report, authored by Evan Musolino.

“Despite the recent slowdown in growth, the overall market for hydropower and geothermal power is increasing in part because these two sources are not subject to the variability in generation that plagues other renewable energy sources such as wind and solar,” explained Musolino, a research associate with the Worldwatch’s Climate and Energy Program. Hydrogpower Photo Fast Company“The greater reliability of hydro and geothermal can thus be harnessed to provide reliable baseload power.”

Among members of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), hydroelectricity accounted for almost 6 percent of primary energy consumption. It played a more important role in other countries—-at a little over 7 percent of usage—-and these non-OECD nations accounted for 60 percent of worldwide hydroelectricity consumption. On a regional basis, South America and Central America are most dependent on hydroelectricity relative to total energy use.

Although some 150 countries produce hydropower, half of the global capacity was concentrated in just five nations at the end of 2011. China remains the leader, with 212 GW installed, followed by Brazil (82.2 GW), the United States (79 GW), Canada (76.4 GW), and Russia (46 GW).

Similar to  hydropower, the report finds geothermal resources are highly location-specific. Continue reading

DOE to HOST 2013 APRA-E Energy Innovation Summit

ARPA-E-logoThe Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E) will host its fourth annual Energy Innovation Summit from February 25 to 27, 2013 at the Gaylord Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland. The goal of the Summit is to bring together thought leaders from academia, business, and government to discuss cutting-edge energy issues and facilitate relationships that help move technologies into the marketplace.

Confirmed speakers at this year’s Summit include New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, entrepreneur T. Boone Pickens, Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk, and DARPA Director Arati Prabhakar. The Summit also features a Technology Showcase displaying over 250 breakthrough energy technologies from ARPA-E awardees and other innovative organizations.

Other speakers include:

  •  Nick Akins, CEO, American Electric Power President
  • Mitch Daniels, Purdue President and former Governor
  • David F. Gordon, Eurasia Group Head of Research and Director of Global Macro Analysis
  • Ellen Kullman, CEO, DuPont
  • Blythe Masters, Head of Global Commodities and Corporate & Investment Bank Regulatory Affairs, J.P. Morgan

Click here for additional information on the ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit, including the full Summit agenda.

Iowa Wind Energy Association Announces 6th Conference

The Iowa Wind Energy Association has announced the dates for its 6th Annual Wind Conference: March 25-27, 2013 at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines. This year’s event will focus on four general themes that reflect the national and world leadership position that Iowa has achieved in the wind energy sector. Topics include technology development, small and community wind, operation and maintenance, education and training, and research. Confirmed speakers include Governor Terry Branstad and Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds.

Prior Wind Energy DayGeneral session presentations will focus on national policy and wind energy growth and sustainability issues. Many of these sessions will focus on the utility scale segment of the wind energy industry with a major presentation about transmission development and large scale wind farm deployment in Iowa and the nation.

Again this year, IWEA will provide a Research Poster Display project, sponsored by Exelon Energy, that will provide an opportunity to highlight research being done to improve the function and profitability of the wind energy industry.

I had the opportunity to speak with IWEA Executive Director Harold Prior, Ph.D. during Iowa Wind Energy Day at the Iowa State Capitol. Prior said that the conference has a good history of attracting the six Iowa Congressional delegation who give attendees an update on public policy issues in Washington.

Prior noted that the wind industry is a relatively young industry and one of the key benefits of the conference is the ability for IWEA members and attendees to network.  Despite its youth, Iowa is the nation’s leader in the number of wind energy manufacturing companies and number of wind energy jobs. Prior said Iowa is ranked as the 7th best wind resource in the nation and the state is a central location with convenient access to major navigable rivers and the national interstate highway system.

For more information about the conference, listen to my interview with Harold here: 6th Annual Wind Energy Conference

Mexico’s Future Shines Bright

There is gold in Mexico. Not the kind you wear around your neck and fingers in the form of jewelry, but the kind that produces renewable energy. The field of energy dreams lies in the Sonora Desert in Northern Mexico, and some experts believe that only 25 square kilometers could provide enough solar energy to supply Mexico’s 114 million residents with power.

SolarPanel In Mexico community Photo: Jason WestAlthough the country is blessed with lots of sun, the solar industry is still in in infancy. The Global Horizontal Irradiation (GHI) averages nearly 5 kWh/m2/day, making Mexico a great place to invest in solar energy. But how do you attract investors in a time when many are hesitant to invest in renewable energy, despite it’s bright outlook? This will be one of the main themes during SolarPlaza’s El Futuro Solar: Mexico conference that will be held in Mexico City on February 28, 2013.

“We´re at the very beginning of formalizing the market,” said Carlos Flores, CEO of Conermex, a Mexico City-based company specializing in renewable energy solutions. He will be one of the speakers at the event. He notes there are still few incentives for investors in terms of subsidies or injection tariffs. “One of the problems is the cost of solar power for private users with high levels of consumption; the industrial sector pays much less.”

Although efforts have been made to make the market more attractive, there is still a long way to go to reach the country’s solar energy potential. To date, solar development has been mainly focused on small scale projects in rural areas to provide communities with off-grid electricity. This, however, is changing and more large solar projects are under consideration. Flores add that not only do solar projects needs to be developed, but the domestic market, including manufacturing, need to be developed as well.

Register Now: 2013 Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit

Registration for the 7th Annual Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit and Trade Show is officially open and has one of the best return on investments around – it’s free. Sponsored by the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA), renewable industry members, renewable energy enthusiasts and just plain old interested citizens can attend the Summit on January 30, 2013 being held at The Meadows Conference Center in Altoona, Iowa.

Speakers will highlight the future of the Renewable Fuel Standard (in case you missed it, the EPA denied waiver requests to lower the ethanol mandate), initiatives to expand E15 availability to consumers and current opportunities facing the biodiesel industry. Featured speakers will be announced as the event draws closer.

“The Renewable Fuels Summit is Iowa’s premier renewable fuels event bringing together industry leaders, decision makers and the general public to shape Iowa’s energy future,” said IRFA Executive Director Monte Shaw. “This event provides a great opportunity to hear experts address state and national issues facing the future of renewable fuels, as well as network with biofuels professionals and business leaders throughout the Midwest.”

Visit the 2012 Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit website to learn more and to register. As in past years, DomesticFuel will be there bringing our readers live coverage, photos and interviews from the event.

This December Head to Canada

This December head to Ottawa, Canada for the 9th Annual Canadian Renewable Fuels Summit (CRFS) being held December 3-5, 2012. This year’s theme, “Sustainable, Secure & Diverse Energy Now!” will focus on Canadian policy for the ethanol and biodiesel industries.

Program topics include: The Future of the Bioeconomy in Canada; Forces Shaping the North America Biodiesel Industry; Ensuring Market Opportunities and Fuel Quality Throughout the Supply Chain; Dedicated Crop Opportunities for Drop-In Renewable Jet Fuel; Industry Perspectives on Next Generation Production in Canada; and Updates from International Sustainability & Carbon Certification Association (ISCC) and Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC).

Conference keynote speakers include: Chantal Hébert, Columnist for the Toronto Star; Mark Jaccard, Professor, Resource and Environmental Management at Simon Fraser University; Senator JoAnne L. Buth, Senate of Canada; and many more.

Click here to learn more about this year’s program and to register online.

Advanced Biofuels Conference Around Corner

The National Advanced Biofuels Conference and Expo is just around the corner and down south in Houston, Texas on November 27-29, 2012. A premier event for the industry, opening day will kick off with remarks from Tom Bryan, president of BBI International, the conference host. He will be followed by a keynote presentation from Michael McAdams, president of the Advanced Biofuels Association and a special address by Andrew Holland, senior fellow for Energy and Climate, American Security Project. Next the generation session will begin: A Look Forward, Advanced Biofuels Leadership Looks at the Coming Year and Where Advanced Biofuels Stand in a Post-Election, Post Drought Environment.

Other conference topics include:

  • Petroleum industry perspectives on advanced biofuels
  • Converting existing industrial assets into next-generation biofuels
  • Forging symbiotic agribusiness alliances
  • Aviation and military industry positions on biobased jet fuel
  • Venture capital and private equity viewpoints
  • Overcoming barriers to market entry
  • The national market outlook for biobased fuels and chemicals
  • Exceeding the performance of petroleum-based products

Registration is still open and you can learn more about the speakers and their topics as well as register online here.

World Grain Buyers Get US Producer Perspectives

Grain buyers from around the world in attendance at the 2012 Export Exchange had the opportunity to embrace the US producers perspective on the 2012 crop through a producer panel during the opening general session. Key panelists were Ron Gray, Illinois farmer and Secretary/Treasurer of the US Grains Council, and John Mages, Minnesota farmer and Chairman of the Minnesota Corn Research & Promotion Council.

They shared their personal experiences overcoming the 2012 drought and assured buyers of their fight and passion to raise a consistent and quality product.

Listen to the entire Producers Panel here: Producer Panel at Export Exchange

Following the opening session I took the time to talk with Ron Gray, where he summed up the 2012 corn crop and how farming for him is more than a job, its a personal endeavor.

“For us the 2012 crop started out with all the hope of an extraordinary crop. We planted early, the crop went in very well, emergence was good. Then it didn’t rain. Beginning the second week of May through the first week of August we only had about three inches of total rainfall and because of that our corn crop was severely reduced in production. Our farm probably averaged 50 bushels an acre, which is approximately 1/3 of our normal production. The rainfall did come later and the soybean crop is a fairly good crop, but the corn crop was devastated.”

Listen to my interview with Ron here: Ron Gray Interview

Beyond simply listening to producers, international grain buyers had the opportunity to visit farms across the United States. The goal was to gain information, assess the current US corn crop, explore the availability of other grains such as sorghum and barley, and build relationships leading to future sales.

Many participants expressed a preference for buying US grains due to the consistency and quality of the grain. They also appreciate the transparency and reliability of the US marketing and delivery systems. Clearly price and availability hindered US exports this year, but buyers are looking forward to a better crop next year.

You can find photos from this years Export Exchange here: 2012 Export Exchange

Outlook for Global Grain & Renewable Energy

To kick off the 2012 Export Exchange attendees heard from keynote speaker Carl Casale, President and CEO of CHS, Inc., on the outlook for global grains and renewable energy.

Casale started off stated that the outlook simply depends on lots of different things and we have to focus on what we do know. He left attendees with one question: Do we have a strategy to survive, or even thrive in a volatile world?

Listen to Carl’s entire presentation here: Carl Casale at Export Exchange

While interviewing him after his presentation, he discussed the long term goals for global grain production and what we should expect production wise in the next year.

“The first thing you need to do is just take a step back and look at what the global demand is going to be over the long term. We have talked about 9 billion people on the planet, that’s going to require a 50% increase in grain production. As importantly, the 9 billion people are going to eat meat so there is another 50% increase in grain production to be able to feed livestock around the world. I have not seen anything that says that that’s not probably where we are going to be in the long term.”

“If you look at the market signals, it’s telling farmers that we want more corn acres in the US coming off a bit of a short corp that we had this year. Farmers are very well capitalized. I don’t think that will be an issue interms of getting hte corn produced. I think probably the biggest physical challenge we are going to have right now is we typically apply a lot of fertilizer for corn in the fall. It was so dry this year we just didn’t have the opportunity to do it. So, that will put al lote more pressure on supply chains in the spring.”

Listen to my interview with Carl here: Carl Casale Interview

You can find photos from this years Export Exchange here: 2012 Export Exchange

Export Exchange: Bringing Buyers & Sellers Together

The key purpose for the 2012 Export Exchange was for buyers and sellers to meet and establish important relationships. The event sponsored by the US Grain Council and Renewable Fuels Association focused on getting answers, making contacts and building business. During the conference I had the opportunity to talk with Tom Sleight, President & CEO of the US Grains Council, about what this event means for the DDGS and the worlds grain supply.

“What we’re telling customers around the world is how the US producers will be there for them. The US farmers will be there for them now and in the future. Yes, we have droughts, thats a problem we have, but for the future the US has always responded to production challenges with more acres, greater production. Our message to the international community is that the US farmer is there in the international market for keeps.”

“I think out biggest thing is being all around, having boots on the ground, representatives that are selling these grains, bringing the buyers in. That’s what we are doing today with over 200 buyers from around the world. Bringing them in, making contacts and making sales. It is a different kind of business and it takes being there and extending your influence and representing producers interest all around the world. That’s what US Grains Council is doing.”

Listen to my entire interview with Tom here: Tom Sleight at Export Exchange

The US Grains Council also announced the official approval of the Syngenta corn variety MIR 162 Agrisure Vipterra in the European Union. This opens the way for exports of US corn co-products, including DDGS and corn gluten free.

Cary Sifferath, USGC senior regional director based in Tunis, said “This approval is a great success as it opens the window of opportunity for U.S. products, including DDGS and CGF, to enter the EU market. This is especially attractive in big markets like Ireland, Spain, Portugal and the Netherlands. Their ability to import these high-protein feed ingredients is critical at a time of crop shortage in Europe and high prices. Everyone is looking for alternatives,”

You can find photos from this years Export Exchange here: 2012 Export Exchange