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

Supply & Demand of US/World Coarse Grains

A highlight for the 2012 Export Exchange was Dr. Joe Glauber’s comments on the supply and demand of the United States and worlds coarse grains. Dr. Glauber is the Chief Economist for the United State Department of Agriculture. Attendees from across the world listened as he discussed the aftermath of the US drought and the goals for price moderation worldwide.

“No surprise I talked about the drought and the effect on corn and soybeans primarily. This was a global conference so wheat, as well. Clearly the drought was a the big story this summer. It certainly affected prices. As we look forward I think the key thing in terms of price moderation is the world is now turning to the South American soybean crop and we should have more information on that in the next couple months. The real issue will be what it means for spring planting here in the United States. I think given these prices we are going to see strong acreage again for corn and soybean. Hopefully we’ll see better yields and some rebuilding of stocks and some moderation of prices because the livestock side of the sector has been hit pretty hard.”

Listen to my interview with Dr. Glauber here: Joe Glauber Interview

Of particular interest to the ethanol industry, Dr. Glauber spent several minutes of his presentation discussing how the drought, corn prices and other factors have influenced ethanol production this year, as well as some insight on the blend wall and the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). Listen to that portion of his remarks here: Joe Glauber ethanol comments

Listen to Dr. Glauber’s entire presentation here: Joe Glauber at Export Exchange

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

Geoff Cooper Addresses Attendees at Export Exchange

Attendees for the 2012 Export Exchange were the audience for Geoff Cooper of the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA). Cooper, who serves as RFA’s Vice President for Research and Analysis, spoke to over 500 of the worlds feed producers, marketers and buyers. He explained that distillers grains and other ethanol co-products have become a tremendously important component of the global animal feed market.

“The American ethanol industry produced nearly 39 million tons of nutrient-dense animal feed in the 2011/12 marketing year, meaning the ethanol industry has surpassed the U.S. soybean crushing industry in terms of feed production,” Cooper said. “The feed produced by the ethanol industry is nourishing beef, dairy, swine, poultry, and fish around the world. About one-quarter of the feed co-products generated last year were exported to more than 50 countries.”

Cooper also explained that the U.S. ethanol industry has responded to the historic drought of 2012 by curtailing its consumption of corn. “There is a false notion out there that the ethanol industry is somehow insulated from the effects of the drought and high corn prices because of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS),” Cooper said. “That simply isn’t true. As crop conditions deteriorated in July and August and corn prices increased, corn use for ethanol dropped by almost 15 percent. That means the ethanol industry reduced its corn consumption by about 600-700 million bushels on an annualized basis in less than two months’ time. Without a doubt, the ethanol industry has not been spared from the effects of the drought.”

Listen to Geoff’s comments here: Geoff Cooper Comments

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

Nextgen Offers Attendees Free Clinics

The nextgen conference is set to take place in UK’s Stoneleigh Park on October 10 and 11, 2012. Unique to the event that showcases emerging renewable energy technologies, attendees can meet with industry experts during a series of drop-in clinics. The clinics are geared for those developing green energy projects or for those already involved in renewable energy production. Visitors will have the ability to learn in more detail about planning, operations and legal frameworks as well as learning the practical steps a business will need to take to achieve its goals.

One-to-one sessions are being offered by Ofgem, the National Farmers Union (NFU), The National Non-Food Crops Centre (NNFCC), Agrii, and National Grid.

“At nextgen, the one-to-one clinics are another way for visitors to get the latest policy and technical advice from renewable energy specialists and plug into world leading industry expertise, products and investment opportunities,” commented Lucy Pitt, group marketing manager of Nextgen Media.

In addition to the clinics, event attendees will also have the opportunity to hear from the Environment Agency about environmental regulation, planning policies and development procedures when seeking permits and consents for renewable energy technologies. The clinics are just one aspect of the show that also offers a trade show area with more than 200 exhibitors and conference sessions. Click here to learn more about nextgen and to register.

Don’t Miss Advanced Biofuels Markets

Today is the last day to register for the Advanced Biofuels Markets conference at the discounted rate in San Francisco taking place on October 29-31, 2012. There are more than 30 CEOs of advanced biofuels companies from around the world scheduled to speak. The focus will be on how to scale up to commercial production levels while tapping into the multi-billion dollar oil market.

Topics of discussion include scaling from pilot to commercial level, how to secure investments, how to identify strategic partnerships, how to improve feedstock economics and the logistics of integrated supply chain delivery networks.

Here is a sampling of speakers:

  • Fred Cannon, President and Chief Executive Officer, KiOR
  • Patrick R. Gruber, Chief Executive Officer, Gevo
  • Jonathan Wolfson, Chief Executive Officer, Solazyme
  • Guido Ghisolfi, Chief Executive Officer, Beta Renewables
  • Daniel J Oh, President and Chief Executive Officer, Renewable Energy Group
  • John Nichols, President and Chief Executive Officer, Codexis
  • Philippe Lavielle, Chief Executive Officer, Virdia
  • Ed Dineen, Chief Executive Officer, LS9
  • Richard Hamilton, Chief Executive Officer, Ceres
  • Dan Simon, Chief Executive Officer, Heliae  
  • Tom Buis, Chief Executive Officer, Growth Energy
Click here to get more information and to register.

Export Exchange 2012 Heads to Minneapolis

Minneapolis, Minnesota is the home of the Export Exchange 2012 on October 22-24, 2012. Co-sponsored by the U.S. Grain Council and the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), past events have attracted nearly 400 people from more than 30 countries ranging from domestic industry leaders to international buyers.

There will be many topics of discussion including a big picture overview of key factors that will drive global food and agriculture over the next decade. Other topics will include a review of U.S. and global supply and demand outlook for coarse grains in the coming year. The presentation by Chief Economist of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Dr. Joe Glauber will touch on the 2012 harvest and its potential impact on world and domestic consumption and trade patterns.

Along with Dr. Glauber, Carl Casale, CEO of CHS will be the keynote speaker giving a global market outlook, RFA Present and CEO Bob Dinneen will discuss U.S. agriculture and energy policy, and Dr Michael Boland, Director of the Food Industry Center at the University of Minnesota will discuss the economic characteristics of the agrifood supply chain.

Registration is currently open. You can learn more about the conference and register online by visiting the Export Exchange 2012 website.

What is the Impact of US Drought on Global Ethanol Supply?

With the ongoing drought in the United States, the ethanol industry is learning how to adjust in unforeseen conditions.  While the industry is facing much criticism for being a cause of rising food prices affecting livestock producers and food manufactures alike, the industry needs to be armed with the right information to fight back. One place to get this information is during the upcoming  F.O. Licht’s World Ethanol & Biofuels event that is taking place in Munich, Germany on November 5-8, 2012.

Topics that will be discussed include:

  • What impact will this have on your business?
  • How high are corn prices expected to rise to?
  • What is expected to happen with sugar, wheat and molasses prices?
  • Globally, what impact will the drought have on ethanol trade flows, production and policy?
  • How can the biofuels industry better protect itself from this renewed negative onslaught from the media and the food and feed lobby groups?
There will be more than 700 attendees and 70 speakers from around the world. Some key presentations will be given by:
  • Bob Dinneen , President and CEO, Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), USA
  • Simon Mitchell, Director Strategy and Business Development Sugar and Ethanol, Bunge, UK
  • Michael Schmidt, CEO, BP Europa SE & Head of Country, BP Deutschland
  • Hans van Steen Head of Unit, DG Energy EU Commission
  • Yue Guojun Assistant President COFCO, China
  • Mike Dwyer, Director, Global Policy Analysis Division, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)
  • Claudiu Covrig, Analyst – Ethanol & Feedstock, Sucden Geneva S.A., Switzerland
  • Frank Seyfried, Head of Group Research, Battery and Fuels, Volkswagen AG, Germany
  • Siegfried Knecht, Chairman of the Board, aireg – Aviation Initiative for Renewable Energy in Germany e.V.

For more information about the conference click here.

Chrysler Helps “Tell the Story” of Ethanol

Chrysler sees great value in ethanol. James Frusti, Chrysler Group manager of Fuels, Energy and Regulatory Affairs, presented the company’s ethanol strategy as part of the auto industry’s greater efforts of collaboration during the 25th Annual Ethanol Conference.

Fursti said that center stage of bringing any technology to market is the customer and the technology must provide value to the customer. “Whether it be for vehicle technology, a new energy source, or a new fuel source, to us that’s all technology,” he said. Ethanol is one of these technologies.

At Chrysler, Fursti explained that they are trying to make the internal combustion engine as efficient as possible given the challenging fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas requirements. To do this, they are looking at ethanol and biodiesel. But in order for Chrysler to invest in the development of ethanol engine technology, several things need to happen.

1)   More flex-fuel vehicles (FFVs) need to be sold.

2)   Customers need to understand the value in ethanol. When this happens they will buy FFVs so they need to be more broadly available in the retail market.

3)   Automakers need to be able to obtain greenhouse gas credits and improve their ability to comply with challenging requirements. The soon to be published 2017-2025 Fuel Economy and Greenhouse Gas Rules by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will explain how this will work and it is believed automakers will receive greenhouse gas credits for FFVs.

The next step, said Fursti, is that they need to know with certainty when there is going to be enough mid-level blends of ethanol available at the retail level for them to invest in redesigning their engines.

To succeed, there will need to be effective collaboration between the industries. There will also need to be more communication with the customer and legislators, said Frusti. Stealing a quote from UDSA Ag Secretary Vilsack, you’ve got to tell the story to the customer and you’ve got to tell the story to the legislatures.

You can view James Frusti’s presentation here and also listen to his remarks: James Frusti Tells the Ethanol Story

Ethanol Biorefining Innovations

There are many biorefining innovations taking place in the ethanol industry. During the 25th Annual Ethanol Conference, three company representatives discussed the research and technologies they were implementing or studying to increase the value of the ethanol production process.

Steve McNinch with Western Plains Energy said his company is looking at how to move into the advanced biofuels category of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS2). The biorenfinery, which produces ethanol from sorghum (milo), is currently installing technology to produce methane. His plant is also researching anaerobic digestion technologies that convert waste to energy. In addition, the plant is adding methane technology that will allow the plant to stop using natural gas as its electricity source and improve the ethanol’s carbon intensity score.

You can view Steve McNinch’s presentation here and also listen to his remarks: click here: Ethanol and AD Integration to
Produce Advanced Biofuel

There are several ways you can make your biorefinery more efficient whether you operate a corn ethanol plant or a milo ethanol plant.  Dough Rivers with ICM presented one way you can get from first generation corn to second generation cellulose while using the same biorefinery infrastructure. The first way to get from a dry grind plant is to start doing some things to recover more of your starch to convert more of your targeted end product. ICM has developed a Selective Milling Technology that bolts onto the current plant and increases both ethanol yield and corn oil yield. The company is also developing a fiber separation technology. From here you can start thinking about converting fiber to ethanol and collecting cellulosic RINs (Renewable Identification Number). Today ICM is testing its technologies in its pilot plant and expects to be offering the ethanol industry bolt-on cellulosic technologies soon.

You can view Doug River’s presentation here and also listen to his remarks: click here: ICM Pathway from Gen 1 Ethanol to Gen 2 Ethanol

Highwater Ethanol is one of the last ethanol facilities built in the U.S and the biorefinery is looking at moving into advanced biofuels via isobutanol (biobutanol). CEO Brian Kletscher discussed the current challenges and opportunities with isobutanol. Today ethanol plants have financial pressures, marketing challenges and a cap on first generation ethanol in the RFS2. The industry needs a solution and Highwater Ethanol believes isobutanol is one solution. That is why they signed on as an early adopter with Butamax. Isobutanol has several advantages over ethanol: attractive gasoline blending opportunities; it enables the refineries to increase the use of gasoline out of a barrel of oil up to three percent; it also has some advantages in its molecule. Now that Highwater Ethanol is on board with the technology, its next step is to pursue permitting and begin retrofitting in 2013.

You can view Brian Kletscher’s presentation here and also listen to his remarks: click here: Highwater Ethanol Review of Isobutanol