Missouri Corn: Market Instability Reinforces Need for Ethanol

With the continued turmoil in Iraq causing instability in worldwide oil markets, Missouri Corn Growers Association (MCGA) is calling for increased ethanol access in the marketplace. Ethanol is trading more than a dollar lower than conventional gasoline according to the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.

The cost savings from blending competitively priced ethanol are being kept from consumers,” said MCGA CEO Gary Marshall. “To pay upwards of $3.50 or $4 per gallon when the top five 1205379-Moil companies profited a combined 93 billion dollars is unacceptable. Drivers are sick and tired of shelling out an arm and a leg for gas – and they have every right to be.”

Missouri drivers are currently using 10 percent ethanol (E10) in most gasoline sold across the state. Recently E15 (15 percent ethanol, 85 percent gasoline) was approved for use in the state in vehicles 2001 and newer. However, noted MCGA, the fuel blendstock provided by oil refineries during summer months limits blending higher than 10 percent ethanol, keeping customers from the price benefit of higher ethanol blends.

“The refusal by oil companies and refineries to provide a quality, cost-effective fuel when consumers are facing increasing costs at the pump is an outrage,” said Marshall. “Drivers could see immediate savings from E15, yet fuel marketers’ hands are tied until the summer regulation is lifted and winter blendstock is reintroduced this fall.”

While prices at the pump have reached their highest levels since 2008, they would be even higher without the inclusion of ethanol to the country’s fuel supply said MCGA. Last year alone, U.S. ethanol production displaced an amount of gasoline refined from 462 million barrels of imported crude oil, which is equivalent to that imported annually from Venezuela and Iraq combined.

“The latest energy issues in Iraq are a stark reminder why ethanol is important. As a country, we need to be looking at a long-term energy plan and not be held hostage any time militants take over a refinery in a foreign land,” concluded Marshall.

FFV’s, Ethanol Featured During FlexFuel Campaign

The second week of the Georgia Alternative Fuel Road Rally is underway as part of the FlexFuel Awareness Campaign, and one message of focus delivered by the ethanol and agriculture industries was that of the benefits of high level ethanol blends and flex fuel vehicles (FFvs). FFVs and ethanol blends are an option for private and government fleets, according to the Clean Fuels Foundation, one of the lead sponsors of the event. FFVs and ethanol can be very competitive among the family of legally defined alternative fuels.

Alternative Fuel Vehicle RoadshowDuring the Georgia events, Clean Fuels Executive Director Doug Durante gave a series of presentations and media interviews and took the opportunity to remind people that this is about clean air, consumer choice and energy independence. “With prices jumping once again as a result of instability in the middle east, we can fight back with domestic alternatives. In the case of flex fuels this is an easy, immediate choice we can make to take advantage of the 20 million FFVs in use by fleets and consumers,” said Durante.

The Alternative Fuel Road Show, now in its 4th year, is America’s largest clean fuel vehicle educational tour and is designed to reach fleet managers, civic leaders, and state legislators to help them make informed decisions about transitioning to clean, alternative transportation fuels. The 2014 Georgia Alternative Fuel Road Show kicked off at the Georgia International Convention Center in Atlanta with a media event and a workshop for fleet managers. The Show will roar through 8 cities in total in Georgia, all with media and workshop events.

Durante praised the efforts of the military to lead by example as the tour visited the massive Warner Robins Air Force base in Georgia which is aggressively using E85 on base. The FlexFuel vehicles are required to fill up on E85 and the staff has implemented several creative approaches to ensure they do so.

He also commended Georgia Public Service Commissioner Tim Echols who created the tour and attends every session. “Mr. Echols is equally supportive of natural gas and propane, electric vehicles, and E85 and is working to get more flex fuel pumps in the state. He drives a personal FFV running on E85 and is on a mission to reduce petroleum use in every way possible. We truly appreciate what he is doing for the state and the alternative fuels movement,” said Durante.

“As part of an ‘all of the above’ approach, this Road Show showcases all the alternative fuels, and they all have their strengths and advantages in a given situation. We are pleased to be part of this successful effort and make sure biofuels like ethanol are in the mix,” Durante concluded.

Durante also noted that many of the city and fleet managers they met with were very interested in getting a better understanding of the options that FlexFuel Vehicles provide, including being able to use any combination of gasoline ethanol blends.

Ethanol Safety Seminars Scheduled for Tennessee

Two Ethanol Safety Seminars will be taking place in Tennessee this June: June 25, 2014 at the Knoxville Civic Auditorium and Coliseum and June 27, 2014 at the Nashville Fire Academy. The seminars are designed for individuals who respond to ethanol-related emergencies as well as those who work at fixed-facilities and transport fuel. The free seminars RFA Ethanol Safety Seminarsare sponsored by the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) and the Knoxville & Holston River Railroad and Nashville & Western Railroad.

Both seminars are free and feature a morning session from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and an evening session from 5:30 to 10 p.m. Registration is limited to the first 100 people per seminar. Lunch and dinner will be provided. Certificates from the Tennessee Fire Fighting Commission will be awarded to attendees at the completion of the course.

The goal of these seminars is for attendees to gain full ethanol emergency response training experience that they can immediately put to use in the field as well as pass along to other first response teams. A majority of this training is based on the “Training Guide to Ethanol Emergency Response,” a training package created by the Ethanol Emergency Response Coalition (EERC) that has been distributed throughout the United States and to several countries worldwide.

“We cannot take our industry’s impressive safety record with hazardous materials for granted,” said Scott Ogle, general manager of Knoxville & Holston River Railroad. “Ethanol Safety Seminars provide emergency responders with the training they need to keep their guards up and American communities safe.”

Attendees will receive in-depth information on proper training techniques that first responders and hazmat personnel need to effectively respond to an ethanol-related emergency. While primarily targeting first responders, hazmat teams, safety managers, and local emergency planning committees, it is also open to the general public.

“Ethanol Safety Seminars allow the emergency response community to maintain a level of preparedness that guarantees that the cities and towns they serve receive swift and capable responses to ethanol-related incidents,” said Kristy Moore, RFA vice president of technical services. She also noted that other Safety Seminars will be taking place in other locations this summer.

E85 Found for $1.39 Less Than Gas In Iowa

For several months, the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) has been tracking wholesale E85 prices in Iowa and this week found the largest price differential since they began the E85 Price Listing Service: $1.39 per gallon less than gasoline wholesale.

Kum and Go E85 station in Stuart, IA on June 16, 2014. Price: $2.74 per gallon. Photo; Joanna Schroeder

Kum and Go E85 station in Stuart, IA on June 16, 2014. Price: $2.74 per gallon. Photo: Joanna Schroeder

On Monday, June 16, the average price of regular 87-octane gasoline without ethanol was $3.18 per gallon at the Des Moines Terminal, according to OPIS. Meanwhile, Absolute Energy, an ethanol plant in St. Ansgar, Iowa, was selling E85 for $1.79 per gallon.

“E85 is currently being sold in wholesale markets across Iowa at more than a $1.00 per gallon discount to regular gasoline, and that’s serious savings for Iowa families,” said IRFA Executive Director Monte Shaw. “With the Summer driving season in full swing and uncertainty in the Middle East keeping oil prices elevated, using ethanol is not only helping to support the state’s economy and energy security, it’s also providing Iowa families with a much needed price break at the pump.”

E85 is a fuel blend containing between 70 and 85 percent ethanol. E85 is currently sold at more than 200 fueling sites in Iowa, and can be used in all flex-fuel vehicles (FFV). Click here to see a list of all the E85 stations in Iowa. To determine if your vehicle can use E85, please check your owner’s manual, the vehicle’s fuel cap, or click here for a list of FFVs.

Ethanol Production Hits Record High

eiaU.S. ethanol production has hit a record high. This story from Reuters says it was the the sixth week in a row production rose for ethanol, which was helped by rising gasoline prices.

Ethanol production surged 28,000 barrels per day, or about 3 percent, to an average of 972,000 bpd in the week ending June 13, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Production surpassed the previous record of 963,000 bpd reached in the last week of 2011.

Despite the higher output, strong demand squeezed stocks of ethanol, which fell 572,000 barrels to 17.85 million barrels, a three-week low.

Makers of the biofuel are earning near-record profits as prices for corn, the main feedstock used in ethanol production, hovered near a four-month low.

The story goes on to say that gasoline futures have a $1-per-gallon premium over ethanol futures that makes ethanol good for fuel blenders.

American Drivers Can Save 61 Cents Choosing E85

E85 price at Kum and Go in Adel Iowa on June 16 2014

E85 price at Kum & Go in Adel, Iowa on June 16, 2014. Photo Credit: Joanna Schroeder

Fuels America wants Americans to know that as turmoil in Iraq pushes gas prices up, ethanol can save them money. In an analysis of data covering the past year from E85prices.com shows that drivers with “Flex Fuel” vehicles in the U.S. can pay an average of $0.61 less per gallon by filling up with E85, which contains up to 85 percent American ethanol.

The association notes that ethanol is a higher octane fuel that improves engine performance, and that’s why it has been added to gasoline for decades. Today it is now being blended at higher levels into the fuels used throughout professional auto racing. Prices for American-grown renewable fuels like ethanol and advanced biofuels have grown increasingly competitive thanks to America’s Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), which ensures that homegrown renewable fuels are available as an option to American consumers. In addition to saving American drivers money, the RFS has helped to support 852,000 jobs and $184.5 billion in economic output in the U.S.

The analysis of data from “E85 Prices” also revealed that drivers nationwide have at times saved as much as $0.76 per gallon at the pump over the past year by filling up on E85. And because ethanol increases the available fuel supply, it helps to drive down the price of gasoline for all drivers regardless of whether they choose a higher blend fuel like E15 or E85.

Meanwhile, violenFuels America Digital RFS adce in Iraq is driving high gas prices even higher than predicted. Fuels America notes that mere worries about oil supply issues have already helped drive world and U.S. prices to their highest levels since September. Americans could see prices for regular gasoline jump more than $0.20 per gallon over the next couple weeks as violence in Iraq continues.

Fuels America’s announcement coincides with a paid advertising campaign to highlight the consumer savings the RFS and the renewable fuels industry deliver for Americans. This week, the coalition is running digital ads that ask Americans why we should “let Big Oil pump us dry,” and call on our leaders to “invest in affordable, homegrown renewable fuels” by protecting America’s Renewable Fuel Standard.

New Biofuel Station Coming to Inwood, Iowa

A new biofuel station will soon be coming to Inwood, Iowa. Oak Street Station, when completed, will offer higher blends of ethanol and biodiesel to motorists. More specifically, the station will offer ethanol blends E10, E15, E30 and E85, as well as biodiesel blends B5 and B99.9 for independent jobbers and special use customers.

Flex Fuel pump “We’re excited to have received a ‘Fueling Our Future’ grant that will enable us to grow our business and offer unique, locally-produced, clean-burning renewable fuels to Inwood motorists,” said Oak Street Station Accountant Lisa Van Regenmorter. “This funding will allow us to put in the infrastructure to offer higher blends of renewable fuels that are not currently available in the area.”

Oak Street Station was selected to receive $125,000 in funding for the new site from Iowa Governor Terry Branstad’s “Fueling Our Future” program, administered by the Iowa Department of Transportation (IDOT) and the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS).

“We congratulate Oak Street Station on becoming a center for renewable fuels by offering some of the highest levels of ethanol and biodiesel available in Northwest Iowa,” added Iowa Renewable Fuel Association (IRFA) Managing Director Lucy Norton. “This innovative approach will keep Iowa in the forefront of the biofuels revolution and provide motorists with greater access to the cleanest, lowest-cost fuels available.”

The new fueling site will feature three ethanol blender pumps and five biodiesel fueling positions, in addition to a vehicle service center and convenience store. Construction is scheduled to begin this summer, with completion expected in January 2015.

E85, Biodiesel Vehicles Dominate EcoCAR 2

ecocar2Vehicles running on high blends of ethanol and biodiesel dominated the third year of EcoCAR 2 – a joint competition sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and General Motors (GM) that challenged 15 college teams to reduce fuel consumption, greenhouse gas emissions, and tailpipe emissions, while providing consumers with an acceptable vehicle to drive. A team from Ohio State University were the overall winners, engineering a 2013 Chevrolet Malibu with energy storage, electric drive and an E85 engine.

Over the course of three years, The Ohio State consistently met incremental goals that strengthened their position against the other university teams. Their series-parallel plug-in hybrid Malibu excelled at GM’s Proving Grounds in Milford, Michigan, earlier this month, where it was put through a series of strenuous technical and safety tests similar to those used for real-world production vehicles.

“The EcoCAR 2 competition has been an incredible journey and learning experience for everyone at Ohio State, and that’s what really matters – winning the top spot is just a bonus,” said Katherine Bovee from Ohio State. “We are all excited to take everything we have learned into the workplace after graduation.”

The team’s unique design achieved 50 miles per gallon gas equivalent (MPGGE), while using 315 Watt-hours per mile (Wh/mi­) of electricity. The vehicle impressed the judges with stellar numbers and even lessened the amount of criteria emissions by half, compared to the base vehicle.

A B20 biodiesel and plug-in hybrid from the University of Washington took second place, while another E85 plug-in hybrid from Penn State University placed third.

Biofuels Veteran Joins Advisory Firm

campbellBiofuels veteran and former Deputy Undersecretary of Agriculture John Campbell has joined Ocean Park Advisors (OPA), a corporate finance advisory firm for biofuels and other agribusiness companies. Campbell will serve as managing director based in Omaha, Nebraska and will serve to broaden the company’s relationships, develop new business and help execute transactions.

“I am thrilled to have the opportunity to work with the principals at Ocean Park,” said Campbell. “This is a unique firm that brings senior-level attention to transactions in renewable energy, food processing and other agriculture sectors.”

Campbell spent 21 years with Ag Processing Inc (AGP), a $5 billion cooperative, where he was an executive vice president responsible for leading the industrial products division. He launched it with biofuels and later expanded it to include green chemistry applications of soy oil products to plant protection, industrial cleaning, personal care and environmental remediation sectors. He is credited as being one of the driving forces behind the creation of the U.S. biodiesel industry. Under Campbell’s leadership, AGP constructed the first commercial scale biodiesel plant in North America followed by numerous other expansions, projects and acquisitions. He was also engaged in the ethanol industry starting in the 1990s, and served as president of the Nebraska Association of Ethanol Producers.

Campbell served as Deputy Undersecretary of Agriculture in 1988, engaged in legislative and regulatory activities related to commodity programs, conservation efforts and trade.

Overview of 30th Fuel Ethanol Workshop

_DSC0011This year’s International Fuel Ethanol Workshop & Expo (FEW), which took place in Indianapolis, had the largest number of attendees ever. Tom Buis with Growth Energy and National Corn Growers Association CEO, Rick Tolman were both keynote speakers at the opening general session of 30th annual event. A trade show and additional workshops were held for attendees.

I had a chance to catch up with Tim Portz with BBI International and discuss the workshop and what he hopes people take back to the industry with them.

You can listen to my interview with Tim here Interview with Tim Portz, BBI International

Check out the 2014 Fuel Ethanol Workshop photo album.

RFA Dismisses Proposed RFS Repeal

lankfordCongressman James Lankford (R-OK) this week introduced legislation called the “Phantom Fuels Elimination Act” that seeks to eliminate the so-called “corn ethanol mandate” and require domestic production of all other Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) blending requirements.

Response from the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) on the proposed legislation was dismissive.

RFANewlogo“Congressman Lankford should get his facts straight,” said RFA president and CEO Bob Dinneen. “In dropping this bill, Rep. Lankford suggests ethanol is a ‘phantom fuel.’ Wrong! There is more than enough ethanol to meet the RFS. If it didn’t exist, the oil companies wouldn’t be fighting so hard to protect their monopoly over the nation’s fuel supply.”

Dinneen added that it is incomprehensible that Rep. Lankford would say his bill is needed to reduce consumer gasoline prices. “Ethanol is the cheapest transportation fuel in the world. Ethanol today is 50–60 cents cheaper than wholesale gasoline, lowering the price at the pump,” he said. “Moreover, ethanol stretches the domestic fuel supply and reduces the amount of petroleum needed in our gasoline, ultimately lowering the cost of crude oil.”

FIFA World Cup to Feature Biofuels & Solar

FIFA World Cup BrasilThe FIFA World Cup 2014 is underway in Brazil and this year’s event features several renewable energy and sustainable measures never before seen during the event.

Sugar Cane Industry Association (UNICA) is supplying the governing body of the football fleet (known as soccer to those living in the U.S.) with ethanol. Flex-fuel cars from Hyundai, Model HB20 Edition FIFA World Cup, are running the streets and roads of Brazil powered with fuel from cane sugar.

The adoption of ethanol is one of the measures to avoid, reduce and offset emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) released dioxide in the atmosphere, the ‘Football for the Planet,’ according to FIFA’s official environmental program that aims to reduce the negative impact of their activities on the environment. In Brazil, FIFA and the Local Organising Committee (LOC) of the 2014 World Cup are putting in place projects that address key areas such as waste, water, energy, transport, logistics and climate change.

Kids play football on the beach as Brazil prepare for the World Cup on June 11, 2014 in Maceio, Brazil. (Photo by Alex Livesey - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)

Kids play football on the beach as Brazil prepare for the World Cup on June 11, 2014 in Maceio, Brazil. (Photo by Alex Livesey – FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)

For the consultant Emissions and Technology of Sugar Cane Industry Association (UNICA), Alfred Szwarc, the initiative of the FIFA program is extremely appropriate as sugarcane ethanol compared with gasoline. He cites sugar-based ethanol reduces 90 percent of greenhouse gases that cause climate change when compared to straight gasoline. Reducing global warming is one of focuses of the “Football for the Planet” FIFA campaign.

In addition to biofuels, Yingli Green Energy has provided dozens of solar panels to various operations involved with FIFA and this year the company plans to offset all carbon emissions arising from its promotional activities in Brazil to make the FIFA World Cup Brazil the greenest in history. The company’s efforts included all solar powered stadiums, commercial displays, customer hospitality, media activities, and employee travel and accommodation. To achieve carbon neutrality, Yingli has:

  • Supplied over 5,000 Yingli solar panels and nearly 30 off-grid solar energy systems to help power matches at multiple FIFA World Cup stadiums;
  • Partnered with ClimatePartner, an independent, certified environmental agency, to accurately calculate and verify emissions data for the duration of Yingli’s sponsorship activation in Brazil;
  • Committed to investing in carbon emission reduction certificates that are generated by a local Brazilian project, and that are certified by the Bureau Veritas Certification Holding SAS.

“By becoming history’s first carbon neutral sponsor of the FIFA World Cup, Yingli is honoring its commitment to our environment and to our planet,” noted Mr. Liansheng Miao, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Yingli Green Energy. “As a company whose products and mission are deeply intertwined with sustainability issues, we are dedicated to reducing the ecological impact of all aspects of our business operations, including our highly visible and pervasive marketing activities.”

FEW Panel Looks Back and to Future of Ethanol

Lucy Norton IRFAAttendees of this week’s 30th Annual Fuel Ethanol Workshop (FEW) heard a discussion of 30 years of past and the next five years ahead for ethanol.

“I think one of the opportunities we missed 30 years ago was developing a national brand for ethanol,” says Lucy Norton with the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA). “We let the industry that didn’t like the fact we were taking away 10 percent of their market name it, label it, sell it the way they wanted to,” missing out on a huge opportunity to create an image for ethanol of a high-performance, low-cost fuel.

But, she’s not just about looking back. Lucy credits their new efforts to market and brand ethanol to the high-performance vehicles of NASCAR as a way to correct that image. Fans are able to see ethanol’s performance in their favorite racers’ vehicles and realize they too can have ethanol in their tanks. She says as they build that demand for the green fuel, they also need to make sure the infrastructure is in place so consumers are able to access ethanol.

Moving forward, Lucy says they are looking to higher blends of ethanol, such as E15, as the way to increase the amount of ethanol sold and used in this country.

“We need a way to sell unhindered higher blends of ethanol and convince marketers and petroleum refiners that there is market for low-vapor pressure gasoline in the Midwest and other parts of the country. If they would just ship it here, we would find them the customers.”

You can listen to Leah’s interview with Lucy here:Interview with Lucy Norton, Iowa RFA

Check out the 2014 Fuel Ethanol Workshop photo album.

Patriot Renewable Fuels is an Innovation Leader

Last week Patriot Renewable Fuels announced the news that the biofuels plant is making plans, and hopes to add, ICM’s Fiber Separation Technology as well as their Generation 1.5 cellulosic technology to their biorefinery facility located Annawan, Illinois. Patriot is one of the first ethanol plants in the country to adopt both technologies together. During 2014 FEW this week Gene Patriot Renewable Fuels Gene GriffithGriffith, co-founder and president of Patriot updated DomesticFuel on the project. It should be noted that this is just one of several major value-added projects Patriot has announced in less than a year making them one of, if not the most innovative ethanol plant/biorefinery in the U.S.

Griffith said they are pretty excited about the projects and after spending several months doing due-diligence on ICM’s technologies as well as other technologies, they felt that this was the right time to begin the project.

“If we get it implemented, we’ll be one of the earlier, maybe one of the earliest independent ethanol producers to this form of cellulosic ethanol, and we’re really excited about it,” said Griffith.

Griffith said being at FEW is a great networking opportunity because the the people Patriot works with are entrenched and have a lost of useful information and they are able to learn information they wouldn’t be able to generate on their own.

Last December, Patriot added another ICM platform, Select Milling Technology, and the Fiber Separation Technology builds upon this platform. “The Select Milling Technology is a separate mill that further processes the starch in the corn kernel as its ground before it goes into the fermentation process, explained Griffith. “The platforms we’re adding will be the Fiber Separation Technology which separates the fiber from the starch. Essentially, by removing the fiber from the starch, it improves our ethanol production efficiency so we get more ethanol from the corn,” explained Griffith.

Then he noted that they are able to take the fiber and do two-three things with it. One, they could add it back to the distiller’s grain (DDGs) and sell it has a high fiber form of distillers grain protein. Two, they could keep the fiber separate and sell a higher protein feed for a premium that is better for monogastric animals (such as pigs). The third option, which is what Patriot would like to do, is to ferment the fiber for additional ethanol.

Corn delivery to Patriot Renewable FuelsPresently Patriot is producing around 130 million gallons of ethanol per year and Griffith thinks they can produce another 10-12 percent ethanol production from the same kernel of corn. Griffith hopes that they can have all their permits by the end of the year and implement the two new technologies by 2015.

Griffith said many producers are doing similar things with different company’s technologies but they spent a lot of time with him learning about the technologies they implemented. He also said other producers will be watching their progress to help them decide if and when the technologies might be a good addition to their plants.

Learn more Patriot’s ethanol innovations by listening to Gene Griffith: Interview with Patriot's Gene Griffith

Check out the 2014 Fuel Ethanol Workshop photo album.

Tom Buis Discusses Ethanol Challenges at FEW

The 30th Annual Fuel Ethanol Workshop (FEW) kicked off this week with an annual ethanol industry update from Growth Energy’s CEO Tom Buis. Leah Guffey was able to catch up with Buis after his presentation and asked him what some of the biggest challenges facing the ethanol industry are right now.

growth energy Tom Buis 2014 FEW“The most immediate challenge confronting us is what the EPA and the administration is going to with the 2014 renewable fuel volume obligations (RVOs),” answered Buis. This is in essence what the industry calls the 2014 Renewable Fuel Standard.

The rule, noted Buis, should have been finalized by January 1, 2014. He said the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is late and the proposed rule is a very controversial rule. “The proposed rule really missed the mark in our opinion,” said Buis. “We don’t think they based it upon the facts. We’ve spent the last six months trying to convince them they got it wrong and they’ve got to move it forward not backwards.”

When asked when he thought the final rule would come out Buis answered, “Pick your rumor.” He said there were over 300,000 comments about the proposed rule and he believes EPA is working as fast as they can.

While there are many steps that have to be taken before the rule can be finalized, Buis said, “Hopefully they get it right. I’ll take it late if it’s right as opposed to early and wrong.”

Learn more about some of the challenges facing the ethanol industry in Leah’s interview with Tom Buis:Interview with Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis

Check out the 2014 Fuel Ethanol Workshop photo album.