International Cleantech Forum

Cleantech Group LLCSan Francisco will play host to more than 800 investors, entrepreneurs and leading renewable energy experts at the international Cleantech Forum XVI convening next week. This year’s forum is highlighting 2008 as ‘The Defining Year for Cleantech Globalization.’

Investors, entrepreneurs, industry influencers and corporate leaders at the forefront of the rapidly developing cleantech investment and business category from North American, Europe, the Gulf States and Asia will convene in San Francisco for Cleantech Forum(R) XVI, to be held at the San Francisco Fairmont Hotel from February 25-27, 2008.

Cleantech Forum XVI is hosted by the Cleantech Group, LLC, founders of the cleantech investment category. The annual flagship meeting of the world’s cleantech leaders, representing over $8 trillion in assets, will define investment trends for 2008 and focus capital on the emerging opportunities and solutions to natural resource constraints and global climate change issues.

Dr. Sultan Ahmed al Jaber, CEO of the Masdar Initiative and Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company, will deliver the keynote address at the Cleantech Forum XVI Gala Dinner on Tuesday February 26. With a $15 billion commitment announced in January, Dr. Sultan al Jaber is leading the largest government-supported cleantech initiative in the world.

U.S. Department of Energy Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Andy Karsner will highlight the Department’s transformational public-private sector work intended to accelerate the development, deployment and commercialization of cutting-edge, clean energy technologies from the Agency’s national laboratories into the global marketplace. Continue reading

AZ Bill Would Help Pay for Adding Biofuels

boone.gifA bill introduced in the Arizona legislature would help pay the costs of gas stations adding biofuels to their lineups.

The Tucson Citizen reports HB 2620, offered by Arizona House majority leader Tom Boone (R-Peoria), will help stations meet the growing numbers of vehicles that can run the green fuels:

“We need to make sure Arizonans have cleaner fuel choices available to them,” Boone said.
He added that because of the state budget crunch, the bill would not allocate any funds toward the program, but it would “create a conduit through which to distribute and gather monies for the program.”

There are 7,127,966 vehicles on the roads in Arizona, said Cydney DeModica, spokesperson for the Arizona Department of Transportation. Bill Schaeffer, executive director of the Valley of the Sun Clean Cities Coalition, said of these vehicles, an estimated 150,000 are capable of running on E-85 and 230,855 could run on biodiesel.

There are 13 E-85 stations and nine biodiesel stations in Arizona.

The money to pay for the conversions would come from gifts, grants, donations or other state, federal or private sources and go into a central fund. The conversion costs, particularly to hold E85, are expected to be between $50,000 and $100,000. If a station already carries diesel, there’s no conversion to carry biodiesel.

Secretary of Agriculture Biofuels Message To Livestock Producers

Me and Sec. EdOur Secretary of Agriculture, Ed Schafer, made his first major public policy speech today at the Cattle Industry Convention in Reno, NV. I had the pleasure of meeting him and talked someone into snapping a photo too. I thought you might be interested in hearing an audio clip from his speech here this morning since he hit the subject of high feed prices and renewable energy head on.

Basically, he said that with the growth of cellulosic ethanol production there should be an easing of feed price pressure within a short time as the technology and non-food stocks form of ethanol production continues to rapidly develop.

Sec. SchaferHe says there’s no way we can get away from the reality of the need to become more energy independent here in America.

He does admit that there will be higher feed prices in the short term but he stressed that the President’s energy bill provides an outline toward the future which is cellulosic.

You can listen to Secretary Schafer’s comments here:

RFA to Testify on Energy Act

RFAThe president of the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) will present testimony Thursday to the Senate Energy and Natural Resource Committee at a hearing on the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.

Dinneen’s intends to tell the committee that the American ethanol industry stands ready to do its part to make the law successful.

Putting the importance of developing a renewable fuels industry in the context of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, Dinneen will note, “An analysis conducted for the RFA using the U.S. Department of Energy’s existing GREET model shows that increasing the use of ethanol and other renewable fuels to 36 billion gallons annually by 2022 could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by some 176 million metric tons, equal to removing the annual emissions of more than 27 million cars from the road.”

Moreover, given the downturn America’s economy is experiencing, Dinneen will underscore the important economic engine renewable fuel production can be for the nation. Economic analysis of the impact of increased domestic biofuel production and use as a result of the EISA anticipate the creation of more than 1 million new jobs, the addition of $1.7 trillion to the gross domestic product, and an increase in household incomes of more than $400 million.

No Budget Change in Ethanol Tariff

Bush BudgetReports of the demise of the ethanol tariff in the new White House budget were apparently greatly exaggerated.

Despite hints from Energy Secretary Sam Bodman last week that changes might be made to the expiring U.S. ethanol import tariff in its new 2009 government budget that was sent to Congress on Monday, no such changes were included.

Reuters reports that an energy department spokesperson said while the 54-cent-a-gallon tariff is set to expire at the end of December during the 2009 budget year, which begins this October 1, the administration will have discussions with lawmakers later this year on what should be done with the tariff.

The tariff is designed to protect the U.S. ethanol industry from other countries taking advantage of the 51 cent per gallon blenders’ tax credit.

White House Budget May Change Ethanol Tariff

Sam BodmanIndications are that the Bush administration will make changes to the ethanol tariff in its budget to Congress scheduled to be released Monday. Earlier this week, Energy Secretary Sam Bodman hinted that the White House’s 2009 budget may propose scaling back or eliminating the 54-cent-a-gallon import tariff.

In a speech to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Bodman said, “I would just say I think that there are advantages to having had the kind of both subsidies and tariffs that have helped protect this industry. I believe that, the best I can tell, this industry is pretty close to being able to stand on its own.”

Chuck GrassleySenator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) issued a statement.saying that removing the tariff would ultimately result in subsidizing Brazilian ethanol. “I can’t figure out why Secretary Bodman would want the United States to risk becoming dependent on Brazilian ethanol when we’re already dependent on Middle East oil. His comments really do a disservice to President Bush who has been the most pro-ethanol president we’ve ever had,” Grassley said.

“In addition, the United States already provides duty-free treatment for Brazilian ethanol that is merely dehydrated in the Caribbean Basin Initiative countries. Brazil has yet to make full use of this program. I don’t see why we should bend over backwards to provide yet more duty-free treatment for Brazil’s ethanol producers.”

Energy Secretary Awards Cellulosic Grants

DOEU.S. Department of Energy Secretary Samuel W. Bodman today announced that DOE will invest up to $114 million over four years for four small-scale biorefinery projects to be located in Commerce City, Colorado; St. Joseph, Missouri; Boardman, Oregon; and Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin.

“These project proposals were innovative and represent the geographic diversity that we strive for when making the widespread use of clean, renewable fuels commercially viable,” Secretary Bodman said. “Spurred by the President’s ambitious plan to reduce projected U.S. gas consumption by twenty percent by 2017, our goal is to aggressively push these technologies forward to get them out into the marketplace as quickly as possible, so they can have a real impact. Advanced biofuels offer tremendous promise for helping our nation to bring about a new, cleaner, more secure and affordable energy future.”

Building on President Bush’s goal of making cellulosic ethanol cost-competitive by 2012, these commercial-scale biorefineries will use a wide variety of feedstocks and test novel conversion technologies to provide data necessary to bring online full-size, commercial-scale biorefineries.

The companies receiving the grants are ICM Incorporated of Colwich, Kansas; Lignol Innovations Inc., of Berwyn, Pennsylvania; and Pacific Ethanol Inc., of Sacramento, California.

Illinois to Consider Ethanol Blends

Illinois SchockLegislation is being proposed in Illinois for ethanol blends between 10 and 85 percent.

According to the Peoria Journal Star, State Rep. Aaron Schock said at a news conference Thursday that he would like to see the current 10 percent ethanol blend in gasoline increased to 15 percent and, eventually, 20 percent.

“Throughout the 20-county (18th Congressional) District, farmers have had relatively good years with high prices and high yields, but a number of them are concerned about what the future may hold with any type of dip in yields and prices,” Schock said. “There are things we can do as a government and policy makers to keep prices strong, the markets strong for agriculture and lessen our dependency on Mideast oil.”

WI Governor Proposes Energy Independence Plan

doyle.jpgWisconsin’s governor is proposing an aggressive plan to make his state a leader in renewable energy.

From the text of Gov. Jim Doyle’s speech, he has called for lawmakers to approve his strategy to increase his state’s homegrown power through the Wisconsin Energy Independence Fund:

Over the next 10 years Wisconsin will invest $150 million to help our businesses, our farmers, our foresters, and our manufacturers produce and promote renewable energy.

Our strong manufacturing base and rich agricultural industries, along with the wealth of resources in our vast northern forests and world-leading research universities, position Wisconsin to become the Saudi Arabia of renewable energy.

From manufacturing wind turbines and solar panels to retro-fitting fuel pumps and exploring the latest clean technologies, we will seize green opportunities and create good jobs for our citizens.

But we won’t stop there.

Tonight we’ll launch a new campaign to increase the availability of renewable fuel by 1 billion gallons. First we’ll provide new tax credits for biodiesel fuel producers and add 400 new renewable fuel pumps to our roads. Second let’s pass a renewable fuel standard sponsored by Senator Kreitlow and Representative Suder to require oil companies to provide renewable fuel for our consumers.

Doyle pointed out that ethanol production in Wisconsin has gone from none to half a billion gallons a year since he took office. He says this country needs to depend more on the Midwest… and less on the Mideast.

MO Governor Makes Surprise Announcement

Missouri’s youngest governor has decided not to run for a second term, saying he has accomplished all the goals he had when he took office in 2005. Among those goals was a ten percent ethanol mandate for gasoline, which took effect this month.

Matt BluntBlunt recently announced proposals for $2 million in tax incentives for retailers who install E-85 ethanol pumps and a statewide five percent biodiesel standard.

“Governor Blunt has been as progressive as any public official in the nation on renewable fuels policy,” said Missouri Soybean Association Executive Director Dale Ludwig. “This year, he became the first governor in the country to publicly support a statewide five percent biodiesel standard. He has also shown great leadership by fully funding the biodiesel incentive fund, which helps place biodiesel producers on a level playing field with petroleum companies that receive federal tax incentives.”

The 37-year-old governor’s announcement stunned the state of Missouri since he had already been collecting campaign contributions and even running commercials. Blunt says he has spent 20 years in government service, ten in the Navy and ten in public office, and he wants to spend more time with his wife and young son who was born about the same time he became governor.

Wonder if this means his brother Andy can now keep his shares in the Show Me Ethanol plant without a conflict of interest? (See yesterday’s post on that story)

SD Biodiesel Tax Break Moves Forward

A plan to cut state fuel taxes for biodiesel is moving forward in South Dakota’s legislature.

rounds.jpgThis story from Forbes says the state Senate’s State Affairs Committee voted unanimously to move Governor Mike Rounds’ plan to the full Senate:

The bill would cut the 22-cent-a-gallon tax on diesel to 20 cents for diesel fuel that contains at least a 5 percent blend made from soybeans or other organic material.

The 2-cent-a-gallon tax break would be the same as that given to ethanol, which is a gasoline blend generally made from corn.

The tax break would not start until biodiesel facilities in South Dakota reach a capacity of 20 million gallons a year and produce at least 10 million gallons a year. It would end when production reaches about 20 percent of diesel fuel sold, state Agriculture Secretary Bill Even said.

If passed, the bill would encourage the development of soybean-based biodiesel plants in South Dakota. The state is home to just one small facility now.

Show Me Conflict

Too many political bedfellows are spoiling the chances of a Missouri ethanol plant getting some government financing incentives.

Show Me Ethanol of Richmond, Missouri is scheduled to open this spring, backed by over 700 investors including a congressman’s wife, the governor’s brother and a state legislator. The plant was approved to receive a low-interest loan rate backed by the state, but “no incentives can be given if the company has even a single investor who is a lawmaker, statewide elected official, state department director or a parent, sibling, spouse or child of any of those officials,” according to an AP story.

Blunt BrotherAmong the investors is Andy Blunt, pictured in the AP photo with his brother Gov. Matt Blunt. So far, he is holding on to his shares as plant officials try to negotiate a compromise with State Treasurer Sarah Steelman. State Rep. John Quinn of Chillicothe also owns shares in the plant and he believes the treasurer’s office should relax its policy, perhaps allowing up to 5 percent of investors to have political connections.

Read the Associated Press report here.

Florida Awards Biofuels Grants

Twelve grants totaling $25 million were awarded today by Florida Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner Charles H. Bronson as part of the state’s “Farm to Fuel” initiative.

“We believe that awards such as these are critical in triggering the development of a renewable energy industry in Florida,” Bronson said. “With the backing of and an investment from the state, we’re hopeful that these projects will yield positive results and serve as a catalyst for major commercial investment in this industry.”

FL Farm to FuelThe winners of this year’s “Farm to Fuel” grants are:

Gulf Coast Energy of Walton LLC

Awarded $7 million, in a commercial project grant for the construction and operation of both an ethanol and biodiesel plant in a $62 million project in Mossy Head, Florida

U.S. Envirofuels LLC
Awarded $7 million, in a commercial project grant for the construction of a $47 million ethanol production plant in Highlands County.

Liberty Industries
Awarded $4 million, in a commercial project grant for the construction and operation of a $38 million Liberty County facility that will produce ethanol and electricity using primarily forest waste products.

Agri-Source Fuels
Awarded $4 million, in a commercial project grant for the construction of a $21 million biodiesel plant in Pensacola.

University of Florida
Awarded $500,000, in a research and development grant to develop a catalytic chemical reactor system to convert woody biomass to biodiesel.

Southeast Biofuels
Awarded $500,000, in a demonstration grant to build a nearly $6 million pilot plant in Auburndale to produce ethanol from citrus peels.

Sigarca Inc.
Awarded $499,500, in a research and demonstration project involving the construction of a 3,000-square-foot bioenergy plant on the grounds of the Southeastern Livestock Pavilion in Ocala to process horse waste into renewable energy.

University of Central Florida
Awarded $498,000, in a research and development grant to demonstrate the viability and cost effectiveness of technology developed at the university to convert farm and animal waste into renewable energy.

Florida Institute of Technology
Awarded $415,520, in a research and development grant to cultivate and research various strains of Microalgae capable of producing biodiesel.

Applied Research Associates Inc.
Awarded $203,130, in a research and development grant involving converting cellulosic materials such as sugarcane byproducts to fermentable sugars for a more cost-effective way of producing ethanol.

Applied Research Associates Inc.
Awarded $182,832, in a research and development grant to demonstrate a new technology in converting crop oils into biodiesel.

Neptune Industries Inc.

Awarded $158,270, in a research and development project that would create a pilot-scale floating algae production system in quarry lakes in South Florida to produce algae capable of being converted into biodiesel.

Romney’s Stance on Renewables

romney.jpgIt looks like former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney will win the Michigan primary. So, as I have done for other candidates as they have won caucuses and primaries, I’m posting some of the winner’s thoughts on renewable energy.

From the Romney campaign web site:

Invest In Research. Dramatically increase federal spending on research, development, and demonstration projects that hold promise for diversifying our energy supply and increasing our energy efficiency, such as:

* Bringing clean energy technology to market through commercialization of large-scale renewables and advanced nuclear technologies…

GOVERNOR ROMNEY: “This kind of energy independence will also mean pursuing ample domestic sources of energy: more drilling offshore and in ANWR, nuclear power, renewable sources, ethanol, biodiesel, solar, wind, and full exploitation of coal – both solid and liquid.” (Governor Mitt Romney, Remarks At The George Bush Presidential Library Center, 4/10/07)

On the Democratic side, New York Sen. Hillary Clinton won the Michigan primary. However, since Michigan is holding its primary to early, national Democratic Party leaders have decided the delegates won’t count… and so most of the top Dems had their names pulled from the ballot. But just in case you feel like I am favoring the GOP, here’s a link to an earlier post on Clinton’s renewable energy stance.

In the future, I plan to only post the renewable energy stances of new winners… I don’t want us to become repetitive. One thing I will repeat, though, is that it is up to you to do the homework to choose the best person to lead this country, especially when it comes to renewable fuels.

MO Governor Calls for Biodiesel Standard

blunt.jpgMissouri Governor Matt Blunt wants a 5 percent biodiesel standard for his state.

In his State of the State address before the Missouri House of Representatives, Blunt called on lawmakers to approve the standard:

To further grow alternative fuel production, I support a B5 standard for biodiesel sold in our state. Biodiesel from soybeans has proven much more environmentally-friendly and better for air quality than regular diesel. Research has shown that it cuts carbon dioxide and cancer-causing emissions by more than 75 percent. Adopting a B5 standard will reduce particulate matter emissions by 15.4 million pounds and carbon monoxide emissions by 168 million pounds. A B5 standard will improve our air quality and makes sense for Missouri.

mosoy.jpgBlunt’s announcement was welcomed by the Missouri Soybean Association, which pointed out that in 2008, biodiesel production in the state is expected to reach at least 125 million gallons… more than enough to meet the 60 million gallon mark a 5 percent biodiesel mandate would produce. If passed, Missouri would be the first state to pass and implement a B5 standard. Minnesota has a 2 percent mandate already in effect, while Louisiana, Oregon, and Washington are waiting for production targets to be met before implementing their 2 percent biodiesel standards.

On January 1st, Missouri became one of just three states in the country to put in a 10 percent ethanol mandate.