EPA Response on RFS and CARBIO Plan

EPA_LOGOI just received the following response information from the EPA attributed to Byron Bunker, Director, Compliance Division, Office of Transportation and Air Quality. The EPA representative I spoke with says the agency knows of the biodiesel industry concerns and wanted to provide a response to those concerns. The response is in the form of eight bullet points:

1. EPA is committed to getting the RFS program back on track.

We understand industry’s desire for certainty. EPA is committed to getting the RFS program back on track. We expect to take action on 2014, 2015 and 2016 this spring. We look forward to talking with all stakeholders throughout the process.

2. The CARBIO plan DOES NOT lower the RFS sustainability standards for Argentinian biodiesel producers.

Any claim that the CARBIO plan decreases environmental oversight is flatly wrong. The sustainability standards are exactly the same for all parties. This Alternate Biomass Tracking plan is simply one mechanism by which Argentinian producers can meet the record keeping requirements of the program.

The sustainability standards were defined in the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) of 2007. Namely, in order to qualify for the RFS program, planted crop and crop residue used as feedstock for biofuels must be harvested from agricultural land cleared or cultivated prior to December 2007 (the date of EISA’s enactment).

The RFS regulations Congress established in 2007 apply to both foreign and domestic producers. Any foreign or domestic renewable fuel producer or renewable identification number (RIN) generating importer may meet the recordkeeping requirements for tracking feedstock from qualified lands with an alternative biomass tracking program that has been approved by the EPA. In fact, several countries already import biofuel under the existing regulations.

3. The CARBIO program actually provides for more rigorous oversight of Argentinian producers who choose to participate in this program.

For example:

· The plan is intended to ensure that qualifying fuel can be traced to pre-identified and pre-approved lands from which “renewable biomass” may be harvested consistent with regulatory definition of that term. The alternate biomass tracking program is a robust program that covers the whole soybean biodiesel supply chain, from soybean production through intermediate processing, to biodiesel production.

· CARBIO’s method for tracking chain of custody relies on a product transfer document called a cartas de porte, or waybill that has been mandatory in Argentina since 1998. In addition CARBIO will use land cover data from satellite imagery to identify land that was cleared or cultivated prior December 19, 2007 and actively managed or fallow and non forested on December 19, 2007.

· Any volumes that would qualify under this plan would need to have all steps verified by the approved third-party auditor before a RIN can be generated.

· Any and all other necessary RFS regulatory requirements also apply per the regulations.

4. Why would Argentine producers appeal to EPA for more stringent requirements?

It’s like someone asking a professional tax preparer to do your taxes. They know the codes, the regulation and how to manage the documentation. People want certainty and protection that they are complying with the extensive laws, which most common people don’t know or understand, and so they want the protection of the professional tax preparer. This is no different for the parties in Argentina.
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Biodiesel, Soybean Groups Criticize Import Decision

Proponents of the biodiesel industry in this country and the feedstocks that make it are blasting the U.S government’s decision to allow Argentinian biodiesel easier access to American markets. The National Biodiesel Board (NBB) and the American Soybean Association (ASA) say the decision by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to ease sustainability requirements of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) to fast-track the South American fuel couldn’t come at a worse time.

nbb-advanced“This decision poses a tremendous threat to U.S. industry and jobs, not to mention the overriding goal of the RFS of developing clean, homegrown renewable fuels,” said Anne Steckel, NBB’s vice president of federal affairs. “This is incredibly damaging, particularly in light of the continued delays in establishing RFS volumes. The Obama administration has effectively run the U.S. biodiesel industry into a ditch over the past year by failing to establish a functioning renewable fuels policy, and instead of pulling the domestic industry out, it is fast-tracking foreign competition.”

ASAlogo1“Today’s decision issued by EPA on Argentinian biodiesel shows a lack of coordination and alarming tone-deafness regarding the purposes of the Renewable Fuels Standard,” said ASA President and Brownfield, Texas, farmer Wade Cowan. “EPA has put the interests of our foreign competitors above those of soybean farmers here in the U.S. At this point, we can only scratch our heads and wonder what EPA’s priorities are when it comes to the domestic renewable fuels industry.”

Under the RFS, feedstocks generally must be grown on land that was cleared or cultivated prior to Dec. 18, 2007 – when the RFS was implemented. Typically, foreign producers must closely map and track each batch of feedstock used to produce imported renewable fuels. EPA’s decision allows Argentinian biodiesel producers to use a survey plan for certifying that feedstocks used, far less stringent than the current map and track requirement and more difficult to verify. NBB estimates that up to 600 million gallons of Argentinian biodiesel could enter the U.S. as a result of the change.

“At a time when our U.S. industry needs a lifeline, it feels instead like we’re being pushed back under water,” Steckel said. “This decision simply makes no sense from an economic perspective, an energy security perspective or an environmental perspective. It is baffling.”

GRFA: Sustainability Week Needs to Recognize Biofuels

GRFA1As attendees gather in the Middle East gather for the 8th Annual World Future Energy Summit (WFES), one group is telling them to bring biofuels to the top of the sustainability, economic and climate change agenda. The Global Renewable Fuels Alliance (GRFA) says the 30,000 delegates from 170 different countries need to be talking about the green fuels during the flagship event of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week.

“The economic, environmental, agricultural and social success story of biofuels is a natural fit for the World Futures Energy Summit’s series of panels and presentations and throughout the events as part of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week,” stated Bliss Baker, spokesperson for the GRFA.

“We need attendees to demand the inclusion of biofuels in this conversation because they create much needed rural jobs, significantly curb green house gas emissions, reduce our reliance on crude oil, and encourage energy diversity – all stated priorities of the Summit” concluded Baker.

GRFA says global biofuels production contributed $277.3 billion and supported nearly 1.4 million jobs in all sectors of the global economy in 2010, with job numbers forecasted to top 2.2 million by 2020. In addition, the International Energy Agency says biofuels, such as ethanol, will have to play an increased role in reducing greenhouse gases, already removing 106 million tonnes of the emissions from the environment, the equivalent of taking 21 million cars off the road.

FAO’s Chief Comments on Biofuels Welcomed by GRFA

GRFA1Comments by a key United Nations agency chief that biofuels should be part of the energy mix is being welcomed by renewable fuel advocates. Food and Agriculture Organization Director-General Jose Graziano da Silva told attendees at the recent Global Forum for Food and Agriculture in Berlin that biofuels should be seen as a key part of the global agriculture complex, remarks welcomed by Global Renewable Fuels Alliance (GRFA).

Throughout his remarks, the Director-General praised biofuels for their social, agricultural and environmental benefits and the necessity for agriculture to accommodate both food and fuel.

“We applaud the FAO Director-General for stating what over 62 countries with biofuel-friendly policies have known for years — that biofuels deliver much needed rural jobs, significantly curb green house gas emissions, reduce our reliance on crude oil, and encourage energy diversity, “ stated Bliss Baker, spokesperson for the GRFA.

According to the GRFA, global biofuel production is making a significant contribution to the global economy, having contributed $277.3 billion and supported nearly 1.4 million jobs in all sectors of the global economy in 2010. By 2020 the global biofuel industry is forecasted to grow to support over 2.2 million jobs in all sectors of the global economy.

GRFA also cited numbers that showed global ethanol production hit nearly 25 billion gallons of the green fuel, removing the equivalent of 21 million cars worth of greenhouse gases, equal to all of the cars registered in Malaysia.

Study: Animal Fat Biodiesel Cuts GHGs by 85%

cattle eating distillers grainsBiodiesel made from animal fat produces 85 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions. This news release from the European Fat Processors and Renderers Association says new finding from the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research (IFEU) in Germany confirm a long-held belief that animal fat biodiesel would have significant positive effects on the environment.

The latest calculations carried out in the context of the ISCC sustainability certification process reveal that producing biodiesel from animal fat achieves a remarkable 85% saving in greenhouse gas emissions compared to fossil diesel fuel…

Public health restrictions mean that animal by-products are subject to special disposal regulations and as a consequence have a negative market value. Therefore, according to the IFEU, all emissions relating to treatment necessary for compliance with public health requirements in sterilised preliminary products should not count towards the total amount of greenhouse gas emissions generated during production of the associated biofuel.

Niels Leth Nielsen, EFPRA president, commented: “Biodiesel made from animal fat not only conserves resources, it also achieves very high savings in terms of greenhouse gas emissions. That means we already have access to an advanced biofuel.”

Boeing, Embraer Open Biofuel Research Center

boeing1A new research center will look to establish the aviation biofuels industry in Brazil. Aviation manufacturers Boeing and Embraer opened a joint sustainable aviation biofuel research center in the South American country.

At the Boeing-Embraer Joint Research Center in the São José dos Campos Technology Park, the companies will coordinate and co-fund research with Brazilian universities and other institutions. The research will focus on technologies that address gaps in creating a sustainable aviation biofuel industry in Brazil, such as feedstock production, techno-economic analysis, economic viability studies and processing technologies.

“Boeing and Embraer, two of the world’s leading aircraft manufacturers, are partnering in an unprecedented way to make more progress on sustainable aviation biofuel than one company can do alone,” said Donna Hrinak, president, Boeing Brazil and Boeing Latin America. “Brazil, a pioneer in the sustainable fuels industry, will play a leading role in establishing the biofuels industry and helping meet aviation’s environmental goals.”

“Our purpose is to support work on developing and maturing the knowledge and technologies needed to establish a sustainable aviation biofuel industry in Brazil with global reach,” said Mauro Kern, executive vice president, Engineering and Technology, Embraer. “Brazil has shown its potential and is already a benchmark for the clean-energy industry, having created very successful ethanol and biodiesel industries.”

This joint research center is the latest in a series of collaborative efforts by Boeing and Embraer, and Brazilian partners on sustainable aviation biofuel.

Brazilian Ethanol Summit Planned for June

Sugarcane harvest in Brazil photo unicaThe 5th annual Ethanol Summit 2015 will take place in the Golden Hall of the World Trade Center (WTC) in São Paulo on June 29-30, 2015. The event supported by the Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association (UNICA) and will focus on renewable energy, especially ethanol, biomaterials and biochemicals that can be produced from sugarcane. There are more than 100 speakers in four major plenary sessions, 15 thematic panels and opening and closing ceremonies, as well as side events. Ethanol Summit 2015 will be organized by one of the world congress companies, MCI.
 
“We have a year ahead in which key decisions for the future of the sugarcane industry will be taken, both in Brazil and on the world stage, increasing the importance of the Summit as the main forum for discussions on the most relevant topics for the energy and renewable products coming of cane sugar,” said the president of UNICA, Elizabeth Farina.
 
For the CEO of MCI Brazil, Juliano Lissoni, completion of the Ethanol Summit is an important and highly visible challenge. “It is a high-level event, worldwide established as a major meetings focused on renewable energy. We want to contribute to the Summit grow and go further, contributing directly to the present and the future of this activity increasingly essential for Brazil and the world.”

Registration for the event will be opened in February, with the launch of the official website of the Ethanol Summit 2015.

Participate in “Shout Out for Solar” Day

Shout Out for Solar Day” is taking place on Friday, January 16, 2015 on Facebook, Twitter and other social media venues. The event coincides with the Solar Energy Industries Association’s (SEIA) 41st anniversary as well as the release of The Solar Foundation’s “National Solar Jobs Census” report on Thursday, January 15.

“With the U.S. solar energy industry coming off a record-shattering year, next week’s ‘Shout Out For Solar’ Day is the perfect time for Americans to voice their support for increased development of solar resources nationwide,” said Rhone Resch, SEIA president and CEO. “In a short period of time, solar has become a true American success story, benefiting both National Shout out for Solar Daythe U.S. economy and our environment, and we need to be shouting that news from every rooftop.”

According to estimates, the U.S. now has more than 20 GW of installed solar capacity, enough to effectively power nearly 4 million America homes – or every single home in a state the size of Massachusetts or New Jersey – with another 20 GW in the pipeline for 2015-16. SEIA says the growth is being spurred, in part, by the affordability of solar. According to SEIA/GTM Research, national blended average system prices have dropped 53 percent since 2010.

“By any measurement, these policies [net metering] are paying huge dividends for both the economy and environment,” Resch continued. “Yet despite all of the progress we’ve made, solar faces an uncertain future in Washington and in some state capitals. It’s more important than ever for the voices of our supporters to be heard.”

Anyone can participate in the event. Pictures can be uploaded to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with the hashtag #GoSolar. Supporters can download and print signs for their pictures here. SEIA is also hosting a Thunderclap, which will send out coordinated Tweets and Facebook posts from hundreds of supporters on January 16.

World’s First Wood-to-Biodiesel Plant Running

UPMlogoThe world’s first biorefinery to turn wood into renewable diesel has opened in Finland. UPM says its Lappeenranta biorefinery is now in commercial production, turning out about 30 million gallons of the green fuel a year.

“Lappeenranta Biorefinery is the first significant investment in a new and innovative production facility in Finland during the ongoing transformation of the forest industry. It is also a focal part in the implementation of our company’s Biofore transformation strategy,” saysHeikki Vappula, Executive Vice President, UPM Biorefining.

“The production process works as planned and the high quality end product, UPM BioVerno diesel, fulfils customer specifications. The start-up phase of the biorefinery began in early autumn, and it has included customary new process and production related challenges. The biorefinery is first of its kind in the world. We are now happy to move forward from start-up phase and be able to concentrate on regular production process”, says Petri Kukkonen, Head of UPM Biofuels business.

A lot of the feedstock, a residue of wood pulp production, is produced at UPM’s own pulp mills in Finland. UPM says its BioVerno renewable diesel reduces greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 80 per cent compared to traditional diesel.

New Biodiesel Plant Owner Wants to Re-Open It

glb-logoSpeculation over the new owner of the Great Lakes Biodiesel plant in Welland, Ontario, Canada is over, as Luxembourg-based Heridge SARL has been announced as the winner of a bidding process. And the Welland Tribune reports the new owner is vowing to re-open the $50 million refinery.

“The big message that came out is that they’re not buying this operation in order to take it apart and sell it. They’re not interesting in scrapping it,” [Welland Mayor Frank] Campion said. “They want to make it work. They have money invested in it and they will invest more money in it.”

In early October, the plant went into receivership as a result of court action by Heridge, which said in court it was only repaid half of a $20-million loan used to get the Welland plant off the ground in 2012.

According to court documents and a former employee, Great Lakes Biodiesel was unable to become financially viable largely because it couldn’t secure $65 million in federal funding it was expected to get through Natural Resource Canada.

The new owners are saying that federal funding will be critical in order for them to make the plant successful.

SunEdison & Omnigrid Bring Solar to India

SunEdison and Omnigrid Micropower Company Pvt. Ltd. have signed a framework agreement to develop 5,000 rural projects, representing 250 megawatts (MW) of electricity, throughout India over the next three to five years. Nearly 400 million people in India have no access to electricity. For those who do, the options are fossil fuel-based and expensive. To bring more reliable power to the country, SunEdison and Omnigrid will build upon the 36 kW micro power plants OMC Power has already put in place with the goal of bringing affordable renewable electricity to 10 million people.

“There are approximately 1.5 billion people that do not have access to electricity and another 1.5 billion people that don’t have reliable, 24/7 electricity. What is most exciting about this partnership is that SunEdison is embarking on its purpose of transforming lives in a very big way,” said Ahmad Chatila, President and Chief Executive Officer of SunEdison. “Solar solar electricity in Indiaelectricity costs have come down dramatically and continue to come down, thus making it a better choice than conventional fossil sources. We don’t have to make a false choice between cost and clean power any more. While a 1 gigawatt (GW) coal power plant can take 3 to 4 years to be developed and constructed, and a nuclear power plant of similar capacity can take 5 to 10 years, a solar photovoltaic power plant can be developed and built in less than a year and can compete on costs.”

SunEdison and OMC Power say they have developed a ready-to-scale solution that will provide reliable electricity for many poor communities. The companies explains their partnership leverages the expertise of each company, including technical know-how, local and telecom knowledge from OMC and project development and financing expertise from SunEdison. SunEdison and OMC have an offering that can help telecommunication organizations meet their regulatory requirements and provide energy to local communities while still going off-grid.

The co-founders of OMC Power, Anil Raj and Rohit Chandra, added, “Our Renewable Energy Services Company model is a proven and commercially viable approach which provides an immediate and substantial improvement in the quality of life in energy-deprived areas, while stimulating economic growth and prosperity. Our agreement with SunEdison is a huge step forward both for our company and for the people of rural India.”

Algae.Tec to Expand Biodiesel Ops into China

algaeteclogoAustralia-based Algae.Tec will bring its algae-biodiesel technology into China. This story from Proactive Investors says Algae.Tec will issue a $500,000 convertible bond to China Finance Strategies Investment Holdings (CFS), with another $5 million in conditional options to come.

CFS has extensive relationships in China with its key executives having completed over 250 fundraising and advisory transactions in Greater China Region and invested in over 20 projects involving around US$1.5 billion.

Both companies will jointly explore commercial scale opportunities for Algae.Tec’s technology across Greater China incorporating the People’s Republic of China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau.

Algae.Tec expects its algae based renewable fuel and carbon capture technology to play a meaningful role in contributing to the Strategic Targets China has set for itself.

The potential for biodiesel projects could be helped by a recent U.S.-China agreement on greenhouse gas emission targets.

Bidding Ends on Ontario Biodiesel Plant

glb-logoAfter about a month on the auction block, the bidding period has ended for an Ontario, Canada biodiesel plant. But this article from the Welland (ON) Tribune says it will take a few days to see who gets the $50-million Great Lakes Biodiesel refinery.

In early October, the plant went into receivership as a result of court action by Luxembourg-based investment company Heridge SARL, which said in court it was only repaid half of a $20-million loan used to get GLB’s Welland plant off the ground.

In November, all of the assets of Great Lakes Biodiesel, including the Welland refinery and offices in Toronto, as well as other associated companies, were put up for sale in an open auction.

That bidding closed at 10 a.m. Wednesday, but Heridge SARL was the only bidder that could be confirmed. It submitted an initial offer that would have had to be beaten in order for the company to lose the sale.

A manager at GLB’s Welland facility said Wednesday he wasn’t authorized to speak about the plant or the bidding and directed all calls to KPMG. An official with KMPG, which is handling the GLB receivership proceedings, said he had been advised not to speak with the media.

City officials would only say they have a meeting scheduled this coming Monday with Heridge officials.

Whoever wins the bid will get a biodiesel ready to get back on line practically immediately.

Enel Green Power Starts Geothermal Plant

The Bagnore 4 geothermal power plant located in the municipalities of Santa Fiora and Arcidosso, near Grosseto, in the Italian region of Tuscany is online and grid connected. The project was completed by Enel Green Power and has an installed capacity of 40 MW and will generate up to 310 million kWh per year. Bagnore 4 joins the 20 MW Bagnore 3 plant and is composed of two 20 MW turbines.

Enel Green Power logoThe construction of the new plant involved a total investment of around 120 million euros, partly financed with funds from the European Investment Bank (EIB). The project is in line with the growth targets set out in Enel Green Power’s 2014-2018 business plan, which calls for around 600 million euros of investment in geothermal power in Tuscany.

The company says its new plant was designed to meet the highest international standards and to employ the most environmentally friendly technology available. Bagnore 4 also features a sophisticated monitoring and remote diagnostics system to ensure high reliability and efficiency.

Geothermal Energy Outlook 2015

According to the Geothermal Energy Association (GEA), the U.S. and global geothermal markets are expected to grow in 2015. The U.S. market may grow slowly while state and federal policies are adjusted, but with continued pressure to address climate change and a growing recognition of the important values of geothermal power to grid reliability, that is expected to improve. However, global markets are expected to see stronger growth with continued expansion while U.S. is expected to make forward progress.

The forecast for geothermal energy growth comes on the heels of a strong 2014. GEA reports that the world market reached upwards of 12.7 GW of operational geothermal power in 24 countries, reflecting about 700 MW of combined added growth. By Geothermal Energy Plantcomparison, the global industry added about 600 MW in 2013. As of the end of 2014, there are also 11.7 GW of capacity additions in development and 1.8 GW of power under construction in 80 countries.

The World Bank is aiding in global growth through its focus on early risk mitigation. In tandem to this work, governments continue to develop and adopt policies to meet electricity demand. GEA forecasts the forward-moving trajectory will continue for at least another decade and globally, geothermal energy production should reach at least 20 GW by 2024.

2014 highlights include:

  • This year emerging economies in East Africa, Central America, and the South Pacific experienced the fastest growth, and each of these regions had some notable developments:
  • In the East Africa region, a new 280-MW addition at the Olkaria field in Kenya now has the world’s largest flash plant, and Kenya added 300 MW of capacity overall. In Ethiopia, a partnership between the government and the World Bank expects to expand electricity access where it is most needed by adding four million more people to the grid in the next five years. Geothermal would be the second largest source of power supply in East Africa by 2040.
  • In Central America, Costa Rica received a $550 million loan from the Japan International Cooperation Agency toward planned capacity of three geothermal plants each totaling 55 MW. El Salvador reached the milestone of producing 25% of its electricity from geothermal energy with an aim to achieve 40% in the near future.
  • In the South Pacific, Indonesia is leading in developing capacity and could surpass the U.S in installed capacity in the future. Financed by the Japan International Cooperation Agency with equipment from Ormat, construction began in Indonesia on what will be the largest geothermal plant ever built, the 330MW Sarulla project. In the Philippines, the Energy department announced plans to increase installed capacity of geothermal power to 3.3 GW by 2030.

The 2015 geothermal outlook will be discussed in more detail, including the roles global companies and governments will play during the State of the Geothermal Industry Briefing taking place Tuesday, February 24, 2015 Washington, DC.