NEC Global Ethanol Conversation

nec14-globalIt is always interesting to hear the perspectives of different countries during the National Ethanol Conference global panel and to see the similarities as well as differences in viewpoint.

The panel was moderated by Bliss Baker, Global Renewable Fuels Alliance, and included Renewable Fuels Association president Bob Dinneen, as well as (from left to right): Joel Velasco, Senior Advisor to Board of UNICA; Scott Thurlow, President, Canadian Renewable Fuels Association; Jayant Godbole, President and Director PRAJ Americas, Inc.; and Robert Vierhout, Secretary-General, ePURE

nec14-epureA few years ago, it was Brazil and the United States sparring with each other over ethanol trade and tariffs, but now it is the Europeans who are challenging the U.S. ethanol industry in the export arena.

“The real loser in the EU’s nonsensical action is the European consumer, who is being denied access to low cost high performance renewable fuels,” Dinneen said in his state of the industry address. Vierhout challenged that assertion on the panel. “Bob, please wake up,” said Vierhout. “If you would export your ethanol to Europe, who’s going to gain? Not the consumer, it’s the oil companies.”

Even Brazil and Canada fired back at Vierhout over Europe’s policy. “I’ll summarize for Rob,” said Velasco. “He’s never met a gallon, or a liter, or hectoliter, of ethanol imports that he likes.”

Thurlow questioned how this would play in the current European-U.S. trade negotiations. “I don’t see how your position can be tenable, Rob, if you are going to have a dispute resolution mechanism that will basically make it impossible for these types of ‘snap-back tariffs’ to be put on,” he said. To which Vierhout replied, “There’s still a possibility (the trade agreement) will exclude ethanol.”

Listen to the conversation here and watch the European exchange on video below: Growing Global Ethanol Industry Panel Discussion

2014 National Ethanol Conference Photo Album

NEC Coverage sponsored by Patriot Renewable Fuels LLC

UK Researchers Study Algae-to-Biodiesel and More

GreenwichalgaeResearchers in the United Kingdom are looking at turning a particular strain of algae into biodiesel … and more. This University of Greenwich news release says the school is leading a nearly $14 million international project to get products from the bright pink-orange microalgae Dunaliella found in salt lakes and coastal waters.

The project will build a biorefinery called the ‘D-Factory’ which is going to turn every part of the alga into something useful.

Algae are known for their ability to convert CO2 and sunlight into chemical energy five times faster than crops grown in soil. This particular alga is able to produce up to 80 per cent of its mass as fuel but is currently too expensive to cultivate for fuel alone. However it also produces a range of compounds of great interest in pharmaceutical, cosmetic, nutraceutical and other applications – and this may provide the solution.

Project leader Professor Pat Harvey, from the university’s Faculty of Engineering & Science, explains: “The race is on to develop a broader spectrum of compounds from algae, which can be turned into high-value products including food and medicines.

“If we can make algae biorefineries commercially viable, we will have developed a new industry founded on an environmentally-kind raw material which is also sustainable. The potential is huge.”

Officials say they will have the science to produce sustainable fuel by 2020, if they can get the costs down.

Thirteen research institutions and businesses from eight countries are part of the project.

Canadian Biodiesel Maker Gets BQ-9000 Designation

glb-logoCanada’s largest biodiesel producer has gained an important quality status. This news release from Great Lakes Biodiesel Inc. says the company received BQ-9000 Producer status, the highest level of industry recognized quality assurance, from the National Biodiesel Accreditation Commission (NBAC).

“Achieving BQ-9000 Producer status is just one of many goals we achieved in an effort to continuously provide our customers with the highest quality product and services” said Thomas J. Guzek, Chief Marketing Officer of Great Lakes Biodiesel. “ Our Great Lakes Team is a highly experienced and dedicated group that worked very diligently to achieve this outstanding accreditation. “We are proud to be a part of the BQ-9000 process. Most importantly, we know BQ-9000 accreditation means consistent, efficient production and supply of high quality fuel to help address the growing renewable energy demands both in Canada and US”

BQ-9000 is a cooperative and voluntary quality-assurance program administered by the National Biodiesel Board (NBB) for the accreditation of producers and marketers of biodiesel fuel. This unique program addresses requirements of the ASTM standard for biodiesel, ASTM D6751, within a structured quality system that controls storage, sampling, testing, blending, shipping, distribution, and fuel management practices. Certification is awarded following a successful formal review and audit of the applicants Quality System documentation, followed by a formal audit of the applicants conformance to its System.

Great Lakes Biodiesel Inc.’s Welland, Ontario facility is the largest biodiesel plant in Canada producing 45 million gallons per year of ASTM 6751 quality biodiesel.

Caribbean Islands Swapping Diesel for Renewables

Screen Shot 2014-02-14 at 3.18.37 PMThe British Virgin Islands, Columbia, Dominica, Saint Kitts & Nevis, Saint Lucia and Turks and Caicos have joined the Carbon War Room and Rocky Mountain Institute’s ‘Ten Island Renewable Challenge‘. The campaign is designed to help get the islands off fossil fuels as well as move forward with projects for schools and hospitals. The commitments were complemented by news that Virgin Limited Edition and Sir Richard Branson, who had committed Necker to the ‘Ten Island Renewable Challenge’ as a ‘demo’ island, awarded the contract to transition it on to renewables to U.S. energy firm NRG.

“What we hope to do is use Necker as a test island to show how it can be done,” said Sir Richard Branson, Founder of Virgin Group and Carbon War Room. “The only way we’re going to win this war is by creative entrepreneurship, to make the price of clean energy cheaper than that of energy from fossil fuels.”

Caribbean nations lack access to low-cost power because of the small size of their national market and an absence of standardized contracts and regional regulatory systems. In some cases, local energy suppliers, locked in for many years, currently enjoy a virtual monopoly over the system and creditworthiness is also a challenge for many nations. As a result, banks have been reticent to lend money for energy projects.

“Islands are a microcosm of larger energy systems around the world and offer an excellent test bed to demonstrate and scale innovative, clean energy solutions,” said Amory Lovins, co-founder and chief scientist of Rocky Mountain Institute. “We’re pleased to bring our decades of experience helping businesses and communities cost-effectively shift to efficiency and renewables to help island nations move beyond clean energy roadmaps to tangible, on-the-ground results.”

Biodiesel Maker BIOX Posts Strong 1st Quarter

biox-logo1The owner of Canada’s largest biodiesel refinery had an encouraging first quarter of the fiscal year. The Wall Street Journal reports that BIOX nearly doubled sales of the green fuel from October to December of 2013 compared with the same period a year earlier, thanks to improving fundamentals in the biodiesel market north of the border and a Canadian province’s own biodiesel mandate about to kick in.

“The fundamentals of the Canadian biodiesel market are becoming a key component of our addressable market. The inter-terminal pipeline together with the supply agreement with Shell Canada Limited and the proposed 2 percent greener diesel mandate in Ontario provide a greater level of market certainty than the U.S. market,” said Kevin Norton, Chief Executive Officer of BIOX. “With the proposed Ontario mandate expected to take effect April 1, 2014 and our established supply agreement with Shell we are in a strong position to take advantage of growing demand in our local market.”

Financial Highlights

Sales were $17.3 million for the three-month period ended December 31, 2013, compared with $9.5 million for the corresponding period last year. The 82 percent increase in sales was primarily the result of the 175 percent increase in litres of biodiesel sold due to the temporary shutdown of the Hamilton facility during the same period last year, partially offset by lower sales of separated RINs during the quarter.

And while U.S. biodiesel producers are worrying about the government’s proposal to slash the amount of biodiesel to be blended into the country’s fuel supply and the expiration of the $1-a-gallon federal biodiesel tax credit, BIOX officials believe the changing regulations in Canada will prompt them to sell more of their biodiesel at home (in the past, they have sold a majority of their biodiesel to the U.S.) and avoid some of the pitfalls their American cousins are now facing.

London Coffee Shops to be Next Biodiesel Source

bio-bean3Not too long ago, we told you how researchers at the University of Cincinnati had figured out how to get oil from coffee grounds to make into biodiesel. It looks like that good idea has caught on overseas, as this article from the UK’s Guardian tells how a London entrepreneur is going great guns with the same idea in a venture that’s being called Bio-bean.

“After working on this for a couple of weeks I entered the Mayor’s Low Carbon Prize and was lucky enough to be among the winners”, says [Arthur] Kay. This gave him the impetus to take it forward and team up with business partner Benjamin Harrison. They have since attracted over £100,000 in grants and funding. The idea is not to start small and grow bigger; it’s to start big.

“People think of us in a tiny little van or bicycle going round and collecting 10 kilos from each coffee shop,” says Kay. “We are instead focusing on the [waste streams] of large-scale coffee producing factories in or around London. We’re currently in conversation with a couple of major coffee shop chains too, who are really interested. Our processing plant isn’t operational yet but we’re looking at a six to eight-month timeframe to set up a large-scale waste-processing site in Edmonton, North London, capable of processing 30,000 tonnes a year.”

The technology Bio-bean is using to do this is a mixture of old and new. “Imagine you have a pile of coffee grounds,” says Kay. “You dry them, then we have the patent for the bit in the middle that allows us to extract oil from it. It’s a biochemical process, a solvent that you evaporate through what’s called ‘hexane extraction’. By weight it is about 15-20% oil. The remaining 80-85% is then turned into bio-mass pellets used to be burned in boilers.” The solvent is also 99.9% recyclable, meaning it can be used over and over.

The article goes on to say that the developers see London’s public transport system as a natural customer for the coffee-based biodiesel, maybe even a Bio-bean bus, as many buses in the city are already running on biodiesel. They hope to have a large refinery going soon.

Albion Community Power Invests in Wind

Albion Community Power (ACP) has invested £1.5m in partnership with Welsh developer Infinite Renewables to fund the development of a 500kw single wind turbine in Blaencilgoed, in South Wales. The wind turbine, which is the first investment made by ACP, will supply electricity to a local quarry. It is expected to begin producing power in September 2014 and is estimated to generate over 1,700,000 kWh of electricity per year.

albion community power windACP says it aims to be a major producer of community scale renewable energy by raising up to £100 million in due course to power some 35,000 homes, targeting sites where power can be sold to the community at a discount of up to 50 percent. The ACP team will invest in a range of renewable energy projects using proven technologies including brownfield wind, solar, hydroelectricity, biogas and biomass.

Volker Beckers, Chairman of ACP said, “The energy industry is changing, and smaller scale schemes will be playing an increasingly important role. We are excited by our first investment and are looking forward to backing other new projects in the coming months.”

ACP’s projects will qualify for government subsidies such as Feed in tariffs (FiTs). As FiTs are RPI-linked, the company says investors stand to benefit from protection against inflation. To date, Albion has made 10 investments that are currently achieving an investment return of 11%.

“We have an existing partnership with Albion Ventures, having built a number of turbines together starting with a single mast, 500kW Wind Turbine on a brownfield site near Ebbw Vale in Wales,” said Will David, Infinite Renewables. “We are excited to be partnering ACP on this new project, which plays to our collective strengths. We look forward to developing many more sites with ACP going forward.”

Advancing Solar Energy in Saudi Arabia

An agreement to jointly fund a feasibility study for the establishment of a vertically integrated solar PV (photovoltaic) manufacturing complex at Wa’ad Al Shammal in Saudi Arabia has been signed. SunEdison, the Public Investment Fund (PIF) of the Government of Saudi Arabia and the Saudi Arabian Investment Company hope to move forward with a project to produce polysilicon through modules. The feasbility study is the next step in the process following a preliminary study between the National Industrial Clusters Development Program (NICDP) and SunEdison in 2013.

“We anticipate substantial growth of solar PV within the Kingdom and the region. This project will support that growth, and the growth aspirations of SunEdison and our Saudi solar in saudi arabia photo credit Martin Prochnikpartners,” said Ahmad Chatila, CEO of SunEdison. “The combination of SunEdison technology, and the Kingdom’s world-class manufacturing and energy sector expertise will enable us to capitalize on substantial growth in the Kingdom and the region, and maximize the value of solar PV projects supported by this venture.”

If developed, the complex would utilize both SunEdison’s proprietary high pressure silane fluidized bed reactor (HP-FBR) polysilicon, and continuous Czochralski (CCz) crystal ingot technology and equipment, as well as include solar wafer, cell and module manufacturing, employ attractive debt financing for the approximately $6.4B project, and would begin production in 2017, ramping to 3 GW (gigawatts) annually.

A significant percentage of polysilicon and ingot production would support the 3 GW planned module output. Should the project go forward, the Ministry of Petroleum and Minerals said it will provide the required quantities of natural gas, and the Saudi Electrical Company (SEC) committed to providing the needed power requirements for the project.

“This project will be capable of building a complete industrial eco-system that is sustainable and able to compete on a global level by utilizing pioneering technology developed by SunEdison to produce high purity polysilicon, and high-efficiency, low-cost mono-crystalline ingots, in addition to benefiting from economies of scale given the size and vertically integrated nature of the complex,” said Eng. Azzam Shalabi, President of NICDP.

Chatila added, “We will bring our downstream solar PV development expertise to the region, and will partner with the Kingdom to build a large and dynamic solar energy industry. This agreement represents our ongoing strategy to accelerate our growth, maximize the value of our PV projects, and strengthen our balance sheet to enable both. We are very proud to take this next step with our Saudi partners as the Kingdom becomes a world leader in solar energy.”

BDI Retrofits Greek Biodiesel Plant to Take Grease

BDI-greece1A Greek biodiesel plant gets retrofitted to take a wider range of lower quality feedstocks, including grease. BDI-BioEnergy International AG announced the retrofit of the Elin Biofuels S.A refinery in Volos, Greece.

The aim of the RetroFit optimisation project was to increase both raw material flexibility and the quality of the final biodiesel product via the remodelling, expansion and process optimisation of an existing biodiesel plant that was based on outdated German technology.

As a result of the optimisation exercise, not only vegetable oils but also raw materials of lower quality, such as used cooking oil and animal fats, can now be processed into high-quality biodiesel with a capacity of about 33,000 tonnes/year. The quality of the distilled biodiesel satisfies the stricter quality requirements that will have to be met in future (new biodiesel standard in the EU, CEN 14214/2013). The project has now been handed over to the satisfied Greek customer Elin Biofuels S.A officially on time and on budget.

“We are very enthusiastic about BDI’s technical skills and the professional way in which the company carried out the project. Co-operation with BDI proved to be a very effective partnership throughout the project. The final outcome is better than we expected”, said Yannis Courouclis, CEO of Elin Biofuels S.A, at the official opening of the optimised plant.

BDI officials point out that they were able to make the changes without interrupting the current biodiesel operation.

Aemetis Upgrades Biodiesel Plant in India

aemetisindia1A California advanced fuels and renewable chemicals company is now producing high-quality biodiesel in India. Aemetis, Inc. says its 50 million gallon per year capacity biodiesel and refined glycerin production facility in Kakinada, India will use advanced technology to produce the green fuel and glycerin by-product.

“The new distillation production unit is fully commissioned and the India facility now produces biodiesel meeting or exceeding the highest standards for biodiesel quality worldwide,” according to Sanjeev Gupta, Managing Director of Aemetis’ subsidiary in India, Universal Biofuels Private Ltd.

The Aemetis plant is the only distilled biodiesel producer in India and is one of the only plants in Asia capable of producing large supplies of biodiesel that meet the rigorous European Union (ISCC) standards. During 2013, approximately $20 million of biodiesel was produced by the Aemetis plant in India and delivered to customers in Europe.

“The completion of this biodiesel distillation unit allows Aemetis to significantly expand our production levels in order to supply European and India biodiesel customers,” stated Eric McAfee, Chairman and CEO of Aemetis.

Aemetis officials say they plan to take advantage of the European Union’s imposition of anti-dumping tariffs against Argentine and Indonesian biodiesel to offer a low-cost source of biodiesel and glycerin to Europe.

Ormat Completes Kenyan Oklaria III Geothermal Plant

Ormat Technologies has successfully completed construction and reached commercial operation of Plant 3 in the Olkaria III geothermal power plant complex located in Naivasha, Kenya. With Plant 3 online, the complex’s total generation capacity has increased to 110 MW. The power generated by the Olkaria III is sold under a 20-year power purchase agreement (PPA) with Kenya Power and Lighting Company Limited (KPLC).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Olkaria III complex was financed with a $310 million debt facility provided by the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC). In November 2013, Ormat drew down the remaining $45 million available under the project finance debt facility for the completion of Plant 3.

“Olkaria III is a prime example of our multi-stage approach to project development generating higher investment returns and reducing risk,” said Dita Bronicki, chief executive officer of Ormat. “In less than one year, we’ve completed construction of two additional plants and, over the course of five years, more than doubled the facility’s generating capacity.”

Bronicki added, “Due to our operational expertise and innovative technology, we’ve accomplished that growth ahead of schedule resulting in a significant increase in revenues. As we complete this project, we remain committed to support the growing power needs of Kenya with this indigenous, reliable and environmentally friendly source of electricity. Kenya is an important market for our future growth due to its high geothermal potential and we are focusing our efforts on increasing our operation in Kenya.”

Solar Lights Up Students in Zambia

SolarAid and Yingli Green Energy have “lit up” Mayukwayukwa High School in Kaoma, Zambia by installing a solar PV system on the newly built UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) School. The project was successfully completed with partner contributions including Atama Solar Energy, Kingspan Energy and Solar Roof Systems. YINGLI GREEN ENERGY HOLDING COMPANY LIMITED ZAMBIA STUDENTSThe High School is located in the Mayukwayukwa Settlement, one of Africa’s oldest refugee camps that was established in 1966 following the break-out of Angola’s 27-year civil war, 300 km to the west of the capital city, Lusaka. About 15,500 refugees reside in the Mayukwayukwa camp at the moment and many of them know no other home, having been born in the camp.

UNHCR representative to Zambia, Laura Lo Castro, said in a statement that her organisation appreciated the solar lighting system and that it would help them meet the lighting needs at Mayukwayukwa High School. “At UNHCR, we appreciate the donation made by Yingli Green Energy and their partners, through SolarAid. We are aware that this school will greatly benefit the refugees and the host community, thereby enhancing co-existence,” said Lo Castro.

The construction of the high school started in September 2008 as UNHCR intends to provide education for refugee students who struggle to access day school because of the limited school places in the area. Thanks to the solar system installed, Mayukwayukwa High School is now able to light one of the school’s large classrooms, the Headmaster’s office and a dormitory, helping scholars with studying and providing security lighting at the same time. The solar system can also charge cellphones.

“The solar system, donated by Yingli Solar and their partners through SolarAid, will meet the lighting needs at the school and will provide safe and clean electricity, bringing huge benefits to the 600 students between 14 and 19 years old who are in the school, as well as staff and the host community around. Yingli Solar together with their partners support SolarAid to fund specific schools in Africa to provide lighting and get study lights into the hands of teachers and pupils through school campaigns. The solar lighting lengthens learning hours, improves education quality and reduces dependence on expensive and toxic kerosene lamps,” said Richard Turner, Chief Fundraiser at SolarAid.

Liansheng Miao, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Yingli Green Energy, added, “We are pleased to know that hundreds of students and teachers can now use the power of the sun to extend the time for study and other community activities. We are happy to support SolarAid’s ‘Lighter Learning’ program together with our partners. Bringing clean safe light to communities in Africa helps create brighter and better futures for students and families currently living without electricity.”

Only 9 percent of rural sub-Saharan residents in Africa have access to electricity and families can spend up to 25 percent of their income on toxic kerosene for lighting.

Animal Fat-to-Biodiesel Plant Going Into Saudi Arabia

incbio1A Portuguese company will be building a 40,000 MT/year (about 12 million gallons) biodiesel plant in the Middle East. Engineering company IncBio, which specializes in state-of-the-art fully automated industrial ultrasonic biodiesel plants, announced the deal with Saudi Arabia’s Bio Renewable Energy Factory.

It will incorporate IncBio’s ultrasonic technology to produce Biodiesel from animal fats collected from rendering plants in the Saudi market. The plant will be the first of several projects planned by BREF for the region for the coming years, and the success of the business plan is supported by the selection of one of the most advanced Biodiesel plants in the world, utilizing technology that is both innovative and widely proven in Biodiesel production plants globally. IncBio has been leading the way in developing and implementing the latest technology in Biodiesel production, and this contract’s award is further proof that this is exactly what the market is looking for.

Converting animal fats into Biodiesel is not without challenges, and most plants in the world are unable to process it correctly, but through our extensive experience in this market and the use of ultrasonic technology the reaction times are much shorter than conventional plants, whilst producing the highest quality Biodiesel, with yields that set a benchmark in the industry. Using our multi-feedstock technology, industrial units are able to convert a wide range of raw materials into high quality Biodiesel, exceeding the strict standards of EN14214 and ASTM D6751.

The plant is expected to be finished sometime in the fourth quarter of this year.

Ontario Biodiesel Brewers Form Group

ONTARIO BIODIESEL ASSOCIATION - Ontario Biodiesel ProducersA new group looks to promote biodiesel for refiners in Ontario, Canada. The Ontario Biodiesel Association (OBA) promises to work together to promote the production and use of the green fuel.

OBA members currently produce 100% of the grain-oil based biodiesel in Ontario which accounts for 75% of the total provincial production capacity of all biodiesel. OBA members have invested over $80 million in plant and equipment to produce biodiesel in the province. Besides environmental benefits, the biodiesel industry provides a direct and indirect positive economic impact on the province and its agricultural sector.

“OBA’s strength is the unity of biodiesel producers, supporting Provincial policy development, to improve Ontario’s air quality by promoting increased use of Biodiesel. The OBA is working with the Ontario government, feedstock suppliers and other key stakeholders to the industry to reach this goal.” Paul Grenier, Executive Director, Ontario Biodiesel Association.

OBA members include Methes Energies Canada Inc. located in Mississauga and Sombra (55 million liters/year), Great Lakes Biodiesel (GLB) in Welland (170 million liters/year), and Noroxel Energy Limited in Springfield, just outside of Alymer (5 million liters/year).

UK Government to Boost Community Energy

According to a survey conducted by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) located in the UK, more than 50 percent of people surveyed said that saving money on bills would be the major motivations for getting involved with community energy programs. The survey also found that approximately 3.5 million bill payers are ready to get together with other people in their local community to take more control of their energy. Four in 10 respondents said they were already interested in joining a community energy group or are already taking part in collective switching or collective purchasing programs.

DECC notes that local communities will now be able to take control of their energy bills and help to transform the energy system due to a proposal unveiled as part of Britain’s first Community Energy Strategy. The Government’s vision is that every community that wants to take forward an energy project should be able to do so. The Community Energy Strategy sets out how to remove barriers faced by communities that want to take action on energy to create opportunities for more people to get involved.

Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey said: “We’re at the turning point in developing true community energy. The cost of energy is now a major consideration for household budgets, and I want to encourage groups of people across the country to participate in a community energy movement and take real control of their energy bills. Community led actiosignlandscape1n, such as collective switching, gives people the power to bring down bills and encourage competition within the energy market.”

Under the plans Government will broaden the support available for community energy projects, whereby people come together to reduce their energy use or purchase and generate their own energy. Plans include:

  • £10m Urban Community Energy Fund to kick-start community energy generation projects in England;
  • £1m Big Energy Saving Network funding to support the work of volunteers helping vulnerable consumers to reduce their energy;
  • a community energy saving competition, offering £100,000 to communities to develop innovative approaches to saving energy and money;
  • and a “one-stop shop” information resource for people interested in developing community energy projects.

“The Community Energy Strategy marks a change in the way we approach powering our homes and businesses – bringing communities together and helping them save money – and make money too,” said Energy and Climate Change Minister, Greg Barker. “The Coalition is determined to unleash this potential, assist communities to achieve their ambitions and drive forward the decentralised energy revolution. We want to help more consumers of energy to become producers of energy and in doing so help to break the grip of the dominant big energy companies.”

In the future, the generation of electricity by communities themselves could put pressure on energy suppliers to drive down prices, creating warmer homes, cutting carbon emissions and diversifying the UK’s energy mix says DECC. Estimates suggest that energy generation programs involving local communities, such as installing solar panels on social housing buildings, could supply enough electricity for 1 million homes by 2020.