Canada Handing Out New Grants for Biomass Research

manitobaResearchers looking to turn biomass into energy will get some help from one of the Canadian provinces. Manitoba has doubled the Biomass Energy Support Program funding to $1 million, with the additional $500,000 of new funding targeted to applied research projects that will support the growth of the biomass industry.

“Manitoba’s green economy creates new opportunities for biofuel manufacturers and additional markets for producers,” said [Agriculture, Food and Rural Development Minister Ron] Kostyshyn. “Research and development is needed to build capacity across the province and address any gaps in our biomass sector. Through this strategic investment, we can support even more Manitoba farms and businesses as they invest in a more sustainable future.”

The new funding will be directed to applied research projects that address gaps or identify opportunities for business and technology development in the biomass sector. The minister noted that priority will be given to projects with short turnaround times that support Manitoba’s coal-reduction strategy and that project results will be shared with producers, processors and other stakeholders.

Eligible biomass fuels include:

– Agricultural residue such as wheat and flax straw, sunflower hulls or compacted biomass-like wheat and oat pellets;
– Forestry residues such as wood chips or salvaged timber; and
– Biomass crops such as switchgrass, willow and poplar.

Researchers wanting some of the available funds need to apply by Sept. 1. More information is available at www.manitoba.ca/agriculture/innovation-and-research/biomass-energy-support-program.html.

USGC Lists Top 10 Markets for US Ethanol

The U.S. Grains Council (USGC) has compiled its top 10 list of potential U.S. ethanol markets for the upcoming 2014/2015 market year, starting September 1.

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While Brazil and Canada remain the top two, the Council is assessing Japan and Korea, Latin America and Southeast Asia as potential markets for U.S. ethanol exports. In the number three spot, USGC believes Japan has the potential to import 459 million gallons of U.S. ethanol in the year ahead, which would account for 11 percent of global demand for U.S. ethanol. Seventh placed Mexico has the potential to import 236 million gallons of U.S. ethanol and the Philippines at number nine could import 90 million gallons. Those three markets combined could to represent almost 20 percent of global demand for U.S. ethanol.

Rounding out the top ten, USGC puts the United Kingdom in fourth place with nearly 305 million gallons, India and Nigeria ahead of Mexico in 5th and 6th place with 250 and 240 million gallons respectively. Australia is ranked in 8th place with 220 million gallons and the Netherlands completes the top 10 with just over 86 million.

Colombia has Potential as Distillers Grains Market

COLOMBIAExports of U.S.corn to Colombia have soared this year, thanks to bigger crops, lower prices, and a favorable free trade agreement. The U.S. Grains Council (USGC) also sees great potential for increasing exports of the ethanol co-product and livestock feed distillers grains (DDGS).

“We currently see about 90,000 metric tons of distillers grains moving into Colombia,” says USGC Director of Global Strategies Kurt Shultz. “We believe the market has the potential to easily exceed 700,000 tons, so there’s a lot of upward opportunity in Colombia for increased exports of distillers grains.”

Under the free trade agreement, there are no duties on distillers grains, so the Grains Council is actively working to bring technical knowledge on how to use the product to the region. “We had some feeding trials last year with the dairy industry which should good acceptance in the dairy sector,” said Shultz. Now they are looking at doing trials in swine and poultry as well.

This will likely be a topic of discussion at the 2014 Export Exchange coming up October 20-22 in Seattle. The event, co-sponsored by USGC and the Renewable Fuels Association, brings together buyers and sellers of distillers grains in an effort to expand established export markets and develop new markets. Discounted early registration for the event is available now through September 22.

Neste’s Renewable Diesel Keeps Summer Festivals Green

Nestefestival1While summer rains this year might be keeping lawns green, a renewable diesel maker in Finland says its fuel is keeping summer festivals ecologically green. This news release from Neste Oil says its NEXBTL renewable diesel helped generate electricity at the Flow Festival in Helsinki and the Neste Oil Rally Helsinki Battle street circuit race.

NEXBTL diesel generated 45% of the electricity used at the Flow Festival and powered the machinery at the festival site. Using the fuel resulted in a 22 ton reduction in emissions, equivalent in emission terms to nearly three round-the-world flights.

“Using Neste Oil’s renewable diesel to generate electricity offered us an excellent way to reduce our carbon footprint,” says Flow’s Production Manager, Emilia Mikkola.

“NEXBTL diesel has proved itself an excellent fuel for generating electricity, as it has in other areas,” according to Kaisa Hietala, Neste Oil’s Executive Vice President, Renewable Products. “When used to power on-site generator sets, the premium quality of the fuel and its purity cut exhaust emissions and eliminate the odor associated with conventional diesel.”

This isn’t the first time Neste’s renewable diesel kept the party going during a summer event. Last year, NEXBTL diesel was used to generate electricity at the Down By The Laituri Festival in Turku and the Tall Ships Races Helsinki event.

Dutch Researchers Develop Catalyst to Get Oil from Biomass

utwenteoilResearchers in The Netherlands have developed a catalyst that helps get more energy from biomass to more closely match more conventional sources of oil-based energy. This article from the University of Twente says the new, simple catalyst improves the quality of this oil before it is even transported to the refinery and was selected as part of the follow-up technology from CATCHBIO, the national research program looking to make sure Europe acheives 20 percent of its fuel from renewable sources by 2020.

The oil in current-generation biofuel does not come from fruit or seed, such as palm or rape seed oil but, for example, from plant residues, pruning waste and wood chips. As a result, there is no longer any undesirable competition with the food supply. Converting plant residues, which take up a lot of space, into oil simplifies transport considerably and the product can go directly to a refinery. Blending with crude oil is already possible. However, the quality of this oil does not yet equal that of crude oil. It has a lower energy content per litre, is acid and still contains too much water. The catalyst developed by Prof. Leon Lefferts and Prof. Kulathuiyer Seshan’s group Catalytic Processes and Materials (MESA+ Institute for Nanotechnology/Green Energy Initiative) significantly improves the quality and energy content of the oil.

This is realized by heating the oil in nitrogen to 500 degrees Celsius and by applying a simple catalyst: sodium carbonate on a layer of alumina. By using this method, the energy content of the oil can be boosted from 20 to 33-37 megajoule per kilogram, which is better than crude oil and approximates the quality of diesel. The technology, recently defended by PhD candidate Masoud Zabeti, is already being tested by KIOR in Texas, USA, on a small industrial scale, with a production of 4,500 barrels of oil per day. The quality of the oil can be improved even more by adding the material caesium, as well as sodium carbonate. “By doing so, we can, for instance, also reduce the aromatics, which are harmful when inhaled”, says Prof. Seshan.

The technology is being studied in cooperation with several other European universities and research institutes.

Albion Community Power Funds Biogas Project

Albion Community Power logoAlbion Community Power (ACP) has funded the development of a small scale landfill gas engine in Docking, Norfolk (UK). The project will be developed in conjunction with ACP’s biogas partner AlphaGen Renewables who will oversee the installation and operation of a 50kW microgeneration landfill gas engine. The project will generate power from the landfill gas resource at the site under a 20 year agreement with Norfolk County Council. The Docking projects represents the first project with AlphaGen Renewables and the first Biogas project in the ACP portfolio.

Richard Tipping, Chairman of AlphaGen Renewables said, “We are delighted to be partnering with ACP on this project, which is set to deliver strong returns. Renewables such as biogas are playing a growing role in the UK’s energy production.”

ACP undertakes projects in biogas as well as projects incorporating wind, hydro and solar energy. The company is looking to build a portfolio of similar, high yielding, landfill projects going forward.

David Gudgin, Head of at Renewables at Albion Ventures added, “Biogas is an increasingly popular area of renewable energy and we are looking forward to working with AlphaGen both on this project and others in the future.”

ACA Bio Fuel Ethanol Plant in Argentina Goes Online

The ACA Bio Cooperative Limitada (ACA Bio) dry-mill corn ethanol plant has been commissioned in Argentina. The ethanol plant is located near Villa Maria in the central province of Cordoba, Argentina. During the start-up phase, the plant met or exceeded all performance guarantees according to ICM, who designed the plant. The plant will produce both ethanol and animal feed (dried distillers grains/DDGs).

ICMlogo1Santiago Acquaroli, ACA Bio plant manager, said, “ICM fulfilled all of our expectations. They provided the engineering documents and the process equipment on time and their technical group always helped our people to complete the erection properly. During the start -up and training period, we felt very well supported. Looking back over the past two years, we can only say thank you to ICM for your help and friendship.”

The construction of the plant and equipment installation was completed in February, 2014. ICM, Inc. supplied the process equipment and components for the ethanol plant. ICM also provided on-site representation throughout the build and installation process, as well as guided ACA Bio through the startup, commissioning and training processes.

“We are thrilled to see the successful start-up and the completion of our first project in Argentina. We look forward to further developing our partnership and collaboration with ACA Bio by providing our expertise, services and process technologies to help advance their success and contribution to the advancement of the local renewable energy industry,” said Dave VanderGriend, CEO of ICM, Inc.

Julian Echazarreta, ACA deputy general manager, added, “If any company comes to Argentina trying to be successful in this type of project, it must have the spirit of full collaboration with their customer like ICM had. Many times ICM went further than the scope required and we appreciate it a lot. Since the beginning we realize that we have in ICM a dependable partner and for this reason we will continue doing business with them.”

OPA Announces FIT 3 Contracts

The Ontario Power Authority has announced the offer of 403 Commercial Rooftop Solar PV Feed-in Tariff (FIT) contracts as part of its FIT Version 3 Renewable Energy Contract announcement. Reliant First Nation Limited Partnership (RFNLP), led by Solar Income Fund Inc. and Adelaide Solar Energy Inc., received FIT 3 contract offers on 176 commercial rooftop projects totaling 38.7 MW of power. Offers on 89 percent of the applications submitted by RFNLP were awarded contracts.

Solar Income Fund logo“We are very pleased with the results detailed in the OPA’s announcement,” said Solar Income Fund Inc. President and COO Jennifer Jackson. “The success achieved here is reflective of the hard work and perseverance of the Partners involved in this project. This is a great example of the successful partnerships that Solar Income Fund continues to develop both here in Ontario and globally.”

Of the 123.5 MW of contracts the OPA was authorized to offer proponents with renewable energy applications, RFNLP represented over 31% of the total successful applications and over 45% of successful Solar Rooftop applications.

JinkoSolar Opens Solar Module Factory in Cape Town

Jinko Solar logoCape Town, South Africa is the home of JinkoSolar Holding Co.’s news solar module factory. Located at 2 Evans Avenue, Epping Industrial 1, Cape Town, the factory covers an area of 5,000 square meters and has an annual production capacity of 120MW.

The company invested nearly U.S. $7.5 million in the factory that is expected to create 250 jobs. Modeled after its state-of-the-art Chinese production facilities in China, the Cape Town factory will employ measures to ensure the highest quality PV module production process.

“We are proud to be the first foreign solar manufacturer to have built production facilities in South Africa,” said Mr. Kangping Chen, JinkoSolar’s Chief Executive Officer. “Since winning our first South African tender in 2012, JinkoSolar has become the market leader having sold over 300MW to date. The completion of this factory highlights JinkoSolar’s strong capital base and ability to diversify its global manufacturing facilities geographically.”

“The factory will also enhance JinkoSolar’s global production chain allowing it to serve customers across the region with local content,” added Chen. “We are committed to providing the highest quality products and services to our customers around the world as we work to increase shareholder value over the long-term.”

US Trade Rep Warned About Letting in Imported Biodiesel

IBBFroman1The prospect of Argentine biodiesel replacing U.S. biodiesel… while American biodiesel producers take a hit on the government’s requirement for the amount to be blended… is something not sitting well with the green fuel’s advocates in this country. U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman got an earful about the issue while on a trip to Iowa, where he visited on the family farm of Grant Kimberley, executive director of the Iowa Biodiesel Board just outside Des Moines.

During Ambassador Froman’s tour of the farm where the Kimberleys raise corn and soybeans on 4,000 acres, Kimberley discussed a concerning application made to the Environmental Protection Agency. Submitted by the trade association representing Argentine biodiesel producers, the organization is asking EPA to approve an “Alternative Renewable Biomass Tracking Requirement.” If approved, it would in effect replace the stringent feedstock recordkeeping requirements of the [Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS)] regulations and allow Argentine biodiesel to qualify for the U.S. biomass-based diesel program under a more streamlined review process.

“The unfortunate fact is that if EPA approves Argentina’s application, we could be looking at 600 million gallons or more of Argentine biodiesel imported to the U.S., displacing our own domestic production,” Kimberley said. “We know this because an Argentinean tax subsidy would allow each gallon of biodiesel from Argentina to enter the United States at prices lower than biodiesel produced in the U.S.”

“Flooding the market with Argentine biodiesel in addition to this sharp cut would lead to a devastating loss of jobs currently supported by the domestic biodiesel market,” Kimberley said. “Until the proposed cuts, the RFS had been working as intended, but now we’re in the unfathomable position of also replacing imported oil with imported biodiesel. It makes no sense.”

The current RFS proposal would set biodiesel volumes at 1.28 billion gallons, about 600 million gallons… or the same amount threatened to come in from Argentina… less that what American biodiesel producers turned out last year. Kimberley said Ambassador Froman and his staff were aware of the issue and receptive to the Iowa Biodiesel Board’s point of view.

Boeing & SAA Collborate on BioJet Fuel From Tobacco

Boeing, South African Airways (SAA) and SkyNRG are partnering together to develop aviation biofuel from a specific type of tobacco plant. SkyNRG is currently expanding its production of Solaris, an energy crop hybrid derived from the tobacco plant. Pilot farming of the plant, which is effectively nicotine-free, is underway in South Africa with to end goal of producing advanced biojet fuel from the seeds. As the program expands, Boeing expects emerging technologies to increase South Africa’s aviation biofuel production from the rest of the plant.

The project is an effort to expand the support of South Africa’s goals for improved public health along with economic and rural development.

Tobacco Photos“It’s an honor for Boeing to work with South African Airways on a pioneering project to make sustainable jet fuel from an energy-rich tobacco plant,” said J. Miguel Santos, managing director for Africa, Boeing International. “South Africa is leading efforts to commercialize a valuable new source of biofuel that can further reduce aviation’s environmental footprint and advance the region’s economy.”

In October 2013, Boeing and SAA agreed they would work together to develop a sustainable aviation biofuel supply chain in Southern Africa. As part of that effort, they are working with the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials to position farmers with small plots of land to grow biofuel feedstocks that provide socioeconomic value to communities without harming food supplies, fresh water or land use.

Ian Cruickshank, South African Airways Group Environmental Affairs Specialist said of the expanded project, “By using hybrid tobacco, we can leverage knowledge of tobacco growers in South Africa to grow a marketable biofuel crop without encouraging smoking. This is another way that SAA and Boeing are driving development of sustainable biofuel while enhancing our region’s economic opportunity.”

“We strongly believe in the potential of successfully rolling out Solaris in the Southern African region to power sustainable fuels that are also affordable,” added Maarten van Dijk, Chief Technology Officer, SkyNRG.

Florida Biodiesel Brings Green Fuel to Africa

Florida-Biodiesel1Biodiesel-brewing equipment maker Florida Biodiesel, Inc. is sending another one of its biodiesel processors to Africa. Back in April, we told you about the company’s B-500 biodiesel plant was sold to the Lorymat Corporation in the Ivory Coast. Now, Florida Biodiesel has sold a B-60 biodiesel plant sale to Avandith Energy in Lagos, Nigeria.

Avandith Energy has chosen the B-60 Biodiesel processor for their pilot transesterification facility. The B-60 Biodiesel plant is economical to operate and will allow Avandith Energy to safely produce 4 batches of Biodiesel each 24 hours. The B-60 will also be used as a hands-on educational tool to show students and government agencies how to make renewable energy. “We will process Jatropha oil collected locally into Biodiesel fuel,” says Oladunjoye Waleola, of Avandith Energy. “The B-60 is very user friendly, has a low carbon footprint, and will economically produce Biodiesel for us.”

Florida Biodiesel has been producing biodiesel making equipment since 2006 and touts its safety external heat exchanger, cyclonic mixer, methanol recovery module, and the AUTOBIO biodiesel plant automation system technologies.

Amyris & GOL Take to the Skies with Biojet Fuel

Amyris along with Brazilian airline GOL have flown the industry’s first commercial flight with farnesane, a recently approved jet fuel. Flight 7725 left from Orlando, Florida July 30 at 5:15 pm ET and landed in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

GOL committed to fly its Boeing 737 fleet with up to a 10 percent blend of the renewable farnesane fuel starting with this initial flight on July 30, 2014. According to Amyris, Farnesane can reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by up to 80 percent compared to petroleum fuels. When blended with Jet A/A1 fuel at 10 percent, farnesane can also reduce particulate matter emissions, decreasing pollution near airports and major metropolitan areas.

The global aviation industry has committed to aggressive goals to reduce its GHG emissions, including achieving carbon neutral growth by 2020 and reducing emissions by 50 percent by 2050 compared to 2005. In addition to improving the efficiency of airplanes and flight operations, this renewable biofuel represents a major opportunity for commercial aviation to reduce emissions. The approved renewable jet fuel is drop-in and can be blended directly with petroleum jet fuel without any changes to airplanes, engines or fueling infrastructure. Amyris will now begin to quantitatively measure the positive impact to GHG emissions and air quality with every flight using the renewable jet fuel.

Martifer Solar Completes Ukraine PV Project

Martifer Solar has completed a 8 MW solar power project in the Vinnytsia region of Ukraine. The project, known as Shargood, was developed during what the company said was amid complex political and economic events that occurred in the country. The Shargorod plant is located less than 300 km southwest of Kyiv in the Vinnytsia Oblast of Ukraine.

Martifer Solar completed the 8 MW PV plant on an area of approximately 160,000 m2, using 33,000 modules installed on fixed structures. The Shargorod plant is expected to produce an estimated 9.2 GWh/year. With Martifer Solar Ukraine Shargorod Solar Project.jpgthis production capacity, the project will offset 3,855 tons of carbon dioxide on an annual basis, which is sufficient energy to power more than 11,000 inhabitants in the Vinnytsia region per year.

“This new 8 MW plant is a significant achievement for the team as it strongly displays our company’s ability to adapt and manage complex projects under extreme conditions. In addition, this PV project is one of the first of its magnitude to satisfy the current local-content requirements in place within the country,” said Francisco Queirós, country manager for Martifer Solar in Ukraine. “We are proud to work closely in our partnership with Rengy Development to maximize the potential for solar development of the Ukrainian market.”

This new PV project is the sixth project which Martifer Solar has built in Ukraine for Rengy Development. In total, Martifer Solar now has a total portfolio of 29 MW of utility-scale PV implemented in the country dating back to August 2012.

Narek Harutyunyan, managing director of Rengy Development said of the new solar project, “As we maintain our investment and development of solar projects in Ukraine, we continue to rely on the strength and proven talent of Martifer Solar as a partner in the market. We have shared several success stories in the Ukrainian market and this 8 MW plant surpassed our expectations given the current situation in the country.”

New Anti-Dumping Tariffs Will Slow U.S. Solar Industry

The U.S. Department of Commerce has imposed new anti-dumping tariffs as high as 165.04 percent on imports of solar products from China and 44.18 percent on imports from Taiwan. It should be noted, that China has instituted anti-dumping tariffs on solar panels entering their country as well.

In response to the announcement, Jigar Shah, president of the Coalition for Affordable Solar Energy (CASE), said, “Today’s determination is another unnecessary obstacle for the U.S. solar industry that will hinder CASE-logothe deployment of clean energy by raising the prices of solar products. Due to these tariffs, previously viable projects will go unbuilt, American workers will go unhired and consumers that could have saved money through solar energy may not be able to benefit.”

Shah noted that SolarWorld has issued a request to expand the scope of products affected by the solar dispute, but the U.S. Department of Commerce has made no decision. CASE members a disappointed and Shah said accepting a broader scope would eliminate decades of legalalize that defines scope using the ‘single country of origin’ and ‘substantial transformation’ trade rules. The proposed new scope is also fundamentally inconsistent, said Shah, with the Department’s own previous determination in the 2012 solar cell dispute.

“We urge SolarWorld AG to work with the U.S. solar industry and choose to end their continued litigation in favor of a win-win solution like the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) settlement proposal,” added Shah. “CASE members, which represent the industry majority, demand a solution that ends uncertainty in the marketplace by preventing further trade litigation and that allows solar power to compete cost-effectively with traditional energy sources, thus enabling the market’s further growth. To aid in this process, we ask President Obama to make resolving the solar trade dispute a priority on his clean energy agenda and convene the parties for negotiations.”

According to the 2013 National Solar Job Census, the U.S. solar industry currently employs over 142,000 Americans, 70 percent of which are employed downstream in the system installation, sales, distribution and project development sectors. Solar product manufacturing remains robust, employing over 29,000 Americans, but the narrow solar cell manufacturing industry that would benefit from these tariffs represents less than 2 percent of overall U.S. solar employment.

John Morrison, COO of Strata Solar, based in Chapel Hill, North Carolina and representing over 1,000 jobs added, “Due to their scale, the utility and large commercial solar sectors are particularly sensitive to the uncertainty and price increases caused by these tariffs. Until this dispute is resolved, our industry will build fewer projects and install less solar. It’s time to end the litigation, negotiate a solution and put more Americans back to work.”