Proterra EV Buses Travel Million Miles

Proterra battery-electric(EV) buses have been driven one million miles. The company recently congratulated its customers on achieving the EV industry milestone and held a celebratory event at its plant in Greenville, S.C. where they honored their transit agency partners for their leadership as EV pioneers.

Each transit agency was honored with award commemorating their early adoption of EV bus technology and acknowledging their role in building the future of mass transit and sustainable urban mobility.

Proterra battery electric busCustomers receiving the awards were: Foothill Transit (Pomona, Calif.), WRTA (Worcester, Mass.), the City of Seneca, S.C./Clemson Area Transit, RTC Washoe (Reno, Nev.), TARC (Louisville, Ky.), VIA Metropolitan Transit (San Antonio, Texas), San Joaquin RTD (Stockton, Calif.), and StarMetro (Tallahassee, Fla.).

“Reaching our 1,000,000th mile in revenue service is a significant milestone, not just for Proterra, but for the entire transit industry,” said Proterra President and CEO Ryan Popple. “Along with our forward-thinking and highly valued transit agency partners, we can offer the world a million proof points to bolster the fact that electric vehicles not only offer great performance, but represent the best total cost of ownership and environmental option for transit agencies.”

By combining performance, efficiency and flexibility, Proterra buses offer the lowest per passenger cost and environmental impact of any transit bus technology—electric, diesel, hybrid or natural gas. Proterra has now received orders from 14 different transit agencies in cities across North America. Over the course of their 1,000,000 miles in service, Proterra customers have saved nearly 250,000 gallons of fossil fuel and have eliminated nearly 3.5 million pounds of emissions from being released into the environment.

Bennet Files Amendment for Bridge to Tax Reform

Trade groups are calling for national support of the Bennet Amendment for Bridge to Tax Reform. U.S. Senator Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) has filed an amendment to the annual budget resolution being considered this week by the Senate that would make room for renewable and efficiency tax credits. The amendment specifies “a fund for “creating clean energy jobs, including extending over a reasonable period of time, as a bridge to tax reform, expired and expiring tax credits for renewable energy production and investment.”

The renewable tBennet Tax Reform Amendment Trade Group Supportersrade groups endorsed the amendment in a letter:

Dear Senator:

The U.S. Senate begins debate this week on the Fiscal Year 2016 Budget Resolution. Senator Michael Bennet will be offering an amendment (#715) which expresses support for the extension of expired and expiring federal tax credits for renewable energy production and investment as the bridge to tax reform. On behalf of the thousands of American companies and over 500,000 Americans working in the renewable energy sector, we strongly encourage you to support the Bennet Amendment.

Over the past five years, nearly 44% of all new domestic power generation capacity has come from renewable energy resources, including more than 56% of all new power generation capacity in 2014 – surpassing all other energy sources. The investment tax credit (ITC) and the production tax credit (PTC) have been the primary federal policy drivers for this growth, spurring private sector investment, creating jobs, and driving down costs significantly, making renewable and clean technologies more cost competitive.

The clean energy sector has the potential to be one of the greatest engines of middle class job growth in the 21st century, while providing our nation with secure sources of clean and renewable domestic energy. To realize that objective, however, we must have a supportive and certain tax policy environment.

Again, on behalf of our thousands of member companies and more than half a million Americans working in our industries, we ask you to send an unambiguous signal of support for clean and renewable energy. Please vote for the Bennet Amendment to the Senate Budget Resolution in support of continuing tax incentives for clean and renewable domestic energy sources.

The letter is signed by representatives of the Solar Energy Industries Association, American Wind Energy Association, Alliance for Industrial Efficiency, Geothermal Energy Association, American Biogas Council, Energy Recovery Council, National Hydropower Association, Biomass Power Association, Distributed Wind Energy Association and Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Energy Association.

NEC Scholarship Award Winner Announced

rfa-nec-15The Renewable Fuels Association and Renewable Fuels Foundation are proud to announce the student scholarship award winner for the 20th annual National Ethanol Conference: Going Global next month in Grapevine, Texas.

This year’s scholarship winner is Laís Thomaz of Brazil, who received her master’s degree in international relations in 2012 from San Tiago Dantas, a graduate program supported by three of Brazil’s premier universities. Her dissertation, which focused on the role of advocacy groups in the shaping of ethanol trade policies, was published as a book by Brazil’s Editora UNESP. Her research previously won the Top Ethanol Award promoted by the Brazilian Sugarcane Ethanol Industry Association (UNICA). She is currently a Ph.D. candidate and a Visiting Scholar in the Department of Government at Georgetown University.

The RFA/RFF scholarship provides students enrolled in higher education with complimentary registration at the conference, giving scholarship recipients the chance to connect with hundreds of leaders, policymakers, and experts associated with the renewable fuel industry. Only students who focus on renewable fuels in their studies and intend to pursue a career in the industry are eligible to receive the scholarship. This is the sixth consecutive year in which this scholarship has been made available to students.

Amyris Renewable Jet Fuel Gets Approval in Brazil

Amyris-logo (1)Airline regulators in Brazil have approved the use of Amyris’ renewable jet fuel. The company says the sugarcane-derived fuel helps cut greenhouse gases and can now be used in up to 10 percent blends.

“Building on the revised ASTM International standard for aviation turbine fuel approved in June, Brazil’s ANP last week removed the last regulatory hurdle for the use of our renewable jet fuel in Brazil. We meet the most rigorous performance requirements in the aviation industry and are now commercializing our product in Brazil as well as around the world,” said John Melo, President & Chief Executive Officer of Amyris.

“The airline industry continues to experience strong growth and, while current low oil prices may provide a short-lived respite, the impact of carbon pollution is undeniable. Amyris and its partners are contributing to reductions in greenhouse gas emissions with our renewable fuel. We are pleased that leading airlines, such as Air France, Lufthansa and KLM are, or will soon be, flying with a blend of our renewable jet fuel,” added Melo.

A study shows that Amyris’s farnesane can cut greenhouse gases by 90 percent compared to fossil fuels.

Oil-Rich Texas is Nearly Renewable Energy Leader

Texas flagLooks like Texas is taking an all-of-the-above approach when it comes to energy sources. The oil-rich state added nearly 800 clean energy jobs during the first three months of this year, and according to this story in renewablesbiz.com, that puts Texas second only to Idaho and California. But the article also warns those the 5,600 new clean energy and clean transportation jobs added throughout the country are less than half of what was announced a year earlier by Environmental Entrepreneurs, or E2, the non-partisan business group that compiled the figures.

E2’s executive director, Bob Keefe, suggests more declines could be on the horizon, amid uncertainty about the future of state mandates and federal tax incentives driving renewable energy investments around the country.

The biggest hit at the federal level is the disappearance of the renewable energy production tax credit that allows project owners to reduce tax bills by 2.3 cents per kilowatt-hour of electricity produced from renewable sources over 10 years…

Meanwhile, an investment tax credit that has been used to finance solar projects with long lead times is set to expire in 2016.

So far, renewable energy advocates have been prevailing in most of those fights, notably when the Kansas House voted to retain the state’s requirement that utilities draw 20 percent of their electricity from renewable sources. But a similar battle is under way in Ohio.

Four new big projects in Texas drove the increase: the Barilla Solar project in Pecos County; the Plainview Orchard Wind project in Plainview; the First Wind project in Armstrong and Carson counties; and a biodiesel plant in Temple by Austin-based Thomas Biodiesel.

Forest Service Seeks Wood Energy Applications

forestserviceIn honor of Earth Day today, the U.S. Forest Service is seeking proposals that expand wood energy use and support responsible forest management. This news release says the service is also offering a Wood Energy Financial App to help business leaders see a positive bottom line for these efforts.

“USDA through the Forest Service is supporting development of wood energy projects that promote sound forest management, expand regional economies, and create new jobs,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “These efforts, part of the Obama Administration’s ‘all of the above’ energy strategy, create opportunities for wood energy products to enter the marketplace.”

“Building stronger markets for innovative wood products supports sustainable forestry, reduces wildfire risk, and creates energy savings for rural America,” said Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell.

Under the Forest Service’s Wood-to-Energy Grant program, about $2.8 million will be made available to help successful applicants complete the engineering design work needed to apply for public or private loans for construction and long-term financing of wood energy facilities. Another $1.7 million from the Statewide Wood Energy Team cooperative agreement program will help public-private teams make advancements in wood energy.

The Wood Energy Financial App that allows users to do a simple and quick analysis to see if wood energy is a viable alternative for their community or small business. You can dowmload the app here.

Where Your Marketing Dollars are Going

New Holland ZimmPollOur latest ZimmPoll asked the question, “What’s the largest percentage of your 2014 marketing budget?”

It looks like the old faithful form of print marketing tops this week’s ZimmPoll. But what is interesting is that rest of the choices were almost evenly spread across the board, with the newer trends of social media and digital marketing right up there with broadcast and direct mail.

Our poll results:

  • Broadcast – 10%
  • Digital – 15%
  • Direct mail – 10%
  • Print – 25%
  • Social media – 15%
  • Trade show/promo items – 15%
  • Other – 10%

Our new ZimmPoll is now live and asks the question, “Has spring sprung for you yet?”

If you haven’t got a case of Spring Fever, then you must be living in Florida with Chuck and Cindy. Here in the Midwest we had an 80 degree weekend and now are back into the 30’s. I think Mother Nature is a little confused. Are you seeing any signs of spring in your neck of the woods?

NASA to Study Renewable Fuels in Space

Renewable Fuels are getting one stop closer to heading out to space. NASA has signed agreements with the German Aerospace Center (DLR) and the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) to conduct a series of joint flight tests to study the atmospheric effects of emissions from jet engines burning alternative fuels. The Alternative Fuel Effects on Contrails and Cruise Emissions (ACCESS II) flights are set to begin May 7, 2014 and will be flown from NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in Edwards, California.

“Partnering with our German and Canadian colleagues allows us to combine our expertise and resources as we work together to solve the challenges common to the global aviation community such as understanding emission characteristics from the use of alternative fuels which presents a great potent629321main_ED07-0256-13cial for significant reductions in harmful emissions,” said Jaiwon Shin, NASA’s associate administrator for aeronautics research.

NASA’s DC-8 and HU-25C Guardian, DLR’s Falcon 20-E5, and NRC’s CT-133 research aircraft will conduct flight tests in which the DC-8’s engines will burn a mix of different fuel blends, while the Falcon and CT-133 measure emissions and observe contrail formation.

“Cooperation between DLR and NASA is based on a strong mutual appreciation of our research work,” said Rolf Henke, the DLR Executive Board member responsible for aeronautics research. “We are very pleased to be performing joint test flights for the first time, and thus set an example by addressing pressing research questions in global aviation together.”

ACCESS II is the latest in a series of ground and flight tests begun in 2009 to study emissions and contrail formation from new blends of aviation fuels that include biofuel from renewable sources. ACCESS-I testing, conducted in 2013, indicated the biofuel blends tested may substantially reduce emissions of black carbon, sulfates, and organics. ACCESS II will gather additional data, with an emphasis on studying contrail formation.

Farm Foundation Forum to Examine Energy, Ag

farmfoundationlogo3Our friends at Farm Foundation will host another one of their thought-provoking discussions, this time, talking about the energy and agricultural markets and their relationship. Titled, “Geopolitical Uncertainty in Agriculture and Energy Markets,” the April 9 Forum will be held at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. EDT.

Current political unrest in numerous locations across the world is having a profound effect across agricultural and energy markets and generating supply chain uncertainties.

The April 9 Farm Foundation® Forum will examine the potential consequences of sudden policy changes, production issues, and unforeseen price fluctuations in a turbulent global marketplace. Panelists for this Forum will include:

Former U.S.Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman will moderate the panel.
Vincent Smith, scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and professor at Montana State University.
Gary Blumenthal of World Perspectives, Inc.
Brian Oleson, professor at the University of Manitoba.
Charles Doran, professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies

There’s no charge for the forum, and you can register to attend here. In addition, a webcast, including audio and slides, is available here.

Georgia Biodiesel Maker Installs Shockwave Reactor

shockwavereactor2aA Georgia biodiesel maker has installed a reactor that the system’s builder says will transesterify vegetable or animal fats in just seconds. This article from Biodiesel Magazine says World Energy in Rome, Ga., has put in the Hydro Dynamics Inc. ShockWave Power Reactor (SPR) BD 50 at the 50 million gallon a year refinery.

“Harnessing the power of cavitation, the ShockWave Power Biodiesel Reactor drives the transesterification reaction to completion in seconds,” stated Hydro Dynamics. “In true continuous or batch systems, the SPR gives biodiesel producers greater feedstock flexibility and the power to achieve consistently superior quality. The SPR can improve processes to reduce monoglycerides and reduce catalyst utilization.”

Hydro Dynamics says the ShockWave Power technology, now in its 8th year, is used widely throughout the biodiesel industry with 500 million gallons of annual reactor capacity now sold.

2014 National Biodiesel Conference Underway

2014 National Biodiesel ConferenceThe 2014 National Biodiesel Conference is underway in San Diego. This evening attendees got together for a welcome reception at the San Diego Convention Center. It looks like we’re going to have an even larger crowd than was first thought!

I’ve got photos to share with you and tomorrow will have full coverage of the opening general session and interviews and more. Right now you can find photos online which I will be adding to when I can throughout the convention: 2014 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

VoteVets Launches RFS TV Campaign

VoteVets.org has launched a new television ad in Iowa aimed at protecting the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). The ad will also be aired in Washington D.C. where hundreds of biofuel supporters have flown to the beltway in the last few months to meet with legislators in support of the clean energy and jobs legislation.

The TV ad features an Iraq War Veteran, Michael Connolly, making the case that gutting the RFS would allow for a greater flow of oil dollars to America’s enemies, who use that money for weaponry that has targeted our troops. Connolly, who served in Iraq from 2007 to 2008, lived in Glenwood, Iowa from 2010 to 2012, and now lives just across the border, in Nebraska.

The ad opens with a massive explosion in front of a military convoy. Connolly says, “War is dangerous. I know. I was there. Now, people ask me all the time how they can support the troops.” Holding a yellow ribbon, Connolly says, “By putting one of these on your car? Sure…” And then in front of an ethanol gas pump, “By putting this in your tank? Even better… More renewable fuels, like the kind grown here in Iowa, means we use less foreign oil. And that means less money for our enemies. But the oil companies are trying to kill renewable fuels.”

The facts, say VoteVets.org back up Connolly’s words. Although the United States often does not directly buy oil from hostile nations, like Iran, America’s dependence on oil drives up demand, and prices of oil on the world market, which benefits all oil-rich nations. Those oil dollars allowed Iran, for instance, to produce and ship Explosively Formed Penetrators (EFPs) to Iraqi insurgents, who used them to target American troops.

Additionally, the U.S. Department of Energy estimates for every one billion gallons of ethanol produced, 10,000 to 20,000 jobs are added to our domestic economy. According to the Iowa Corn Growers Association, the ethanol Industry supports around 55,000 jobs in Iowa, and accounts for $5.4 billion of Iowa’s GDP. Gutting the RFS, says VoteVets,org, would threaten the development of next generation biofuels, including cellulosic ethanol plants in Iowa scheduled to start operation next year. Rather than using kernels of corn, these advanced plants will make the fuel from the “biomass” of various low-value plant material including corn stalks and wood chips.

VoteVets.org is collecting petition signatures from everyday Americans who want to see America reduce its dependence on foreign oil, protect our troops, and create jobs.

GEA Names Winners of GEA Honors 2013

The Geothermal Energy Association (GEA) has announced the winners for the GEA Honors, which recognize companies and individuals that have made significant contributions during the past year to advancing technology, spurring economic  GEA logodevelopment and protecting the environment. The winners were selected in categories including Technological Advancement, Economic Development and Environmental Stewardship. Now in its third year, GEA also provides special recognition of companies and individuals who have made notable advances and achievements for geothermal energy.

“Even in a challenging environment, our GEA Honors winners represent the best in a growing industry. These geothermal leaders are trailblazers and should be praised for the headway they’re achieving for the entire sector,” said GEA Executive Director Karl Gawell.

Technological Advancement – Awarded for developing a new, innovative or pioneering technology to further geothermal development: U.S. Geothermal’s 22 MW Neal Hot Springs Geothermal Power Plant:

Economic Development – Awarded for making a substantial contribution to the development of local, regional or national markets through the development of geothermal systems: GeothermEx.

Environmental Stewardship – Awarded for fostering outstanding environmental stewardship through the use of geothermal systems. This award is presented in conjunction with the Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) to  Dale Merrick, Canby Geothermal.

Special Recognition – The Special Recognition Award is presented to individuals or companies for their outstanding achievement in the geothermal industry. GEA wishes to recognize the following individuals and organizations for their outstanding work and support for geothermal energy during the past year:

  • Katherine Young and her team at NREL for their work on the Geothermal Regulatory Roadmapping effort;
  • Steamboat Hot Springs Healing Center in Reno Nevada;
  • Authors Magnus Gehringer and Victor Loksha of the World Bank for the ESMAP Geothermal Handbook; and
  • Cornell Team Erin Riley Camp, Sean Hillson and Jeff Tester for their help on GEA’s analysis efforts, particularly the Geothermal Externalities Paper.

GEA also recognized companies that have worked to bring new geothermal power on-line in the United States this year:

  • Ormat for the expected completion of the new Don A. Campbell (formerly named Wild Rose) geothermal power plant.
  • ENEL Green Power North America and Ormat for completing construction of the new Cove Fort power plant in Utah.
  • Surprise Valley Electric Cooperative for their 3MW power plant in Oregon, which is expected to be on-line in early 2014.
  • Gradient Resources’ Patua Geothermal Project:

Greenleaf Hits 1 Million Gallons of Biodiesel

greenleafConnecticut-based Greenleaf Biofuels, LLC, has produced its 1 millionth gallon of biodiesel since opening its New Haven facility this summer. This company news release says most of that green fuel is going into local heating oil supplies.

“We are extremely proud to have achieved this production milestone. Our team has worked tirelessly over the last six months to commission the plant and scale production. This is a testament to our employees’ high level of expertise and dedication to our mission,” said Gus Kellogg, Founder and COO of Greenleaf. Added Mark McCall, CEO of Greenleaf, “We have been driving towards this day since we began commercial production. I am extremely proud of our entire team. We look forward to increasing our production further with a goal of exceeding 1 million gallons per month next year.”

Senator Richard Blumenthal, the Senior Senator from Connecticut said, “I congratulate Greenleaf Biofuels for producing its 1 millionth gallon of biodiesel. The company is assisting our nation in becoming more energy efficient and environmentally friendly, and creating much needed clean energy manufacturing jobs in Connecticut. Greenleaf is a tremendous asset to our state and our nation.”

Senator Chris Murphy added, “Connecticut is proving resilient in finding new economic drivers that support manufacturing jobs in our state, while at the same time supporting our national policy of increasing the supply of domestically produced renewable fuels. Greenleaf is a great example of a public-private partnership that delivers on the promise of economic growth and policy objectives. I applaud this milestone and look forward to additional growth in this important sector of our economy.”

The Greenleaf Biofuels refinery will eventually crank out 10 million gallons a year of biodiesel, the largest biofuel plant in New England.

New Jersey Advances Biodiesel Heating Oil Bill

amodeoA bill to make biodiesel part of all heating oil used in New Jersey advanced in the New Jersey legislature. NJPoliticker.com reports the “Bio-based Heating Oil Act,” sponsored by Assembly Deputy Republican Leader John Amodeo, moved out of the Assembly Telecommunications and Utilities Committee.

“By transitioning to bio-based heating oil, we will be producing an efficient, environmentally safe energy source from waste products including inedible animal fats and recycled restaurant grease, and using it to economically heat our homes and businesses,” said Amodeo, R-Atlantic.

A-3161 sets a graduated compliance schedule, requiring all heating oil sold in the state to include 3 percent biodiesel, eventually increasing to 5 percent from July 1, 2014 and thereafter. Biodiesel is biodegradable and produces less air pollutants than petroleum-based diesel.

“By adding a percentage of domestically produced and renewable biodiesel to our heating oil, we will substantially reduce greenhouse gases, and slash household emissions of carbon dioxide by 1.5 million tons per year, according to some experts. More importantly, we can achieve this without expensive investment in infrastructure or increased fuel costs,” Amodeo stated.

Research has actually shown that 20 percent biodiesel blends increase the performance of heating systems.