Biodiesel Poised to Have an Explosive Year

The mood was optimistic during Advance: 2011 Biodiesel Conference & Expo last week. Why? Because all signs are pointing to the industry growing by leaps and bounds this year. I spoke with Donald Nelson, Director, National Sales with REG (Renewable Energy Group), the largest biodiesel company in the U.S. about RINS and how, if at all, they can signal positive things in the marketplace.

To begin, I asked Nelson to explain what a RIN was. It’s a Renewable Identification Number (RIN). “To make it simple,” said Nelson, “RINS really is the currency of the RFS2. That’s how the EPA measures the compliance of an obligated party.” He continued by explaining that for each gallon of biodiesel produced, 1.5 RINs are generated that travel with that gallon to the blender and then the blender or obligated party separate that RIN from the “wet gallon” and at this point, the RIN can travel separately from the fuel.

Last year was a tough year for the biodiesel industry. The $1 per gallon tax credit had expired and several obligated parties sued the EPA over the RFS2 biodiesel mandate numbers (under the RFS2 biodiesel qualifies as biomass based diesel). Fortunately, by the end of the year, the EPA won the suit and the credit came back, but by this time there weren’t enough RINS in the marketplace to meet demand to the uncertainty caused by the aforementioned issues.

Nelson said there were 1.15 billion gallons of material that needed to be consumed when you add 2009 and 2010 together but it appears that the marketplace will be short 95 million gallons. Yet he’s not worried and is very confident that the industry can not only make up for the shortfall this year, but also meet the RFS2 numbers. Combined this will be a total of approximately 925 million gallons of biodiesel needed to be produced this year. To put it in perspective, last year the industry produced 310 million gallons. Nelson said this is a 300 percent increase in production but there are 2.2 billion gallons of biodiesel production registered with the EPA, although much of it is not online.

So what’s next for the industry? Explosive growth. Plants are coming back online although Nelson said some still need additional investment dollars to get back up and running. In addition, the obligated parties are creating plans to build out the much needed infrastructure so the fuel can get where it needs to go.

Nelson concluded that he thinks the industry is going to see tremendous growth over the next couple of years and “It’s very exciting.”

You can listen to my full interview with Don here: Interview with REG's Donald Nelson

2011 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

Biodiesel Board Offers RFS2 Webinars

The new Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS2) will require at least 800 million gallons of biodiesel are used this year … and how petroleum refiners and importers and distillate distributors get to that number will be the subject of a series of free webinars offered by the National Biodiesel Board.

NBB officials say the 90-minute webinars, entitled “RFS2 Ready: Biodiesel Producers Ready to Meet 2011 RFS2 Requirements,” will offer information on how to meet the Environmental Protection Agency’s 2011 volume requirements and will be tailored for each region of the country:

Exclusive biodiesel market analysis will also include:
• Month-by-month, gallon-by-gallon outlook for 2011 biodiesel supply and demand
• Risk management and pricing strategies utilized for RINs compliance
• Federal, state and PADD-specific legislative policies driving biodiesel demand
• New end-user markets pushing biodiesel sales

New England, Central Atlantic, and Lower Atlantic
Date: April 7, 2011, Thursday
Time: 10:00 a.m. EST

Date: February 24, 2011, Thursday
Time: 10:00 a.m. CST

PAD District 3: Gulf Coast
Date: March 31, 2011, Thursday
Time: 10:00 a.m. CST

PAD District 4: Rocky Mountain
Date: March 24, 2011, Thursday
Time:10:00 a.m. MT

PAD District 5: West Coast
Date: March 10, 2011
Time: 10:00 a.m. PT

Hangin’ With Some Next Gen Biodiesel Scientists

During the National Biodiesel Board Conference (NBB) last week, I had the opportunity to hang out with some “Next Generation Scientists for Biodiesel“. There were 10 in attendance at this year’s conference and the two that I spent time with were Evan Le, a senior studying mechanical engineering at the University of Nevada and Lucas Ellis, in a graduate Biochemical Engineering program at Dartmouth and a co-chair of Next Generation Scientists for Biodiesel.

I asked Le how he became involved in biodiesel and he said that it was actually a lot of professors pushing him in that direction and a lot of minor biodiesel projects in the courses he took that got him on his way. Eventually, his senior design project was to design a biodiesel project and he chose to focus on algae. This is when he truly discovered there is a lot of potential in biodiesel and he wanted to be one of the scientists who helps unlock this potential.

Le has just begun in career as a biodiesel scientist. He is going to spend the next two years working at Sandia National Laboratory where he will continue working with algae. He wants to focus on research on how to scale up algal biofuels from pilot to commercial scale. Today, he says, it takes too much energy to produce algal biofuels so they are not commercially viable. From there, he plans on working towards in Ph.D. in biodiesel.

While Le is focusing on algal biofuels, Lucas Ellis is actually focusing on cellulosic biofuels in his graduate program at Dartmouth, but he too is very interested in algae. However, he doesn’t feel that cellulosic ethanol and biodiesel compete, but rather are two complementary technologies that both have roles in energy production. Ellis also feels that the skills he is developing researching cellulosic ethanol, are the same skills needed to research and develop advanced biodiesel.

Ellis also fell into biodiesel, per se, while in his undergraduate program and once he got the biodiesel bug, it stayed with him. So when he was given the opportunity to become involved with Next Generation Scientists for Biodiesel, he jumped at the chance. Although the organization is relatively young with 30 founding members, they have a declaration that has been signed by more than a 1,000 budding biodiesel scientists around the world dedicating their careers to researching and developing the next technologies for advanced biofuels.

While at the conference, the 10 next gen biodiesel scientists met with various biodiesel mentors during a luncheon where students and professionals alike shared their ideas and visions for the future of biodiesel.

You can listen to my full interview with Evan and Lucas here: Interview with Evan & Lucas

2011 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

National Biodiesel Conference Wraps Up

NBB Membership MeetingThe 2011 National Biodiesel Conference has been a scene of optimism for the industry. To wrap things up I spoke with Donnell Rehagen, COO, National Biodiesel Board. He says that we had approximately 1,100 in attendance and it looked like business was getting done.

Yesterday NBB held its annual membership meeting and approved projects and a plan that will begin this fall. This gives the staff a “play book” to execute initiatives from market development to governmental affairs.

So let’s look forward to next year when the conference will take place in Orlando, FL!

You can listen to my interview with Donnell here: Interview with Donnell Rehagen

2011 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

New Holland Still Showing Strong Support For Biodiesel

New Holland Boomer 8NWhy is there a New Holland Boomer 8N photo on here when talking about the National Biodiesel Conference? Because the company is once again a conference sponsor of the media room I’ve been working out of and the Biodiesel Conference Blog that ZimmComm New Media is helping manage for the 6th year!

I want to say a big thanks to New Holland for their support and in particular to Gene Hemphill, past Eye on Biodiesel Award winner. I spoke with Gene about New Holland’s support for the industry. He reminded me of a trip I took with him and NBB CEO Joe Jobe to Jay Leno’s Garage where we met Jay and learned about his support of biodiesel. It sounds like there might be some new developments with Jay and biodiesel brewing! That’s where the Boomer 8N comes in as you’ll hear him say in our interview.

New Holland recognizes the importance of biodiesel as an alternative source of energy and the opportunities that it brings to our customers. We were the first agricultural equipment brand to fully embrace the potential of biodiesel. As the clean energy leader, we support our customer’s fuel choices, and that’s why we provide products with the flexibility to confidently run on everything from plain diesel to 100% biodiesel.

You can listen to my interview with Gene here: Gene Hemphill Interview

2011 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

Positive Legislative Outlook For Biodiesel

Manning FeraciDuring the last general session of the National Biodiesel Conference we got the legislative outlook from Manning Feraci, Vice President for Federal Affairs for the National Biodiesel Board. He talked about advancing to the next level of effectiveness in the capitol halls of America.

You can find some current resources regarding legislative issues on the NBB website:

* Renewable Fuel Standard – RFS-2 Action Center
* October 3, 2008 Tax Extender’s Package
* Tax Incentive
* Farm Bill
* Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs)
You can listen to Manning’s remarks here: Manning Feraci Remarks

2011 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

Annual Eye on Biodiesel Award Winners

The “Eye on Biodiesel” Awards were presented today during our last general session at the conference. I’m going to list them with their comments from the stage starting with the Inspiration Award. Accepting was Nick Portonova.

Inspiration: Deer Valley Unified School District. This Arizona school district began its biodiesel program in 1999, long before the fuel was a known quantity. Now the district uses biodiesel blends from B5 to B50 in all 236 school buses. Transportation Director Nick Portonova says he routinely takes calls from across the nation, helping answer questions that other fleets have. Portonova added the biggest benefit of using biodiesel is the healthier choice they are making for their students.

Inspiration comments here: Inspiration Comments

Our next award is the Innovation Award. Accepting was Frank Dela Vara, Director of Environmental Affairs, Disneyland Resort.

Innovation: Disneyland Resort. The resort is a national landmark whose effort to reduce emissions through biodiesel use displaces 200,000 gallons a year of petroleum diesel. Their innovative solution saved their iconic steam trains and is a shining example of biodiesel use.

Innovation comments here: Innovation Comments

Next up was the Influence Award. Accepting was Keith Kerman, New York City Department of Parks & Recreation.

Influence: City of New York.
New York City Department of Sanitation, and New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. City of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg signed landmark air quality legislation that includes a provision requiring all heating oil sold within New York City to contain at least 2 percent biodiesel by October 1, 2012. By moving to environmentally-friendly Bioheat TM, the City will annually replace approximately 20 million gallons of petroleum-based heating fuel. The New York City Department of Sanitation uses biodiesel blends of B5-B20 in its 4,000 diesel vehicles, which include many large trucks and snow plows. The New York City Department of Parks and Recreation has operated its diverse fleet of vehicles as well as more than 130 buildings on B20-B100 blends since 2006. Because of these two departments’ commitment to cleaner fuels, New York City is the nation’s largest municipal user of biodiesel.

Influence comments here: Influence Comments

Our next award was the Initiative Award. Accepting were the Grassroots Team Captains and Alicia Clancy-REG.

Initiative: NBB Grassroots Team Captains. The NBB grassroots initiative empowers biodiesel industry leaders and supporters to influence public discussion. NBB’s grassroots success has been heralded by Hill staff and trade groups alike. The successful program centers on team captains who carry out targeted objectives in their states. Since July 2009 the team captains have rallied contacts in key states to support a positive legislative framework for biodiesel. In just six weeks, NBB Grassroots Team Captains generated 8,000 comments on pending federal legislation. Their volunteer efforts have also led to countless earned media placements, successful site visits, and thousands of calls and letters to elected leaders. This group was critical in establishing the policy framework that exists today.

Initiative comments here: Initiative Comments

The Industry Partner Award was next. Accepting was Victor Bohuslavsky, Nebraska Soybean Board.

Industry Partnership: Nebraska Soybean Board. The Nebraska Soybean Board has been a leader among state soybean organizations in its support of biodiesel. Staff and farmer leaders regularly support and participate in critical biodiesel projects and events. For example, Nebraska recently hosted a delegation of oil heat leaders, a group that plans to blend 325 million gallons of biodiesel and wanted to see firsthand the source of the product. The Board also played a major role spearheading the largest proactive communications effort in industry history. They introduced new state soybean organizations to the biodiesel industry, and continue to support the industry through major investments in biodiesel projects.

Industry Partner comments here: Industry Partner Comments

Our final award was the Impact Award. Accepting was Adam J. Gryglak, Chief Engineer, Powertrain Engineering for Ford. I actually interviewed him so I’ll post that interview here for you.

Impact: Ford Motor Company. As a leader in the automotive industry, Ford Motor Company has again stepped to the forefront with its support for and promotion of biodiesel. Ford undertook the task of designing, engineering and manufacturing its entire lineup of all-new Ford F-Series Super Duty trucks with the specific goal of supporting the use of B20 biodiesel blends for all its diesel customers, starting in 2011 and beyond. Ford’s investment into the intense research, development and testing efforts that led to that support are now signified by the silver B20 emblem that is proudly displayed on the side of every new Ford Super Duty diesel truck. Ford’s continued support has made a significant impact on the marketplace, instilling even greater consumer confidence in biodiesel.

You can listen to my interview with Adam here: Interview with Adam Gryglak

2011 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

Biodiesel Conference Panel On Government Policy

NBC Panel DiscussionDuring the second general session at the National Biodiesel Conference we heard about the role of government policy in advancing biodiesel from a panel of experts.

Participating on the panel were moderator Shelby Neal – National Biodiesel Board; Eric Bowen – Renewable Energy Group Inc./California Biodiesel Alliance Chairman; Ed Hegland – Minnesota Soybean Research and Promotion Council/NBB Past Chairman; Steven Levy – Sprague Energy; Rebecca Richardson – MARC-IV and Ben Wootton – Keystone Biofuels, Inc.

You can listen to the panel discussion here: Panel Discussion on Govt. Policy

2011 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

NBB Chairman Very Upbeat

Gary HaerThis morning the Chairman of the National Biodiesel Board, Gary Haer, REG, took to the stage. I spoke with him before the general session started and he says that everyone is upbeat here at the conference and excited about the prospects in 2011.

He says the RFS provides a demand that biodiesel will fill as the only advanced biofuel. He also says that NBB will be working on getting the tax credit back since it complements the RFS.

You can listen to my interview with Gary here: Interview with Gary Haer

You can listen to Gary’s speech here: Gary Haer Remarks

2011 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

New Products In Biodiesel Vehicle Showcase

Biodiesel Vehicle ShowcaseDuring the National Biodiesel Conference some of the latest biodiesel powered vehicles are on display inside the trade show. Like last year, a presentation was made that included comments from various auto company and vehicle representatives.

Pictured is Joe Jobe, CEO, NBB, welcoming everyone to the showcase. I’ve got photos of the vehicles on display in the photo album. Emceeing the event was Jennifer Weaver, NBB OEM Outreach and Education Program.

You can listen to the full presentation from the vehicle showcase here: : Biodiesel Vehicle Showcase

2011 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

Skeptic Publisher Keynotes Biodiesel Conference

Biodiesel Conference PanelBe skeptical of phony “science.” Good advice and I wish more people who take it, especially when it comes to biofuels and issues like climate change. Today’s National Biodiesel Conference keynote speaker provided lots of examples of how people are easily fooled. He was Michael Shermer, Skeptic Magazine.

After the session I spoke with Michael and asked him to summarize a key point he made in his comments about the danger of making governmental decisions that will profoundly impact our economy when it comes to things like climate change and carbon footprinting. He says that we can know that the Earth is getting warmer and that sea levels have risen but after that the data gets so fuzzy and the “error bars” get so wide it’s not practical to make political decisions. As he puts it, “It’s reasonable to be skeptical.”

You can listen to my interview with Michael here: Interview with Michael Shermer

2011 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

Biodiesel Conference Petroleum Panel

Biodiesel Conference PanelMaybe this will become a tradition. At this year’s National Bioediesel Conference we got a repeat of last year’s petroleum industry experts panel. Included this year are Ron Marr – Minnesota Soybean Processors; David Blatnik – Marathon Petroleum Company; John Cusick – Morgan Stanley Capital Group.; Bruce Heine – Magellan Midstream Partners; Jim Lelio – Kinder Morgan Pipeline Group and C. Mike Reed – NIC Holding Corp.

I would love to summarize their discussion but I’m also taking photos today along with some other duties like the Biodiesel Conference Blog so I’ll let you listen in: Petroleum Industry Panel Discussion

2011 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

Opening Remarks – Joe Jobe at Biodiesel Conference

John HeishorfferThe opening general session of the National Biodiesel Conference is now taking place and NBB CEO Joe Jobe just left the stage. Joe gave us a rousing opening speech and I’ve recorded it for you so that you can listen or download below.

Joe says the conference will rock and he hopes that all the attendees will have opportunities to conduct some real business as we look at an optimistic year for the industry. He pledges to use all resources to get the biodiesel tax credit extended this year.

You can listen Joe’s opening remarks here: Opening Comments - Joe Jobe

2011 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

National Biodiesel Conference Photos

Joe JobeAfter the opening Super Bowl Party at the National Biodiesel Conference we had music on stage from Emily Richards and Jason Brock, long time attendees and performers. Joining them were several members of the Biodiesel Jam Band. Here’s NBB CEO Joe Jobe with Scottie Nisula on guitar. We had a number of other folks join in on stage too.

I’ve now got a photo album started which I’ll be adding to during the convention. Our opening general session is about to start so I’ve got to get over there. I’ll be doing some posts afterward that will include audio from the session. Check back here often for updates.

Post Update: Check out what you missed on stage last night in the video.

2011 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album