I’m in the market for a new car and one of the areas I have been researching is hybrids. The question: to buy or not to buy a hybrid? I came across this infographic developed by Auto Pawn, that tells the tale of two cars: hybrid versus non-hybrid.
While many factors are considered, one that is not is if the driver is using an alternative fuel such as biodiesel, ethanol, compressed natural gas, propane, etc. Click here for a link to the full graphic.
While I still haven’t decided what new car I’m going to drive home soon, this information is definitely worth mulling over….
Last week the biofuel industry took a hit when Florida voted to repeal its Renewable Fuel Standard, HB4001, that required fuel retailers to blend ethanol into their gasoline. The charge against ethanol was led by Florida Senator Greg Evers, who represents Escambia County, which happens to be the largest receiver of BP oil spill funds in the state. In fact, the same week HB4001 was passed, the county was one of the first to receive approximately $56 million to go toward restoration projects. Apparently, oil “balls” are still washing up on shore.
Escambia County receives its BP funds….ethanol gets squashed.
I think not.
Let’s take a closer look at the correlation between state Renewable Fuel Standards and ethanol. In states that have a robust oil industry, Texas, Alaska, California, North Dakota, and New Mexico, combined with the state that has several oil refineries, Louisiana, with the exception of California, none of these states have Renewable Fuel Standards. While California has tried to move away from oil with its low carbon fuel standard, it was ruled unconstitutional. Although the legislation is temporarily moving forward, the oil industry is hoping to get another win when the roll-out is halted.
One could argue that when looking at states with the most ethanol production: Iowa, Minnesota, Illinois, Nebraska, and Indiana, you’d think there would be state renewable fuel standards in place. But this is not the case. With the exception of Minnesota, which has a biodiesel mandate, these states have tax incentives for production, but no mandates for use at the pump. They don’t seem to need them. Residents of these states appear to take advantage of choice at the pump (and support home grown fuels).
If there is catastrophic oil crisis, Americans in Midwestern states would be driving long after those in states heavily reliant on straight gas at the pump. In fact, Iowa produces enough ethanol and biodiesel each year to fuel 100 percent of its vehicles plus still have fuel to export.
Common sense should tell us to go the way of the Midwest, but when it comes to logic this country seems fresh out and no one wants to pay the money during a recession for a clue. Read the rest of this post…
It wasn’t that long ago that Europe was a champion of biofuels, in particular, biodiesel, as just a few years ago the continent adopted a policy of having 10 percent of transportation fuels come from renewable sources, including biofuels. This boosted biodiesel demand, coupled with favorable tax laws and the popularity of diesel vehicles. This piece in Public Service Europe says that when cheaper imported vegetable oils replaced European biofuels crops, there was pushback that was unfounded and really amounted to trade protections for Europeans, and now the continent is moving to a 5 percent usage level … basically where it stands today. But the article says it’s not too late for Europe to re-reconsider its biofuels policy:
Therefore, with this cap, the EU endangers – or reinterprets – its own 10 per cent target leaving the status quo, conventional oil, as the biggest winner. And it strikes a blow to equity and development. Shall we continue to import oil from rich countries so they can become richer rather than taking the opportunity to import biofuels from poor countries? Wild, rapid policy shifts like this have costs. They disrupt markets, stifle innovation and undermine the EU’s credibility. Read the rest of this post…
Biodiesel is an EPA-designated advanced biofuel that’s made from an array of resources including waste fats and greases and agricultural oils. For the past two years, our industry has exceeded national targets and produced more than one billion gallons annually of clean, renewable fuel.
With production plants in nearly every state, the industry’s success is creating thousands of jobs in communities across the country. Furthermore, biodiesel often saves consumers money. This week, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus testified on Capitol Hill about one Naval facility saving 13 cents a gallon by purchasing 20% biodiesel blends for its heating oil, for a total reduction of some $30,000 for the winter.
Most importantly, however, the Renewable Fuel Standard is good policy because it is working to address the fact that our transportation fuel supply, which drives our economy, is reliant on a single source.
Jobe goes on to say that the price of petroleum is not based on supply and demand factors in the U.S., but on economic and political factors in “unstable and hostile regions of the world.” And he says this will continue, even if there is more domestic production of petroleum. He adds that diversifying into renewable fuels, such as biodiesel, will break the addiction and risk of having petroleum as a single transportation fuel source.
I have this urge to travel to Morocco if nothing for the sheer desire to re-enact Casablanca as Ilsa Lund, played by Ingrid Bergman. (Who wants to come along and play my husband Victor Laszlo played by Paul Henreid and Rick Blaine, played by Humphrey Bogart? Apply to @jmschroeder) While many people will be mumbling to themselves this is the stupidest idea they have ever heard, I now have a better reason to go: Morocco was one of the major cities selected to host major environmental events to celebrate Earth Day. Who knew that Morocco and the environment go together like Pringles and applesauce (Try it; it’s tasty!).
Rabat, the country’s capital was one of six cities around the world representing Global Earth Day for its environmental initiatives. For instance, Morocco has launched a $9 billion project to harness the Sahara sun; the solar farm is expected to supply 42 percent of its power by 2020. His Majesty King Mohammed VI, one of Green Morocco’s strongest advocates, has launched a project to plant a million palm trees by 2015. He has also directed creation of a national agency for the development and safeguarding of oases zones and Argan trees across the country.
In fact, back in 2010, then EPA Administer Lisa Jackson praised Morocco as a model for “its commitment to a clean, green economy.” She also praised Morocco’s leadership on the environment and sustainable development and noted that their projects offer a great example for how sustainable ideas can be spread around the globe.
Leading up to Earth Day, the city held dozens of events including environmental awareness workshops, seminars and presentations on innovative, environmentally friendly technologies. On April 22nd, Morocco unveiled its “National Charter for the Environment and Sustainable Development,” the first of its kind in Africa and the Arab and Muslim work, according to Earth Day Network President Kathleen Rogers. As part of this charter, 10 major new environmental projects were announced ranging from preserving ecosystems to environmental education in schools to fighting desertification to establishing rural development through environmental programs.
Today is the Day of Global Celebration and internationally known musician Seal, along with Nobel Prize winner Wangari Maathai as well as other celebrities joined Moroccans for Earth Day celebrations and asked the country to support the commitment for a Green Morocco.
I’m ready to celebrate a Green Morocco. I’m just going to arrive circa 1942 style.
Posted by John Davis – April 1st, 2013
If you’re looking to put your money in renewable energy, this might be the time to look at investing in biodiesel. Ron Kotrba from Biodiesel Magazine outlines his 11 reasons, with good sources for each reason, why the green fuel might be paying back in greenbacks:
1. Jump in on a growing market: The U.S. biodiesel industry is poised for its most profitable, successful year yet in 2013 with expected record-breaking production volumes thanks in part to the increased federal biomass-based diesel requirement of 1.28 billion gallons (28 percent higher than 2012), the $1 per gallon tax credit and rebounding D4 RIN prices…
2. Sustainable 10-year growth plan: IHS Global Insight conducted a modeling report for the National Biodiesel Board to help guide EPA with its yearly biodiesel RVO under RFS2 and, in the modeling report, the group determined that there will be enough feedstock available to reach 3.3 billion gallons of U.S. biodiesel production by 2022.
3. The National Biodiesel Board unveiled a new industry target in February 2013, named 10×22, an aggressive but achievable goal that calls for biodiesel to make up 10 percent of the U.S. diesel fuel supply by 2022.
4. Engine makers support biodiesel, why not you? All major OEMs producing diesel vehicles for the U.S. market support at least B5 and lower blends and 79 percent of U.S. manufacturers now support B20 or higher biodiesel blends in at least some of their equipment.
5. No blend wall here: While the ethanol industry struggles with hitting its blend wall, biodiesel penetration in the 2012 U.S. diesel fuel supply was only 1.9 percent. Given that all major OEMs support B5, achieving a 5 percent biodiesel penetration rate would mean nearly 3 billion gallons of biodiesel production (almost three times greater than 2012 production volumes)…
He goes on to make other points about how the EPA sees biodiesel as reducing greenhouse gases from 50 to 80 percent, the quality of the green fuel just keeps getting better and how the biodiesel industry supports up to 83,000 jobs in this country, among the many other good reasons Ron finds to put your money on biodiesel this year.
Remember the days when the ethanol industry was growing like gangbusters? And then the industry was hit with overblown concerns that are still prevailing such as “food versus fuel,” “land use” and environmental concerns relating to just how much greenhouse gas reductions biofuels offer as compared to traditional petroleum fuels. Then the recession took down ethanol plants, companies and consumers alike, and yet the ethanol industry still bounced back. Not enough hardship? Que last summer’s drought. Once again the ethanol industry took another hit and with this, the rural communities where most ethanol facilities are located, have begun to struggle as well.
The New York Times is remembering ethanol’s past and looking to ethanol’s future in its article, “Days of Promise Fade for Ethanol.” With nearly 10 percent of the plants idled and ethanol storage nearing capacity due to a drop in gasoline use, the Times is asking the question of whether ethanol’s light has faded. While the industry admits times have been challenging, Todd Sneller, with the Nebraska Ethanol Board (NEB), says in the article that the industry remains optimistic that technological innovations and sound public policy will keep the industry afloat.
So what would happen to consumers across America if the ethanol industry fades away? One doesn’t have to live in a rural community to feel the impact if such a situation were to occur. Gas prices would go up. The country would need to increase its dependence on oil with all the problems that brings. People who were able to live and work in their hometowns will leave for jobs in larger communities with higher living expenses and less pay. Local, rural businesses will shut down. Homes will be shuttered.
Is ethanol’s light truly fading? Not if the industry can help it. The biofuel industry brings good paying jobs to rural areas across the country. Ethanol both extends the gas supply and lowers prices at the pump. Ethanol is a proven environmental asset for the transportation sector. Ethanol and the ethanol industry has other benefits as well. Yet why don’t people around the country or other know this? Because the industry doesn’t do a good enough job of telling its story in visually compelling ways. Where are the faces of ethanol? Are you one? Get involved, tell us your story. The industry needs to be heard so it’s light keeps shining strong.
To those who think there’s not enough diesel-capable vehicles out there to help boost biodiesel’s demand, our friends over at the Biodiesel Magazine blog say that’s just not true. Ron Kotrba writes that while he’d like to see more diesel engines on the road, the current group of them out there is more than enough to put up big numbers for the green fuel… if they all would just use it.
But the fact is, according to the Energy Information Administration, in 2012 the U.S. consumed 57.5 billion gallons of diesel fuel (excluding jet fuel). If you assume the U.S. EPA’s 2012 biodiesel production figures of 1.1 billion gallons are accurate, and if you further assume that the entirety of that production was consumed in the U.S., then biodiesel penetration in the diesel fuel pool comes in at a meager 1.9 percent.
With up to 5 percent allowance in ASTM D975 and D396 (diesel fuel and heating oil specs, respectively) without labeling, there’s still plenty of room to grow just to reach a 5 percent penetration rate—in the existing consumption model that consists mostly of heavy-duty applications.
To reach B5 saturation, this would require 2.874 billion gallons of biodiesel, nearly three times the production achieved last year, and significantly more than twice the 1.28 billion gallons the RFS2 requires this year.
Kotrba goes on to say that if all the heavy-duty vehicles in the country become B20 compatible, that would see biodiesel consumption jump to 11.5 billion gallons of use each year … 10 times the current levels.
There is definitely a need for more ethanol education in Tennessee. I was recently traveling in the state and heard several radio commercials boasting about selling gas with no ethanol. Interestingly, all the reasons not to use ethanol, according to the radio ads, are exactly the reasons why drivers can use ethanol.
Here is a picture of a gas station, Honey’s Market, in Crossville, Tennessee that has signs around the station featuring its “ethanol-free” fuel. Ironically, this station also boasts that it is “American owned”.
I find several things interesting. First is that ethanol was used in the original Model T’s that were driving on the roads more than 100 years ago. And ethanol, specifically E15, is the most tested fuel in American history.
So how does a fuel like ethanol remain a fuel choice for more than 100 years if it is so harmful? If that were the case, than how has oil remained a fuel choice for more than 100 years?
Second, being an “American” owned station who only sells petroleum fuels seem counter to what an American owned station should be selling – American made fuel. How easy we forget what are troops are protecting in the Middle East.
Obviously this is just my opinion and many of you will find the same questions interesting and some of you will side with the retail station not selling ethanol-blended fuels. Bring on the debate, bring on change.
Ugh! I filled up my “economical” car today with gas for the low price of $41! It would have cost even more but I used ethanol, which in Iowa saves me nearly 10 cents a gallon. What I find so amazing is that we’re supposed to have so much oil, yet strangely despite a “surplus,” gas prices keep getting higher and higher. So what am I going to do about this? I’m heading to D.C. to participate in the American Coalition for Ethanol’s (ACE) Biofuels Beltway Fly-in.
In case you haven’t heard, I’m on a mission for lower prices at the pump and I know that consumer fuel choice will provide this. So does ACE. I also know that every voice counts and our elected leaders in D.C. need to hear them. So does ACE.
There is a lot on the line for the biofuels industry this year. There are well-funded attacks underway against the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and E15. These are two issues the ACE team, along with dozens of people from across the country will be speaking with the DC faction about, in their own words, telling their own stories.
“With nearly 100 new members of Congress taking office earlier this year, many with little exposure to ethanol, we need ethanol advocates in Washington more than ever,” says Shannon Gustafson, director of strategic projects for ACE. “The attacks on the RFS and E15 have been mounting, and ACE hopes to meet with a record number of Congressional offices to spread the message that the RFS is working and promoting consumer fuel choice.”
But the industry can’t do this if there is not a swarm of people on the ground in D.C. We need LOTS of people to come along and tell their stories of how the biofuels industry has affected them. I am challenging the industry to have at least one ethanol advocate from every state – yeah, that means you too Alaska and Hawaii, to join ACE and others in DC this March 13-14th. To date, there are 20 people registered from Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri and Nebraska. This is a good start but this industry can do MUCH better.
The time to register is now. To participate, visit www.ethanol.org, or contact Shannon Gustafson at (605) 334-3381 ext. 16 or via email.
I was recently forwarded an opinion piece on how to promote biofuels and it struck a cord with me. In June 2011, I published an article in Industrial Biotechnology called “Back to basics: Redefining the biotechnology message.” In it, I said the current messages weren’t working – especially when tied to climate change where public opinion is slipping.
The opinion piece, “How to properly promote biofuels,” was authored by Alkol Bioenergy and focused on a new TV advertising campaign running in Brazil. The campaign was developed for UNICA (Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association) and featured images of ethanol being cool and sexy. The op-ed piece points out that this is very different from what is being done in Europe and the USA.
“Truth is that facts such as job creation, national security, global warming, etc., have never proved their value, as they all depend on a previous knowledge about socioeconomic issues people are unaware of or simply do not care, ignoring instead the real motivations for people using something new,” is written in the piece.
While I agree to some level, I do still feel that job creation and economic security are two reasons that work for some, more specifically those who are well-informed about the issues such as our readers. Where I think the messages still struggle is with the average person, who doesn’t really, truly understand why biofuels, or renewable energy or sustainability in particular, is important.
Let me give you an example of what is happening in China. Several years ago there were articles citing the sale of fake solar panels. But the solar panels were not sold and installed only to discover they never worked; they were never intended to work. They were designed to increase a buyer ‘s social standing in the community who couldn’t afford real solar panels. In China, those who had solar panels on their homes are better respected and maintain a higher social status than those who don’t.
So why aren’t Americans or Europeans, or others in any other country given more respect when they adopt renewable energy or sustainability initiatives? Because in many cases, these early adopters were/are seen as snobs, I am better than you, rather than as leaders of a movement. And this, I think is key. We need to make renewable energy cool and we need to make renewable energy for everyone. And this lies the point of the editorial, where I wholeheartedly agree, biofuels need to be seen as cool, as the UNICA ad portrays. As Gareth Kane wrote in “Green Jujitsu,” we need to make renewable energy and environmental consciousness sexy.
President Barack Obama has been elected to a second term to lead the United States. While not clairvoyant, I suspect the defining turn in support for Obama was the convergence of hurricane Sandy and Mayor Michael Bloomberg throwing his support behind Obama with the statement that he is the climate change President. If he is in fact the president for climate change, this should mean positive things for renewable energy. But for this to happen, all of our national and state leaders will need to be climate change leaders.
On the heels of the President Obama’s winning speech, many in the renewable energy industry, such as the National Corn Growers Association, lauded his win and called for the continuation of the path toward change that would lead to energy independence.
“The ethanol industry appreciates the support of President Obama and his administration over the last four years and we look forward to furthering our work with them, continuing to produce a cleaner burning, home-grown renewable fuel,” said Tom Buis, CEO for Growth Energy. He added that his organization is looking forward to working with the president, his administration and Congress in a bipartisan manner to help expand access for biofuels.
POET’s CEO Jeff Lautt said in a statement that his company felt that the role of renewable energy was evident throughout the election and he is optimistic for the future of the biofuels industry. “As President Obama noted this fall, ‘Biofuels are an important part of reducing America’s dependence on foreign oil and creating jobs here at home.’ I look forward to continued support for the Renewable Fuel Standard to ensure that more and more drivers have access to clean fuel produced here in the United States,” he added.
It’s going to take more than industry associations and alternative energy companies to work for success. It will also take consumer organizations rising up from local communities to spur change and the first step in this is better energy and climate education for all Americans (yes, our country is full of energy and environmental illiterate citizens). There’s a lot to do. Let’s get back to work.
This week I read Clean Energy Nation by Congressman Jerry McNerny and Martin Cheek. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I found myself likening the book to the classic Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. Subconsciously I think it was because one of the recurring themes in Brave New World, first published in 1932, is the Fordship’s desire, after Our Ford ‘s first T-Model,” for its citizens to “consume manufactured articles as well as transport.” Ironically, a portion of Huxley’s predictions came true – globally, people have been conditioned to consume both manufactured items and transportation. It is expected that by 2020 or so, there will be two billion cars on the road.
Clean Energy Nation is like most other energy books and begins with a history lesson about energy with special attention paid to the use and development of fossil fuels. In the words of the New World controller, “…you all remember, I suppose, that beautiful and inspired saying of Our Ford’s: History is bunk. History,” he repeated slowly, ‘is bunk’.” While history is not bunk, as a global population we seem to think that it is, and it bears saying that recurrent energy history lessons are much needed.
The next section of the book delves into America’s energy issues and covers all the usual suspects including national security, environment, economy, agriculture, public health, education, and good government. (Or in the case of the U.S., bad government. Since 1973, the U.S. Department of Energy has missed 34 deadlines to set mandatory energy standards.). Finally, the book gets into a discussion about America’s energy future.
The presidential election is less than two weeks away and although the candidates have discussed energy, neither has debated over the right strategy for global climate change. Our legislators also typically fail to consider the consequences of actions they endorse. Therefore, according to Public Agenda, if the country hopes to move the needle on important issues, such as energy, voters need to understand what’s really at stake.
Issue one: according to research, nearly half of all Americans cannot identify a renewable energy source and almost 4 in 10 cannot name a fossil fuel. So for those ready to learn something new, or just want to rethink the issues surrounding energy policy, Public Agenda has released an interesting free guide, “A Citizens Solutions Guide Energy.”
I found the guide interesting. It establishes where the globe is at today and what global energy needs are predicted to be in the future. Then it discusses “things we do know”. This includes: the U.S. population is growing and the country’s energy consumption is growing as well; world energy demand is expected to increase by nearly 40 percent; most of our energy, 83 percent, comes from fossil fuels; and renewable energy has serious fiscal drawbacks – and we’re nowhere near ready to depend on it at a substantial level.
The guide provides energy tradeoffs, but I did note the only category with costs was renewables. Despite the fact that petroleum, natural gas, nuclear and coal have been around for decades, there is still a costs associated with them. Keep this in mind moving forward. The guide presents three possible approaches to consider and include arguments for and against each approach:
Approach 1: Move away from fossil fuels as quickly and as safely as we can. This will protect the environment and in the long run will give us cheaper and more reliable energy sources.
Approach 2: Make sure we have enough affordable energy now to support our economy and ensure our energy security.
Approach 3: Move toward a more energy efficient society.
While I agree with much of the information provided in the area, there are also areas I don’t agree with. But this is good because the guide achieved its goal – made me think more intelligently and in-depth about energy policy. Let’s hope I don’t forget what I’ve learn before I hit the polls.
For those of you who watched the second debate between Governor Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama, you’ll have heard something that hasn’t come out of the mouth of a presidential candidate in quite some time: ethanol. During discussion on energy policy, candidates typically use the term biofuels – a seemingly less taboo word as criticism surrounds “ethanol”.
How much of the energy debate did you understand? Quite a bit if you read this blog and are an energy enthusiast like myself. However, I suspect, and I’m not alone, that the average American is bordering on energy illiterate.
Cassidy & Associates have a question themselves: do voters know the difference between renewable energy and fossil fuel? A new infographic show that Americans might be running on empty when it comes to basic facts relating energy and illustrates clear partisan perspectives on its production.
“There’s no election season gimmickry here. This should be a splash of cold water reality to boardrooms across America especially as Washington looks to smarter energy investments that deliver the best results for tax-payer dollars,” mused Cassidy & Associates CEO Gerry Cassidy when posting news of the new InfoGraphic to his LinkedIn profile.
Running on Empty pulls together information gathered from studies and polls from nonpartisan organizations such as Public Agenda and the Associated Press.
Cassidy added, “The uncertainty of understanding beyond the Beltway on this, and other priority issues, should be an abrupt reminder that managing your Washington risk has never been more important and the only successful way to do that is to be fully engaged in the public policy process.”