DOE Finds Ethanol Pipeline Feasible

A pipeline for ethanol from the Midwest to the East Coast is a viable project, if certain conditions are met, according to a report by the Department of Energy (DOE).

In the report titled “Dedicated Ethanol Pipeline Feasibility Study,” which was required under the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, DOE concludes that “in spite of the documented challenges and risks, a profitable, dedicated ethanol pipeline is feasible under certain scenarios. A pipeline would enhance the fuels delivery infrastructure, reduce congestion of rail, truck, and barge transportation, and would reduce greenhouse gas emissions when compared to current delivery methods. The faster product delivery cycles, more reliable delivery schedules, and increased safety will enhance the flexibility to accommodate any significant expansions in ethanol production and demand in the future.”

One of the challenges is that the pipeline, at a projected cost of $4.25 billion, would need to transport 4.1 billion gallons of ethanol each year over its 40-year lifespan to be economically feasible without “major financial incentives.” That volume exceeds projected demand in the target East Coast service area by 1.3 billion gallons.

Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Congressman Leonard Boswell (D-IA) suggest that the pipeline could be developed with federal support in the form of a loan guarantee. “By providing federal loan guarantees for biofuels’ pipelines, we can attract private investment in large infrastructure development projects, create good-paying jobs and further move our nation towards energy independence and security, and all with minimal taxpayer investment,” Harkin says. Boswell, who authored the Renewable Fuel Pipeline Act of 2010, says the pipeline would have significant benefits. “In addition to reducing greenhouse gases emitted during truck and rail transport of biofuels, it would also reduce the overall cost of these renewable fuels to consumers outside of the Midwest,” he said.

Ethanol producer POET and Magellan Midstream Partners, which have formed a partnership to look into building such an ethanol pipeline, were pleased with the government report. “While our project differs from the hypothetical project considered within DOE’s study, we believe the DOE’s conclusions are directionally correct: a large scale pipeline project is feasible under certain conditions and that a federal loan guarantee is necessary to move forward,” reads a joint press release from the companies. “In addition, the DOE confirms that transporting energy via pipelines has multiple benefits such as reducing congested highway and rail systems while reducing green house gas emissions when compared to other modes of transportation.”

The POET/Magellan project is based on a smaller capital cost of $3.55 billion and similar demand.

POET Aquires Indiana Ethanol Plant

POET announced today the purchase of a 90 million gallon-per-year ethanol plant located just outside Cloverdale, Ind. and previously operated by Altra Biofuels.

Making the announcement from the Renewable Energy Finance Forum in New York, POET CEO Jeff Broin said this will be POET’s fourth ethanol plant in Indiana and 27th facility nationwide, bringing the company’s annual ethanol production capacity to 1.7 billion gallons per year. “We have been looking at potential acquisitions for some time,” Broin said. “This plant, in this community, will be a perfect fit for what we do at POET.”

This is the first acquisition for the company since their original plant back in 1987, the rest were built by POET from the ground up. POET will install the company’s proprietary process technology and improve the original plant design. The approximately $30 million in upgrades include BPX, POET’s patent-pending fermentation process which uses enzymes instead of heat, reducing energy use by 10-15 percent. In addition, POET will install a water recovery system and new pollution control equipment. POET expects to reopen the plant in 8-9 months.

Listen to the press conference with Jeff Broin here: POET CEO Jeff Broin on Indiana Ethanol Plant Acquisition

Ethanol Awards and Scholarships Presented

FEW 2010Two current ethanol industry leaders and two potential leaders of the future received recognition at the 2010 Fuel Ethanol Workshop in St. Louis this week.

The High Octane Award for helping the ethanol industry mature and progress over the years was presented this year to Jeff Broin, CEO of Poet (pictured), while the research and technology Award of Excellence was given to Gunter Brodl, president of Vogelbusch USA. (The photo is courtesy of POET and you can see a video of Broin receiving his award on the POET blog, Rhapsody in Green.)

Two 2010 Kathy Bryan Memorial Scholarships were awarded this year to the children of ethanol plant employees, selected from more than 100 applicants representing 52 ethanol plants. The $2500 scholarships went to Mary Krull, the daughter of Peter Krull, a plant manager at Valero Renewables-Albert City, Iowa, and Nicholas Ballard, the son of Kim Ballard, a process operator at Big River Resources LLC, Galva, Ill.

POET Finds Cellulosic Ethanol Cuts Emissions by 111 Percent

A new independent lifecycle analysis released today by ethanol producer POET finds that cellulosic ethanol could cut greenhouse gas emissions by 111 percent over gasoline.

FEW 2010POET CEO Jeff Broin presented the results of the analysis at the 2010 Fuel Ethanol Workshop in St. Louis on Tuesday. The analysis specifically studied ethanol produced by Project LIBERTY, POET’s first planned commercial cellulosic ethanol plant, and shows that it actually has negative emissions by offsetting more greenhouse gas emissions than it produces.

“Not only is cellulosic ethanol a clean and safe alternative fuel, in cases such as Project LIBERTY, it can literally reverse some of the effects of our nation’s dependence on fossil energy such as oil,” POET CEO Jeff Broin said. “By expanding the number of sources for ethanol production, the entire nation can contribute to helping our nation’s economy, security and environment through alternative fuel production.”

The lifecycle analysis tracks the emissions of ethanol production from “field to tank.” It includes emissions from planting and harvest, feedstock transportation, conversion to ethanol, waste products, co-products and transportation of the ethanol. It also includes Environmental Protection Agency calculations for changes in land use and effects on agriculture inputs.

Read more about the announcement here.

Domestic Fuel reporter Joanna Schroeder interviewed Broin immediately after he made his announcement – listen to or download that interview below.

Fuel Ethanol Workshop photo album

Ethanol Testimony at Farm Bill Hearing

A House Agriculture Committee field hearing in South Dakota on the 2012 Farm Bill featured a lot of testimony about ethanol.

POET Scott WeishaarPOET Vice President for Commercial Development Scott Weishaar testified that the ethanol industry has become a legitimate threat to Big Oil and Washington deserves credit for envisioning that future when it created positive policies such as the Renewable Fuels Standard.

“With your help, we can continue this progress,” he said. “We have the natural resources, the ingenuity and the technology to reach our nation’s goal of 36 billion gallons of renewable fuel produced per year by the year 2022.”

He specifically asked the lawmakers to take four actions will help achieve that goal:

1. Increase the base blend allowed in today’s standard vehicles from 10 percent to 15 percent ethanol.
2. Mandate that all new vehicles purchased in the U.S. are flex fuel.
3. Provide incentives for installation of blender pumps, which can dispense a wide range of ethanol blends and allow greater choice for consumers.
4. Support cellulosic development through loan guarantees, a long-term extension of the cellulosic ethanol tax credit and incentives for farmers to offset risk in providing new biomass feedstock.

A panel of farmers at the hearing also stressed the need for actions to keep the ethanol industry growing in the United States. Gary Duffy, president of the South Dakota Corn Growers Association, said, “Along with renewing VTEEC, overcoming the blend wall is critically needed to create new markets and providing jobs across Rural America.” Growers Rod Gangwish of Shelton, Neb. and Steve Mast of S.D., also mentioned the need for continuing the tax incentives and increasing the blend rate.

Approximately 175 members of the agriculture community from South Dakota and surrounding states attended the hearing, which was hosted by Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin. Opening statements from the hearing can be found on the House Agriculture Committee website.

Biofuels Digest Names Top Twitterati

Biofuels Digest has named the top 20 “biofuels observers who are shaping opinion via Twitter.”

Some of the top names in the industry are on this list that Biofuels Digest calls “the leading practitioners of the art – the Twitterati that are shaping the biofuels landscape with their bursts of 140-character or less messages – sometimes as many as 50 or more per day to hundreds , thousands, or tens of thousands of followers.”

Here’s the list:

1. Vinod Khosla – writing as vkhosla – 31454 followers – 65 tweets
2. Solazyme – writing as SOlazyme – 8968 followers – 785 tweets
3. Robert White (RFA) – writing as fuelinggood – 4490 followers – 5421 tweets
4. Green Portland Info – writing as Green Posting – 4170 followers – 972 tweets
5. Renewable Energy World – writing as REWorld – 3619 followers – 2355 tweets
6. Missy Ruff – writing as renewablefuel – 2,839 followers – 4,063 tweets
7. Chuck Zimerman & AgWired – writing as AgriBlogger – 2,135 followers – 6,847 tweets
8. Sean O’Hanlon (ABC executive director) writing as Sean_OHanlon – 1244 followers – 1761 tweets
9. Ashley Morrison – writing as EthanolFuel from Omaha, NE – 1,034 followers
10. RFA – 1,134 followers – 1709 tweets
11. AlgaeBiofuels – 863 followers – 16,374 tweets
12. Peter Went – writing as Energy_Risk – 719 followers – 11,855 tweets
13. Todd Neeley – writing as ethreporter – 688 followers 1129 tweets
14. Domestic Fuel – writing as DomesticFuel – 500 followers – 2078 tweets
15. Bob Dinneen (RFA) writing as ethanolbob – 421 followers -571 tweets
16. ACE – writing as blend_ethanol from Sioux Falls, SD 388 followers
17. Meghan Sapp – writing as SugarcaneBlog – 379 followers – 1150 tweets
18. POET Ethanol – Writing as ethanolbyPOET – 336 followers – 487 tweets
19. Matt Hartwig (RFA) – writing as matthartwig – 246 followers – 401 tweets
20. Todd Taylor – writing as cleamtechczar – 216 followers – 624 tweets

Growth Energy Pleased With Obama Visit to Ethanol Plant

obama buisGrowth Energy CEO Tom Buis gave President Obama a big hug after his speech at the POET ethanol plant in Macon, Missouri on Wednesday.

“It’s a great honor to have the president of the United States come out to an ethanol plant and demonstrate again his long support for production of renewable fuels,” Buis said in an interview with Domestic Fuel at the event. “He again reiterated this nation continues to face economic challenges based on our addiction to foreign oil and we need to produce renewable fuels here in America and that’s a powerful message from the most powerful person in the world.”

Buis also talked about the recently introduced Growth Energy advertising campaign for ethanol and reaction they have received to it. “The feedback has been very positive,” he said, noting that ethanol needed some visibility on national television next to the other sources of energy that are advertised. “The old line is that if you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu and we wanted to be at the table and get the positive message out there.”

Listen to the interview with Tom Buis here:

POET Meets the Press

poet pressPOET CEO Jeff Broin was surrounded by the media Wednesday after President Obama made a visit to a POET ethanol plant in Macon, Missouri. It gave him an opportunity to address some of the criticism of ethanol regarding its impact on the environment.

“Today ethanol is 59 percent lower in lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions than gasoline and so it is far more environmentally friendly,” Broin responded to a reporter’s question. He talked about indirect land use change, cellulosic ethanol, increasing efficiency of ethanol plants and the ability of cars to run efficiently on higher blends of ethanol. “I personally own a flex-fuel vehicle that gets the same mileage on E30 as it gets on regular gasoline,” Broin said.

Although he admitted not having enough time with President Obama to talk extensively about issues facing the industry, Broin said he believes the president supports biofuels. “I think the president has been a true champion for biofuels,” said Broin. “He was when he was in Illinois, he seems to still be extremely supportive, the secretary of agriculture is very supportive and I think that we’ll continue to see the president be very supportive of biofuels.”

Here is an audio clip of Broin’s press meet, followed by an interview with Domestic Fuel’s Chuck Zimmerman.

President’s Ethanol Speech Lacks Substance

Ethanol producers and corn farmers who were hoping for President Obama to make a strong show of support for the ethanol industry when he appeared at a POET plant in Missouri on Wednesday were probably a little disappointed. Yes, he made the appearance and said that “renewable, homegrown fuels are a key part of our strategy for a clean energy future” – but that was about it.

The entire speech, minus introductions, was only 10 minutes long and most of it was spent talking about the economy. About three minutes were spent on what the administration has done to promote renewable energy with the economic recovery act, the Biofuels Working Group and the Navy using biofuel in a new jet. However, there was no mention at all of the top priorities for the ethanol industry – getting the tax incentives renewed and the E15 waiver approved. Without those actions, the future of the ethanol industry is questionable.

poet obamaThe president only used the word ethanol five times, but preferred the more generic “biofuels” which was used nine times. Once, when he strayed from his prepared remarks, he used the word “biodiesel” apparently by mistake, saying “I want us to be first when it comes to biodiesel and the technologies that are being developed in places like POET.”

It is also notable that the president did not even mention the word corn, even though he was standing next to a big front end loader filled with it. The word agriculture was used only in reference to the U.S. Secretary and state director of agriculture present at the event. Farmers were only referenced in terms of the “tough time” they were having “getting by” when he was running for office.

The good news is that POET president Jeff Broin did get a chance to speak briefly with the president about the industry’s concerns. “We talked about the fact that cellulosic ethanol had the potential to create hundreds of thousands of jobs and that there were some policy issues that are very important to move that forward, the first being the fact that today the market is full,” said Broin. “Basically ten percent ethanol is what’s allowed in gasoline today and we need to move that wall and open up the market.” However, Broin says he only had a limited amount of time to talk with the president and was not able to address the ethanol tax incentive issue, but he did discuss it with Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

One can be hopeful that meeting real workers with real jobs at a real ethanol plant in a small rural community made an impression on the president and he makes the connection between that and the need to provide real support to keep the industry growing.

Live Audio of President Speech at Ethanol Plant

We are going to try and bring you live audio of President Obama’s speech at the POET ethanol plant in Macon, Missouri via cell phone and Ustream since there is no good internet access at the site and aircards don’t work well for live broadcasts. Speech is scheduled to begin at 12:55 central time. Audio is not clear at all since Chuck has the phone sitting on a table and is unable to take photos and hold up the phone at the same time. We will have broadcast quality audio after the event.

Post Update: We hope you were able to listen in when President Obama made his remarks from the POET Biorefining plant today.

You can now listen to his remarks below.

President Obama Visiting POET Plant Today

Hello from POET Biorefining in Macon, MO. In just a few minutes President Obama will be here to speak. We have very limited access to the internet here.

I’ll create a photo album from the activities today and be posting audio of the President and video. That might have to wait until I get out and back to some good internet though.

Keep an eye on our Twitter feed too. I’ll be tweeting some more photos.

Sunny Day for Presidential Visit to Ethanol Plant

poet plantChuck Zimmerman with Domestic Fuel is set up in Macon, Missouri at the POET ethanol plant in advance of President Obama’s visit this afternoon. The press has to set up way early for the visit, which will take place at about 1:00 pm central time.

Chuck reports that the weather is gorgeous and there are lots of media on site for the event, from the major media outlets to local radio stations. You can follow his updates on our Twitter feed,

Ethanol Industry Welcomes President

Growth Energy Growth Energy is so excited to welcome President Obama to member plant POET–Biorefining in Macon, Mo., as part of his “White House to Main Street” tour they took out a full-page ad in Wednesday’s St. Louis Post-Dispatch to greet him.

Text of the ad reads: “The farmers, families, plant workers, local business owners and community members who make up Growth Energy are pleased to welcome President Obama to our member ethanol plant in Macon. President Obama’s support of our nation’s ethanol industry helps create U.S. jobs in hundreds of towns like Macon, while strengthening our energy independence and national security. Mr. President, from the people of Growth Energy, welcome to America’s heartland.”

The President is visiting the POET plant this afternoon to talk to workers and share his ideas for rebuilding our nation’s long-term economy. “We appreciate President Obama’s long-time support for ethanol, and we’re anxious to show him how efficient production today is providing valuable fuel for our nation,” POET CEO Jeff Broin said.

POET Biorefining – Macon was the first ethanol plant in Missouri when it began operations as a 15 million gallon-per-year plant in May 2000. Its success prompted an expansion in 2003 to a capacity of 46 million gallons annually. The plant also produces the high-protein animal feed Dakota Gold® dried distillers’ grains and carbon dioxide for market as part of the ethanol production process. The Macon plant was POET’s fifth in a network that now totals 26 ethanol plants in seven states.

Domestic Fuel will be on-site covering the event and may have live coverage here depending on internet access. Stay tuned.

POET Ups the Cellulosic Ethanol Ante

Jeff BroinThe largest ethanol producer in the world intends to be directly or indirectly responsible for the production of 3.5 billion gallons of cellulosic ethanol by 2022.

Speaking at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., POET CEO Jeff Broin said they have made enough progress on technology and feedstock development to break ground on their first cellulosic ethanol plant in Emmetsburg, Iowa later this year. “By 2022, POET plans to be responsible for 3.5 billion gallons of cellulosic ethanol production by adding the technology to our existing facilities, licensing our technology to other producers and finally, transferring our technology to other forms of biomass such as wheat straw, switchgrass and municipal waste,” Broin said. That volume would represent over 20 percent of the cellulosic ethanol mandated in the Renewable Fuel Standard.

Specifically, one billion gallons of production capacity will come from adding the technology to POET’s existing network of 26 corn-based ethanol plants, while licensing that technology to other corn-based ethanol producers would add another 1.4 billion gallons of production capacity. Another 1.1 billion gallons of production capacity will come from a wide variety of other feedstocks from across the U.S, either produced by POET or through joint ventures and opportunities where POET Biomass provides logistics support to other producers.

POET submitted its application for a loan guarantee with the U.S. Department of Energy to build the Emmetsburg plant. “If we get that favorable ruling, we told the DOE that we will start construction by the end of this year, which puts us on track to start up the facility in early 2012,” said Broin.