Light This Holiday Season with Luci

It is estimated 1.4 billion people, largely in developing communities, live without access to grid electricity. Across Sub-Saharan Africa, 90 million primary students are without electricity. And, each year, indoor pollution from dirty fuels results in four million deaths. To address this issue, the creators of Luci, MPOWERD, have partnered with FCB Garfinkel and the composers from Found Objects to shine a light on energy poverty in emerging countries. The collaborators have released a new animated video follows the journey of a young child and showcases how important access to energy is for his education and quality of life.

According to MPOWERD, Luci is an easy-to-use, high-quality solar lantern and task light that is lightweight, maintenance-free, safe and waterproof. It is a high-impact and low-footprint resource to increase access to reliable lighting across the globe.

Lee Garfinkel, CEO of FCB Garfinkel, said explaining energy poverty is tough when the public isn’t always aware of the problem. “The story of Kiama brings his daily struggle to life and, through the help of the Luci solar-powered light, illustrates how a simple idea can have an incredible impact.”

“Give Luci” tells the story of a boy named Kiama on his journey to and from school. Kiama, like many children, has big dreams. As Kiama heads home from school to have dinner with his family, he settles in but so does the sun. That causes Kiama’s world to go dark. Kiama’s lack of access to light means he, like millions of other children, cannot study at night or do his homework, which in turn dampens his dreams and his potential. That is, until Luci.

“We know that energy poverty is a topic that isn’t discussed very often,” added Scott Kling, President and COO of MPOWERD. “But making a big impact is easy. When people purchase even just one Luci light and gift it to someone in need, it can change the lives of a family of five and keep 320kg of CO2 out of the atmosphere annually.”

U.S. Renewable Energy Industry Ready to Step Up

A new goal was announced during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Beijing this week to double renewable energy in the 21 member economies by 2030. The renewable energy industry collectively came out and said they are ready to do their part. This new goal was a follow-up to last year’s commitment to encourage technology transfer and efforts to lower costs and attract private investment to the renewable energy industry.

“We appreciate the leadership that President Obama and the rest of these world leaders are showing on the critical task of rapidly scaling up low-carbon energy sources,” said Tom Kiernan, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association. “Here in America, according to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Wind Vision for the growth of our industry, we can quadruple wind power by 2030 and save consumers money doing it, if policymakers keep supporting state renewable standards and federal tax incentives to attract the necessary private investment.”

Linda Church Ciocci, executive director, National Hydropower Association said on behalf of the hydro electric industry, “Hydropower is poised for growth and ready to meet America’s renewable energy goals. From powering the 97 percent of the nation’s dams that remain unpowered to upgrading our existing facilities, opportunities exist to double hydropower’s contribution to the electricity grid, while strengthening our economy and providing more Americans access to clean, low-cost electricity.”

“GEA applauds the APEC goal of doubling renewable power,” added Karl Gawell, executive director, Geothermal Energy Association. “New geothermal power development underway in the U.S. and nearly all of the APEC countries will provide more than electricity, building thousands of megawatts of new geothermal power will spur economic growth, create new jobs and ensure environmental health for future generations.”

The highlight of the summit was a surprise negotiated emissions deal between the U.S. and China to curb climate change. The deal includes new targets for the U.S. and China to stop emission growth by 2030 and to create momentum around climate talks leading into the global climate conference taking place in Paris in 2015. Continue reading

RFA’s Geoff Cooper on Bobby Likis Show

likis-smallThe “Bobby Likis Car Clinic” featured Renewable Fuels Association Senior Vice President Geoff Cooper on show’s live globalcast this past Saturday, November 8.

Cooper addressed a variety of topics including the truth behind the fictional food vs. fuel argument, as well as the hot button issue of greenhouse gas – or GHG – emissions and the role ethanol plays in reducing their output into the ozone. Cooper will also share with Car Clinic audiences the benefits and the commercialization of cellulosic ethanol.

“RFA recently conducted a study that shows while corn prices have plummeted, food prices have remained steady or have risen,” said Cooper. “The petroleum industry would like to pin any increase in food prices on the ethanol industry when in fact it is oil that drives food prices.”

Listen to Cooper’s interview with Bobby here and watch the video below: Bobby Likis interviews RFA's Geoff Cooper

Propane Power for UPS

2014 World LP Gas Forum Photo Album

perc-wlpgf14-upsEarlier this year, the delivery giant UPS expanded commitment to propane by adding 1,000 propane delivery trucks and 50 fueling stations at UPS locations.

“It was the easiest alternative fuel they’ve ever transitioned into their fleet…the easiest installation of infrastructure of any alternative fuel,” said Michael Taylor, Autogas Business Director for the Propane Education and Research Council (PERC). The only complaint was that drivers said the new vehicles are “too quiet.”

perc-wlpgf-pachlaPowertrain Integration (PI) was the company that designed the propane autogas V8 packages that are being used in the new brown trucks and president Bob Pachla says UPS adopted the new propane technology very quickly. “Typically what they’ll do is put units into a fleet and test it and you’ll hear from them two or three years later,” said Pachla. “In this case, we put the fleet into production, 20 units, the fall of last year and they made the announcement this year to build a thousand UPS step vans.”

Taylor and Pachla discussed UPS and the propane powered engines at the recent World LP Gas Forum in Miami. Listen to them here and watch the video below: Propane Power for UPS

Fuels America Launches Pro Biofuels Campaign

Fuels America has launched a new TV and radio campaign thanking American renewable fuels supporters Minnesota Senator Al Franken, Minnesota Rep. Collin Peterson, Nebraska Rep. Lee Terry and Michigan Rep. Gary Peters for fighting for local jobs and working to end America’s reliance on foreign oil.

The ads, on the radio in Minnesota and in Michigan and on television in Nebraska, thank the elected officials for supporting the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), the policy that allows domestic renewable fuels to compete in the motor fuel market.

Ads include:

  • Michigan Statewide: Radio ad titled “Our Pockets” about Gary Peters’ support of the RFS and fight to break America’s addiction to foreign oil, and how the Koch Brothers and Big Oil have spent millions against Peters.
  • Minnesota Statewide: Radio ad titled “Next Caller” highlighting Senator Franken’s support of the RFS and his work pushing the Obama Administration to increase production of renewable fuels.
  • Minnesota’s 7th District: Radio ad titled “Change Course” highlighting Collin Peterson’s support for a strong RFS, reduced reliance on foreign oil, and a stronger rural economy.
  • Nebraska’s 2nd District: TV ad titled “Solution” highlighting Lee Terry’s support of the RFS.

DOE’s Moniz Congrats Abengoa on Cellulosic Plant

US Energy Secretary Ernst MonizDepartment of Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz was on hand to help Abengoa Bioenergy celebrate the grand opening of its cellulosic ethanol plant in Hugoton, Kansas. With a beautiful day and a full house, excitement was high as Moniz took the stage to congratulate Abengoa’s achievement.

The $500 million biorefinery was supported, in part, by a DOE loan guarantee. Moniz began his remarks by putting the bioenergy plant in perspective of the larger picture and that is as part of President Obama’s “all of the above” energy strategy.

Moniz said the cellulosic ethanol plant serves three major objectives:

  1. Growing the economy – creating jobs.
  2. Advancing our energy security interests. No only for the United States alone, but also for our allies and friends.
  3. Moving towards the low carbon economy- addressing climate change.

Moniz also noted the importance of the innovation chain, “…and what we’re seeing to today is part of that…But if we’re going to kick start this, we have to work with the private sector with state and local governments with our research institutions and laboratories to get these technologies deployed and drive those costs down to be competitive continued Moniz. So this plant shows all of these features.”

He said that while there will be a few rough spots along the road, what the country is seeing today is the beginning of a new industry.

Listen to Energy Secretary Moniz’s complete comments here:

Listen to Energy Secretary Moniz’s remarks: Energy Secretary Moniz Remarks

Check out the Abengoa Cellulosic Ethanol Plant Grand Opening photo album.

Advanced Biofuels Conf. – Expo Ribbon Cutting

The 2014 National Advanced Biofuels Conference and Expo got off to a great start yesterday in Minneapolis. It concludes today and we’ve got more stories and interviews to share.

In the meantime you might enjoy seeing the ribbon cutting from last night in the Expo hall. Tim Portz, BBI International, welcomes everyone before introducing Scott Wangsgard, New Holland, to say a few words and cut the ribbon.

2014 National Advanced Biofuels Conference & Expo Photo Album

Coverage of The Advanced Biofuels Conference and Expo is sponsored by
Coverage of The Advanced Biofuels Conference and Expo is sponsored by New Holland

“PUMP” Coming to a Theater Near You

There is a new documentary coming to a theater near you: PUMP. The film tells the story of America’s addiction to oil. Stories told range from Standard Oil’s illegal tactics to the dominance of oil companies. The goal of the film is to explain why and how consumers can end Big Oil’s monopoly and “win choice at the pump”.

According to the movie’s website, gasoline is our only option of transportation fuel today. With global demand rising and the continued dependence on gas our wallets are thinning. In addition, air pollution is getting worse and Americans are fighting wars in oil-rich countries.

PUMP shows consumers how making a variety of replacement fuels widely available will reduce fuel prices across the board. Diversifying the market with replacement fuels that are cheaper, cleaner and American made will also create jobs, strengthening the economy at home and promoting stability abroad.

The movie features experts including John Hofmeister, former President of Shell Oil Co.; Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors, Inc.; Peter Goldmark, former president of the Rockefeller Foundation; our colleague Jim Lane and other noteworthy figures.

To see where the movie is headed and to buy tickets, visit the PUMP website.

UNICA’s ‘Ethanol the Complete Fuel’ Is Back

The Brazilian Sugarcane Industries Association (UNICA) has launched is next phase of its advertising campaign, “Ethanol the Complete Fuel“. The multimedia campaign will primarily run in the state of São Paulo, the ads are designed to reinforce the positive impacts of ethanol on the economy and environment. The communication strategy consists of a 30 second TV commercial, sponsorship of television and radio programs, a striking jingle, online actions and presence in social networks.

“With the resumption of the campaign we want to remind consumers the advantages and benefits of biofuel. Ethanol generates environmental, social gains and promotes economic growth significantly in over a thousand Brazilian municipalities, “said Elizabeth Farina, UNICA president.

When first released in November 2012, the campaign leveraged ethanol sales in the state of São Paulo. In one month of placement sales increased 10%. Last year, the advertising action also aired three other states: Paraná, Goiás and Minas Gerais.

“Right now, the price of ethanol is more advantageous than gasoline for the consumer, ie the 70% parity has already been achieved in some states, yet the demand for the product did not react as expected. This reinforces our diagnosis that direct contact with the public should be constant, “said Farina.

Fuels America Campaign Focuses on Nat’l Security

As the U.S. government fights ISIS, this week oil fields became a target in the war on terror Fuels America is running a new series of ads online, radio, cable and in the Washington, D.C. market. The ads tell the public and decision makers that the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) could end American’s addiction to foreign oil. The radio ads will run for one week, and the television ads will run during the Sunday morning talk shows as well as Sunday, Monday and Tuesday programming.

The ad warns that the Obama Administration’s proposal to gut the RFS would leave America’s renewable fuel industry—and the thousands of American jobs it supports—at the mercy of the oil industry. Meanwhile, maintaining a strong Renewable Fuel Standard would support American innovation and thousands of American jobs that can’t be outsourced.

The President’s decision on the EPA’s proposal is expected in the coming days. It is currently under review with the Office of Management and Budget and it is not actually known if the final volumes will be lower than the year before and lower than mandated by the legislation. Fuels America points out this the public unveiling of the final 2014 rule comes as oil producing regions around the world remain unstable. As a net importer of oil, every gallon of domestic biofuels the U.S. produces means less foreign oil we must import from hostile foreign regions.

Those ads come alongside a digital campaign that includes a Politico Morning Energy Sponsorship by the Fuels America coalition, which says “Despite the mess in the Middle East, the Obama Administration is calling for a 1.3 billion gallon cut in America’s renewable fuel production—making us even more foreign oil dependent,” and “With turmoil in the Middle East, this isn’t the time to cut back on the clean, domestic alternatives to foreign oil.”

$8B Green Energy Plan Proposed for LA

Pathfinder Renewable Wind Energy, Magnum Energy, Dresser-Rand and Duke-American Transmission have jointly proposed a $8 billion green energy plan that would bring large amounts of renewable power to the Los Angeles, California area by 2023. The companies will formerly submit their proposal to the Southern California Public Power Authority by early 2015.

If accepted, the project would require construction of one of America’s largest wind farms in Wyoming, one of the world’s biggest energy storage facilities in Utah, and a new 525-mile electric transmission line connecting the two sites. The proposed project would generate more than twice the amount of electricity produced by the giant 1930s-era hydroelectric dam in Nevada – 9.2 million megawatt-hours per year vs. 3.9 million megawatt-hours.

“This project would be the 21st century’s Hoover Dam – a landmark of the clean energy revolution,” said Jeff Meyer, managing partner of Pathfinder Renewable Wind Energy.

A key component of the project is a massive underground energy storage facility that would yield 1,200 megawatts of electricity, equivalent to the output of a large nuclear power plant and enough to serve an estimated 1.2 million L.A.-area homes. According to the proposal, the underground energy storage facility would help solve one of renewable energy’s biggest challenges – its intermittency. Wind farms produce no electricity when there’s no wind; solar farms produce no electricity when there’s no sun.

Linking the wind farm to the energy storage facility would enable the wind farm to function largely like a traditional coal, nuclear or natural gas power plant – capable of reliably delivering large amounts of electricity whenever needed, based on customer demand.

The energy storage facility also would reduce the need for L.A.-area utilities to build expensive backup power plants and power lines to serve customers on days when there’s no wind, at night when there’s no sunlight, and during other periods when traditional wind and solar farms are unable to produce electricity.

According to the plan, Duke-American Transmission would build a $2.6-billion, 525-mile, high-voltage electric transmission line that would transport the Wyoming wind farm’s electricity to the Utah energy storage facility. From there, using an existing 490-mile transmission line – traversing Utah, Nevada and California- electricity would be transmitted from the Utah energy storage facility to the Los Angeles area.

Bobby Likis Car Clinic Globalcast Features Ethanol

likis-logoBobby Likis Car Clinic recent globalcast featured topic was ethanol with guest Bob Dinneen, president and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA). More specifically the two discussed issues around the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

During the program, Dinneen explained that the RFS and ethanol production saves consumers money at the pump, decreases America’s foreign oil dependence, and helps rural America. He discussed the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed cuts to the RFS and the negative impact those cuts would have on consumers and investment in next-generation ethanol.

Dinneen said, “In today’s environment of misinformation and spin, it is absolutely vital that consumers know the truth about ethanol and understand the role the Renewable Fuel Standard plays in furthering America’s energy independence, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and lowering the price of gasoline for drivers.” He adds, “I was proud to join Car Clinic’s Bobby Likis to give an overview of the political, regional, and agricultural factors that play into the future of ethanol production and explain the benefits of ethanol to drivers all across the country. Their votes of confidence in the RFS will count in the upcoming election.”

Likis, who is an automotive and ethanol expert, reflects, “When presented with facts – which Bob Dinneen delivers in easy-to-understand terms – American consumers and voters are smart enough to make the right decision at the polls in November. That’s how the RFS was passed in the first place. Clearly, the RFS has delivered to voters: lowering prices at the gas pump; reducing dependence on foreign oil; stimulating regional economies; giving the environment a fighting chance; and incenting investors to keep their money in the US as they research and develop new seed and other technologies to increase efficiencies and crop yields.”

Brazilian Football Players Create Energy

Brazilian football legend Pele is helping Shell shine a light on the world’s energy future with a first of-its-kind player-powered community football pitch in the heart of aRio de Janeiro favela.

As a real-world example that ideas can come from anywhere, Shell has used the invention of a young entrepreneur to solve a challenge for the Morro da Mineira community. The football pitch, a key part of life for favela residents, was refurbished by Shell using 200 high-tech, underground tiles that capture kinetic energy created by the movement of the players. This energy is then stored and combined with the power generated by solar panels next to the pitch to convert into renewable electricity for the new floodlights, giving everyone in the favela, and especially young people, a safe and secure community space at night.

Pele who joined Shell to officially open the pitch, said, “Football is Brazil’s biggest passion and the sport has gone through so much technological innovation since the last time I played. This new pitch shows the extraordinary things possible when science and sport come together. The Morro da Mineira community will now be able to use this sports facility as a safe gathering place – all thanks to the floodlights powered by the community’s football players.”

The Morro da Mineira project is part of the Shell #makethefuture programme, which aims to inspire young people and entrepreneurs to look at science and engineering as a career choice, and in particular use their minds to develop energy solutions for the future of the planet. The kinetic technology used at this football pitch has been developed by a grant recipient of the UK Shell LiveWIRE. The Morro da Mineira project illustrates how creative ideas delivered through committed partnerships can shape neighbourhoods and transform communities.

“By 2050, the world will be using 75 percent more energy than it does now. Meeting that extra demand will require a set of energy sources – and a new generation of scientists and engineers with the passion, ideas and innovation to develop it,” said Andre Araujo, Shell Brazil Country Chair. “The pitch proves the potential and power when scientists and entrepreneurs focus their efforts to develop creative and innovative energy solutions. By tapping into the world’s passion and interest in football, we aim to capture the attention of youngsters around the world so they think differently about energy and the opportunity of science studies and careers.”

Pedro Veiga, coordinator of the Rio+Social programme of the Instituto Pereira Passos (IPP) added: “To have a project like this on our doorstep will make a real difference to Morro da Mineira. Until it was redeveloped by Shell, the football pitch was largely unusable and many of our young people were being forced to play in the streets. You never know, this example of innovation might even inspire some of the kids to dream of being the nextIsaac Newton!”

Growth Energy’s Model Ethanol Plant

Growth Energy Model PlantDuring the Farm Progress Show last week several companies featured some cool technologies and displays featuring agriculture’s role in producing clean energy such as biofuels. One partnership that has been very successful is that between New Holland and Growth Energy. New Holland has very publicly shown its support for ethanol has developed equipment for farmers to more easily harvest their energy crops.

When visiting the New Holland booth not only could you see this amazing equipment, but you were able to see a model ethanol plant – thousands of Farm Progress attendees have never has the opportunity to visit an ethanol plant.

In this video with Kelly Manning, vice president of development for Growth Energy, you can get your own virtual tour of the ethanol plant. The educational display was under glass and the ethanol plant was built to scale demonstrating the role feedstocks play in the production process as well as how the products are delivered from the plant.

MIT Researchers Convert Lead to Solar Power

Researchers at MIT are recycling materials from discarded car batteries into long-lasting solar panels that provide emissions free power while keep lead out of landfills. The system was described in the journal Energy and Environmental Science and was co-authored by Angela M. Belcher and Paula T. Hammon along with graduate student Po-Yen Chen, and three others.

The system is based on a recent development in solar cells that makes use of a compound called perovskite — specifically, organolead halide perovskite — a technology that has rapidly progressed from initial experiments to a point where its efficiency is nearly competitive with that of other types of solar cells.

“It went from initial demonstrations to good efficiency in less than two years,” said Belcher, the W.M. Keck Professor of Energy at MIT. Already, perovskite-based photovoltaic cells have achieved power-conversion efficiency of more than 19 percent, which is close to that of many commercial silicon-based solar cells.

Initial descriptions of the perovskite technology identified its use of lead, whose production from raw ores can produce toxic residues, as a drawback. However by using recycled lead from old car batteries, the manufacturing process can instead be used to divert toxic material from landfills and reuse it in photovoltaic panels that could go on producing power for decades. In addition, because the perovskite photovoltaic material takes the form of a thin film just half a micrometer thick, the team’s analysis shows that the lead from a single car battery could produce enough solar panels to provide power for 30 households.

As an added advantage, the production of perovskite solar cells is a relatively simple and benign process. “It has the advantage of being a low-temperature process, and the number of steps is reduced” compared with the manufacture of conventional solar cells, Belcher explained.

Those factors will help to make it “easy to get to large scale cheaply,” added. Continue reading