New Treatment to Cut Biofuel Costs by 30% or More

wyman1A new pretreatment could cut the costs of biofuels by 30 percent or more. This news release from the University of California, Riverside says researchers at the school have invented a novel pretreatment technology that could cut those production costs by dramatically reducing the amount of enzymes needed to breakdown the raw materials that form biofuels.

As partners in the BioEnergy Science Center (BESC), the team from the Bourns College of Engineering Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering and Center for Environmental Research and Technology (CE-CERT) have shown that this new operation called Co-solvent Enhanced Lignocellulosic Fractionation (CELF) could eliminate about 90 percent of the enzymes needed for biological conversion of lignocellulosic biomass to fuels compared to prior practice. This development could mean reducing enzyme costs from about $1 per gallon of ethanol to about 10 cents or less.

The BioEnergy Science Center is a U.S. Department of Energy Bioenergy Research Center focused on enhancing science and technology to reduce the cost of biomass conversion through support by the Office of Biological and Environmental Research in the Department of Energy Office of Science..

“As recent months have shown, petroleum prices are inherently unstable and will likely return to high prices soon as expensive sources are taken off line,” said Professor Charles Wyman, the Ford Motor Company Chair in Environmental Engineering at UC Riverside. “We have created a transformative technology that has the potential to make biofuels an economic sustainable alternative to petroleum-based fuels.”

Wyman’s findings were outlined in a just published paper, “Co-solvent Pretreatment Reduces Costly Enzyme Requirements for High Sugar and Ethanol Yields from Lignocellulosic Biomass,” in the journal ChemSusChem.

W. Virginia Gov – Don’t Put Solar in the Dark

Solar supporters from across the country are calling on West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin to veto House Bill 2201 – a bill that could jeopardize the future of rooftop solar in the state by rewriting net metering policies.

Solar advocates from Tell Utilities Solar Won’t Be Killed (TUSK) claim that utilities, such as American Electomblinheadshottric Power (AEP) and FirstEnergy, are deceiving legislators about the language in HB 2201. Should the Gov sign the bill, TUSK said he would “saddle” hundreds of West Virginia families, churches and businesses, that have invested private funds in rooftop solar with new fees. This is happening, said TUSK, at the same time as two utilities – Mon Power and Potomac Edison – are raising rates.

“The utilities are fighting tooth and nail to eliminate competition while also raising rates for their customers,” said Barry Goldwater Jr., spokesperson for TUSK. “When will it be enough? These monopolies are hurting consumers and West Virginia’s economy by increasing rates and pushing new fees through HB 2201.”

TUSK logoThe net metering fight has been underway for some time and TUSK said that to date, hundreds of consumers have written to their legislators in support of rooftop solar.  TUSK said this particular “attack” uses deceptive language in HB 2201 to impose punitive fees – retroactively and going forward – on West Virginians. The organizations said thousands of West Virginia voters continue to stand strong for choice and competition in the energy market and continue to flood the Governor’s office with letters asking him to preserve net metering and energy choice..

“SEIA doesn’t object to investigating the costs and benefits of net energy metering, but we do object to the assumption that any potential cost shift from a net metering customer to other customers is unjustified,” adds Rhone Resch, Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) president and CEO, who notes that the legislation needs to be revised before becoming law. Continue reading

Advanced Ethanol Progress and Concerns

nec15-advance-panelWhile it’s making progress, there are still plenty of questions and concerns regarding advanced ethanol production. During the the 20th National Ethanol Conference, a panel of advanced ethanol producers talked about the challenges and opportunities facing their industry.

Advanced Ethanol Council Executive Director Brooke Coleman moderated the panel which included Bill Feehery of DuPont Industrial Biosciences (pictured at the podium), Adam Monroe of Novozymes, Paula Corollo with Beta Renewables, and Abengoa’s Chris Standlee. Coleman said while there are naysayers, who try to talk down the cellulosic industry, saying it’s not going fast enough or isn’t successful enough, he sees incredible progress over the last five years for the industry. But it’s not going to get easier.

“This is a crossroads and the part where it gets hard. This is the part where we diversify feedstock, introduce new technologies, and the [Environmental Protection Agency] has to look down and decide if we’re going to change the fuel markets at a fundamental level or just change them to where the oil industry is comfortable,” Coleman said.

Feehery’s presentation focused on the progress cellulosic ethanol has made, calling the recent advancements that are delivering a cleaner, more sustainable transportation fuel that’s also invigorating rural America’s economy. “It’s a victory of science, industry policy, and plain good, old-fashioned hard work, and it’s an accomplishment we all share together.”

Looking ahead, Feehery said it’s also important to look back at what has been successful to see the path forward. He pointed to efficiencies and technologies, such as enzymes, that are making cellulosic more affordable and more commercially viable. He’s also excited by how celluslosic ethanol is being embraced by American companies not just within the fuels markets, such as Procter & Gamble, which is using cellulosic ethanol in its formulation for Tide laundry detergent. He concluded that these technologies and adoptions by industry are key drivers in how cellulosic ethanol will grow in the years to come.

“What we see is the beginning of a bioeconomy in action,” Feehery said.

Listen to Feehery’s presentation before the group here: NEC 15 Advanced Ethanol Panel

2015 National Ethanol Conference Photo Album

BioEnergy Bytes

  • http://domesticfuel.com/category/bioenergy-bytes/Registration is open for the 10th annual Ethanol 2015: Emerging Issues Forum taking place April 16-17, 2015 in Omaha, Nebraska at the Magnolia Hotel. Confirmed speakers include Jessica Hoffmann, RPMG; Dr. Kurt Rosentrater, Distillers Grain Technology Council; Ernie Shea, 25x’25 and more.
  • Florida Power & Light Company (FPL) and Daytona International Speedway have announced plans to install commercial-scale distributed solar power at the “World Center of Racing”. The plan comprises the installation of more than 5,000 solar panels on multiple canopy-like structures that will offer areas of shade for race fans while generating zero-emissions energy. The solar panels will be located outside the frontstretch, in the Sprint FANZONE and in one of the Speedway’s parking lots.
  • Pattern Energy Group Inc. has announced that its parent company, Pattern Development has signed a joint venture agreement with CEMEX Energia, a subsidiary of CEMEX, S.A.B. de C.V. The CEMEX Energia/Pattern Development JV will jointly develop renewable energy projects throughout Mexico.
  • RGS Energy has announced that it commenced a public offering of up to $3.5 million units consisting of its Class A common stock and Series A, B, C, D and E common stock warrants. WestPark Capital, Inc. served as exclusive placement agent in the offering on a “best efforts” basis.

Many Still in Quandary Over Crop Insurance

New Holland ZimmPollOur latest ZimmPoll asked the question, “Which crop insurance option will you be choosing?”

It is evident that many farmers across the country still do not understand the crop insurance options offered in our recent farm bill and deciding has become a chore. However, the majority of those who took our poll and have made a decision have selected agriculture risk coverage or ARC.

Here are the poll results:

  • PLC – 15%
  • ARC – 47%
  • Still unsure – 38%

Our new ZimmPoll is now live and asks the question, What do you think of proposed government control over the internet?

We have been hearing the term net neutrality or open internet in the news lately. The FCC says open internet ensures that every American has access to open and robust high-speed internet service. As we understand it, the FCC’s guidelines for this are being challenged by a number of organizations. So, we want to know what you think about a proposed government control over our internet.

Ethanol Helps Create Jobs and More Jobs

Patriot Renewable Fuels in Annawan, Illinois

Patriot Renewable Fuels in Annawan, Illinois

At the National Ethanol Conference last week, the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) released the latest economic study on the “Contribution of the Ethanol Industry to the Economy of the United States in 2014,” and found it to be better than ever in 2014.

Among the benefits of ethanol production in 2014 according to the study by ABF Economics:
• $52.7 billion to America’s gross domestic product
• 83,949 direct jobs
• 295,265 indirect and induced jobs
• $10.3 billion in federal, state and local taxes
• Displaced 515 million barrels of oil, the equivalent of $49 billion

John Urbanchuk, author of the study and managing partner of ABF Economics, concluded his analysis by noting, “The ethanol industry continues to make a significant contribution to the economy in terms of job creation, generation of tax revenue, and displacement of imported crude oil and petroleum products. The importance of the ethanol industry to agriculture and rural economies is particularly notable. Continued growth and expansion of the ethanol industry through new technologies and feedstocks will enhance the industry’s position as the original creator of green jobs, and will enable America to make further strides toward energy independence.”

The full study, prepared on behalf of the Renewable Fuels Association, can be found here.

Growth Tells Ethanol Producers to Talk to Congress

growth-energy-logoAs alternative energy producers have gathered in Washington, D.C. for the 2015 Energy Independence Summit, the leader of a group representing ethanol producers’ interests is encouraging them to take time to see lawmakers while they are in town. Growth Energy’s Tom Buis told attendees to let their representatives know how critical the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) is in achieving energy independence.

“The RFS has been the most successful energy policy this nation has enacted in the last forty years,” Buis noted. “It has helped reduce our dependence on foreign oil by nearly 50 percent, it is cleaner and better for our environment, it creates American jobs that cannot be outsourced, supports a robust rural economy and in 2014 it contributed more than $50 billion dollars to our GDP. Furthermore, it provides the American consumer with a choice and savings when they go and fill up at the pump.”

Attendees of the Energy Independence Summit are scheduled to meet with members of Congress this week and Buis concluded by encouraging attendees to, “Educate members of Congress on how the RFS plays a critical role in achieving energy security and independence. Explain that is working, and succeeding in reaching the goals it was designed to meet. Now is the time to move forward, not backward on policies that promote renewable energy.”

The 2015 Energy Independence Summit concludes today and is sponsored by a number of ethanol, biodiesel and clean energy groups, as well as some of the companies using them, such as UPS and carmakers. It features the nation’s Clean Cities Coalitions and transportation energy leaders coming together to share best practices and educate federal policy makers about the need for incentives, tools and resources to overcome barriers to the widespread use of cleaner vehicles and fuels.

Ethanol 2015 Outlook and Pocket Guide Available

rfa-outlook-2015at the 20th Annual National Ethanol Conference, the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) released the updated Ethanol Industry Outlook and Pocket Guide to Ethanol for 2015.

RFA’s two most popular publications touch on every core issue facing the ethanol industry today, providing readers with the most up-to-date information available. New data and statistics give a sense to the incredible progress the industry has made and where it is headed with in-depth looks at key topics that include the Renewable Fuel Standard, energy security, the environment, impacts on the economy, U.S. agriculture, international trade, transportation, and cellulosic technology.

The 2015 Ethanol Industry Outlook and Pocket Guide to Ethanol are available in print and online at www.EthanolRFA.org.

Ethanol Conference Going Global Panel

nec15-global-panelThe theme of the 20th National Ethanol Conference was “Going Global,” and the title panel featured five international experts to discuss building ethanol demand in new markets.

Moderated by Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) general counsel Ed Hubbard, the panel included Pedro Paranhos of Eco-Energy; Lakeview Energy CEO Jim Galvin; Henrique Pacini of United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD); Mike Dwyer with the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service; and Robert Wright with ePure.

Hubbard started off the conversation, pointing out that while the U.S. ethanol industry hit record-breaking levels of ethanol exports to the world – 836 million gallons in 2014 – there’s still room for growth.

“As long as U.S. made ethanol provides a valuable, cheaper and cleaner alternative to petroleum-based gasoline, it will continue to be sought all over the globe. This panel’s goal is to help you identify some opportunities, new and expanded, to address some of the challenges we face as we move forward,” Hubbard said.

Paranhos echoed those sentiments, as he broke down how Brazil has seen its overall ethanol market grow over the last 10 years but has plateaued in the last few. Part of that is some of the same issues U.S. ethanol producers are facing: economics and regulatory, in America’s case, the blend wall. The panel talked about how export markets are helped the most by mandates, which help fuel growth of ethanol. Presenters pointed out that producers need to consider sustainability and environmental factors to meet certain countries’ and regions’ requirements to get into those markets, which also, in turn, return better profits for ethanol plants.

Dwyer told those attending that ethanol has made tremendous global gains over the past few years – impressive when you consider the green fuel had to overcome the “food-versus-fuel” debate and a 54-cent-per-gallon tax on ethanol exports.

“In 2008, when I took over this job, if I had told you that the U.S. would become the world’s largest exporter of ethanol, you would have thought I was drinking that ethanol,” he said, pointing out how while gasoline consumption has dropped in the U.S., it’s growing worldwide, making American ethanol competitive on the global market. “A lot has happened in five years.”

The panel members said, even when you consider where ethanol has been and the obstacles ahead, there still is great potential for growth worldwide.

Listen to the panel’s complete remarks here: NEC 15 Going Global Panel

2015 National Ethanol Conference Photo Album

South Dakotan Wins E85 “Post Your Price” Contest

rfa-sd-e85-2During the National Ethanol Conference last week, the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) announced the winner of the E85 “Post Your Price” contest.

Scott LeBrun of South Dakota was chosen at random to receive one year of free E85 in the contest, which was announced last October and concluded last Tuesday, asking individuals to submit photos of E85 prices nationwide. The photos received will assist RFA in gathering data on E85 prices to determine how the higher-level fuel blend is being priced in markets across the country.

In addition to the overall winner, RFA also awarded free E85 for a month to the individuals participating in the contest that submitted pictures with the largest and smallest disparity between the E85 price and the price of regular unleaded gasoline. Michael Scholl submitted a photo of a station in Hartford, Michigan, that had E85 at $1.64/gallon and regular unleaded at $2.89/gallon. Additionally, Douglas Cochran identified a station in Albany, Georgia, listing E85 at $1.94/gallon and regular unleaded at $1.68/gallon. The price disparity at the Georgia station goes to show there are still marketers not passing through the real savings of E85 to consumers.

Sungevity Launches Solar Program in NC

Sungevity has launched a new solution for homeowners to own their own rooftop solar systems in North Carolina. Whereas in other states solar leasing is an option, North Carolina law requires homeowners to own the source of renewable energy on their property.

In an effort to equip North Carolina residents with the ease and affordability of the Sungevity solar experience, the company has partnered with solar energy investment platform Mosaic to create a loan product specifically designed for state residents. The 20-year loan is structured to help residents take advantage of both the 35 percent state income tax credit and the 30 percent federal renewable tax credit for solar customers. The entire process is facilitated via Sungevity’s online platform, where North Carolina homeowners can access estimated energy savings specific to their homes via the company’s proprietary iQuote technology.

Screen Shot 2015-02-23 at 1.36.28 PM“Sungevity has always focused on making the solar experience simple and satisfying for our customers. That’s why we crafted a solution that allows North Carolina homeowners to experience the benefits of solar without the hassle or a high upfront payment,” said Andrew Birch, Sungevity’s chief executive officer. “Sungevity is proud to serve North Carolina as we continue to expand across the country to give more people a better choice in how they power their homes.”

According to Sungevity, its entry into the state also extends the company’s long-time partnership with North Carolina-based Lowe’s — where Sungevity solar solutions will be available to residents throughout Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill. Sungevity is also partnering with Sierra Club and CREDO in North Carolina, and for every installation purchased through these partners, Sungevity will also provide $750 to the respective organization as part of Sungevity.org, the company’s cause marketing initiative.

Sun Edison & GRID Alternatives “RISE”

SunEdison and its SunEdison Foundation has announced a $5 million solar/funding contribution to GRID Alternatives to launch a two-year initiative called RISE to connect the solar industry’s demand for skilled workers with communities that need jobs. Building on the successful 2014 SunEdison and GRID Alternatives partnership to bring more women into the solar industry, the RISE initiative will provide underserved communities with solar job training and job placement through GRID Alternatives’ workforce development program.

SunEdison and GRID Alternatives announce major solar workforce initiative called RISE. SunEdison and the SunEdison Foundation contribute $5 million to train women and members of underserved communities for jobs in the solar industry. (PRNewsFoto/SunEdison, Inc.)

SunEdison and GRID Alternatives announce major solar workforce initiative called RISE. SunEdison and the SunEdison Foundation contribute $5 million to train women and members of underserved communities for jobs in the solar industry. (PRNewsFoto/SunEdison, Inc.)

This partnership is making solar more accessible for everyone in America. For lower income families, that means lower electricity bills, more money for necessities, and the opportunity to receive valuable job training,” said Ahmad Chatila, president and chief executive officer of SunEdison. “I’m very proud that with this contribution, SunEdison is truly helping the people who need it most.”

The RISE initiative will provide hands-on training and real-world solar installation experience to over 4,000 people across the country. In addition, the initiative will connect job trainees with solar companies looking for skilled workers. As part of the initiative, GRID Alternatives through its SolarCorps program will provide 40 individuals with one-year paid fellowships in GRID Alternatives’ offices around the country. In addition, SunEdison employees will donate over 2,000 hours of their time installing solar systems for low-income families and supporting job-readiness for trainees.

“The solar industry is adding jobs at a rate of more than 20% year over year,” added Erica Mackie, co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of GRID Alternatives. “This is an incredible opportunity to connect an industry that needs good people with people that need good jobs, and that’s just what this partnership is doing.”

SunEdison and GRID Alternatives will also be working with the White House to help President Obama meet his goal of installing 100 megawatts of solar capacity on federally assisted housing in a way that provides job training opportunities to the residents of those communities.

BioEnergy Bytes

  • http://domesticfuel.com/category/bioenergy-bytes/The Geothermal Energy Association (GEA) has announced the keynote speaker for the State of the Geothermal Industry Briefing. Senator Dean Heller, Republican from Nevada, will address attendees at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday, February 24, 2015. The one-day program will feature the roll out of GEA’s 2015 Global and US Geothermal Industry Update that details the status of geothermal projects and developments around the world.
  • The Interstate Turbine Advisory Council (ITAC), a project of the Clean Energy States Alliance (CESA), has added the Pika T701 turbine to its Unified List of wind turbines. The turbine joins several others on ITAC’s small wind turbine list; these turbines meet ITAC’s listing requirements, a unique set of eligibility criteria that address both the business practices of manufacturers and the performance and reliability of turbines with a rotor swept area of less than 200m2.
  • Citi has announced a commitment to lend, invest and facilitate a total of $100 billion within the next 10 years to finance activities that reduce the impacts of climate change and create environmental solutions that benefit people and communities. With this $100 billion initiative, Citi will build on its leadership in renewable energy and energy efficiency financing to engage with clients to identify opportunities to finance greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions and resource efficiency in other sectors, such as sustainable transportation.
  • Southern Company subsidiary Southern Power has announced the acquisition of two photovoltaic (PV) solar projects totaling 99 megawatts in Georgia – the 80 MW Decatur Parkway Solar Project and the 19 MW Decatur County Solar Project – from Tradewind Energy, Inc. The electricity and associated renewable energy credits generated by the 80 MW facility will be sold under a 25-year power purchase agreement (PPA) with Georgia Power. Construction of the 80 MW facility is currently scheduled to begin this month.

RFA Chairman Pleased with 20th Ethanol Conference

nec15-doyleRenewable Fuels Association (RFA) chairman and Al-Corn Clean Fuel CEO Randy Doyal was pleased with this year’s turnout at the 20th National Ethanol Conference in the “heart of oil country.”

“This has been a really great conference,” said Doyal, whose farmer-owned cooperative plant in Claremont, Minnesota is about 20 years old as well. “Twenty years ago when we were starting the plant we had, for the first time, five dollar corn,” he said. “It was perfect timing because we got up and running when a lot of the industry was ceasing because of that price and because of our co-op nature we were able to do that.”

Doyal is a firm believer in the RFA and what they are able to accomplish as an organization for the entire industry, and he wishes all producers were members. He compares it to the co-op structure of his plant. “There’s a reason why co-ops work,” he said. “It’s because people join together and work hard to achieve common goals and that’s what RFA is all about.” Interview with RFA Chairman Randy Doyal, Al-Corn

2015 National Ethanol Conference Photo Album

Political Insiders Provide Ethanol Policy Perspective

nec15-insiders-panelRenewable Fuels Association (RFA) president and CEO Bob Dinneen welcomed back veteran Washington Insiders panelists at the 20th National Ethanol Conference last week, kind of like a Saturday Night Live reunion, he joked.

The panelists were National Corn Growers Association Executive Vice President Jon Doggett, John Eichberger with the National Association of Convenience Stores, Bob Greco of the American Petroleum Institute, Shane Karr with the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, and Advanced Ethanol Council Executive Director Brooke Coleman. Each offered their views on a number of policy and political topics from what Congress may do regarding the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) to who the presidential candidates will be in 2016.

NEC 15 Washington Insiders Panel

2015 National Ethanol Conference Photo Album