Biodiesel, Ethanol & Wind Lead Energy Jobs in Iowa

advancedenergyeconomy1Biodiesel, ethanol, wind and energy efficiency are the leaders in a survey on job growth in advanced energy in Iowa. This news release from the Advanced Energy Economy Institute says those industries employ more than 22,000 people.

Prepared by BW Research Partnership, a leading workforce and economic development research firm, the Iowa Advanced Energy Employment Survey report is available at http://info.aee.net/ia-jobs-report-14. The AEE Institute published a similar report on California’s advanced energy industry, California Advanced Energy Employment Survey, last week, which is available at http://info.aee.net/ca-jobs-report-14.

Advanced energy comprises a significant part of Iowa’s economy, employing 1.3 percent of Iowa’s total workforce. Employment in advanced energy-related businesses is greater than employment reported for crop production, general freight trucking, and animal production in Iowa.

“In states from coast to coast and in between, the advanced energy industry is substantial and growing,” said Graham Richard, CEO of AEE and the AEE Institute. “This first-ever survey of advanced energy firms in Iowa shows that energy efficiency, biofuels, wind power, and other advanced businesses are creating jobs and contributing to the Iowa economy.”

While advanced energy jobs in Iowa dropped by 4 percent from 2013, the survey shows advanced energy employment is expected to rise 6 percent in the coming year.

NRG eVgo Expands EV Charging to Atlanta

NRG eVgo has announced plans to expand its comprehensive electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure to Atlanta, Georgia. According to IHS Automotive, Atlanta emerged as the second major metropolitan market for EV sales, following San Francisco. Atlanta is geographically large, meaning most people commute to work, and have a need for a sustainable, reliable charging infrastructure.

NRG eVgo says its DC fast chargers are the fastest chargers available today and can charge an EV in less than 30 minutes. The charging network will be located along major roads in retail locations. The company will also be providing comprehensive EV infrastructure covering workplaces, multi-family buildings, and residences in the Greater Atlanta metropolitan area.

“We are pleased that NRG has chosen to expand its eVgo charging network in the City of Atlanta,” said Mayor Kasim Reed. “Establishing a robust fast-charging network is essential to even broader adoption of electric vehicle use, both here in Atlanta and across the country.”

NRG eVgo charging stationThis fast charging network supports eVgo’s partnership with Nissan to expand the “No Charge to Charge” program to the Atlanta market. Already in 13 markets, “No Charge to Charge” is a first-of-its-kind partnership that provides Nissan LEAF buyers with complimentary 24-month access to the eVgo network, as well as other EV charging networks, using a single EZ-Charge access card.

Arun Banskota, President of NRG eVgo said of the announcement, “Atlanta drivers have embraced cleaner, more efficient vehicles to make their city one of the fastest growing EV markets in the country. Combining Atlanta’s enthusiasm for driving electric with the range confidence of a fast charging infrastructure will create an unbeatable combination that sets the stage for further EV adoption across the metro area and country.”

Students Learn About the Power of the Sun

Green Power EMC has released an updated curriculum and enhanced in-class learning laboratory featuring solar power. The program was developed by schools participating in their SunPower for Schools partnership program. The curriculum provides solar arrays on school grounds and software for use in the classroom that when used together allow students to monitor real-time data on solar energy production. Currently, 35 middle and high schools in EMC service territories around Georgia are participating in the program.

The program supports STEM standards (science, technology, engineering and math) and includes 57 lesson plans that cover four main areas for middle and high school students: physical science, physics and chemistry; math; life science, biology Array-Sun-Power_rszand environmental science; and earth science. Additional lesson plans are being developed for other subjects and grade levels as well.

“This professionally developed curriculum and upgraded hardware and software not only help students learn about solar energy but also provide a hands-on laboratory to apply math and science standards taught in Georgia schools,” said Green Power EMC President Jeff Pratt. “In addition, we created the curriculum as an off-the-shelf program that teachers can use with a minimum of preparation.”

The new curriculum was developed by the University of West Georgia in partnership with Green Power EMC and was reviewed this summer in a teacher’s workshop in Savannah to test and evaluate the program. Forty-four middle and high school teachers participated in the three-day seminar and provided feedback that is being incorporated into the curriculum. It will be utilized during the 2014 – 2015 school year.

Pratt said Green Power EMC and the EMCs in Georgia who own the renewable energy cooperative hope to further enhance the program in the near future to provide more hands-on learning opportunities for Georgia’s students. “We’re excited to have developed a curriculum that is like no other in the state,” said Pratt. “We expect that teacher and student feedback received during this first year of implementation will allow us to make it even better in future years.”

North Carolina Adds 3 Solar Projects

Three new utility-scale solar farms have been added to North Carolina’s energy mix. The solar projects are located on rural farmland in Erwin, Efland and Hickory, North Carolina and total 18 MW of solar energy. The projects were completed by a partnership of Sol Systems, National Cooperative Bank and Strata Solar. These projects follow the successful deployment of 18.2 MW that went online earlier this year.

Sol Systems LLC solar energy“North Carolina is a robust market for tax structured investments, which have been instrumental in stimulating the state’s solar growth,” said Dan Yonkin, director of Tax Equity at Sol Systems. “Equally, in an industry where long-term relationships are essential for keeping transaction costs low, we are vigilant in working with such esteemed partners.”

Sol Systems managed the investment on behalf of an international bank as part of the firm’s tax equity initiative to produce secure, sustainable solar investments for banks, insurance companies, utilities, and Fortune 100 clients. Strata Solar developed the project opportunities provided EPC services, and National Cooperative Bank served as the lender in the transactions.

North Carolina now ranks fourth in the country in terms of installed solar capacity according to the Solar Energy Industries Association. The 2013 Solar Jobs Census counted 3,100 solar jobs in the Tar Heel State, which will likely be even higher for 2014.

“Reliable, long-term relationships are a key component of success in this industry. Strata Solar chooses partners that are credible and allow us to move our business forward with confidence,” said David Scoglio, CFO of Strata Solar. “Sol Systems and NCB are fine examples of some of the partnerships that help us continue to create great opportunities for business development and investment.”

Matthew Wright, Senior Vice President, National Cooperative Bank added, “The solar industry in the United States is booming, and National Cooperative Bank has been committed to supporting this important sector since 2008, having financed over $300 million and 250 Megawatts. We look forward to working with Strata Solar and Sol Systems in the future.”

BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDFJA Solar Holdings Co., Ltd. has announced that it shipped 100MW of modules to the first large-scale solar farm in Pakistan. Occupying 500 acres of land, the solar farm is located within the Quaid-e-Azam Solar Park in Bahawalpur, Pakistan. The Solar Park will serve to address the country’s energy shortage and is a key project of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, an under-construction development program for energy and infrastructure projects to connect China to southern Pakistan and develop a new gateway for trade. Energy demand in Pakistan has grown approximately 8 percent annually, leaving the country with an estimated deficit in energy production of 6 GW.
  • The U.S. Department of Energy has announced a third round of funding for the Alaska Strategic Technical Assistance Response Team (START) Program, a competitive technical assistance program that helps Alaska Native corporations and federally recognized Alaska Native governments with accelerating clean energy projects. Applications are due by February 6, 2015. In addition, the White House Council of Native American Affairs Energy Subgroup launched a new Web page that provides a centralized repository of federal funding and technical assistance programs that can support energy project development for tribes and Alaska Native villages and corporations.
  • The global market value for offshore wind turbine and foundation installation vessels will increase more than fivefold, from an estimated $0.56 billion in 2014 to approximately $2.93 billion by 2020, representing an impressive Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 30%, says research and consulting firm GlobalData. The company’s latest report states that increasing installations will be the primary driver of market growth, as annual global offshore wind power capacity is forecast to rise rapidly from 1.78 Gigawatts (GW) in 2014 to approximately 7.85 GW by 2020.
  • California is home to the largest advanced energy industry in the country, according to the first-ever industry-wide survey released by the Advanced Energy Economy Institute. At 431,800 jobs today, advanced energy is bigger by employment in California than the motion picture, television, and radio industries among others Advanced energy jobs grew 5 percent in the past year – more than double the overall state job growth rate – and is on track to grow 17 percent in the coming year, to more than 500,000 workers, based on employer hiring plans.

EPA Official Testifies About RFS Management

epa-mccabe-hearingEnvironmental Protection Agency (EPA) Office of Air and Radiation Acting Assistant Administrator Janet McCabe testified before a House oversight subcommittee today on the agency’s management of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program.

“The EPA recognizes that the delay in issuing the 2014 standards has exacerbated uncertainty in the market for both renewable fuel producers and obligated parties,” said McCabe in her prepared remarks. “Issuing rules every year has proven to be a significant implementation challenge, particularly in the last several years as cellulosic biofuels have continued to face challenges in scaling up to commercial production and the fuel pool has become saturated with E10, raising concerns about the E10 blend wall.”

Facing questioning by lawmakers about the delay and EPA’s pledge to get the standards for 2014, 2015 and 2016 released some time next year, McCabe was unable to provide any time frame when that might be accomplished. Subcommittee Chair James Lankford (R-OK) expressed his doubt EPA can get it done. “My concern is that this is going to come out November 30 of 2015 and we’ll literally have two years in a row that we will not have anything,” he said. “It cannot take that long to promulgate a rule.”

Biofuels organizations reacted to McCabe’s testimony. “While it’s important for EPA to put the annual RFS rulemaking process back on schedule, it’s much more important for the Agency to get the RFS right,” said Brian Jennings with the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE). “We look forward to working with EPA to ensure they use their authority to hold oil companies legally responsible for making cleaner and less expensive renewable fuel choices, such as E15 and E85, available to consumers as they issue the final 2014 rule, and RFS proposals for 2015 and 2016.”

Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis also stressed the importance of EPA getting the methodology right. “The EPA’s proposed rule was flawed from the beginning. There was no way the methodology in the proposed rule would ever work, as it went against the very purpose and policy goals of the RFS,” said Buis. “Hopefully, the EPA can get back on track, establish certainty among stakeholders and implement the RFS as it was originally envisioned.”

Click here to watch the hearing.

Pacific Biodiesel Cheapest Diesel in Hawaii

pacificbiodieselAs Pacific Biodiesel celebrates its deal to provide biodiesel to power generators for the state utility Hawaiian Electric Co., the Maui-based green fuel provider is also celebrating the cheapest diesel available at the pump in Hawaii. This article from Maui Now says Pacific Biodiesel’s Hobron fueling station is selling biodiesel for $3.79 per gallon.

Company officials attribute the drop to the falling price of petroleum worldwide.

Representatives with the company say biodiesel is safe for all diesel engines and is registered with the US Environmental Protection Agency as both a fuel and a fuel additive.

Biodiesel is marketed as a cleaner-burning, renewable alternative fuel. The Pacific Biodiesel brand is produced at Big Island Biodiesel from recycled waste vegetable oil.

“A 20% blend of biodiesel offers significant greenhouse gas emission reductions compared with straight fossil diesel,” company officials said in the announcement.

Neste’s Renewable Diesel to Power Finnish Ferries

Tallink Star1Neste Oil’s renewable diesel will soon be powering ferries in Finland. This company news release says Neste agreed to provide its low sulfur marine diesel oil to Tallink Grupp’s ferries making port calls in Finland.

“We are eager to partner with Tallink Grupp as it is a well-known brand in the Nordic countries and the Baltic States and a major player in the cruising industry. Tallink Grupp shares our vision of cleaner traffic fuels and our low sulfur marine fuel delivers clear environmental benefits.” says Olli Vesamo, Director in Neste Oil’s Direct Sales.

“This collaboration opens up new market potential for Neste Oil. We are already a major player in the Baltic Sea region on petroleum products used on land and in the air. The new EU Sulfur Directive with its stringent environmental requirements and our capability to produce cleaner traffic solutions now enables us to take foothold also in the marine sector,” he continues.

“Neste Oil’s marine fuel solution meets our needs. The environmental and technical quality of the product and the reliability of Neste Oil as a supplier, as well as Neste Oil’s expertise in logistics convinced us of the benefits of this partnership. The new marine diesel oil will clearly reduce sulfur and particle emissions in our marine traffic. Our customers will benefit a cleaner environment that we as the leading and preferred shipping company in the region can provide,” says Mr. Tarvi-Carlos Tuulik, the Head of Ship Management of AS Tallink Grupp.

The company says this new low sulfur marine diesel oil meets requirements of the EU Sulfur Directive, which will come into force at the beginning of 2015.

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. Solar Market Hits 2nd Best Quarter Ever

The U.S. solar market has had another record setting quarter. According to the latest edition of U.S. Solar Market Insight Report, the U.S. installed 1,354 megawatts (MW) of solar PV in Q3 2014. The report is released by GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and found that installation was up 40 percent over the same period last year. According to the report, Q3 was the nation’s second largest quarter ever for PV installations and brings the country’s cumulative solar PV capacity to 16.1 gigawatts (GW), with another 1.4 GW of concentrating solar power (CSP) capacity.

U.S. Installed Solar 3rd Q 2014Through the first three quarters of the year, solar represents 36 percent of new capacity to come on-line, up from 29 percent in 2013 and 9.6 percent in 2012.

“Solar’s continued, impressive growth is due, in large part, to smart and effective public policies, such as the solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC), Net Energy Metering (NEM) and Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS),” said Rhone Resch, SEIA president and CEO. “By any measurement, these policies are paying huge dividends for America. Every three minutes of every single day, the U.S. solar industry is flipping the switch on another completed solar project, benefiting both our economy and the environment.”

Key findings from the report include:

  • The U.S. installed 1,354 MW of solar PV in Q3 2014, up 41 percent over Q3 2013, making it the second-largest quarter for solar installations in the history of the market.
  • Cumulative operating PV capacity has now eclipsed the 16 GW mark, thanks to four consecutive quarters of more than 1 GW installed.
  • For the first time ever, more than 300 MW of residential PV came on-line in a single quarter and more than 50 percent of residential PV came online without any state incentive.
  • 36 percent of all new electric generating capacity in the U.S. through the first three quarters of 2014 came from solar.
  • Growth remains driven primarily by the utility solar PV market, which installed 825 MW in Q3 2014, up from 540 MW in Q3 2013.
  • The report forecasts that PV installations will reach 6.5 GW in 2014, up 36 percent over 2013 and more than three times the market size of just three years ago.
  • Q1 2014 was the largest quarter ever for concentrating solar power (CSP), due to the completion of the 392 MW Ivanpah project and Genesis Solar project’s second 125 MWac phase. While no CSP plants came on-line in Q3 2014, Abengoa’s Mojave Solar (250 MW) achieved commercial operation in December 2014, making 2014 the biggest year ever for CSP.

BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDFBased on its recent analysis of the electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure market, Frost & Sullivan has recognized Advansolar with the 2014 French Frost & Sullivan Award for New Product Innovation Leadership. Advansolar advocates the practice of on-site self-consumption of solar energy rather than remote solar energy utilization. The company enables customers to harness and utilize solar energy to charge their EVs and in the process, hence reducing their dependence on the grid.
  • GDF SUEZ Energy Resources NA, a leader in U.S. retail energy, is further strengthening the Houston Museum of Natural Science’s commitment to environmental responsibility by again donating Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) to the nonprofit organization. The gift will offset the museum’s electricity consumption during the month of December. Each Green-e© certified REC represents the environmental attributes or benefits associated with a specific quantity of energy generated from a renewable source, such as solar or wind.
  • Invenergy Clean Power LLC has announced the successful close of financing and the start of commercial operation of its Desert Green Solar Farm in Borrego Springs, California. Desert Green is a 6.3 MW AC facility located in San Diego County, approximately 90 miles northeast of the city of San Diego. Output is sold to San Diego Gas & Electric under a long-term power sale agreement. Financing was provided by PNC Energy Capital, LLC, a subsidiary of PNC Bank, N.A.
  • Duke Energy has received regulatory approval from the North Carolina Utilities Commission to acquire and construct three large solar facilities located in Bladen, Duplin and Wilson counties North Carolina. The three projects are part of Duke Energy’s $500-million solar expansion announced in September, which also includes buying power under purchase power agreements from five other new solar projects in both the Duke Energy Carolinas and Duke Energy Progress service territories.

AWEA: Wind Provides Economic, Consumer Benefits

According to a study recently released by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), AWEA Report- economic benefits of wind energy in SPPwind energy provides the Southwest Power Pool Region (SPP) with $2.8 billion in societal benefits per year. In 2013, wind energy accounted for 10.8 percent of the electricity produced in this region.

“The economic benefits of wind energy in the Southwest Pool” looked at the effect of wind energy in Kansas, Oklahoma and Nebraska as well as parts of New Mexico, Texas, Arkansas and Missouri. The study found that one MWh (megawatt hour) of wind energy in SPP, enough to power an average home for one month, provides an average of $109 in economic benefits to society and $7 in benefits to consumers.

The report found four major societal benefits:

  1. Wind reduces the cost of producing electricity. Wind energy is a zero-fuel cost so when utilities use the least-cost power plant first electricity produced from sources such as wind are tapped first.
  2. Wind energy reduces pollution. The reports notes that pollution from fossil-fired power plants, that are shown to harm health, are not currently reflected in electricity market prices. Wind reduces the costs to society in terms of pollution including no production of sulfur dioxide, smog-forming nitrogen oxides and greenhouse gases.
  3. Wind energy hedges against fuel price volatility. Wind energy helps to hedge against price volatility because unlike fossil fuels, wind energy is sold at a long-term fixed price through a Power Purchase Agreement.
  4. Fixed-priced wind energy becomes an even better deal as other fuels increase in price over time. Nearly all of wind plant’s costs are fixed up front and the majority of prices are fixed through the PPA. In contrast, the cost of conventional generation changes significantly based on fuel costs. These costs are passed along to consumers.

The report also cites two major benefits:

  • Wind energy protects consumers by reducing use of the most expensive power plants. Because wind energy has a low production marginal cost because it has zero-fuel costs it drives down the market price for all electricity that is being purchased in the market.
  • Fixed-price wind energy reduces consumer prices more as other fuels get more expensive. Fossil fuel prices are expected to increase whereas wind energy is a fixed price and the savings are passed along to consumers.

The report concludes that due to a drastic decline in wind energy adding new wind generation to the SPP will result in significant societal and consumer benefits.

Biofuels Can Help Cut Global Transport GHG Emissions

GRFA1As nations are meeting in Peru for the COP 2014 global conference on climate change, the Global Renewable Fuels Alliance (GRFA) stressed that biofuels, like ethanol, are one of the most commercially viable methods to reduce transport fuel greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

“Nearly a third of global GHGs come from the transportation sector, those GHGs need to be a priority if we are going to make a significant contribution to combating climate change. Biofuels must be an integral part of that fight,” said GRFA spokesperson Bliss Baker.

Since biofuels such as ethanol are proven to reduce harmful GHGs from 40% to 90% compared to fossil fuels around the world, Baker says GRFA believes that policies adopted at COP 2014 must include the increased use of biofuels.

Earlier this year the GRFA forecasted that 2014 global ethanol production would reach 90.38 billion litres and its use worldwide would reduce GHG emissions by over 106 million tonnes globally. (S&T)2 Consultants Inc., an internationally renowned energy and environmental consulting firm, in partnership with the GRFA produced data which showed that these GHG reductions are equal to removing over 21 million cars off the road annually.

“106 million tonnes is a substantial GHG savings, it’s the same as removing the annual emissions from 14 average-sized coal-fired power plants. However, as the IEA has prescribed recently, more biofuels are needed to further reduce the emissions from the global transport sector,” said Baker.

Sprague Buys Deepwater NYC Port for Biodiesel

sprague-logoNew York City will have a little easier time shipping in biodiesel and other fuel products, as Sprague Operating Resources LLC, completes the purchase of Castle Oil Corporation and its Port Morris terminal. Sprague says the deal is worth $56 million in cash and SRLP units, plus payments for Castle’s inventory as of closing.

Castle’s Port Morris terminal is the largest deepwater petroleum products terminal in New York City, with a total storage capacity of 907,000 barrels, handling distillates, residual fuel, asphalt and biodiesel. The acquisition increases Sprague’s number of owned and/or controlled petroleum terminals to eighteen and its total in-service liquid petroleum product storage capacity to 10.9 million barrels.

“We are excited to welcome the Castle brand and the Port Morris terminal into our strategic network of waterborne assets and look forward to strengthening Sprague’s service to customers in New York City and the surrounding metropolitan area,” said David Glendon, President and CEO of Sprague. “As a result of the transaction, Castle customers will now benefit from a larger storage network and have access to an extensive portfolio of petroleum, natural gas and electricity products catering to commercial property management needs. Sprague is now the only New York City energy supplier with capabilities this robust.”

Sprague says the deal raises the company’s earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) for 2014 to between $80 and $90 million.

CT Biomass Pellet Maker Looks for Expansion Space

frogcityfuelA Connecticut-based biomass pellet maker is looking for room to grow. Engineered Carbon Solutions (ECS), the maker of Frog City Fuel, says it is still gaining commitments towards a mid-size manufacturing facility located in the southeast part of the state.

[T]hree entities have stepped forward and offered in excess of $1M in property, grant / loans and property tax abatement. We are in discussions with a confidential private company regarding a well-maintained facility in SE CT. This building facility would make an ideal location for our proposed manufacturing facility and if completed, would cement their position as an equity partner. The host town has, in turn, offered a tax abatement program which further reduces projected operating costs. Lastly, CT state officials have begun a process of committing as much as $400 thousand in grant / loans and are very excited about the prospect of a new manufacturing startup in state.

Frog City Fuel is made from local, waste stream post-consumer materials.