Policy Uncertainty Shrinks US Biodiesel Market

nbb-advancedThe U.S. biodiesel market was a bit smaller in 2014, and policy uncertainty in Washington is being blamed for the decrease. The National Biodiesel Board says the destabilization of the industry, including the Obama Administration’s failure to finalize biodiesel volumes under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and Congress allowing the biodiesel tax incentive to lapse at the beginning of 2014, caused many biodiesel plants to shut down or reduce production, dropping total U.S. biodiesel consumption to 1.75 billion gallons for the year, down slightly from nearly 1.8 billion gallons in 2013.

“These numbers reflect the consequences of policy inaction,” said Joe Jobe, CEO of the National Biodiesel Board (NBB), the industry trade association. “The drop in production represents lost jobs and economic activity. It represents a lost opportunity to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants. And it represents another year in which we fail to tackle our dangerous dependence on oil in the fuels sector.”

“The numbers would have been even lower had the EPA not signaled throughout the year that it will strengthen the RFS proposal and finalize it promptly,” Jobe said. “But companies can operate on faith for only so long. We have already seen many producers close their doors, and many others are struggling to stay open as we enter a New Year with continued uncertainty.”

Jobe went on to say that it’s frustrating because it is completely unnecessary and urged the Obama administration and Congress to put smart policies back in place.

Regulators Urged to Rethink Corn Ethanol’s Carbon Value

ace logoRegulators are being urged to re-think corn ethanol’s carbon value. In a news release from the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE), the group’s President of its board of directors, Ron Alverson, reveals in a white paper how corn ethanol’s carbon footprint is decreasing, thanks to technology innovations by farmers and ethanol facilities to improve the accuracy of carbon intensity modeling for biofuels.

“ANL scientists have documented significant reductions in corn ethanol’s CI since 2008. Through updates to the Greenhouse gases Regulated Emissions and Energy use in Transportation (GREET version 2.0, 2013) model, ANL recently determined that average ethanol manufacturing energy use has decreased 25%, corn farming energy use decreased 24%, corn fertilizer and chemical use decreased by 3%, and that ethanol facilities are extracting 3% more ethanol from each bushel of corn. ANL has also updated their Land Use Change (LUC) calculations with recent data and now estimate LUC of just 7.6 grams of CI, a 75% reduction from the widely used and outdated estimate of 30 grams CI. A significant portion of this reduction resulted from soil carbon modeling which predicts soil carbon sequestration from corn,” Alverson notes in the White Paper.

“Unfortunately, low carbon fuel market regulators, such as the U.S. EPA and the California Air Resources Board, have yet to acknowledge these improvements and update their models with this new science,” continues Alverson. “Because fossil fuel CI is getting worse and corn ethanol CI is improving, failure to account for these trends unfairly penalizes biofuels in low carbon markets.”

Alverson, a farmer and founding board member of an ethanol facility in South Dakota cited new research and improved modeling by the Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory. He argues that “corn farmers have responded to market signals and rapidly adopted precision application technology to reduced fertilizer application rates,” new realities those regulators need to now consider.

Nat. Gas Inventories Up, Wind to Lead Renewables in 2015

eiaNatural gas inventories are up dramatically from last winter, and wind is expected to lead renewable energy capacity additions in the coming year. Those are just a couple of findings in the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) latest Short-Term Energy Outlook. EIA Administrator Adam Sieminski says those prices for natural gas have also dropped to two-year lows as growing domestic natural gas production has bolstered the inventories.

“Natural gas inventories at the end of the winter heating season in late March should be about 9 billion cubic feet above the five-year average, much higher than the same time last year when inventories were approaching 1 trillion cubic feet below normal.”

Sieminski adds that following nearly two years of relatively moderate generation capacity growth for renewables, wind power will be the clear leader in utility-scale renewable capacity additions in 2015.

“About 11 gigawatts of wind capacity is expected to enter service in 2015, the second-highest level of generating capacity that the wind industry has ever added in a given year.”

The EIA report goes on to say that petroleum producers continue to see dropping prices for crude oil and many oil companies have cut back on their exploration drilling in response. However, petroleum production is still expected to climb in 2015, as those producers concentrate drilling activities in established areas that already have productive wells.

Ethanol Producers Meet RFS without Final Rule

RFANewlogoThe latest data from the Environmental Protection Agency shows that ethanol producers met the 2014 statutory requirements under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) without a final rule, according to the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA).

RFA president and CEO Bob Dinneen says RIN generation data just released by the EPA show that 2014 volume obligations expected by Congress could have easily been met, and that there was no reason for the RFS waiver proposed – and later rescinded – by EPA.

According to EPA, 14.34 billion “renewable fuel” RINs were generated in 2014, almost perfectly in line with the statutory requirement of 14.40 billion. When combined with surplus RINs carried over from previous years, total renewable fuel RIN stocks are estimated to be well over 16 billion. While some small portion of the 2014 RINs generated will be retired for exported volumes, the data clearly show that compliance with statutory volumes could have easily been achieved.

“Had the Agency just implemented the statute as written, there would have been no drama,” commented Dinneen. “As EPA and the White House finalize the 2014 rule and turn their attention to 2015 and 2016, this data sends a strong message that the U.S. ethanol industry is up to the task. We can and will deliver the volumes established in the statute, provided that EPA enforces the law as written.”

In November 2013, EPA proposed to reduce the 2014 requirement for renewable fuel from the statutory level of 14.4 billion gallons to just 13.01 billion gallons. Today’s data show that RIN generation outpaced EPA’s initial proposed volume by more than 10 percent.

Today’s data also show that RIN generation for cellulosic biofuel — long labeled by oil companies as “phantom fuels” — was nearly double the volume proposed by EPA in November 2013. The Agency proposed a cellulosic biofuel requirement of 17 million gallons, yet RIN generation finished the year at nearly 33 million.

Chevy Premiers Bolt EV Concept

Chevrolet has premiered its Bolt EV concept car, a long-range all-electric vehicle designed to offer more than 200 miles of range starting around $30,000. Leveraging the electrification prowess established by Volt and Spark EV, the Bolt EV concept is designed to offer long-range performance.

“The Bolt EV concept is a game-changing electric vehicle designed for attainability, not exclusivity,” said General Motors CEO Mary Barra. “Chevrolet believes electrification is a 2015 Chevy Bolt EV Concept Carpillar of future transportation and needs to be affordable for a wider segment of customers.”

According to Chevy, drivers will be able to select operating modes designed around preferred driving styles such as daily commuting and spirited weekend cruising. The modes adjust accelerator pedal mapping, vehicle ride height and suspension tuning. The Bolt EV concept is also designed to support DC fast charging.

“We have made tremendous strides in technologies that make it easier and more affordable for Chevrolet customers to integrate an all-electric vehicle in their daily lives,” continued Barra. “The Bolt EV concept demonstrates General Motors’ commitment to electrification and the capabilities of our advanced EV technology.”

Click here to learn more about the Bolt EV.

DOE Offers $2.5M to Improve Wind Forecasting

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has allocated $2.5 million to help improve wind forecasting. Louisville, Colorado-based Vaisala will research the atmospheric processes that generate wind in mountain valley regions and the data will be used to improve wind weather models for short-term wind forecasts. Better forecasts will allow energy plant operators to operate wind turbines closer to maximum capacity.

Screen Shot 2015-01-15 at 11.51.02 AMThe industry has found that mountain-valley areas bring additional challenges including varying degress of soil moisture and surface temperatures making it more difficult to forecast wind energy output. Vaisala and its partners will use advanced meteorological equipment to analyze specific environmental characteristics that affect wind flow patterns in the Columbia River Gorge region of Washington and Oregon.

Data collected during the project will be shared in near real-time with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Energy Department’s national laboratories, and will be used to develop improved atmospheric simulations for the Weather Research and Forecasting model, a widely used weather prediction system. These new wind measurements and simulations will also be incorporated into NOAA’s Numerical Weather Prediction models to improve short-term wind forecasts in complex terrain.

This important research builds on the Energy Department’s Wind Forecast Improvement Project, which previously explored wind energy resources in the northern Great Plains and western Texas. For the first time ever, NOAA assimilated wind data from tall turbines and nacelle anemometers into meteorological models for use by the wind industry and other sectors. Integrating these new data into existing models produced forecasts that were up to 15% more accurate at predicting future wind conditions in nearly flat terrain.

Wave Energy Costs Favorable

According to a new analysis published in the journal Renewable Energy, large-scale wave energy systems developed in the Pacific Northwest should be comparatively steady, dependable and able to be integrated into the overall energy grid at competitive costs to other forms of renewable energy including wind power. The study finds that wave energy has less variability than some other energy sources and that by balancing wave energy production over a large geographic area variability can be further reduced.

Variability of renewable energy production from sources such as solar or wind have been a concern and often require back-up energy sources leading to extra costs. Wave energy may be a more reliable and ultimately less expense option when the technology is future developed.

Ocean Sentinel“Whenever any new form of energy is added, a challenge is to integrate it into the system along with the other sources,” said Ted Brekken, an associate professor and renewable energy expert in the College of Engineering at Oregon State University.

“By producing wave energy from a range of different sites, possibly with different types of technology, and taking advantage of the comparative consistency of the wave resource itself, it appears that wave energy integration should be easier than that of wind energy,” he continued. “The reserve, or backup generation, necessary for wave energy integration should be minimal.”

Today, wave energy is not being commercially produced in the Pacific Northwest, but the researchers expert its future potential is significant, and costs should come down as technologies improve and more systems are developed.  In addition, the study suggested, that its short-term generation capacity can be predicted with a high degree of accuracy over a time scale ranging from minutes to hours, and with some accuracy even seasonally or annually.

BioEnergy Bytes

  • http://domesticfuel.com/category/bioenergy-bytes/Algae.Tec Limited has announced it has executed an agreement with China Finance Strategies Investment Holdings Ltd (CFS) under which Algae.Tec will issue an initial US $0.5m convertible bond and, subject to the achievement of certain milestones, will issue US $5m conditional options to CFS, and CFS will introduce Algae.Tec’s unique technology into the greater China region.
  • Survalent Technology’s Advanced Distrubution Management System (ADMS) took home the award for the Best Smart Grid Solution at the 2014 Rural Smart Grid Summit (RSGS), held at the Arizona Grand Resort & Spa in Phoenix, Arizona.
  • The report “Global Wind Turbine Value Chain – Production, Market Share, Competitive Landscape and Market Size to 2020,” provides an overview of the global wind power market, examining major drivers and restraints, global wind power capacity and generation data broken down by region, country, and segment (onshore/offshore). It also looks at the wind turbine market, covering global average turbine size, price, market size, and manufacturer share in terms of installations. The report discusses the global wind turbine value chain, examining the key components of a wind turbine: the rotor blade, gearbox, tower, and generator. It analyzes the production, cost, market size and major trends for each component, as well as major companies’ competitive landscapes.
  • TerraForm Power, Inc. has announced that it has commenced a $350 million underwritten public offering of shares of its Class A common stock. TerraForm Power has also granted the underwriters a 30-day option to purchase additional shares of its Class A common stock. TerraForm Power intends to use the net proceeds from the offering to fund a portion of the previously announced acquisition of certain power generation assets from First Wind.

NEC Scholarship Award Winner Announced

rfa-nec-15The Renewable Fuels Association and Renewable Fuels Foundation are proud to announce the student scholarship award winner for the 20th annual National Ethanol Conference: Going Global next month in Grapevine, Texas.

This year’s scholarship winner is Laís Thomaz of Brazil, who received her master’s degree in international relations in 2012 from San Tiago Dantas, a graduate program supported by three of Brazil’s premier universities. Her dissertation, which focused on the role of advocacy groups in the shaping of ethanol trade policies, was published as a book by Brazil’s Editora UNESP. Her research previously won the Top Ethanol Award promoted by the Brazilian Sugarcane Ethanol Industry Association (UNICA). She is currently a Ph.D. candidate and a Visiting Scholar in the Department of Government at Georgetown University.

The RFA/RFF scholarship provides students enrolled in higher education with complimentary registration at the conference, giving scholarship recipients the chance to connect with hundreds of leaders, policymakers, and experts associated with the renewable fuel industry. Only students who focus on renewable fuels in their studies and intend to pursue a career in the industry are eligible to receive the scholarship. This is the sixth consecutive year in which this scholarship has been made available to students.

Iowa Biodiesel, Ethanol Marketers Recognized

iowaag3The Iowa Department of Agriculture honors some ethanol and biodiesel marketers in the state. Mark McKinley and Galen Barker from Fuel Time in St. Ansgar and Steve Neuendorf from Farmers Win Cooperative in Fredericksburg are the 2015 winners of the Secretary’s Ethanol and Biodiesel Marketing Awards, recognizing fuel marketers who have gone above and beyond in their efforts to promote and sell renewable fuels.

“Fuel Time in St. Ansgar and Farmers Win Cooperative in Fredericksburg have made it a priority to make biodiesel and ethanol more available to Iowa drivers and promote these home-grown fuels,” [Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill] Northey said.

The Secretary’s Ethanol and Biodiesel Marketing Awards were designed to recognize businesses that market the renewable fuels they have available through creative efforts including, but not limited to: hosting special events highlighting their renewable fuels, development of creative signage, initiation of new advertisements or marketing efforts, and dramatically increase renewable fuel availability…

Fuel Time sources its ethanol from the local ethanol plant and passes the saving on to customers, and the result has been that on several occasion it offered the lowest priced fuel in the country.

The facilities at the Fuel Time station were recently remodeled and they have had a number of events promoting E15 and higher blends of ethanol at the site. In response to their aggressive promotion and competitive pricing of renewable fuels, monthly sales show that E85 sales are typically equal to or greater than E10 sales…

Farmers Win Cooperative, under Neuendorf’s leadership, has made it a priority to give customers a choice at the pump, including access to higher blends of biodiesel. Farmers Win has installed a biodiesel blender pump that in spring thru fall offers a clear #2 diesel as well as blends of 10 percent (B10), 20 percent (B20), 30 percent (B30), and 50 percent (B50). They now offer these products in Burr Oak and Fredericksburg.

The winners were announced and recognized during the Petroleum Marketers & Convenience Stores of Iowa Annual Meeting in Des Moines on Jan. 13th.

Hydro Dynamics’ 98% Ethanol Race Car Featured on PBS

HDIusethanolcar1A race car that runs on a 98 percent blend of ethanol was recently featured on the PBS TV show Farm Connections. The US Ethanol Race Car is sponsored by Hydro Dynamics, Inc. of Rome, Georgia, the developer of a patented cavitation process intensification technology called the ShockWave Power Reactor (SPR), enabling customers to solve critical mixing and heating problems.

Beginning this year HDI sponsored the US Ethanol car by Olmscheid Racing. Olmscheid Racing, based in Elrosa, MN, competes in the Midwest. The HDI logo is prominently displayed on the hood and provides excellent brand awareness in the heart of the ethanol industry of the Shock Wave Power Reactor (SPR) cavitation technology.

The SPR has several ethanol applications including yield enhancement, increased production of corn oil, cellulosic ethanol and the conversion of extracted corn oil to biodiesel. HDI’s extensive renewable energy portfolio also includes biogas, conventional biodiesel and algae oil extraction. The sponsorship has been a great way to draw attention to our ethanol initiatives including our new bolt-on biodiesel plants to convert corn oil to biodiesel.

More information about the process is available at www.hydrodynamics.com.

Brazilian Ethanol Summit Planned for June

Sugarcane harvest in Brazil photo unicaThe 5th annual Ethanol Summit 2015 will take place in the Golden Hall of the World Trade Center (WTC) in São Paulo on June 29-30, 2015. The event supported by the Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association (UNICA) and will focus on renewable energy, especially ethanol, biomaterials and biochemicals that can be produced from sugarcane. There are more than 100 speakers in four major plenary sessions, 15 thematic panels and opening and closing ceremonies, as well as side events. Ethanol Summit 2015 will be organized by one of the world congress companies, MCI.
 
“We have a year ahead in which key decisions for the future of the sugarcane industry will be taken, both in Brazil and on the world stage, increasing the importance of the Summit as the main forum for discussions on the most relevant topics for the energy and renewable products coming of cane sugar,” said the president of UNICA, Elizabeth Farina.
 
For the CEO of MCI Brazil, Juliano Lissoni, completion of the Ethanol Summit is an important and highly visible challenge. “It is a high-level event, worldwide established as a major meetings focused on renewable energy. We want to contribute to the Summit grow and go further, contributing directly to the present and the future of this activity increasingly essential for Brazil and the world.”

Registration for the event will be opened in February, with the launch of the official website of the Ethanol Summit 2015.

South African DOE Awards SolarReserve CSP Project

The South Africa Department of Energy (DOE) has awarded preferred bidder status for a 100 megawatt (MW) Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) project to SolarReserve and International Company for Water and Power Projects (ACWA Power). The project was developed in response to the DOE’s Round 3 (CSP) Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP). The Redstone Solar Thermal Power project, with the lowest tariff bid to date from any CSP project in the country, is scheduled to achieve financial close later in 2015 and commence operations in early 2018.

The first of its kind in Africa, the Redstone Solar Thermal Power Project features SolarReserve’s molten salt energy storage technology in a tower configuration. According to SolarReserve, the 100 MW project with 12 hours of full-load energy storage will be able to reliably deliver a stable electricity supply to more than 200,000 South African homes during peak demand periods. Fueled completely by the sun, with no back up fuel required, the SolarReserve Redstone Solar Thermal Power Project Renderingproject also features dry cooling of the power generation cycle as an important element to minimize water use. The project technology will be based on SolarReserve’s successful Crescent Dunes project in the U.S., which is complete with construction and currently in final commissioning.

“The Redstone project marks an important technology advancement for South Africa in solar power,” said SolarReserve’s CEO Kevin Smith. “Due to the fully integrated thermal energy storage, the plant will provide dispatchable power on-demand, just like conventional coal, oil, nuclear or natural gas-fired power plants, but without the harmful emissions or hazardous materials and without any fuel cost. In addition, the project’s delivered electricity price is the lowest of any Concentrating Solar Power project in the country to date.”

The Redstone Solar Thermal Power Project will be located in Postmasburg, near Kimberley in the Northern Cape Province, adjacent to the 75 MW Lesedi and 96 MW Jasper photovoltaic (PV) solar power projects successfully developed by SolarReserve and its investment partners. Together, the three projects comprise the world’s first combined CSP and PV solar park with a total of 271 MW of generating capacity.

“This Redstone Solar Project together with our 50 MW Bokpoort CSP project in South Africa and the Noor1, 160 MW solar thermal power plant at Ouarzzate in Morocco, extends ACWA Power’s success in solar energy on the African continent,” added Paddy Padmanathan, president and CEO of ACWA Power. “All aspects of the project, from development phase to construction and then operations, have been structured to ensure maximization of value retention in not just only the South African economy, but also within the local economy of Northern Cape Province recognizing the intrinsic value in co-developing local people along with this asset which will co-exist with the local community for decades to come.”

SheerWind Pilots Wind Project in Apollo Beach

SheerWind has been selected by Tampa Electric for a wind energy pilot project to be commissioned in Apollo Beach, Florida at Tampa Electric’s Big Bend Power Station. Tampa Electric has selected SheerWind INVELOX Infographicthe 200-KW INVELOX wind power generation to be built as a pilot project in 2015. According to SheerWind, after sufficient data is collected (6 to 8 months) and if the technology is shown to be viable, Tampa Electric may purchase a utility-scale 1.8MW INVELOX system.

The company explains its INVELOX funnel system is a solution that utilizes current wind power turbines and rotors but brings them to ground level for easier, safer, and cheaper operation and maintenance. Multiple turbines can be used in a row or series to increase output capacity for each tower while reducing downtime to near zero.

“We are pleased to be included in Tampa Electric’s Big Bend Power Station. They understand the importance of exploring and showcasing new technology,” said Steve Hill, Chief Operating Officer of SheerWind. “This project will assist in SheerWind’s mission to provide sustainable, affordable, electrical energy to anyone, anywhere.”

BioEnergy Bytes

  • http://domesticfuel.com/category/bioenergy-bytes/The Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa (SEFA) has approved a USD 420,000 preparation grant to Jumeme – Rural Power Supply Ltd (JRPS) to support the development of a portfolio of independent solar-hybrid mini-grids in rural growth centres in Tanzania. Specifically, the SEFA grant will finance the costs related to technical studies, lender’s due diligence support, legal and financial advisory services. Tanzania’s national electricity coverage is estimated at about 21%, with transmission grid covering a minor part of the country and leaving out most of the territory, particularly in western and southern regions.
  • Innovative Solar Systems (ISS) has secured all approvals and is ready to start construction on an 80MW Solar Farm Project in North Carolina. ISS has all approvals in place including interconnection agreements, purchase power agreements, state, federal and regulatory approvals for Innovative Solar 46, an 80MW solar farm project located in Hope Mills, NC. This project will be the single largest solar farm project ever built in the United States on this side of the Rockies.
  • HOMA Pump Technology is now generating 100 percent of its anticipated electricity usage at its Ansonia, Connecticut facility from a recently completed solar project designed, engineered, and installed by the Ross Solar Group. Commissioned in December of 2014, the 104,640-watt installation is comprised of 320 high-efficiency SunPower solar panels, and four SMA Tripower 24000 TL inverters. The system is expected to generate in excess of 125,000 kilowatt hours of clean energy per year.
  • According to a new report from Navigant Research, worldwide revenue from distributed energy storage systems (DESSs) is expected to grow from $452 million annually in 2014 to more than $16.5 billion in 2024. The report analyzes global market forecasts for power capacity, energy capacity and revenue through 2024.