Tax Breaks – How Should Congress Handle?

New Holland ZimmPollOur latest ZimmPoll asked the question, “What’s your favorite Thanksgiving side dish?”

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving with plates piled high of your favorites. I know I am still stuffed. It looks like our Zimmpollers prefer sweet potatoes, but only slightly. We did have quite an array of Others including oysters and some Pinot Noir.

Here are the poll results:

  • Dressing – 19%
  • Mashed potatoes & gravy – 13%
  • Greenbean casserole – 11%
  • Cranberries – 12%
  • Sweet potatoes – 20%
  • Does pumpkin pie count? – 16%
  • Other – 9%

Our new ZimmPoll is now live and asks the question, How should Congress handle tax breaks?

Congress is once again considering a package of tax breaks for businesses and individuals that include everything from section 179 deductions to renewable energy tax credits. In typically Washington fashion, these tax provisions expired at the end of last year and will have to be renewed retroactively before the end of this year to be applied to 2014 tax returns. An effort to make them permanent was ditched when the White House threatened a veto – but what do you think Congress should do?

CRS Announces Green-e Certification

A new Green-e certification program has been launched by the Center for Resource Solutions. The program is targeted to organizations that build clean energy projects or contract for renewable energy from these facilities. Apple, who received the 2014 Green Power Leadership Awards, is the first company to participate in Green-e Direct, which certifies the energy that the company generates from renewable resources and purchases directly including solar, wind and geothermal energy.

Green-e worked closely with Apple to develop the new certification option that offers independent, third-party oversight over the renewable electricity’s chain of custody beginning with generation and ending at retirement. Green-e Direct also offers participants assurance that the electricity will not be double-counted or double-claimed by regulations or other electricity users, and confirmation that the electricity meets the environmental quality requirements in the Green-e Energy National Standard.

Green-e Direct“We developed this new Green-e certification option so that renewable energy leaders like Apple can have the assurances and recognition of Green-e certification for their direct renewable energy purchases and onsite generation,” said Jennifer Martin, executive director of the nonprofit Center for Resource Solutions. “We are excited to continue working with Apple as they set the example for companies looking to power their operations with 100% renewable energy.”

Green-e Direct is intended to encourage long-term commitments by organizations that want to reduce the environmental impact of their electricity use, while providing a way to help recognize and promote leading companies that invest in clean energy. Renewable electricity certified through Green-e is subject to an extensive third-party verification process that ensures the energy meets the highest standards for quality in North America, and is eligible for use in a wide range of environmental standards, including LEED, B Corp., and Cradle to Cradle.

Martin added, “Green-e Direct reduces some of the complexity and uncertainty for companies that contract directly for clean energy. They want a clear message to their stakeholders about the difference they are making, and we can guide them through the complicated tracking and claims process, while certifying their clean energy use.”

Green-e Direct is available through Green-e, a nonprofit certification program that certifies renewable energy that meets environmental and consumer protection standards developed in conjunction with leading environmental, energy, and policy organizations.

Navy to Install Solar in Housing Units

Navy and Marine Corps housing units in San Diego, California will be receiving rooftop solar photovoltaic (PV) systems through a purchase power agreement between Lincoln Military Housing and SolarCity. The program will provide solar power to nearly 6,000 homes across 27 privatized neighborhoods, and with pending design and interconnection approvals could generate up to 20 megawatts (MW) of solar energy.

ZEPInstall_CA_InProgress-1_content“Our Department of the Navy goal is to ensure that at least 50 percent of our shore-based energy comes via alternative sources,” said Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus. “By establishing these sources of renewable energy we ensure both energy independence and cost savings well into the future. This agreement is another step toward achieving our one gigawatt goal.”

Back in 2009 Congress mandated the Department of Defense (DOD) to use at least 25 percent of its electricity needs generated from renewable energy.

Jarl Bliss, president of Lincoln Military Housing said of the agreement, “For the last few years, we have worked closely with the Department of the Navy to find a renewable energy program which will greatly benefit our military families and support our Navy partner in reaching its renewable energy goals. Through this agreement with SolarCity, Lincoln projects savings of at least $60 million over the 20-year term that can be reinvested in project sustainment.”

San Diego Family Housing, LLC will purchase all the electricity produced by the systems at below the cost of brown power over the 20-year term of the agreement. SolarCity will be responsible for the design, installation, monitoring and maintenance of the PV systems.

SolarCity CEO Lyndon Rive added, “Energy in the United States needs to become cleaner, more secure and more affordable, and few realize this more clearly than the leadership of the Department of the Navy. With this SolarStrong project, Lincoln Military Housing is contributing to the well-being of its residents, and to the nation.”

BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDFSunEdison, Inc. and its yieldco platform, TerraForm Power, Inc. have signed a definitive agreement to acquire First Wind for $2.4 billion. Equally owned by D.E. Shaw & Co. and Madison Dearborn Partners, First Wind is a leading independent wind and solar development and asset management company in the U.S. Marathon Capital served as an advisor to the Board of Managers of First Wind Holdings, LLC.
  • Algonquin Power & Utilities Corp. announced the achievement of commercial operation of the 24 MW Phase I St. Damase Wind Project in Quebec under the terms of the power purchase agreement with Hydro Quebec. St. Damase I consists of 10 Enercon E-92, 2.35 MW wind turbine generators. St. Damase I is expected to produce an average of 76.9 GW-hrs of electricity per year.
  • The Ross Solar Group has reached an agreement with Gengras Motor Cars Inc. to install the two largest single SunPower rooftop solar installations to date in East Hartford, Conn. The systems will be located at the dealership group’s Volvo and Chevrolet facilities on Connecticut Blvd. Comprised of 1,124 high-efficiency SunPower Panels, the two systems are expected to generate in excess of 450,000 kilowatt hours of clean energy per year.
  • Edeniq, Inc. has announced a Joint Development Agreement with Global Bio-chem Technology Group Limited. Following a letter of intent forged in July, the companies further cement their cooperation on developing the lowest cost process for converting corn stover to cellulosic sugars for use in the production of bio-based chemical products. Edeniq and Global Bio-chem plan to integrate their technologies in a commercial demonstration plant at Global Bio-chem’s facility in the Jilin Province of China.

New Program to Train Vets in Clean Energy

Cerritos College located in Norwalk, California has announced a new training program to certify military veterans and other applicants to meet the growing need for electrical field service technicians (EFSTs). These are the workers who help to maintain solar power and electric vehicle infrastructure.

The program is the result of a partnership among Cerritos College’s Technology Division, the Advanced Transportation & Renewable Energy (ATRE) sector, a California Community Colleges workforce program, and True South Renewables, Inc. The five-month college certification program will teach students how to maintain and repair solar photovoltaic (PV) systems, electric vehicle (EV) charging stations and equipment needing Cerritos Collegegeneral maintenance. Cerritos College and ATRE worked closely with True South Renewables to develop the extensive curriculum for this unique program.

“This is an important initiative to provide military personnel who were electricians in the service with training to receive certification in a high-paying, growing civilian field,” said Rue Phillips, CEO of True South Renewables based in Huntington Beach, Calif. “In addition, these graduates are needed. Few outside the solar power industry are aware of the volume of operations and maintenance work required to ensure the optimum performance of large solar fields and photovoltaic systems on commercial and residential rooftops.”

Classes start Jan. 12, 2015 at the Cerritos College campus and applications are now being accepted. Applicants must be experienced electricians with accumulated service knowledge and skills in the electronics/electrician and IT sectors. Qualified U.S. veterans are being prioritized for entry and will be able to secure financial support upon acceptance.

“We are proud to offer this program to the community, enabling qualified veterans, the unemployed and under-employed to receive training that fills a critical shortage of technicians in the trillion-dollar solar and EV markets,” added Jannet Malig, ATRE regional director based at Cerritos College. “Graduates of the program will be introduced to industry leaders with the expectation that we will achieve 99% job placement for graduating students.”

Pacific Biodiesel Inks Deal with Hawaiian Electric

pacificbiodieselFolks in the Aloha State will be keeping cool and the lights on late greener as the state’s electric utility signs a deal to use biodiesel to power generators on Oahu. The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reports Hawaiian Electric Co. and Maui-based Pacific Biodiesel Technologies have signed a two-year contract starting in just under a year.

Pacific Biodiesel Technologies will provide waste cooking oil and other local feedstocks to be used at the 110-megawatt power plant at Campbell Industrial Park as well as other Oahu power plants if needed.

Pacific Biodiesel Technologies will provide a minimum of 2 million and up to 3 million gallons per year to HECO. The contract is waiting approval from the Public Utilities Commission.

The contract with the local firm comes with a reduced price, said Alan Oshima, Hawaiian Electric president and CEO.

“This new contract accomplishes our goal of using locally produced biofuel to the greatest extent possible,” Oshima said. “Biodiesel for the Campbell Industrial Park plant will come from Pacific Biodiesel’s recently commissioned Hawaii Island refinery at a lower price than we now pay for mainland supplied biodiesel.”

The utility will save about 13 percent under this new contract. Pacific Biodiesel officials say the contract will use up about half of the company’s current production volume.

CNH Industrial, Fiat at First Ever ‘Biomethane Day’

CNHiAg and construction equipment maker CNH Industrial and Italy’s Fiat Chrysler Automobiles were part of the first ever “Biomethane Day.” This CNH news release says the two attended the meeting organized by the Italian Biogas Consortium (CIB), Assogasmetano and NGV Italy in partnership with CNH Industrial and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, near Verona, Italy to highlight the potential of biomethane in terms of reducing CO2 emissions.

Biomethane enhances the industrial sector’s expertise in natural gas, a field in which Italy is one of the world leaders. It is obtained by a process of “upgrading” biogas and can be produced from animal waste, agro-industrial by-products and crop integration. It possesses similar characteristics to natural gas and enables similar operation. Furthermore, biomethane could be inserted into the natural gas network and used as an advanced form of biofuel for transport and agricultural machinery.

Biomethane is seen as part of a larger European strategy that the continent get at least 10 percent of its energy consumption from renewable sources by 2020.

Patriot Names Manager for New Biodiesel Plant

Audie-Sturtewagen1Patriot Renewable Fuels has named Audie Sturtewagen as manager of its new 5-million gallon per year biodiesel plant expected to come on line in Illinois in the first quarter of 2015. This company news release says Sturtewagen has worked for the company since 2008 when the ethanol plant started production.

Audie Sturtewagen said “I’m excited to have the opportunity to manage this important new Patriot subsidiary. We believe this new plant will be one of the most cost efficient biodiesel plants in the country. I am proud to be part of this new plant in my hometown, Annawan, IL. It’s great to see Patriot grow and diversify its business here, and I can’t wait to work with the new employees that will be brought on to operate the plant”.

Rick Vondra said “Patriot Fuels Biodiesel, LLC will use a new “Super Critical” production process that involves high pressure and heat. It will use less chemicals than many other processes. Feedstock will be corn oil extracted from the corn/ethanol process, but if we want to expand production, we can use any of the other feedstocks such as soy oil, brown grease, or yellow grease as well”. The plant has been designed by Jatro Diesel, Miamisburg, Ohio. Patriot is acting as general contractor for the project. Construction Manager, Joe Lillion is coordinating and supervising all the engineering, procurement and subcontractor activities.

Biodiesel at the plant will be made from corn oil, making it the first advanced biofuel produced by Patriot.

Lloyd’s Register Energy Unveils Wind Turbine Cert

Lloyd Register Energy has launched a new Wind Turbine Certification IEC 61400 service. The goal of the certification is to help overcome many of the technical, financial and environmental risks associated with turbine design and manufacturing. It will also ensure that the wind turbine is designed, documented and manufactured to comply with design specifications, specific standards and other technical requirements.

Screen Shot 2014-12-03 at 7.26.54 PMRoss Wigg, VP Renewables at Lloyd’s Register Energy said, “Success in the wind energy industry requires multi-disciplinary competences to understand the wind resource; choose appropriate technology; and design, install, and operate robust projects. With the certification landscape changing, we have launched this new certification service to address a growing need in the market for independent provision of type certification for onshore and offshore wind turbines.”

The Lloyd’s Register Type Certification process is carried out in accordance with the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) — IEC 61400-22 — which is an internationally recognized and a mandatory requirement in some regions. It sets out the key requirements for assessment of wind turbine design, manufacturing and testing.

“We feel that clients in Europe, America and Asia could benefit from a fresh, more intuitive, approach while retaining the technical excellence already associated with Lloyd’s Register Energy as an acknowledged independent global certification and classification company,” added Wigg.

The company also has launched a pre-certification ‘SMART Audit’ module specifically designed to plan for innovation challenges in future technology advances. Its experts conduct a full audit of a client’s early stage design, management systems and resource so they can make adjustments where necessary. A pre-certification audit is then put in place to plan for likely technical or innovation challenges which can be worked through in advance and minimizing delays further down the line.

BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDFHanwha SolarOne Co. Ltd. has announced it has completed the delivery of 20 MW of Hanwha SolarOne’s high quality E-star HSL72 modules to Haike Engineering Holding Co., Ltd. Deliveries were made throughout November to a ground-mounted project in Dunhuang, Gansu Province, China.
  • Eternal Sun B.V. announced that it has closed a €2 Million ($2.5 Million) Series A financing from Belgian investment firm Vermec N.V. The Delft based high-tech company that is specialized in solar simulation technology will use the investment to expand international sales and service operations.
  • Maryland-based Competitive Power Ventures (CPV) and partners Marubeni and Toyota Tsusho have broken ground on the $775 million, 725 megawatt CPV St. Charles Energy Center in Waldorf, Charles County, Maryland. Located 25 miles southeast of Washington, DC, the CPV St. Charles Energy Center is a state-of-the-art 725 MW combined-cycle natural gas-fired electric power generating facility. The project will be constructed by SNC Lavalin Constructors Inc. and operated by EthosEnergy Power Plant Services, LLC.
  • ReneSola Ltd. has announced the expansion of its North American operations into Canada. The company has opened a new office and warehouse facilities in Mississauga, Ontario.

E15 Debuts in Sunshine State

Some drivers in the Sunshine State will now have access to 15% ethanol fuel (E15), approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for use in vehicles 2001 and newer.

protecfuel1In partnership with Protec Fuel, retail stations in Ft. Myers and Sarasota operated by Mid-State Energy are holding kickoff events with substantial discounts on E15 and E85 fuel today to celebrate the new fuel choice for consumers.

Florida-based Protec Fuel helped manage the ethanol blends installation and provide fuel for the locations. “We are proud to help introduce American-made ethanol into the fuel pool through E15 in Florida, especially as it’s a higher performance fuel at 88-octane,” said Protec vice president of business development Steve Walk. “It’s so convenient for drivers to make a difference – you can use E15 interchangeably with gas if you’re driving a 2001 or newer model.”

The Renewable Fuels Association has been working with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services for more than two years to overcome regulatory barriers that hindered the sale of E15 in Florida. “It is exciting to see E15 continue its expansion to the East Coast and it is my hope that additional states in the South and East that don’t currently offer E15 will follow Florida’s example and begin offering low-cost E15 to their consumers,” said RFA vice president of industry relations Robert White.

The Tampa Bay Clean Cities Coalition is pleased to see the expansion of bio-based fuels in the region. “These fuels can provide a renewable and cleaner fuel option for us now with virtually no additional investment in vehicle modification or infrastructure,” said coordinator Steven Reich. “I hope that more retailers will take advantage of the availability of these fuels in their product mix.” Clean Cities coalitions throughout the nation are charged with reducing the nation’s petroleum usage by the U.S. DOE.

Dairy Waste-to-Fuel Digesters Open Cal Fuel Options

dairycaresRenewable energy production in California is getting another boost as dairy biogas digester development is turning waste into fuel. This article from Dairy Cares says the development of the waste-to-fuel converters is being helped by new programs, incentives and partnerships.

The California Department of Food and Agriculture recently announced the creation of a new Dairy Digester Research and Development Program, an important front-end boost for expanding the number of dairy digesters. With funding from the state’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (cap-and-trade program), $11.1 million in competitive grants will be awarded for the construction of new dairy digester projects in California. These grants can provide up to 50 percent of the total cost of a new project, with a $3 million grant cap. An additional $500,000 will be made available for research and demonstration projects that improve the economic performance of dairy digesters in California.

Another key to achieving economic viability of dairy digesters is the price paid for green, renewable electricity generated on the farm. Today’s dairy bioenergy market is new and underdeveloped. However, 2015 should see significant market maturation for dairy bioenergy with the expected full implementation of the California Public Utilities Commission’s bioenergy feed-in tariff mandated by SB 1122. This law requires that California’s three large investor owned utilities collectively procure 90 megawatts of bioenergy from dairy and other agricultural sources.

The article goes on to point out that national partnerships with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and new opportunities on the horizon should make the California dairy community “optimistic about the potential to develop more cost-effective, environmentally friendly dairy digesters to our state.”

Clark to Discuss Ethanol at IA Renewable Fuels Summit

IowaRFAlogoThe Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) is bringing retired Four-Star General and former NATO Supreme Allied Commander Wesley Clark to its next big conference. The group says Clark will talk about ethanol and energy security during the at the 9th Annual Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit and Trade Show on January 27, 2015 at Prairie Meadows near Des Moines.

“The IRFA is excited to have retired Four-Star General Wesley Clark address the Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit to provide attendees with a unique perspective on biofuels and their impacts on national security,” stated IRFA President Steve Bleyl. “With discussion over renewable fuels policy at fever-pitch, the 2015 Summit will be a great place to hear the latest and greatest on the future of renewable fuels.”

The meeting is free to the public. More information and registration are available here.

Novozymes Offers Enzyme for Waste Oil to Biodiesel

novozymesWaste cooking oil-to-biodiesel operations are getting some help as biotech company Novozymes introduces a new enzyme just for that kind of operation. This company news release says Novozymes Eversa® is the first commercially available enzymatic solution to make biodiesel from waste oils and gives producers more feedstock selection at lower costs.

Growing demand for vegetable oil in the food industry has resulted in increased prices, causing biodiesel producers to search for alternative – and more sustainable – feedstocks. Most of the oils currently used are sourced from soybeans, palm or rapeseed, and typically contain less than 0.5% free fatty acids (FFA). Existing biodiesel process designs have difficulty handling oils containing more than 0.5% FFA, meaning that waste oils with high FFAs have not been a viable feedstock option until now.

“The idea of enzymatic biodiesel is not new, but the costs involved have been too high for commercial viability,” says Frederik Mejlby, marketing director for Novozymes’ Grain Processing division. “Eversa changes this and enables biodiesel producers to finally work with waste oils and enjoy feedstock flexibility to avoid the pinch of volatile pricing.”

Novozymes officials say Eversa will work with a broad range of fatty materials as feedstock, although initially intended for used cooking oil, DDGS corn oil and fatty acid distillates. They do say most biodiesel producers would have to convert their plants to an enzymatic process.

“The enzymatic process uses less energy, and the cost of waste oil as a feedstock is significantly lower than refined oils,” says Frederik Mejlby. “A small number of plants have been producing biodiesel from waste oils using existing technologies. But this has not been cost-efficient until now, broadly speaking, as the waste oils have had to be refined before being processed using chemicals. We hope that our technology can unleash more of the potential in these lower grade feedstocks.”

Oregon Ethanol Producers to Get Safety Seminars

RFA-logo-13Ethanol producers in Oregon will be getting some safety help. The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) is co-hosting free safety seminars Dec. 10–12 at the Portland Fire and Rescue Training Center in Portland, Oregon. The training is aimed toward first responders, hazmat teams, safety managers, and local emergency planning committees, as well as being open to the general public.

The goal of this seminar is for attendees to gain full ethanol emergency response training experience that they can put to use immediately in the field and pass along to other first response teams. A majority of this training is based on the “Training Guide to Ethanol Emergency Response,” a training package created by the Ethanol Emergency Response Coalition (EERC) that has been distributed throughout the United States and to several countries worldwide.

“The Office of State Fire Marshal is pleased to offer the Ethanol Safety Seminar, funded through the Hazardous Material Emergency Preparedness grant,” said Sue Otjen of Oregon’s State Emergency Response Commission. “This training will provide first responders with the knowledge and resources needed to be prepared to safely respond to ethanol and other fuel related incidents in their community.”

“2014 has been a very successful year for the RFA and its partners in educating and training communities across the nation on swift and efficient responses to ethanol emergencies,” said Kristy Moore, vice president of technical services at RFA. “We are proud to continue this indispensable program in Portland as the year comes to a close.”

To register and for more information, click here.