- Healthy Planet Partners, LLC (HPP), a Clean Energy Solutions Fund and Kyocera Solar, Inc. have announced the completion of a solar rooftop and carport system at the Seattle Mariners Spring Training facility in Peoria, AZ. HPP developed and financed the project with partner Kyocera Solar which provided engineering and project management support as well as acting as a finance partner. The 345kW solar array will generate approximately 529MWh of clean electricity annually.
- Mosaic, a peer-to-peer solar finance company, has announced that an affiliate of global reinsurer PartnerRe Ltd. will provide up to $100 million in financing for Mosaic’s home solar loan program. Under the terms of the facility, PartnerRe will finance the purchase of loans originated by Mosaic. The company also expects to continue to grow its successful peer-to-peer lending platform, which has already seen thousands of investors join the Mosaic community.
- Borrego Solar Systems Inc., a leading designer, developer, installer and financier of grid-tied solar photovoltaic (PV) systems, and sPower (Sustainable Power Group), announced that they are commencing construction on a solar project located in Suffolk County, Long Island, New York. Upon completion, the facility, located on sPower-owned land in the Town of Riverhead, will have the capacity to produce 6.3MWac (9.1MWdc) of solar energy.
- ET Solar Energy Corp. has announced that it has supplied 5 MW polycrystalline photovoltaic modules to a leading mining operation in Suriname. Upon completion, this solar power plant will substantially meet the demand for electricity of the facilities.
After the last couple of years filling up vehicles for dry land transportation, Hawaii-based Pacific Biodiesel is once again topping off boat tanks. This article from Pacific Business News says Pacific Biodiesel got a new permit and has expanded its production of the green fuel so everyone can enjoy clean-burning biodiesel.
“Now that we have the larger capacity, and advanced technology that produces the highest quality biodiesel in America, we are expanding into high-value tourism markets with customers who care about the environment and want to attract eco-conscious visitors to their activities,” Bob King, president and founder of Pacific Biodiesel, said in a statement. “The marine industry should be first and foremost about protecting the ocean and delivering a healthier experience for ocean-goers.”
Biodiesel, a cleaner-burning, renewable alternative fuel produced in Hawaii from recycled waste vegetable oil, is safe for all diesel engines and has been registered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as a fuel and a fuel additive.
In April, Pacific Biodiesel said it closed its facility at the Central Maui Landfill after being open since 1996 because it couldn’t justify the costly site improvements that were required to meet the county’s demands.
The article says Aqua Adventures Maui, a customer of Pacific Biodiesel from more than a decade ago, is the first boat company to fuel under the new permit.
Even in the pristine halls of academia, you can learn a lot by getting your hands dirty, especially when it comes to biodiesel. This article from Loyola University Chicago explains how the school’s Clean Energy Lab, the first and only school with an operation license to sell biodiesel in the U.S., is providing a student-run initiative that’s also a certified green business by the Illinois Green Business Association
“The Biodiesel lab is a good experience for students because it gets students involved hands-on in the field they might be interested in,” sophomore Biology major Najla Zayed said. “It helps us realize that sustainability is a practical thing and we can use the knowledge we gain from our labs and classes and project it out in the world, mainly in Chicago.”
Students involved in these course look at the inputs — such as what energy might go into the process — and the outputs such as productivity and byproducts of the process.
“[The students] identified glycerin as byproduct,” said Loyola’s Director of Sustainability Aaron Durnbaugh said while giving a tour Oct. 9. “So they used that to create BioSoap, in which they marketed, and tested.” The BioSoap is used in main bathrooms around the Lake Shore and Water Towers campuses. It is now fully certified as green chemistry by the United States Environmental Protection Agency.
Loyola’s Clean Energy Lab has several other biodiesel-related projects going on, including Bio-Soap, methanol recovery, production efficiency and the creation of household cleaning products.
Members of the ethanol industry joined with government leaders in applauding Abengoa at the opening of its $500 million cellulosic ethanol plant in Hugoton, Kansas last week.
Among those on hand for the celebration was Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) Vice President of Industry Relations Robert White who says Americans should be proud of the new plant “because this phantom fuel, as the naysayers like to call it, is here and it’s here to stay.”
However, White says they are concerned that this third cellulosic plant opening this year could be the last if EPA fails to continue implementing the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) as Congress intended. “There may never be another celebration like this and it’s sad but true,” he said. “This promise was made years ago and (the administration) needs to stick to it.”Interview with RFA's Robert White at Abengoa Opening
According to a new report, “Positive Energy Trends Bode Well for U.S. Security and the Economy,” smarter use of energy is the biggest contributor to three positive trends: reducing of oil dependence, slowing the growth of electricity needs and making energy services more affordable to Americans.
“Despite what you may be hearing from a final onslaught of negative campaign ads, the security and affordability of America’s energy services has never been better, and energy efficiency is the most important reason why,” said Ralph Cavanagh, co-director of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) energy program, who commissioned the study. “The latest data confirms that our consumption of energy, including oil and coal, remains well below its peak levels from a decade ago. However, we can and should do more.”
NRDC’s Second Annual Energy Report is an analysis of new government data on 2013 U.S. energy use that shows optimizing energy use through efficiency continues to contribute more to meeting U.S. energy needs than any other resource, from oil and coal to natural gas and nuclear power.
“Efficiency helps America get more work out of less oil, natural gas, and electricity while pushing our economy forward and cutting residential, business, and industrial customers’ bills,” added Cavanagh. “Far less costly than adding other energy resources like fossil fuels that also create climate-changing pollution, efficiency saves the nation hundreds of billions of dollars annually, prevents millions of tons of carbon emissions, helps U.S. workers and companies compete worldwide, and increases our energy security.”
The report notes the nation is already two-thirds of the way toward meeting President Obama’s goal of cutting 3 billion tons of carbon pollution by 2030 through his administration’s efficiency standards for appliances and federal buildings, which also will lower customer energy bills by more than $4 billion. Meanwhile, the government’s proposed emissions standards for existing power plants would keep over 5.3 billion additional tons of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. But based on the nation’s positive energy trends, the report says even larger reductions are feasible and cost-effective.
- PlanET Biogas UK Ltd. has commissioned their fifth Biogas plant into service. The 1.5 MW plant is situated on Singleton Birch’s Ltd. site at Melton Ross, Barnetby, North Lincolnshire. The biogas will produce 40% of their onsite power requirements. Four local farmers are providing 30,000 tonnes of feedstock every year.
- Join Growth Energy and New Holland Agriculture announced the 2014 Growth Energy Individual Membership Sweepstakes winner of 200 hours of usage of a CR8090 combine with a New Holland Twin Rotor® CR8090 combine corn head during the 2014 harvest season is Robert Baker from La Plata, Missouri. The total prize package is valued at $35,584.
- Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack recently announced $1.4 billion in USDA loan guarantees to improve the delivery of electric power to rural communities in 21 states. The announcement includes $106 million for smart grid technologies and $3 million for renewable energy programs and systems. The funding will help diversify energy portfolios and decrease our nation’s reliance on carbon-based fuel sources.
- First Environment Inc. and Genscape have created a new strategic partnership to provide RFS2 QAP services for bio-methane related pathways. Both companies have been at the forefront of providing quality assurance to environmental markets, and now both companies can leverage a greater wealth of experience and resources for RFS compliance in the bio-methane industry.
Department of Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz was on hand to help Abengoa Bioenergy celebrate the grand opening of its cellulosic ethanol plant in Hugoton, Kansas. With a beautiful day and a full house, excitement was high as Moniz took the stage to congratulate Abengoa’s achievement.
The $500 million biorefinery was supported, in part, by a DOE loan guarantee. Moniz began his remarks by putting the bioenergy plant in perspective of the larger picture and that is as part of President Obama’s “all of the above” energy strategy.
Moniz said the cellulosic ethanol plant serves three major objectives:
- Growing the economy – creating jobs.
- Advancing our energy security interests. No only for the United States alone, but also for our allies and friends.
- Moving towards the low carbon economy- addressing climate change.
Moniz also noted the importance of the innovation chain, “…and what we’re seeing to today is part of that…But if we’re going to kick start this, we have to work with the private sector with state and local governments with our research institutions and laboratories to get these technologies deployed and drive those costs down to be competitive continued Moniz. So this plant shows all of these features.”
He said that while there will be a few rough spots along the road, what the country is seeing today is the beginning of a new industry.
Listen to Energy Secretary Moniz’s complete comments here:
Listen to Energy Secretary Moniz’s remarks: Energy Secretary Moniz Remarks
Check out the Abengoa Cellulosic Ethanol Plant Grand Opening photo album.
Propane supplies going into the winter are looking good this year. The Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) is citing U.S. Energy Information Administration information that expects a warmer winter and a propane stocks up 17 percent from a year ago in the Gulf Coast and Midwest, along with a 12 percent increase in production from 2013.
“These are positive signs,” said Roy Willis, president and CEO of the Propane Education & Research Council, “but our industry is working hard to ensure our customers are prepared. Propane retailers across the country remain focused on safety and encouraging customers to consider early fills, automatic refills, and payment programs now before cold weather hits.”
PERC launched a $5.5 million consumer safety and preparedness campaign in early September directing residential heating customers and agribusiness operators, among others, to propanecomfort.com. On the site, propane customers can take a quiz to determine if they are prepared for winter and review energy efficiency tips. Visitors can also sign up for news updates from PERC.
“Preliminary numbers for the campaign show that nearly 20,000 customers have already taken advantage of our online resources and we expect to see continued engagement as we get closer to winter,” said Willis.
PERC will TV ads through Thanksgiving in 30 states most affected by deliverability challenges and temporary price increases last winter.
The following is a guest editorial by American Coalition for Ethanol founder Merle Anderson.
I am damn mad because I think we’ve let EPA fool us into letting the fraudulent 10 percent ethanol blend wall stand. It has collapsed grain markets by dishonestly ending ethanol’s growing demand for corn and they call that free enterprise. I call it stealing many, many billions of dollars from agricultural economies.
That blend wall exists because EPA fooled people into thinking it is legitimate because fueling standard cars with E30 illegally increases gasoline’s hazardous emissions. Ever try drinking gasoline? My friend Orrie Swayze’s research agrees that E30 reduces gasoline’s hazardous emissions by 30% because, unlike gasoline, ethanol does not produce known human carcinogenic tailpipe emissions.
I also find it laughable that EPA claims E30 can harm standard auto engines. Show me a legitimate warranty denial. I have never owned a flexible fuel vehicle and fueled my last 7 vehicles with half E85 or used E30 through blender pumps to travel over 600,000 miles. When I traded in the vehicles, the engines were still in top condition.
When blender pumps were installed for the first time, I started hearing many positive remarks about ethanol’s engine performance. EPA tries to deny that standard auto owners have successfully driven millions of miles annually on popular, high octane E30 since blender pumps were installed five years ago. Our typical report still is “more power and can’t tell any difference in mileage compared to E10.”
I challenge agricultural and ethanol leaders to dare and expose EPA’s lies that built the blend wall. I also urge that you use E30 in standard vehicles and openly endorse premium E30 as the legal, safest, best, lowest cost fuel choice on the market today for standard vehicle owners.
Researchers for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) are making advancements on an advanced biofuel, cellulosic ethanol. This article from the USDA says the scientists at the Bioenergy Research Unit in Peoria, Illinois, have recently completed studies on multiple approaches that could help streamline cellulosic ethanol production.
In one study, a team led by ARS chemical engineer Bruce Dien looked at using switchgrass, a perennial grass native to the prairie, for ethanol production. The team concluded that biomass producers could optimize cellulosic ethanol production by planting Kanlow variety—a lowland ecotype—and harvesting at either mid-season or post frost. Results from this study were published in Environmental Technology in 2013.
ARS chemist Michael Bowman led another study of switchgrass xylans, which is challenging to convert to sugars with enzymes because of its complex chemical structure. Bowman determined that structural features of xylan remained the same as the plant matures, even though the amount of xylan changed with maturity. This is good news for biorefiners, because it suggests that they can use the same biomass hydrolyzing enzymes to break down xylans in all switchgrass biomass, no matter when the crop is harvested. Results from this study were published in Metabolites in 2012.
The article also gives progress reports on work with microorganisms needed to ferment xylose—molecules that make up xylans—into ethanol and promising field trials with a yeast strain that grew almost four times faster than other strains that contained XI enzymes and one that could produce ethanol at significantly greater yields than other yeasts engineered to ferment xylose to ethanol.
Two biotechnology companies have been recognized for their contributions to making green chemicals. Amyris and Solazyme, Inc., received awards in the Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge for industrial biotechnology applications that produce farnesene and algae oils. The Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) sent its congratulations to its member companies on receiving the awards, which recognize industrial biotechnology’s contribution to reducing pollution at the source.
BIO President & CEO Jim Greenwood said, “Industrial biotechnology applications once again are recognized in the Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge for their ability to prevent pollution. Today’s award for Solazyme marks the first time that a microalgae biotechnology application has been recognized. Solazyme’s algae oils are a sustainable alternative to petroleum. Likewise, Amyris’ farnesane is a breakthrough renewable hydrocarbon that displaces petroleum in diesel and jet fuels. I congratulate both Solazyme and Amyris on receiving their accomplishments.”
Amyris received the Small Business Award for its design of farnesane, a hydrocarbon building block that can be converted into a renewable, drop-in diesel or jet fuel.
Solazyme received the Greener Synthetic Pathways Award for oils produced through microalgae fermentation. These oils can be tailored to replace or improve upon traditional vegetable oils and petrochemicals.
The Environmental Protection Agency has been handing out the Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Awards each year since 1996. About a third of the nearly 100 annual awards given were awarded to biotechnology and biobased applications.
Spanish-based Abengoa celebrated its cellulosic ethanol achievement today with a celebration of the plant’s grand opening. Thousands of people attended the event with dozens of high profile guests on hand ranging from former and current Senators to governors to the town mayor, to Interior Secretary and Energy Secretary Ernst Moniz who gave the keynote speech.
The bioenergy plant is based in Hugoton, Kansas and when at full scale will produce 25 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol from biomass per year as well as 21 MW of electricity. The plant will use no power from the grid, in fact, it will sell its excess power – a model common in Europe and Brazil.
Abengoa announced the plant would be located in Hugoton in 2007 and a lot of has happened since then as Javier Garoz Neira, CEO of Abengoa Bioenergy, said in his remarks. That same year they produced cellulosic ethanol from wheat straw in their pilot facility located in York, Nebraska. In 2009 they built a larger cellulosic demonstration plant in central Spain. In 2011, working with the Department of Energy (DOE) Abengoa was able to secure a loan guarantee to build the plant in Hugoton, Kansas and today the plant is gearing up to produce cellulosic ethanol from corn and what residues at commercial scale.
“It is without a question a major achievement. And we believe it will revolutionize the biofuels industry and our future,” said Neira.
Listen to Javier Garoz Neira’s remarks: Abengoa Bioenergy CEO Javier Garoz Neira
Manuel Sanchez Ortega, chief executive officer of Abengoa SA, began his remarks by noting how important today is for everyone in the room. He also addressed the role of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) in providing a platform for the development of second generation biofuels. “Without the RFS, there was no way we would have decided to invest more than $500 million dollars in a project full of risks from both technology and financial without the existence of a solid framework of the RFS.”
Ortega stressed that the role that advanced biofuels will play around the world is not illusive. “The promise of a sustainable and domestic energy is not illusive or imaginary, not anymore. It is right here in front of us. Progress has always come from innovation. And we at Abengoa believe that only through innovation we make make Earth a better place to live.”
Listen to Manuel Sanchez Ortega’s remarks: Abengoa CEO Manuel Sanchez Ortega
Check out the Abengoa Cellulosic Ethanol Plant Grand Opening photo album.
Farmers are using… but also making… a lot of energy. A new report from the U.S Energy Information Administration shows that American agriculture used nearly 800 trillion British thermal units (Btu) of energy in 2012, or about as much primary energy as the entire state of Utah. While growing and harvesting the crops and the energy needed to raise livestock are significant expenditures (with crop operations consume much more energy than livestock operations), those same farms are also big contributors to our nation’s fuel supply.
Energy makes up a significant part of operating expenditures for most crops, especially when considering indirect energy expenditures on fertilizer, because the production of fertilizer is extremely energy-intensive, requiring large amounts of natural gas. For some crops like oats, corn, wheat, and barley, energy and fertilizer expenditures combined make up more than half of total operating expenses. The proportion of direct to indirect energy use varies by crop. For example, corn, which is also used as an energy input for ethanol production, has relatively low direct fuel expenditures but has the highest percentage of fertilizer expenditures.
The energy consumed in livestock operations is almost solely direct energy consumption and is relatively low compared with crop operations, both as a percentage of total operating expenditures and on a total energy basis…
In addition to being major energy consumers, some farms are using renewable resources to produce energy. Wind turbines, methane digesters, and photovoltaics are the most common on-farm renewables. Renewable energy can help to offset the need for purchased energy. In some cases, the renewable energy produced on farms is sold to electric power suppliers, providing additional income for farmers.
The report also says that water and chemicals used in agriculture can be big users of energy resources.
Renewable Fuels Association’s (RFA) President and CEO Bob Dinneen has submitted a letter to the California Air Resources Board (CARB) where he expresses concern over their analysis of indirect land use (ILUC). He writes, “serious concerns about the openness, transparency, and scientific integrity of staff’s new indirect land use change (ILUC) analysis for the California Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS).”
On September 29, 2014 CARB hosted a workshop where they disclosed they were planning to disregard the latest published research on ILUC. They have committed to using the current ILUC modeling despite the voluminous amount of stakeholder comments received.
RFA, along with near 40 other stakeholders, submitted detailed technical comments in April 2014 aimed at improving CARB’s analysis, but “it was abundantly clear that the information submitted by stakeholders in the spring had been wholly disregarded” by the time CARB held its September public workshop. CARB staff gave no reason as to why it ignored the comments “even when stakeholders explicitly asked for staff’s rationale for ignoring new information.” CARB staff also remained vague about future plans to examine the new information. Because CARB staff failed to explain why it disregarded the technical comments submitted by RFA in April, the extensive comments were re-submitted.
Moreover, Dinneen’s letter highlighted CARB staff’s misguided belief that it is “not productive” to examine real-world data concerning agricultural land use. Dinneen remarked that, “Any objective scientist would find it prudent to examine the real-world data to determine whether predictive model results agreed with actual observed outcomes… Certainly, it is difficult to disentangle the real-world impact of biofuels expansion from the effects of other factors on actual global land use—but that does not mean CARB staff shouldn’t at least attempt to ground-truth its predictive results against real-world data.”
As an example of the disconnect between CARB’s ILUC modeling results and the real world, Dinneen noted that CARB’s model predicted that roughly 100,000 hectares of forest would be converted to cropland for biofuels production between 2001 and 2015. But real-world data show no U.S. forest loss has occurred; instead, U.S. forestland has grown 7 million hectares since 2001.
Dinneen concluded by calling on CARB to ensure its staff is transparent in its decision making and responsive to legitimate stakeholder concerns, stating, “We urge you to ensure that the CARB staff responsible for the ILUC analysis are held accountable for their decisions and abide by the agency’s long-standing norms for science-based rulemaking.”
The full letter can be found here.
A new Indo-U.S. Advanced Bioenergy Consortium for Second Generation Biofuels (IUABC) has been launched. Partners include the government of India’s Department of Biotechnology, Indian corporate leaders and Washington University in St. Louis, who have invested $2.5 million in the consortium. The IUABC is a joint bi-national center led by Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), the Indian Institute of Technology in Bombay (IITB), and Washington University.
“Biofuels are an essential solution to this demand challenge, not only to bridge the supply between traditional fossil fuels and consumer demand, but to deliver better environmental performance,” said Himadri Pakrasi, PhD, director of I-CARES, Washington University’s center for research on energy, the environment and sustainability, and the university’s McDonnell International Scholars Academy ambassador to JNU. “Over the next three years, the IUABC will invest significantly in the knowledge base in India and the U.S. to meet this challenge.”
The goal of the center is to increase biomass yield in plants and algae, enabling downstream commercial development for cost-effective, efficient and environmentally sustainable production of advanced biofuels.
The lead organizations are all members of the McDonnell International Scholars Academy and the new consortium strengthens this relationship.