Burundi Moving Towards Solar

Burundi is moving towards solar. Via the Power Africa and Power Africa’s Beyond the Grid sub-initiative, Gigawatt Global has been awarded two grants to bring solar to the country, where only four percent of the population has access to residential power. The proposed project, a 7.5 Megawatt (MW) solar field, will increase the country’s generation capacity by 15 percent. Currently, Burundi experiences a high frequency of blackouts, with downtime in electrical access an average of two days a week. Burundi has a total of only 52 MW of installed electrical capacity, including 15.5 MW of diesel-generated power.

The effort in Burundi is being supported by two grants totaling nearly $1 million, from Power Africa via the U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) and the GigaWatt Global Solar project in BurundiEnergy and Environment Partnership (EEP), a coalition representing the British, Finnish, and Austrian governments. Gigawatt Global plans to develop and manage a 7.5 MW solar PV field on a 15-hectare site in the Gitega region, 65 miles from the capital of Bujumbura. The facility will produce electricity needed for 60,000 households. The total cost of the project is estimated to be approximately $20 million.

“Our impact investment model is to strengthen developing nations, both economically and environmentally, by providing renewable energy sources where they are most needed,” said Yosef Abramowitz, President of Gigawatt Global, an American-owned Dutch developer. This announcement follows Gigawatt Global’s launch last month of East Africa’s largest utility-scale solar field, which added 6 percent to Rwanda’s electricity generation capacity and for which it was nominated for the 2015 Nobel Peace Prize. “We plan to build 1,000 solar megawatts in Africa by 2020, thereby providing electricity to millions of households and institutions that are currently without the most basic of human needs.”

USTDA’s grant will fund a feasibility study that will address key technical and economic aspects of the solar project, conduct environmental and social impact assessments, and provide the necessary analysis for the project to secure financing. The grant funds awarded by EEP will be used for pre-development works and legal costs.

“USTDA is pleased to provide Gigawatt Global Burundi S.A. this grant for a feasibility study, which will utilize U.S. industry expertise to advance this important project,” said USTDA Director Leocadia I. Zak. “This activity supports Power Africa’s objectives of increasing access to power and promoting greater private investment in Africa’s energy sector.”

BioEnergy Bytes

  • http://domesticfuel.com/category/bioenergy-bytes/NV Energy has announced that it is seeking proposals to procure an additional 54 megawatts of company-owned planning capacity in Nevada. This solicitation is related to the company’s Emissions Reduction and Capacity Replacement plan that is retiring 812 megawatts of coal-fired generation by 2019. The company is seeking proposals for, but not limited to: A build-transfer option for a 140-megawatt single axis tracking solar photovoltaic facility at a location provided by the bidder; and Alternative proposals that would allow the company to acquire or partner to construct a renewable energy resource that would satisfy the remaining 54 megawatts of planning capacity.
  • The Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa (SEFA) has just approved a USD 780,000 preparation grant for the development of a first phase 40 MW of Starsol Solar PV Plant near N’Djamena in Chad as the first Independent Power Producer (IPP) scheme to be connected to the national grid. Specifically, the SEFA grant will finance the costs related to technical assistance for the completion of the plant design and grid study, as well as advisors for legal and financial structuring of a bankable IPP.
  • Iberdrola Renewables today announced it is seeking applicants for its 2015 Wildlife Protection Program (WPP) grants. The company’s ongoing “Legacy of Caring” campaign for wildlife and habitat awards WPP grants to avian rehabilitation groups. These partners play an important role in rehabilitation, community education and scientific understanding of birds of prey.
  • Siva Power, pioneering the next generation of thin film solar technology, is pleased to announce that Dr. Billy J. “BJ” Stanbery has joined the team as President of Siva Power effective March 23, 2015. Dr. Stanbery has had an illustrious career spanning more than 30 years in the solar industry and is an expert in the field of photovoltaics (PV). Dr. Stanbery is especially well-respected by the solar industry as a pivotal early-developer of copper indium gallium diselenide (CIGS) technology, the same technology being commercialized by Siva Power.

Methes Biodiesel Maker to Refine Corn OIl

Methes1A Canadian company has bought a Methes Energies International Ltd. biodiesel processor and will make the gaining plant the first facility in the world to use Methes’ pre-treatment system to process corn oil from a local ethanol plant. This Methes news release says the Denami 600 biodiesel processor and a PP-MEC pre-treatment system will be installed in Havelock, Ontario, Canada, for Drain Bros and will come from Methes’ Mississauga facility.

John Loewen, COO of Methes said, “We are glad to have finalized this transaction and to be able to use the Denami 600 in Mississauga. The Denami 600 has recently been used for research, testing and marketing but has not been used in commercial biodiesel production in over two years so it made sense for Drain Bros and Methes to move it to their location. More importantly, we will be installing a pre-treatment system that will be running on corn oil and we’ll have the ability to showcase the technology in action to other potential clients. This is a major milestone and we are looking forward to help Drain Bros with their new biodiesel facility.”

Furthermore, Methes announced on January 20th 2015 that it had entered into an agreement to license its technology to a US client in exchange for an upfront payment of $4 Million which, as per the agreement, was due February 20th, 2015. Methes provided an extension to the payment date to allow its US client to finalize a pending transaction. At this time, though they express continuing interest in the transaction with Methes, they still have not finalized their other pending transaction.

The refiner will take about 3 weeks to dismantle the equipment at the Mississauga facility.

Efforts to Cease Solar Net Metering Continue

The Alliance for Solar Choice (TASK) is pushing back on Turlock Irrigation District (TID) for wanting to cease solar net metering. The nonprofit explains that net metering is a fundamental policy that enables rooftop solar consumers to secure fair credit for excess Alliance for solar choice logosolar energy sent back to the grid. Without net metering, says TASK, a thriving solar market and robust solar job creation cannot exist.

TASK says ending net metering means wiping out the savings that TID solar customers will be able to earn from their solar systems. They cite TID’s net metering elimination program harms solar customers in the following ways:

  1. Eliminates the most fundamental solar policy – net metering – which exists in 44 states including California.
  2. Imposes a discriminatory fee on residential solar customers – the first of its kind in California.
  3. Charges customers a new $600 meter fee before TID will allow a system to operate.

“It appears that this new billing structure will render solar financially nonviable for TID customers, which will hinder us from taking advantage of green energy in the future,” said John Miller of Miller Farms, Inc., a TID customer. “This is unfortunate because we believe that anything we can do to improve our business, the local economy, and our environment at the same time is good for all parties involved.”

According to TASK, the end of solar net metering may not be permanent. There are efforts in the California Senate to standardize net metering throughout the state.

“TID’s new solar billing structure appears to have a major impact on savings that TID customers can achieve with solar,” added Todd Filbrun, CEO of Kurios Energy, a Manteca solar company.  “Keeping utility consumers informed on what options they will have to recoup these savings, such as battery back-up or off-grid solar systems, will be important moving forward.”

DOE Releases 2014 Geothermal Tech Report

“We’ve turned the corner … the potential growth curve for geothermal is extremely exciting,” said Deputy Assistant Secretary for Renewable Power, Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, United States Department of Energy, Douglas Hollett. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has released its annual report, “2014 Annual Report Geothermal Technologies Office,” and highlights 35 project successes in program areas  including EGS, Hydrothermal, Low-Temperature, and Systems Analysis.

The report notes that DOE’s geothermal flagship project over the next five years in its FORGE initiative that Director Doug Hollett says is “the first dedicated field site of its kind EGS field near Bend Oregonfor testing targeted enhanced geothermal systems (EGS) R&D. The intent is to use this collaborative site for transformative science that will create a commercial pathway for large-scale, economically viable EGS.”

As the report explains, enhanced geothermal systems (EGS) are engineered reservoirs, created beneath the Earth’s surface where there is hot rock but limited pathways through which fluid can flow. During EGS development, underground fluid pathways are safely created and/or their size and connectivity increased. These enhanced pathways allow fluid to circulate throughout the hot rock and carry heat to the surface to generate electricity. 

The FORGE initiative was announced in July 2014 and is a $31 million funded program that will develop and support a geothermal field observatory, the Frontier Observatory for Research in Geothermal Energy (FORGE), dedicated to researching pertinent questions that will move geothermal technology and and opportunities forward.

The FORGE site, explains the report, “will enable cutting-edge research, drilling, and technology testing, allowing collaborating scientists to identify a replicable, commercial pathway to EGS. It is hoped the field site will yield breakthrough tools and technologies for to improve future geothermal energy production.”

To learn all about DOE geothermal projects, including more information on the FORGE initiative, read the report.

BioEnergy Bytes

  • http://domesticfuel.com/category/bioenergy-bytes/According to, “World Wind Energy Market Update 2015,” worldwide wind power installations grew by 42 percent year-over-year in 2014. The report from Navigant Research covers developments in the wind energy sector during 2014, including an analysis of the important changes in the industry over the last 3 years and global market forecasts through 2019. As in previous editions, this report assesses important changes over the last 3 years and provides a 5-year market forecast, followed by a projection of likely market progress for the next 5 years. This 20th annual edition of the World Wind Energy Market Update includes a special report highlighting advances occurring in the wind blade market through three expert commentary and analysis submissions.
  • An Executive Order issued by President Barack Obama cuts the federal government’s emissions of greenhouse gases by 40%. The details are in a FACT SHEET: “Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions in the Federal Government and Across the Supply Chain“.
  • Green Lake Capital, recently acquired by Atlantic Tele-Network, is now Ahana Renewables. San Francisco-based Ahana is an owner and operator of commercial distributed generation solar power systems in Massachusetts, California and New Jersey. The company has 28 unique commercial solar projects with an aggregate 47 megawatts of electricity generating capacity. Customers include strong credit counterparties including corporations, utilities, schools, and municipalities.
  • Pro-Tech Energy Solutions recently completed a 1.7 megawatt (MW) solar installation on the capped Sullivan’s Ledge landfill in New Bedford, Mass. At the 2015 PV America East Conference held in Boston this month, Pro-Tech received the 2015 PV Project of Distinction Award, along with project partners BlueWave Capital and SunEdison. Presented by the Solar Energy Industries Association and the Solar Electric Power Association, the award recognizes major achievements in the solar industry in the Northeastern United States. Pro-Tech served as the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) firm that designed and installed the project.

Growth Energy Applauds E15 Bill

growth-energy-logoGrowth Energy is applauding new legislation seen as favorable for E15 ethanol. This news release from the group says the Fuel Choice and Deregulation Act sponsored by Senators Rand Paul (R-KY) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) contains a provision to extend the Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) volatility waiver to E15, a moved welcomed by Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy:

“We certainly support efforts by Senator Paul and Senator Grassley to remove a major hurdle preventing consumers the opportunity to purchase higher blends such as E15. This has been a major obstacle ever since Growth Energy led the successful effort to get E15 approved for commercial use.

“We are hopeful that Senators Paul and Grassley’s legislative efforts are successful in granting this much needed waiver to overcome the single largest regulatory hurdle to ensuring consumers have access to higher blends such as E15.”

Texas Researchers Develop New Yeast for Biodiesel

texasyeast1Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin have developed a new strain of yeast that will make biodiesel production more efficient. This news release from the school says the scientists used a combination of metabolic engineering and directed evolution to develop the yeast which will help make the biofuel more economically competitive with conventional fuels.

Hal Alper, associate professor in the McKetta Department of Chemical Engineering, and his team have engineered a special type of yeast cell, Yarrowia lipolytica, and significantly enhanced its ability to convert simple sugars into oils and fats, known as lipids, that can then be used in place of petroleum-derived products. Alper’s discovery aligns with the U.S. Department of Energy’s efforts to develop renewable and cost-competitive biofuels from nonfood biomass materials.

“Our re-engineered strain serves as a stepping stone toward sustainable and renewable production of fuels such as biodiesel,” Alper said. “Moreover, this work contributes to the overall goal of reaching energy independence.”

Previously, the Alper team successfully combined genetically engineered yeast cells with ordinary table sugar to produce what Alper described as “a renewable version of sweet crude,” the premium form of petroleum. Building upon this approach, the team used a combination of evolutionary engineering strategies to create the new, mutant strain of Yarrowia that produces 1.6 times as many lipids as their previous strain in a shorter time, reaching levels of 40 grams per liter, a concentration that could make yeast cells a viable platform in the creation of biofuels. The strain’s high lipid yield makes it one of the most efficient organisms for turning sugar into lipids. In addition, the resulting cells produced these lipids at a rate that was more than 2.5 times as fast as the previous strain.

The development is expected to also help in the production of biochemicals.

TUSK: NC Solar Bill Laced with Poison Pill

This may prove to be the ‘Spring of Discontent’ for the solar industry as it fights for the right to keep solar affordable for consumers across the USA. Tell Utilities Solar won’t be Killed (TUSK) has been amid the solar brawls in several states including North Carolina. The advocacy group cites that North Carolina utilities including Duke Energy Carolinas and Dominion North Carolina Power have “laced” a well-intentioned North Carolina solar bill with a “poison pill” that would “unravel” solar net metering programs.

The utilities are publicly opposing the bill that would prevent third-party owned solar business model from taflying solar panelsking flight. Simultaneously, the utilities are privately attempting to slip in language that would open the doors and slam the solar market into the wall should the bill pass.

Net metering is a policy that gives solar customers full, fair credit for their excess solar energy. If a consumer produces more electricity than his house needs, he can sell the excess power back to the utility for a competitive price. This type of policy has helped to keep the solar market competitive. However, TUSK says if passed, the “Energy Freedom Act” HB 245 would give the North Carolina Utilities Commission (NCUC) the authority to approve a separate, discriminatory tariff for net metering customers. A separate tariff paves the way for stripping Tar Heels of the credit they deserve for investing in solar for their own roofs, says TUSK. The bill would also allow utilities to create a separate rate class for rooftop solar customers, a vehicle for solar taxes.

“This bill has a hidden poison pill that would undermine the solar industry,” said TUSK Chairman Barry Goldwater Jr. “The state Legislature should recognize this utility deception and strike the anti-solar language.”

Solar choice and competition are the conservative way, and should remain the North Carolina way, stressed Goldwater.

BioEnergy Bytes

  • http://domesticfuel.com/category/bioenergy-bytes/Florida Power & Light Company (FPL) has announced the launch of its new, high-tech Power Delivery Diagnostic Center, which is designed to leverage advanced smart grid technology to better manage the electric system and deliver reliable service that ranks among the best in the nation. FPL is investing in smart grid technology and using predictive analytics to deliver real-time data to engineers in its diagnostic center. Engineers, in turn, analyze the data to measure and improve the performance of the electric grid.
  • Republic Services, Inc. has announced today that its Sand Valley Landfill Gas-to-Energy (LFGTE) project in Collinsville, Alabama. has been named Electricity Project of the Year by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA.) The EPA’s Landfill Methane Outreach Program recognized the Sand Valley renewable energy project with the award at a workshop held yesterday in conjunction with the Solid Waste Association of North America’s 38th Annual Landfill Gas & Biogas Symposium.
  • China Ming Yang Wind Power Group Limited takes 8th in world’s top 10 wind turbine original equipment manufacturers (“OEMs”) ranking in 2014, raised from 9th last year, according to the report of Global Wind Turbine OEM Market Share Study released by MAKE Consulting. The same source reveals that the market share of Ming Yang hit 9.9% in total in 2014, with an 11.1% increase of the whole market growth. Ming Yang was also one of the only two Chinese companies that retained its position compared to 2013.The report also shows that 8 out of the 15 world’s top OEMs in 2014 were from China. “China’s unparalleled growth dominates the industry,” cited the report, which says the Chinese wind market grew 23.6GW in 2014, reaching 114.9GW in total.
  • Geothermal Energy Association will be holding its fifth annual National Geothermal Summit on June 3-4 at the Grand Sierra Resort and Casino in Reno, NV. The National Geothermal Summit is the leading forum for western state policy discussions, bringing together the geothermal industry for a dialogue with state and federal policy makers.The 2015 Summit theme is “Geothermal Policies as Stimulus For Economic Growth and Environmental Quality”.

Another Successful ACE Fly-in

ACE executive VP Brian Jennings smiles as Sen. John Thune (R-SD) speaks at fly-in reception.

ACE executive VP Brian Jennings smiles as Sen. John Thune (R-SD) speaks at fly-in reception.

The seventh annual American Coalition for Ethanol Fly-in, which included an appearance by Sen. John Thune (R-SD), was another success for the organization, according to Executive Vice President Brian Jennings.

“We do this because we know lawmakers and their staff want to meet with people with a little dirt or grease under their fingernails who are doing things out in the country that really matter,” said Jennings. The group of 70-plus ethanol supporters who attended the event included students, producers, farmers, accountants, bankers, seed and technology companies, and advanced biofuels supporters.

“We’ve always received good feedback from members of Congress,” Jennings added, noting that their main message was to keep the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) on track, “This program is working despite what detractors might say,” he said. “I think members of Congress are starting to see that.”

Interview with Brian Jennings, American Coalition for Ethanol


2015 ACE Fly-In Photo Album

Country Star Launches College Tour on Biodiesel

leebriceCountry music star Lee Brice is launching an environmentally friendly tour of college campuses, fueled by biodiesel. This article from The Boot says the tour is in partnership with REVERB, a non-profit organization that unites artists and colleges to bring about environmental and social change.

As an avid outdoorsman, the singer-songwriter hopes to focus his attention on outdoor preservation and water conservation.

“We’re hoping to offset the environmental impact of the tour by supporting clean energy projects and using buses and trucks fueled with locally produced biodiesel,” Brice says. “I have two sons, and I look at this as investing in their future and that of kids around the world.”

The tour begins April 8 at Campbell University in North Carolina. The singer’s tour announcement comes as his latest single, “Drinking Class,” was just certified gold.

Ethanol Supporters Counter Funding Request

houseEthanol and agriculture industry groups sent their own letter to House Appropriations leadership in response to a group of lawmakers calling for the elimination of funding for blender pumps or corn ethanol export promotion.

The letter signed by the Renewable Fuels Association, American Coalition for Ethanol, National Farmers Union, National Corn Growers Association, and Growth Energy calls on the subcommittee to “vehemently oppose and reject any efforts to include such limiting language” in FY 2016 appropriations for USDA.

It is important to note at the outset that there already exists a prohibition on the US Department of Agriculture using grant funds for the installation of blender pumps, which was included in the recently passed Farm Bill. Now, in a blatant effort to shelter the oil and gas industry from any further competition from ethanol, Representatives Goodlatte, et al. are seeking to place limitations on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s efforts to help promote the consumption of American made ethanol at home and abroad; something that agency has been successfully doing with other agriculture and livestock products for decades.

Reps. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), Peter Welch (D-VT), and Jim Costa (R-CA), claim in their letter that the government has created an “artificial market” for ethanol that is “negatively impacting American consumers, livestock farmers, food producers, retailers, air and water quality, and the ability to feed our nation’s hungry.” The ag and ethanol groups responded that “corn prices today are below the prices witnessed in 2007 when the Renewable Fuel Standard was expanded and livestock feed costs are at their lowest levels in more than five years…Meanwhile, consumer food prices have advanced more slowly since passage of the RFS than in the 25 years prior to its enactment.”

Read the letter here.

California Firm Buys Connecticut Biomass Plant

plainfieldA California firm has bought a biomass plant in Connecticut. This article from the Sacramento Business Journal says Greenleaf Power has agreed to buy the 37.5-megawatt Plainfield Renewable Energy plant.

Greenleaf did not disclose a value for the transaction, which is expected to close later this year. But the Washington Post reported the sale price was $30 million in cash and $80 million in secured notes. The seller was Leidos Holdings Inc. of Reston, Va.

Plainfield becomes Greenleaf’s sixth plant, along with facilities in Mecca, Tracy, Humboldt County, Susanville and Quebec City. The acquisition brings Greenleaf’s total renewable energy capacity to more than 180 megawatts.

The plant in Connecticut opened at the end of 2013 and burns waste wood. The plan is to sell the electricity to Connecticut Light and Power under a long-term agreement.

Presidential Hopefuls and Agriculture

New Holland ZimmPollOur latest ZimmPoll asked the question, “Which potential presidential candidate would be best for ag?”

Of the 12 potential presidential candidates included in our poll, only one has officially declared. But two hopefuls have risen to the top of our poll. It seems many believe Hillary Clinton and Scott Walker might have the best interest of agriculture in mind, if elected.

Here are the poll results:

  • Joe Biden – 3%
  • Jeb Bush – 11%
  • Ben Carson – 5%
  • Chris Christie – 1%
  • Hillary Clinton – 22%
  • Ted Cruz – 7%
  • Mike Huckabee – 13%
  • Rand Paul – 4%
  • Rick Perry – 2%
  • Marco Rubio – 3%
  • Scott Walker – 19%
  • Elizabeth Warren – 10%

Our new ZimmPoll is now live and asks the question, What is best for GMO labeling?

Agricultural organizations are voicing support for the bi-partisan Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act introduced in the U.S. House recently. What do you think is best when it comes to the labeling of GMO’s? Should it be mandatory or voluntary? Should it include all foods? Should states decide? Let us know your opinion.