West Coast Biodiesel, Ethanol on the Rise

logo_E2-1Advanced biofuels, especially biodiesel and ethanol, are on the rise on the West Coast. Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2), a national, nonpartisan group of business leaders, investors and others promoting smart environmental policies, says fuel policies in Oregon, Washington state and California, as well as federal initiatives, have helped the country as a whole produce more than 800 million gallons of advanced biofuels in 2014.

“The advanced biofuel industry is meeting the growing demand for cleaner-burning transportation fuels,” said Solecki. “Americans who want more local jobs, cleaner air, and more homegrown energy should demand elected officials enact policies, right now, that will promote the growth of advanced biofuel.”

E2 defines advanced biofuel as liquid fuels made from non-petroleum sources that achieve a 50-percent reduction in carbon intensity compared to a petroleum-fuel baseline. Advanced biofuel companies included in the report range from small biodiesel businesses like Beaver Biodiesel in Oregon, which produces about 1 million gallons annually, to POET, which at facilities in South Dakota and Iowa produces more than 20 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol annually using corn stover, or waste from corn crops, as a primary feedstock.

“If state and federal leaders want to reduce our dependence on foreign oil – and support American farmers, businesses, and entrepreneurs – they should ensure this clean, cutting-edge industry can expand,” Solecki said.

The report highlights, in particular, how Oregon is considering Phase 2 rules of its Clean Fuels Program, which is expected to create as many as 29,000 jobs and save Oregon consumers and businesses up to $1.6 billion in fuel costs. In Washington state, a new clean fuel standard is being proposed that would increase the use of advanced biofuel. And California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard is being credited with lowering carbon emissions in that state.

The complete E2 report is available here.

Indiana Town Considering Sludge-to-Biodiesel Plan

An Indiana town is looking at a plan that would turn sewer sludge into biodiesel. This article from the Princeton (IN) Daily Clarion says that city is negotiating a contract with Terre Haute, just up the road, to haul away the sludge and make it into the green fuel.

Sewer plant superintendant Charlie Woodruff said Terre Haute works with a company that makes biodiesel out of the sludge.

He estimated that Princeton generates about 10,000 to 14,000 gallons of sludge per day.

Hurst said a report will be presented Jan. 20 to the board, comparing the cost of contracting for the sludge disposal with Terre Haute to the cost of the chemicals the city needs to use to try to mitigate the stink that wafts away from the plant on Richland Creek Drive, toward homes and local businesses.

According to the Terre Haute Tribune Star, that city is expected to produce 12 million gallons of biodiesel from its sludge-to-biodiesel program.

ChargePoint Home Debuts in the New Year

The new year has brought drivers of plug in electric vehicles (EV) a new way to charge at home. ChargePoint Home is now available and according to the company some notable features include its size as well as at its ultra-sleek, durable design – about the size of an average tablet.

ChargePoint Home“ChargePoint has spent years perfecting commercial charging stations, and with over 20,000 charging spots, we have built the largest EV charging network in the world. With our entrance into the single family home market, we are giving even more people the most advanced tools needed to confidently and conveniently drive an EV,” said ChargePoint CEO Pasquale Romano. “Smart homes, smart phones and smart cars. It makes sense to connect them to create a user-friendly, efficient and complete charging system at home.”

With ChargePoint Home, drivers can charge up to 25 miles per hour and easily manage the charger from their smartphone. Some of the key features include:

  • Scheduling through the ChargePoint app to minimize energy costs and work around your life
  • Remote start and stop charging
  • Set reminders to ensure you never forget to plug in
  • Different cord lengths available to fit any garage
  • Integration with your ChargePoint account to track all your charging information
  • Works with Nest Learning Thermostat

ChargePoint Home plugs into a standard 240V outlet and has a universal J1772 connector that is compatible with all cars and can be installed either indoors or outdoors. ChargePoint Home will be on the market this summer.

BioEnergy Bytes

  • http://domesticfuel.com/category/bioenergy-bytes/The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) has announced that Iowa Governor Terry Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds will discuss Iowa’s leadership in the production of biofuels, such as ethanol and biodiesel, at the 9th Annual Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit and Trade Show on January 27, 2015 at The Meadows Conference Center in Altoona, Iowa.
  • Gevo, Inc. has announced that they have received a positive determination from the Listing Qualifications department of The Nasdaq Stock Market December 30, 2014, granting approval of the company’s request to transfer its listing to The Nasdaq Capital Market from The Nasdaq Global Market. The company’s securities will begin trading on the Nasdaq Capital Market effective at the start of trading on Monday, January 5, 2015.
  • TransCanada Corporation has announced that it has acquired the eighth Ontario solar facility from Canadian Solar Solutions Inc. (Canadian Solar). The newly built Liskeard 1 facility has a generating capacity of 10 MW and is located in northeastern Ontario in the New Liskeard region. The new facility has now started generating electricity under a 20-year power purchase agreement with the Ontario Power Authority.
  • The Board of Trustees of Kit Carson Electric unanimously approved a build out of an additional 1.5 Megawatts of Community Solar projects to be located on Taos, New Mexico, into Kit Carson Cooperative Electric’s power supply mix. The approval comes following a decision by the Board of Trustees to begin negotiations of opting out of the current contract with Tri-State Generation and Transmission Cooperative. The total 1.5 Megawatt Community Solar Projects will allow Kit Carson Electric to fully reach its contract limits set by Tri-State of 5% energy to 10% capacity.

ACE Sets Dates for DC Fly-in

ACElogoAs the 114th Congress is sworn-in today, the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) is confirming plans to visit for the 7th annual grassroots fly-in on March 24-25, 2015.

“With more than seventy new members in Congress and concerns over EPA’s implementation of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), there is no better time for people who have a stake in the success of the ethanol industry to join fellow grassroots advocates for ACE’s fly-in,” said ACE Executive Vice President Brian Jennings.

At the 2014 “Biofuels Beltway March,” eighty people from all walks of life, including farmers, fuel retailers, students, and bankers, joined ethanol producers to meet with representatives from the White House, EPA, and USDA. The group also met with 160 congressional offices.

“In addition to a large crop of incoming freshmen, just a small fraction of current lawmakers were in office when the original RFS was enacted in 2005 and modified in 2007 by Congress. Our fly-in is an important opportunity to highlight how America is benefiting from the RFS, the successful development of cellulosic ethanol, and the reliability and progress of E15 and higher ethanol fuel blends,” said Jennings.

Click here for more information.

Corn Growers Consider Growth Options for Ethanol

ncga-logo-newThe Ethanol Committee of the National Corn Growers Association met in St. Louis recently to discuss options to continue increasing demand for corn-based fuel.

“Ethanol has been a huge success story for agriculture and rural America because of the economic stimulus it has created through increased corn demand and new jobs. For the general public it provides reduced greenhouse gas emissions, better performance and fuel choice,” said Committee Chair Jeff Sandborn, a farmer from Michigan. “Despite all of our success educationally and legislatively, what we have created is a great start not final destination. We have 10% ethanol in virtually every gallon of fuel sold today but it will take a multidimensional approach to continue to grow the market for ethanol.”

The Ethanol Committee is investigating options to grow the ethanol market on many fronts including integrating higher ethanol blend compatibility into plans to update the nation’s aging fuel infrastructure; continuing to expand public acceptance and support for ethanol outside the corn belt; and evaluating the benefits of a national ethanol brand to aid in consumer identification at the pump.

“Fuel access is a high priority issue for the ethanol industry and corn farmers,” Sandborn said. “If we are going to continue to grow ethanol markets and realize the economic benefits of our ability to produce corn we will need to redouble our efforts to bring higher ethanol blends like E15 and E85 to the marketplace.”

Input from the committee will be relayed to the NCGA Corn Board for their consideration and for broader organizational discussion and policy development at Corn Congress in March.

EPA Seeks Comments on Sorghum-to-Biofuels GHGs

epa-150The federal government is seeking public comment on its preliminary analysis of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions due to the production of biomass sorghum feedstock to make biofuels. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) invited the comments after a recent study by the agency that showed biomass sorghum is suitable for the same conversion processes as approved cellulosic feedstocks such as switchgrass and corn stover and would qualify for cellulosic biofuel (D-code 3) renewable identification numbers (RINs) or cellulosic diesel (D-code 7) RINs.

This notice explains EPA’s analysis of the growth and transport components of the lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions from biomass sorghum, and describes how EPA may apply this analysis in the future to determine whether biofuels produced from such biomass sorghum meet the necessary GHG reductions required for qualification under the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) program. Based on this analysis, we anticipate that biofuels produced from biomass sorghum could qualify for cellulosic biofuel renewable identification numbers (RINs) if certain fuel production process technology conditions are met.

More information on the comment process and period is available here.

California Governor Outlines Energy Goals

cal-gov-brown-2015Sworn in for his second, second term as Governor of the state of California on Monday, Edmund Gerald “Jerry” Brown, Jr. outlined three energy-related goals he would like to see the state accomplish within the next 15 years.

“First, increase from one-third to 50 percent our electricity derived from renewable sources,” said Gov. Brown in his inaugural address. “Two – and even more difficult – reduce today’s petroleum use in cars and trucks by up to 50 percent; three, double the efficiency of existing buildings and make heating fuels cleaner.”

He continued: We must also reduce the relentless release of methane, black carbon and other potent pollutants across industries. And we must manage farm and rangelands, forests and wetlands so they can store carbon. All of this is a very tall order. It means that we continue to transform our electrical grid, our transportation system and even our communities.

I envision a wide range of initiatives: more distributed power, expanded rooftop solar, micro-grids, an energy imbalance market, battery storage, the full integration of information technology and electrical distribution and millions of electric and low-carbon vehicles.

Brown was sworn in for an unprecedented fourth term as California governor this week, with his second and third terms separated by over 30 years.

Iowa State Students to Ride Smarter on Biodiesel Bus

cyride1Students at Iowa State University will get to class a little smarter… and not just because of good study habits. The school and the university’s hometown of Ames, Iowa have inked a deal with Iowa-based Renewable Energy Group (REG) that will see CyRide, the transit agency serving the City of Ames and Iowa State University, to supply biodiesel blended fuel in 2015.

REG Energy Services, LLC began providing 350,000 gallons of fuel with biodiesel blends of up to 20 percent for CyRide’s 78 buses January 1. The agreement is REG’s first with a municipality.

“We want to thank CyRide for choosing REG Energy Services as its 2015 fuel partner,” said Don Nelson, REG Director, Regional Sales. “As REG Energy Services expands, we look forward to the opportunity to work with municipalities to provide a high-quality product that provides for energy and food security, job creation and environmental stewardship.”

Ames will increase its use of biodiesel from previous years under the agreement, which provides buses with higher blends of the advanced biofuel during the summer months. The CyRide fleet serves an average of 40,000 riders daily and operates approximately 1.2 million miles a year. The city will see carbon dioxide emission reductions of as much as 658 metric tons in 2015 with the increased biodiesel blends.

The REG biodiesel will come from the company’s Magellan terminal, just down the rode in Des Moines. City officials say with the environmental benefits of the sustainable biodiesel, everyone wins with this deal.

Enel Green Power Starts Geothermal Plant

The Bagnore 4 geothermal power plant located in the municipalities of Santa Fiora and Arcidosso, near Grosseto, in the Italian region of Tuscany is online and grid connected. The project was completed by Enel Green Power and has an installed capacity of 40 MW and will generate up to 310 million kWh per year. Bagnore 4 joins the 20 MW Bagnore 3 plant and is composed of two 20 MW turbines.

Enel Green Power logoThe construction of the new plant involved a total investment of around 120 million euros, partly financed with funds from the European Investment Bank (EIB). The project is in line with the growth targets set out in Enel Green Power’s 2014-2018 business plan, which calls for around 600 million euros of investment in geothermal power in Tuscany.

The company says its new plant was designed to meet the highest international standards and to employ the most environmentally friendly technology available. Bagnore 4 also features a sophisticated monitoring and remote diagnostics system to ensure high reliability and efficiency.

BioEnergy Bytes

  • http://domesticfuel.com/category/bioenergy-bytes/Hanwha SolarOne has announced they have signed a deal with a leading photovoltaic (PV) developer for the supply of 80 megawatts (MW) of solar PV modules to a project in the Antofagasta Region. The solar installations will be powered by Hanwha SolarOne’s new polycrystalline module generation, the HSL S Series.
  • China Sunergy has announced that its wholly-owned subsidiary, CEEG (Nanjing) Renewable Energy Co., Ltd., has won a 30 MW contract from Enrich Energy Pvt. Ltd, an integrated solar energy solutions provider and a pioneer in India focused on developing large scale private solar parks across India.
  • Aquatherm Industries, Inc. congratulates Mr. Reed Wilson in having been elected President of the Florida Solar Energy Industries Association (FlaSEIA). Wilson is owner of Aquatherm’s long-time Florida Distribution Center Aquatherm Solar Supply as well as Fort Myers-based HVAC and solar contracting firm FL Green Team.
  • The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has announced the extension of the Alternative Fuel Vehicle Rebate program, which will continue to provide $2,000 rebates for large-battery system plug-in hybrid electric and battery-electric vehicles until June 30, 2015, or until the 500 vehicle benchmark is reached. To date, DEP has more than 150 rebates remaining at this amount. DEP has invested $4.35 million toward the deployment of electric vehicles in Pennsylvania since 2011.

Carolina Biodiesel Producer to Expand Operations

blueridge1Western North Carolina-based Blue Ridge Biofuels will expand its operations to turn oilseeds and used cooking oil into biodiesel. The company says this year’s expansion will take their capability from about 360,000 gallons of the green fuel a year to a million gallons this year and up to 3 million gallons in the coming years.

Early in 2015, we’re setting up shop at the Catawba County EcoComplex in Newton, NC where we can make a lot more biodiesel. Plus, we can expand into new markets, since we are the first biodiesel producer in the Charlotte area to make fuel from used cooking oil. And we’re still going to be here 100% for our fuel customers and restaurant clients in Western North Carolina. One thing we love about making biodiesel is the way it connects us to the community: from farmers who grow oil crops, to restaurants that recycle their used cooking oil, to our partners in the green economy, to our awesome customers who use biodiesel to heat their homes, run their vehicles, and power their businesses. We’re going to keep our biodiesel distribution hub and a used cooking oil collection hub here in Asheville — so we can keep our local economy and community growing.

Blue Ridge Biofuels has also launched a partnership to sell Bioheat – a biodiesel heating oil mix – and is able to claim its first full year under the BQ-9000 quality standard.

Genetics to Help in Biomass-to-Biofuel Conversion

Researchers might have found a more efficient way to turn biomass into biofuel using plant genetics. This article from Phys.org says plant geneticists Sam Hazen at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and Siobhan Brady at the University of California, Davis, have sorted out the gene regulatory networks that would have the biggest impacts on the green fuel production.

The authors say that the most rigid of the polymers, lignin, represents “a major impediment” to extracting sugars from plant biomass that can be used to make biofuels. Their genetic advance is expected to “serve as a foundation for understanding the regulation of a complex, integral plant component” and as a map for how future researchers might manipulate the polymer-forming processes to improve the efficiency of biofuel production.

The three key components, found in plant tissues known as xylem, provide plants with mechanical strength and waterproof cells that transport water. Working in the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana, Hazen, Brady and colleagues explored how a large number of interconnected transcription factors regulate xylem and cell wall thickening. Results appeared in an early online edition Dec. 24 in Nature.

An invited commentary in the journal on the significance of this discovery points out that “understanding how the relative proportions of these biopolymers are controlled in plant tissue would open up opportunities to redesign plants for biofuel use.” Hazen, Brady and colleagues’ study identified hundreds of new regulators and offers “considerable insight,” the authors say, “into the developmental regulation of xylem cell differentiation.”

The authors of the study were able to find that most of the proteins including regulators of cell cycle and differentiation bind directly to cellulose genes and to other transcription regulators, giving plants a huge number of possible combinations for responding and adapting to environmental stressors.

Ethanol Report Looks at Year Ahead

ethanol-report-adUnfinished business and much of the same old attacks on the RFS are likely to dominate 2015 for the ethanol industry.

In this edition of “The Ethanol Report,” Renewable Fuels Association president and CEO Bob Dinneen takes a look at what he expects to be some of the big issues for ethanol in the year ahead.

Ethanol Report on Industry Outlook for 2015

2014 Energy Legislation in Review

As 2015 kicks off the Center for the New Energy Economy (CNEE) has released an Advanced Energy Legislation 2014 Year in Review. During 2014, the report found that 430 advanced energy bills became law. While the total number of enacted bills decreased from 713 in 2013, CNEE found that percentages of energy legislation by policy category remained stable. This leads the company to predict that interest in energy policy should remain somewhat constant over the next year.

Screen Shot 2014-12-29 at 9.44.48 PM

Figure 1. 2014 Enacted Legislation by Policy Category (430 bills)

There were several notable pieces of legislation passed last year including energy legislation in California, Hawaii, Nevada, Maine, Minnesota and Rhode Island. In 2014, South Carolina became the latest state to enact a Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) focused on distributed generation while Ohio and Indiana suffered setbacks. Other key actions during the year included state responses to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Power Plan proposed rule, along with concerns over revenue shortfalls in the federal Highway Trust Fund due to increased fuel economy and new pipeline safety rules.

A few other key wins for renewable energy included Maine’s new solar standard that will grow the state’s use of solar energy from an estimated 40 MW in 2016 to 500 MW n 2030. Massachusetts added a renewable thermal energy storage standard.

The report was based on CNEE’s Advanced Energy Legislation Tracker, a tool for finding and tracking energy legislation by state (and federal). Click here to read.