Advanced Biofuels Group Would Reopen RFS

abfaAdvanced Biofuels Association President Michael McAdams today called on Congress to amend the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) to strengthen it for the “continued development of the advanced and cellulosic industry.”

In an address this morning to the 2015 Advanced Bioeconomy Leadership Conference, McAdams said the “RFS simply doesn’t work as well for companies trying to move cutting-edge technology from a demonstration plant to commercial scale.” He called for changes in several areas, including minimum RIN value for cellulosic fuels, extending the program beyond 2022, and removing “the loop hole that allows the oil industry to opt out from buying a cellulosic gallon.”

The idea of reopening the RFS even to make positive changes is opposed by other biofuels organizations. “By opening up the RFS for legislative changes, you are opening a can of worms that will only create further uncertainty for the industry, which is the last thing biofuel producers of any kind need,” said Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis in a statement.

“We seriously question who ABFA is representing these days,” said Renewable Fuels Association president Bob Dinneen in response to a reporter’s question on a conference call this morning. “There’s nothing ABFA has identified as needed improvements to the program that the agency already does not have the authority to address.”

Novozymes president Adam Monroe added that ABFA “does not represent even the majority of advanced biofuels producers” and doesn’t believe their position is representative of the industry. “It’s the politics that are broken not the legislation,” said Monroe.

RFA and Novozymes comment on ABFA call to open RFS

Biofuels Leaders Defend RFS

Holding a press conference in advance of the American Petroleum Institute continuing its call to repeal the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), representatives of the ethanol and advanced biofuels industry and corn growers defended the law and the fuel.

mess-rfsGrowth Energy CEO Tom Buis said the oil industry is making the same old arguments about ethanol that are simply not true, but he thinks the industry received a good boost over the weekend “when six out of nine of the Republican presidential candidates that came to the Ag Summit expressed support for the RFS.”

National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) first vice president Rob Elliott of Illinois talked about how the facts dispel the perpetual myths about food versus fuel. “Corn prices are now below cost of production … so obviously food prices have not followed a similar path,” he said.

Adam Monroe, president of enzyme producer Novozymes, said if Washington gives in to pressure by the oil industry to weaken the RFS it will keep second generation biofuels from going forward. “It makes it tremendously difficult for us to bring in new investors and spend more money,” he said.

Renewable Fuels Association president Bob Dinneen says no matter what ethanol critics say, there is now real world data that shows no detrimental effects have occurred as a result of the RFS and he encouraged reporters to question API. “Ask them to explain the fact that the price of corn is lower than it was when the RFS was passed,” he said, noting also that food price inflation has been lower, the dead zone has gotten smaller, and hunger worldwide has fallen.

Conference Call with Renewable Fuel Industry Leaders

ACE Fly-In Coming Soon

ace14-dc-brianThe American Coalition for Ethanol is holding its 7th annual DC Fly-In, also known as the Biofuels Beltway March, on March 24-25.

ACE executive vice president Brian Jennings says talking to Washington bureaucrats and lawmakers about ethanol is more important than ever. “We’re really going to be focusing on some new members of Congress and educating them on the RFS and E15 in particular,” he said. “There were over 70 new members of Congress elected, and when you look at the current members of Congress, just two in five were in office when RFS2 was enacted back in 2007.”

Members of the ethanol industry who attend the ACE Fly-In hear from members of the administration and discuss many current issues, and then go out in groups to visit members of Congress and their staffs. “Last year we had well over 200 meetings with members of Congress, both sides of the aisle and both houses,” said Jennings, who stressed that they encourage members to “tell their stories” to make an impression.

Jennings says registration is still open for the Fly-In and there is no fee to attend.

Listen to my interview with Brian at the recent National Ethanol Conference: Interview with Brian Jennings, American Coalition for Ethanol

Today Natural Gas Rush, Tomorrow High Bills

According to a new report released today by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), consumers and businesses are becoming increasingly vulnerable to higher electricity bills due to increased natural gas bills. As such, USC calls for more energy efficiency and renewable energy resources like solar and wind to be integrated into the U.S. grid. This would help insulate against economic risks tied to one energy source, while diversify the power energy mix.

The Natural Gas Gamble,” finds that the power sector is leading the country into a danger zone by favoring natural gas over renewables and energy efficiency options.

“There’s a well-documented history of volatility in natural gas prices,” said Jeff Deyette, senior energy analyst at UCS and report co-author. “Increasing demand, extreme weather energy-cover-natural-gas-gambleevents, and uncertainties about available gas supplies can cause prices to spike dramatically. For example, last winter when the Polar Vortex brought bitter cold to much of the U.S., prices in some regions jumped 10- to 12-times higher than recent lows. Despite the recent surge in natural gas production, these trends could continue and leave consumers that rely on natural gas paying the price.”

The analysis also found that if renewables made up a much greater share of the U.S. electricity mix and were combined with investments in energy efficiency, electricity prices would stabilize and consumers would ultimately pay less for their energy. Factoring in the limit on carbon emissions and strong renewable energy and energy efficiency policies at both the federal and state levels, by 2040 renewables could make up nearly 40 percent of the electricity mix and consumers would see an annual net savings of $59 billion (in 2013 dollars).

“Businesses and shareholders may also see their bottom lines negatively affected if utilities continue to expand natural gas in their electricity mix,” Deyette added. “Cleaner-burning natural gas can help in the transition away from coal to cleaner electricity generation sources. However, simply substituting dependence on one fossil fuel for another is a dead end that ultimately limits our ability to slow climate change and safeguard consumers.”

The UCS report concludes that as the nation moves away from coal, enacting a breadth of policies to ensure a diverse supply of low-carbon power sources—made up primarily of renewable energy and energy efficiency, with a more balanced role for natural gas—would protect consumers’ pocketbooks and the environment.

BioEnergy Bytes

  • http://domesticfuel.com/category/bioenergy-bytes/Deinove, a biotech company developing innovative processes for producing biofuels and bio-based chemicals, has announced that its patent, “High-performance metabolic bacteria1″, has been granted in the U.S. This patent covers the biofuel production process from cellulosic or hemicellulosic material – biomass components – by a consolidated bioprocess of degradation and fermentation based on Deinococcus bacteria.
  • To commemorate International Women’s Day and Beijing +20, the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, the International Center for Research on Women, and ENERGIA will host a high level meeting to address the critical role energy access plays in driving gender equality. Hosted by UN Women, the event will take place during the 59th session of the Commission on the Status of Women, from 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm at the Westin Grand Central in New York, NY. The event is to raise awareness among the global gender community that access to energy is a critical driver of gender equality, is necessary for achieving global gender equality goals and targets, and provides significant opportunities for women’s empowerment.
  • The Dutch Research Centre Wageningen UR Food & Biobased Research just released a short biorefinery film that clarifies the key role that biorefinery plays in a bioeconomy. Biorefinery, a process that enables the full and sustainable utilization of biomass. Media and companies struggle to create a clear image of this process to the public. With this film, Wageningen UR aims to create a short and clear understanding of what biorefinery actually is and how it is used to make sustainable biobased products, such as food and feed, materials, chemicals and energy.
  • Danish wind turbine manufacturer Vestas Wind Systems (Vestas) has maintained its position as the world-leading wind turbine installer in 2014, having achieved global capacity installations of just over 6,053 Megawatts (MW), according to research firm GlobalData. The company’s latest findings also show that of the world’s top five wind turbine installers in 2014, Siemens has climbed three positions since 2013 into second place.

New USDA Report Shows Ethanol Increasing Efficiency

Patriot Renewable Fuels in Annawan, Illinois

Patriot Renewable Fuels in Annawan, Illinois

The amount of corn necessary to make a gallon of ethanol is less than previously believed according to a new U.S. Department of Agriculture report.

In today’s monthly World Agricultural Supply and Demand Report (WASDE), corn use for ethanol production was projected 50 million bushels lower based on the new Grain Crushings and Co-Products Production report recently released by the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), citing “a higher rate of conversion than previously assumed” as the reasoning for the adjustment.

“What is most remarkable about this supply and demand report is the light it sheds on a topic of great concern to U.S. corn farmers – recognition of the growing efficiencies in the ethanol industry,” said National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) President Chip Bowling, a Maryland corn farmer. “For many years, we have strongly asserted that the ethanol industry continues to improve and those productivity gains should be taken into consideration. With the simple justification offered for the analysis, USDA made a great step forward in showing its growing appreciation for the advances made in ethanol production and, thus, the ever-increasing benefit it offers Americans.”

While USDA estimates for corn use in ethanol production were lowered by 50 million bushels, the overall drop was partially offset by higher than expected production over the winter months. The demand decline was more than offset by projected increases in demand for corn from the export and feed and residuals markets of 50 million bushels each.

Projected ending stocks were lowered by 50 million bushels in light of the other adjustments. Average farm price estimates were raised by five cents at the midpoint to $3.50 to $3.90 per bushel.

Researchers Combine Biomass, Solar Conversion

Photo: UW-Madison Chemistry Department

Photo: UW-Madison Chemistry Department

University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers have come up with a new approach to combine solar energy conversion and biomass conversion.

In a study published this week in Nature Chemistry, University of Wisconsin-Madison chemistry Professor Kyoung-Shin Choi and postdoctoral researcher Hyun Gil Cha discussed their research to split water into hydrogen, a clean fuel, and oxygen using photoelectrochemical solar cells (PECs).

They developed a novel PEC setup with a new anode reaction. This anode reaction requires less energy and is faster than water oxidation while producing an industrially important chemical product. The anode reaction they employed in their study is the oxidation of 5-hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF) to 2,5-furandicarboxylic acid (FDCA). HMF is a key intermediate in biomass conversion that can be derived from cellulose — a type of cheap and abundant plant matter. FDCA is an important molecule for the production of polymers.

“When we first started this study, we were not sure whether our approach could be really feasible,” Choi says. “However, since we knew that the impact of the study could be high when successful, we decided to invest our time and effort on this new research project at the interface of biomass conversion and solar energy conversion.”

Read more from UMW.

Recovery of China DDGS Market Continues

Patriot Renewable Fuels DDGsEthanol exports from the United States dropped in January and while distillers grains (DDGS) exports were also lower compared to December, the Chinese market for DDGS is showing recovery.

According to Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) vice president Geoff Cooper, U.S. ethanol producers exported 68.7 million gallons of ethanol in January, down 9% from December 2014 and the lowest since September 2014. However, “imports barely registered in January, with only 28,670 gallons coming in from Canada.”

On the DDGS side, exports totaled 708,861 metric tons in January, down 3% from December and still down 22% compared to a year ago. But the good news is that China was the top market for DDGS exports, receiving 24% of the total. Recovery of the Chinese market continues, as January exports to China were 35% above December levels and up dramatically from near zero in November.

UK Opens Its Largest Biomass Plant

RWEbiomassThe largest biomass plant in the United Kingdom has opened in Scotland and promises to help the UK meet a goal of 11 percent of non-electrical heat demand by renewable sources by 2020. This story from the BBC says the RWE Markinch Biomass plant in Glenrothes replaces the former 1950s coal and gas-fired power station on the site of Tullis Russell.

It represents a reduction in fossil fuel-related carbon dioxide emissions by around 250,000 tonnes per annum,

The new facility is already providing all of Tullis Russell’s electricity and steam requirements, with excess electricity generation being fed into local networks.

Paul Coffey, chief operating officer at RWE Innogy, said: “RWE has taken biomass combined heat and power technology in the UK to the next level.

“The Markinch plant is providing Tullis Russell with a state-of-the art low carbon power source, and exporting enough energy into the local network to power around 45,000 homes.

“With a multi-million pound investment and over 2.6 million man hours spent constructing the plant we’re delighted it is fully operational and has surpassed efficiency targets for energy production and emissions.”

The project was started in 2009 with construction completed in 2014.

El Cielo Winery Soaks in the Sun

The El Cielo Winery in Baja, California is soaking up the sun with the addition of a 53.9 kW solar system. The rooftop and carport system is comprised of 220 Kyocera 245 watt solar modules and is expected to offset nearly 75 percent of the winery’s energy needs, saving the between $1,000-$1,200 per month.

“The use of solar energy must be a priority not only for wineries, but also for all businesses,” said Gustavo Ortega, general director of El Cielo. “We chose Kyocera panels because of their longstanding, proven reliability and local production right here in Baja. In this way, we keep more jobs here in our own state.”

El Cielo DedicationThe winery and its associated restaurant have also adopted energy efficient LED lighting with automated motion sensors, thermal materials, solar tubes and reclaimed water for landscaping as further examples of how environmental impact can be minimized. Ortega said that his goal is the bring best practices to the wind industry in the U.S. and Mexico.

Solar was a crucial element for El Cielo according to Ortega. Just one year into operations, the winery is one of the region’s most popular, with a photovoltaic system that includes both rooftop panels and a carport to shade vehicles while simultaneously producing renewable energy from the region’s abundant sunshine.

“El Cielo represents best practices in the wine tourism industry, proving that being environmentally friendly can enhance a winery’s popularity and profitability,” added Cecilia Aguillon, director of marketing for Kyocera Solar Inc. “Kyocera enjoys a special relationship with Baja California, having manufactured solar modules in Tijuana for more than a decade. We’re honored to support this important project in the region.”

Alstom Announces Deepwater Wind Will Proceed

The Deepwater Wind Block Island project will be proceeding. Alstom, the company that will provide five Haliade 150 6MW offshore wind turbines, said they have received formal notice to proceed from the developers of the project with the announcement that the project is now fully financed. The Haliade operates without any gearbox (using direct-drive), due to its permanent-magnet generator.

44504-HiRes-Haliade1506MWOffshorewindturbineerectedinLeCarnetFrance-IMG0035P“This is a major milestone and the confirmation that this project, the first commercial offshore project in the United States for Alstom, will now materialize, ” said Yves Rannou, senior vice president wind for Alstom.

Alstom will supply, install and commission the five Haliade 150 turbines for the project and provide 15 years of operations and maintenance support. The turbines, capable of producing approximately 125,000 MWh of electricity annually, will provide about 90 percent of Block Island’s power needs.

Anders Soe-Jensen, vice president of Alstom Wind Offshore added, “Securing final financing for this ambitious project is an exceptional achievement for Deepwater Wind. We believe this project will highlight both the commercial and technological viability of offshore wind in the US and we are proud to be part of the team making it happen. This is the start of a new chapter in sustainable energy for the US.”

Wind turbine, foundation and electrical interface engineering is advancing on schedule to meet Deepwater Wind’s project specifications, including installation of the five foundations during summer 2015. Located about three miles off the coast of Block Island, Rhode Island, the Block Island Wind Farm is scheduled for commercial service in the fourth quarter of 2016.

EIA Reports Renewable Energy Sees Gain

Net electrical generation from non-hydro renewable energy sources increased by 10.9 percent over the previous year (2013), according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) latest “Electric Power Monthly“. The solar contribution to net electrical generation more than doubled (102.8%) while wind grew by 8.3 percent, biomass by 5.7 percent, and geothermal by 5.4 percent.

Comparatively speaking, nuclear power and coal increased by only 1.0% and 0.3% respectively while electrical generation using natural gas dropped by 0.3 percent. Conventional hydropower also declined by 3.7 percent. Net electrical generation from all energy sources combined increased by 0.7 percent in 2014 compared to 2013.

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Hydro power station dam open gate spillway water

During the last decade, electrical generation from non-hydro renewables has more than tripled. And, significantly, 2014 was the first year in which non-hydro renewables provided more electrical generation than did hydropower (281,060 thousand MWh vs. 258,749 thousand MWh).

Including hydropower, EIA reports that renewable energy sources accounted for 13.19 percent of net U.S. electrical generation in 2014 (hydropower – 6.32%, wind – 4.44%, biomass – 1.57%, solar – 0.45%, and geothermal – 0.41%). These numbers, however, almost certainly understate renewable energy’s actual contribution to the nation’s electrical supply because EIA does not fully account for electricity generated by distributed and off-grid renewable energy systems (e.g., rooftop solar).

“Given current growth rates – especially for solar and wind, it is quite possible that renewable energy sources will reach, or exceed, 14% of the nation’s electrical supply by the end of 2015,” said Ken Bossong, executive director of the SUN DAY Campaign. “That is a level that EIA, only a few years ago, was forecasting would not be achieved until the year 2040.”

BioEnergy Bytes

  • http://domesticfuel.com/category/bioenergy-bytes/Dyadic International, a global biotechnology company, has announced that it has completed a private placement of $2,000,000 in convertible subordinated secured promissory note (Note). The Note will pay interest quarterly at a rate of 10% per annum and is convertible at the holder’s option into shares of Dyadic common stock at $1.28 per share. Dyadic expects to use the proceeds from this offering for working capital including continued investments in research and development, and general corporate purposes.
  • Gevo, Inc. has announced that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has purchased Gevo’s renewable Alcohol-to-Jet fuel (ATJ) for aviation use at the NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, OH. Gevo’s ATJ is manufactured at its demonstration biorefinery located in Silsbee, TX, using renewable isobutanol produced at its Luverne, MN, isobutanol plant.
  • Green Plains Inc. has announced today that its newly-formed subsidiary, Green Plains Partners LP has confidentially submitted a draft registration statement on Form S-1 with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The registration statement is for a proposed underwritten initial public offering (IPO) of common units representing limited partner interests in the newly-formed Partnership. It is anticipated that the IPO will raise approximately $200-$250 million in gross proceeds; however, the date, number of common units to be sold and the price range for the proposed IPO have not yet been determined.
  • The Geothermal Resources Council (GRC) has announced this year’s Amateur Photo Contest. The purpose of the contest is to showcase quality photography featuring geothermal energy around the world. The first place winner will receive $150, second place – $100, and third place – $75. Honorable Mention photos will receive certificates. Photographs on any subject related to geothermal energy can be submitted. More information, including a submission form, can be found on the GRC website. The deadline for submissions is August 14, 2015.

Tennessee State Biodiesel Trailer Hits the Road

TSUmobilebiodiesel1Educating the public about biodiesel hits the road starting this week… and not just in the fuel tanks we know. The Tennessee State University Cooperative Extension program’s Mobile Biodiesel Education Demonstration (MBED) trailer is making stops across the Volunteer State this month, starting at the Fayette County Fire Training Room in Somerville tonight at 6.

According to Dr. Jason de Koff, assistant professor of Agronomy and Soil Sciences, the production of biodiesel fuel from vegetable oil is a viable process that can replace traditional fuel used in existing diesel engines.

“The process can go a long way toward helping ease the financial burden of fuel costs,” said de Koff, who is leading the tour. “It is possible [farmers] could become totally self-sufficient in diesel fuel use.”

Accompanying Dr. de Koff to provide specific expertise will be Mobile Biodiesel team members Chris Robbins, Extension associate for farm operations; Dr. Prabodh Illukpitiya, assistant professor of Natural Resource and Energy Economics; and Alvin Wade, associate Extension specialist for Community Resources and Economic Development.

The workshops will include discussions on the following topics:

Introduction to Biodiesel Production
Feedstocks for Biodiesel Production
Biodiesel Production Demonstration
Economics of Small-Scale Biodiesel Production
Federal Assistance Programs for Biodiesel Production

­More dates and locations are available here.

Videos Highlight Ethanol Value, Student Creativity

Some pretty cool videos are helping spread the good news about ethanol, while showing just how creative rural youth can be. Winners in the Nebraska Ethanol Board’s Field to Fuel video contest were announced with Medicine Valley FFA students from Curtis, Nebraska, taking first place honors and a $1,000 prize. Their video titled, “That’s What Makes it Ethanol,” was a parody of One Direction’s “What Makes You Beautiful” pop music hit.

“It was clear that these students had done their research and had a good understanding of ethanol’s impact on the agriculture economy,” said Todd Sneller, Nebraska Ethanol Board administrator. “They took the topic and got creative.”

An agronomy class from Hampton, Neb., took home a second place prize of $600. The students’ video titled, “A Future without Ethanol,” has a dystopian message and includes a variety of special effects.

Rebekah Turnbull, a senior from York, Neb., was awarded third place and $400 for her “Facts I Bet You Didn’t Know About Ethanol” video. Her video featured unique artwork painted by Turnbull with a voice-over narration.

The winning video will debut at the Ethanol 2015: Emerging Issues Forum in Omaha April 16-17.