ACE Urges Support for STB Reauth Act of 2014

The American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) is urging leaders of the Senate Commerce Committee to support S. 2777, the Surface Transportation Board Reauthorization Ace of 2014. In a letter, Brian Jennings, executive vice president for ACE writes U.S. corn-based ethanol is the most economical transportation fuel in the world. And when factoring in its favorable blending economics along with the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), ethanol is capable of comprising more than its 10 percent share of the U.S. gasoline market.

ACElogo“But in order to do that, reliable and timely rail service is critical,” the letter states. “Unfortunately, during most of 2014, railroads have failed to provide reliable and timely service. Logjams built-up this winter due to extreme cold and snow which reduced the speed and size of trains, and all year long it has appeared that railroads have provided favorable service to crude oil shipments at the expense of ethanol and agricultural commodities….”

“Many of ACE’s ethanol producer members are captive shippers and have reported chronic rail service disruptions this year, such as delayed tank car arrivals, insufficient tank cars received for ethanol off-take, loaded cars parked and overdue for power to arrive, and turn-around times that have doubled. As a result, storage tanks at ethanol plants are full and many of our members have been forced to slow production or worse yet, shut down operations at a time when demand for ethanol is on the rise because of its low price and clean octane benefits, writes Jennings.

The letter continues, “To cope with unreliable rail service, some biorefineries have invested in additional storage or considered adding unit train capability, but it is hard to justify those investments without meaningful commitment by the railroads that service will improve. Moreover, we are concerned that a record harvest of corn and soybeans this fall could make a bad situation on the rails even worse.”

Jennings notes that while the S. 2777 does not immediately nor comprehensively overcome all the problems, it is a step in the right direction.

Saudi Poultry Industry Eyes Solar-Diesel Hybrids

The agricultural industry in Saudi Arabia is looking to reduce fuel costs and increase energy efficiency with solar-diesel hybrid solutions. In particular, the poultry industry could greatly benefit from using solar-hybrid generators replacing traditional diesel generators. The technology was discussed in Riyadh leading up to the Desert Solar Saudi Arabia conference taking place September 17-18, 2014.

“Hybrid solar-diesel systems are an effective solution to provide power to poultry houses, many of which are not connected to the national electric grid. Solar-based solutions are well adapted to the Kingdom’s sunny Desert Solar Aerialconditions, and they can help reduce the poultry industry’s heavy reliance on diesel fuel,” said Mark Webster, agribusiness and food practice lead at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). Webster was addressing the Sustainable Agriculture: A Solar Solution roundtable, which was organized by the Saudi Arabia Solar Industry Association, in partnership with PwC and Dar Solar.

As a result of the heavy dependence on diesel fuel, Saudi poultry producers, accounting for nearly 79 percent of the Kingdom’s poultry import, are incurring notably higher energy costs than Brazilian producers due to their heavy dependence on diesel fuel.

“Domestic producers are expected to double national poultry production in the next few years, creating even further pressure on the demand for diesel fuel. A hybrid solar-diesel system will help poultry producers remain competitive against imports by ensuring a secure and affordable source of power to cool their poultry houses,” added Webster.

At present, domestic poultry production accounts for only 40-45 percent of the Saudi market. However, the share is expected to increase to 60-65 percent in the next 5-10 years, due to massive investments in additional production capacities planned by the top Saudi producers. Continue reading

Iowa RFA Ad Challenges Biden on RFS

The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) took out a full page ad in today’s Des Moines Register to ask Vice President Joe Biden to set the record straight on reports that he may have intervened to reverse the Obama Administration’s previous support for the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

biden-iowaWith the headline “Say it ain’t so, Joe” the ad questions the vice president about the story out of Philadelphia in May that he urged EPA to lower the RFS after receiving a call from a Pennsylvania congressman on behalf of a refinery owned by the politically connected Carlyle Group. “This report, if true, is deeply troubling. We hope you’ll take the opportunity today to set the record straight. And more importantly, work with us to fix the Administration’s flawed proposal. It’s not too late – but we need your help.”

IRFA and other individuals and organizations involved in Iowa’s renewable fuels industry wrote a letter to the Vice President asking him to clarify the reports and to discuss the issue with Iowans. “Because he has thus far not responded, IRFA is now addressing the issue more publicly with Biden as he visits Iowa today,” said IRFA.

The Vice President delivered remarks in Des Moines today at a kick-off event for the Nuns on the Bus “We the People, We the Voters” bus tour. Not surprisingly, he did not mention renewable fuels during his address.

DuPont Chooses Murex to Market Cellulosic Ethanol

DuPont LogoDuPont Industrial Biosciences (DuPont) has selected Murex LLC to market the cellulosic ethanol produced from its 30-million-gallon-per-year plant in Nevada, Iowa. Upon completion, the facility will be the largest cellulosic ethanol plant in the world.

murex“Murex is a leading marketer in today’s ethanol market. Its team understands domestic and international ethanol dynamics and can hit the ground running to drive growth in the emerging cellulosic ethanol industry,” said DuPont Cellulosic Ethanol Commercial Leader Steven Ogle. “With this collaboration, DuPont is well-positioned to lead the deployment of cellulosic ethanol at a commercial scale.”

Murex has a strong presence in the domestic ethanol market and has been the largest exporter of domestically produced ethanol since 2010. Murex was one of the first marketers of advanced Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs) and developed an in-house due diligence program prior to the Quality Assurance Program that allows smaller producers of advanced RINs to deliver their products and RINs to market.

Senate Committee Considers Energy Tax Reform

The Senate Finance Committee held a hearing today on Reforming America’s Outdated Energy Tax Code, led by chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR).

“It’s past time to replace today’s crazy quilt of more than 40 energy tax incentives with a
modern, technology-neutral approach,” said Wyden at the start of the hearing, adding that the disparity in how the tax code treats energy sources needs to end. “Traditional sources benefit from tax incentives that are permanently baked into law. But clean energy sources are stuck with stop-and-go incentives that have to be renewed every few years.”

The main goal of the hearing is to focus on extending the dozen or so tax incentives for alternative energy sources such as advanced biofuels, wind, and solar.

aeclogo“The title of the hearing is right,” said Advanced Ethanol Council Executive Director Brooke Coleman. “Investors are highly sensitive to protections offered by tax law, and today’s energy tax regime drives investment away from viable petroleum alternatives like cellulosic biofuels because oil tax breaks are richer and permanent. The short term fix is extending recently expired and existing tax incentives for clean energy this year, to buttress against those offered to fossil fuels permanently. But any broader discussion about America emerging as the leading energy innovator in the world starts and ends with the federal tax code. It simply won’t happen without serious energy tax reform.”

Among those testifying at the hearing today was former Sen. Don Nickles (R-OK), now a lobbyist who has represented several energy companies, who spoke against continuing wind energy tax incentives.

Procter & Gamble’s $230 Mil Biomass Project Moves Forward

albanybiomassA project to put a massive biomass facility at a Procter & Gamble facility in Georgia is moving forward. This article from the Albany (GA) Herald says the $230 million biomass facility has received the go-ahead from local officials and some tax incentives that will ensure the project comes to fruition.

The resolution gives the principles of the agreement, who will be united in the project as Albany Green Energy LLC, two years in which they will not be required to pay local taxes. After that, over the next 21 years, Albany Green Energy will pay $375,000 annually in taxes.

[P&G Global Business Development Manager Bob] Bourbon, who develops business partnerships for P&G Corporate, called the agreement on the biomass project “a partnership on steroids.” He noted that each of seven partners — Georgia Power, the Georgia Public Service Commission, Sterling Energy Assets, Procter & Gamble Corporate, Constellation New Energy, the federal government and the Payroll Development Authority — is vital to the project reaching the end zone.

“Take any one of these partners out of the equation, and it wouldn’t work,” Bourbon said. “Using my football analogy, yes, we’re at first-and-goal, but everyone who gets that close to the goal line doesn’t score. Everyone involved in this project is doing everything possible to make it work. If it doesn’t, there will be a very good reason.”

The 20-year partnership deal is seen as giving the local community a very steady economic anchor, while bringing more clean energy to the region.

The plant is expected to go online in the summer of 2017.

Chevy Offers Van with Biodiesel, E85 Options

chevyvan1Getting close to the end of the year for automakers, which means plenty of them are trying to move what’s left of their 2014 inventory. If you’ve got a big bunch of kids and you’re in the market for some eco-friendly wheels, Chevrolet’s G-Series Express Passenger van might be just the thing to look at right now, with B20 biodiesel-compatible and E85 engine options available.

The powerful Duramax turbo-diesel V-8 is offered in some Express models, delivering best-in-class torque and horsepower. Known by its “LGH” engine code, it is rated at 260 horsepower (194 kW) and 525 lb.-ft. of torque (712 Nm).

Designed to meet more stringent government emissions requirements, the LGH Duramax employs a robust EGR cooling system, along with revised turbocharger tuning that helps enhance EGR performance. It also has a large-capacity selective catalytic reduction system. In fact, the engine features the latest in emission control technology, making it the cleanest Duramax engine ever produced. NOx emissions are controlled via a Selective Catalyst Reduction aftertreatment system that uses urea-based Diesel (Emission) Exhaust Fluid (DEF). The DEF is housed in a 5.83-gallon (20 L) tank and needs to be replenished about every 5,000 miles (8,000 km). Electrically heated lines feed the DEF to the emission system to ensure adequate delivery in cold weather…

A FlexFuel E85 version of the 5.3L V-8 is also available. It delivers the same horsepower and torque as its gasoline counterpart, but runs on E85 ethanol fuel or a mixture of E85 and gasoline. E85 contains 85 percent ethanol, a renewable fuel that is produced domestically.

As I said, this is definitely for a BIG family… or just anyone who needs to haul a bunch of people… as it comes in models able to carry up to 15 people and all their cargo.

BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDFNREL is hosing a free webinar, “Encouraging Solar Development through Green Energy Tariffs for Large Utility Customers,” on Thursday, September 18, 2014 from noon to 1:00 PM MDT. Speakers include Autumn F. Proudlove and Jim Kennerly with the NC Clean Energy Technology Center. Several utilities are beginning to create renewable energy tariffs for large customers looking to meet more of their energy needs with renewables. This webinar will provide key considerations for designing these tariffs in order to promote utility-sponsored solar development.
  • Pacific Ethanol, has announced an agreement with Kodiak Carbonic, LLC to sell CO2 from the Pacific Ethanol Columbia plant located in Boardman, Oregon. Kodiak plans to construct a liquefaction and dry ice processing plant adjacent to the Columbia facility and expects to purchase up to 200 tons of CO2 per day to sell to food processing and beverage producers.
  • The Resilient Communities for America (RC4A) Campaign has announced the Carbonn Cities Climate Registry (cCCR) as the Campaign’s official reporting platform. The cCCR platform will enable participating RC4A communities to share information about their climate resilience and clean energy actions, as well as greenhouse gas emissions baselines, targets, and reductions of cities and counties worldwide. Nearly 100 U.S. cities and counties are already reporting into the Carbonn platform, including 22 communities led by RC4A signatories.
  • Buffalo Lake Advanced Biofuels restarted Sept. 8th. The plant was idled in 2009, purchased and run briefly in 2012, then purchased out of bankruptcy and renamed. About 35 people are working at the newly restarted plant, which includes a small staff in New Jersey at the offices of current owners, West Ventures LLC. The Buffalo Lake, Minnesota ethanol plant first came online in 1997 as the 9 MMgy Minnesota Energy Cooperative, expanding to 18 MMgy before shutting down in 2009 during the industry downturn. It was restarted in June 2012 by Purified Renewable Energy LLC, with a purchase announced a few months later. Purified filed for bankruptcy in March 2013 and ultimately, the plant was purchased by one of its creditors, West Ventures.

Stanford Releases State Clean Energy Cookbook

States are implementing renewable energy and energy efficiency program that could be adopted by their neighbors to improve their economies and reduce emissions cost-effectively according to a joint study by Stanford University’s Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance and Hoover Institution’s Shultz-Stephenson Task Force on Energy Policy. These policies could be particularly valuable as states develop plans to meet pending U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regulations to cut power plant carbon emissions.

The State Clean Energy CookbookThe State Clean Energy Cookbook: A Dozen Recipes for State Action on Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy,” was led by former U.S. Senator Jeff Bingaman and former Secretary of State and Treasury George Shultz. The report analyzes and makes specific recommendations regarding 12 policies that states are using today to encourage energy efficiency and renewable energy. It also analyzes the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) State Energy Program, which assists all 50 states.

The authors reach “an encouraging conclusion” in the report, writing, “Both red states and blue states are turning green – whether measured in dollar savings or environmental improvement.”

“We are impressed by the breadth of experience that states around the country already have in encouraging energy efficiency and renewable energy in ways that save money, reduce pollution and strengthen their energy security,” said Shultz, who co-chairs the Hoover Institution’s Shultz-Stephenson Task Force on Energy Policy. “The goal of the study is to provide a source for states to compare and contrast innovative policies, so that they can learn from each other.”

Recipes for policy success include:

  • A detailed policy description
  • Recommendation for implementation
  • Current state examples
  • Discussion of policy benefits
  • Specific policy design considerations
  • Additional policy resources

Bingaman, former chairman of the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee who co-authored the study, concluded “States truly are the ‘laboratories of democracy’ when it comes to renewable energy and energy efficiency, adopting groundbreaking programs and policies that could provide benefits around the country.”

ChargePoint Shows Increase in Campus EV Charging

College and university students are back in school around the country and this fall, more students, professors and employees than ever before have access to electric vehicle (EV) charging stations. ChargePoint, an open EV charging network, has released new data showing an increase in on-campus EV charging.

ChargePoint DashboardToday there are 1,134 charging spots at colleges and universities on the ChargePoint network. That’s up nearly 35 percent, with just 838 at this time last year. On-campus EV charging is still relatively new, with the first ChargePoint station installed at the end of 2010 at Pasadena City College.

“American universities are often our hubs of innovation and technology,” said Pasquale Romano, ChargePoint’s CEO. “It is no wonder adoption of electric vehicles and charging infrastructure has prospered on college campuses. Our data demonstrates which colleges and universities are leading the way when it comes to supporting low and zero emission vehicles. We hope this helps spur friendly competition between campuses to be the greenest institutions in the world.”

With 38 on-campus charging spots, the University of California at Davis has the most of any university on the ChargePoint network.

Here are the top 5 colleges and universities with the most ChargePoint EV charging spots:

  • University of California at Davis: 38
  • Towson University, Maryland: 36
  • Santa Clara University, California: 26
  • Western Michigan University: 22
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology: 21

Click here to see the full list of on-campus EV charging stations.

E15 Could Help Lower Gas Prices at the Pump

The end of summer is here and with the season change, “summer gasoline” and its Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) requirements will also come to an end. With fall in view retailers who want to offer E15 to their customers may now do so.

“We’re seeing reports and predictions of lower gas prices, with some celebrating the fact that the price is ACElogodown to $3.39 nationwide,” said American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) Senior Vice President Ron Lamberty. “In the Midwest, where E15, E30, and E85 are more widely available, even E10 prices are already under $3.00 in some markets. Ethanol adds octane and lowers prices because it provides competition for higher priced, lower octane gasoline.”

“E15 brings environmental benefits as well,” continued Lamberty. “Recent studies highlight the reduction in cancer causing emissions offered by E15. E15 means cleaner, higher octane fuel at a lower price and fuel marketers are starting to realize that. Fuel retailers like CHS/Cenex and Protec have taken steps to make E15 available in more markets soon and others will follow.”

Lamberty is encouraging retailers to take note of the growing number of vehicles that can use E15. E15 use is covered under warranty for most cars and light trucks sold in the U.S. for the 2013, 2014, and 2015 model years, and some automakers approve it for 2012 vehicles. That’s 30 million vehicles or more with more vehicles hitting the roads each week that are approved for E15 use.

“This is exactly why Big Oil fights so hard and spends so much time and money to convince EPA and elected officials that the 10% “blend wall” is real, and why they have contract restrictions that prevent branded stations from offering E15.” Lamberty concluded, “It’s not the 5% market share that could be taken by E15 that worries Big Oil – it’s what competition for that 5% does to the prices they can charge for the rest of the gallon. More ethanol means lower prices.”

Boise State’s Biodiesel Truck to Take Its Shot at Salt Flats

greenspeedtruck1As one truck from Utah State University running on biodiesel just finished tearing up the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, another truck from another school out west is out to prove its power running on vegetable oil and biodiesel. Boise State University’s Greenspeed club is looking at breaking the land speed record for its class of truck at Bonneville at more than 215 mph later this month.

“We’re just using vegetable oil as proof of the concept,” said Dave Schenker, mechanical engineering student at Boise State and co-founder of the club. “It’s in its raw state, not even a fuel. Here we are beating petroleum at its own game.”

According to Schenker, their diesel engine has only been modified for power, which is a testament to the value vegetable oil has as a fuel source. When vegetable oil is heated to 175 degrees, it becomes the consistency of regualar fuel, which can then be used with their diesel engine.

However, this isn’t the only fuel source they use. They also run on diesel and a biodiesel, which they hope to start making on their own soon.

“Vegetable oil is not a good fuel for over the road use, which regular people use in their vehicles,” said Patrick Johnston, graduate of Boise State’s mechanical engineering program. “What we really advocate is biodiesel derived from algae.”

The truck has a computer that reads 70 points of contact on the truck between the chassis and engine, allowing the team can see exactly how each fuel type works with the truck to choose the most efficient.

Team members hope to be running on their own algae-biodiesel next year.

Largest 100% Biomass Plant in North America Opens

AtikokanGS1North America’s largest power plant fueled 100 percent by biomass opens in Canada. Ontario Power Generation’s (OPG) Atikokan Generating Station (GS) is now operating on biomass after undergoing a massive reconstruction after being a coal-fired plant, and according to Engineering and Technology Magazine, it will be capable of generating about 900 million kW/h of electricity per year – enough for 70,000 homes.

“The conversion of Atikokan will ensure a clean, reliable, sustainable and local supply of electricity for the region,” said Bob Chiarelli, Minister of Energy. “I am very happy to see this facility playing an active role in helping us deliver on the commitments in our Long-Term Energy Plan.”

“Ontario is a leader in green energy production and technology and the conversion, of the Atikokan Generating Station is a great example of innovative new opportunities available in Northern Ontario,” said Bill Mauro, MPP Thunder Bay-Atikokan. “This facility will create and maintain well-paying jobs right here in our community and will contribute to Ontario’s clean energy strategy.”

“Northwestern Ontario is on the leading edge of some very exciting new mining and forestry developments and I am very pleased that our government is taking action to meet the future energy needs of our region,” said Michael Gravelle, MPP, Thunder Bay-Superior North. “This project is not only providing more clean power to Ontarians, it is creating promising new economic opportunities and sustainable jobs for Northwestern Ontario in the green energy and forestry industries.”

Officials say the plant is already running on locally sourced wood pellets.

Ethanol Report: Ethanol Production, RFS & EPA

ethanol-report-adIn this edition of the Ethanol Report, Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) president and CEO Bob Dinneen discusses ethanol production for the year so far, new Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) ad campaigns and gives his thoughts on the Environmental Protection Agency’s 2014 Renewable Volume Obligations that are under Office of Management and Budget (OMB) review.

In addition, he touches on record corn crop production, on why the food versus fuel debate should end and Quad County Corn Processors cellulosic ethanol production grand opening.

Ethanol Report on Ethanol Production, RFS Food EPA

RFA Calls on EPA to Undo Unfair Fuel Regulations

The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) is calling on Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy to address the unfair fuel volatility regulations that keep the sale and expansion of E15 from occurring. Because E15 does not have the same 1 psi Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) as E10, the ethanol fuel blend can not be sold during summer months. In a letter to McCarthy, Bob Dinneen, CEO and president of RFA writes that EPA’s failure to put E15 on the same footing as E10 has been a substantial roadblock to the rollout of E15.

According to the letter, “…faced with a hopeless decision every spring: stop selling E15 during the summer volatility control season, or secure the appropriate low-RVP gasoline blendstock. For most retailers, neither of these options are acceptable business decisions.”

RFANewlogoDinneen says the EPA continues to handicap market opportunities for E15 by effectively making it a seasonal fuel. This causes retailers and marketers to be hesitant to invest in a fuel that can only be offered part of the year. “Our biggest frustration is that there is simply no legal or environmental justification for EPA’s unequal volatility treatment of E10 and E15. If the Administration is serious about addressing greenhouse gas emissions and keeping gas prices in check, it should immediately correct this gross inequality,” said Dinneen.

RFA points to the larger implications of the RVP restriction in the letter writing, “Slow market adoption of E15 has unnecessarily complicated compliance with the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and led the Agency to embrace the oil industry’s ‘blend wall’ concept in the proposed rule for 2014 Renewable Volume Obligations. The bottom line is that E10 and E15 should be treated consistently in the marketplace with regard to RVP….There is simply no sound technical justification, no air quality benefit, and no economic rationale for denying equal RVP treatment for E15 and E10.”