Fed Fleet Not Fueling Vehicles with Alternative Fuels

The Federal Government’s plan of building their fleet as alternative fuel may be in jeopardy. According to the Washington Post, for the past 16 years they’ve acquired about 112,000 vehicles that can burn something other than fossil fuels. The vehicles are purchased, however, the fuel is difficult for them to find.

“I call it the ‘Field of Dreams’ plan. If you buy them, they will come,” said Wayne Corey, vehicle operations manager with the U.S. Postal Service. “It hasn’t happened.”

Congress has mandated that Federal agencies increase their number of alternative fuel vehicles. Many of the vehicles which have been purchased are E85 compatible, but many of the vehicles were sent to locations in which the fuel is not available. By law, the vehicles must use the alternative fuel should the fuel be available within five miles or 15 minutes from the pump. At this time, 92 percent of the vehicles are not using these such fuels.

The National Ethanol Vehicle Coalition (NEVC) assists in locating the appropriate location for E85 fueling stations. NEVC Executive Director Phil Lampert added, “While the preceding article is factually correct, the NEVC has successfully worked with a number of regional offices of the USPS, Dept. of Defense, and General Services Administration to locate FFVs in areas where fueling infrastructure exists. Certainly much can be done to increase the use of E85 in FFVs, but it should be noted that some federal agencies, (particularly regional offices) have been successful in placement of FFVs in areas with fuel.”

Ethanol Groups Join Together

EPICThe Ethanol Promotion and Information Council is joining with the newly-formed Growth Energy group.

EPIC Executive Director Toni Nuernberg made the official announcement today that the organization’s board of directors is recommending a transition plan to the membership for the two groups to combine.

Growth Energy“The mission of EPIC’s formation— growing ethanol awareness through public relations, marketing and promotions — will continue as a core platform of Growth Energy’s initiatives,” said Nuernberg in a statement. EPIC’s programs and staff will be transitioning into Growth Energy over the next few months.

Growth Energy was announced earlier this month as a new ethanol organization formed by the same principals who started EPIC in 2005, “committed to the promise of agriculture and growing America’s economy through cleaner, greener energy.”

WA Supreme Court Green Lights Wind Farm

Washington’s State Supreme Court has cleared the way for a wind farm that had been in limbo during a dispute between local residents and the governor.

The Seattle Times reports that the unanimous decision confirmed that Gov. Chris Gregoire had authority to approve a Kittitas County wind farm over the objections of local officials:

The project, from developers Horizon Wind Energy of Houston, would be along U.S. 97 northwest of Ellensburg. Turbines would sit on ridge tops in the blustery Kittitas Valley, on private and state land.

Project officials have said they expect to spend at least $150 million on the wind farm, and supporters say it could provide enough electricity to supply about 30,000 homes.

Before getting Gregoire’s approval, the Kittitas Valley Wind Power Project was reduced from about 120 turbines to about 65, and developers agreed to keep turbines farther from homes and cabins.

But the county commission appealed Gregoire’s ruling, arguing that the state abused its authority in this case, and shouldn’t be allowed to pre-empt county land use laws for wind power projects. The court disagreed, upholding Gregoire’s final decision.

The article adds that the court quoted Don Quixote in its ruling: “They are giants: and, if thou art afraid, get thee aside and pray, whilst I engage with them in fierce and unequal combat.'”

Minnesota Offers Biodiesel Blending Grants

The State of Minnesota is offering $300,000 in grants to help its biodiesel industry.

This story from the Alexandria (MN) Echo Press says the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) is accepting proposals for grants for owners of facilities that supply petroleum products to customers who sell, use, or transport fuel in the state of Minnesota:

The facilities should be located on or near a petroleum terminal and have an infrastructure that can be designed to blend cold weather biodiesel with conventional diesel fuels.

Cold weather biodiesel is a high-quality biodiesel blend that can be used successfully year-round, even in the coldest climates.

Grant funds may be used to offset the cost of necessary infrastructure equipment including but not limited to tank, pipe, valves, meters, pumps and heating equipment plus the cost of engineering, fabrication and installation.

The article goes on to say that the proposals need to have a description and cost of the proposed blending facilities and assurances that they will provide biodiesel-blended fuels to the Minnesota diesel fuel market, even in cold weather.

Check out the MDA Web site, www.mda.state.mn.us, for more information. Applications are due by November 28th at 4 p.m. CST.

Sustainability Forum for Biodiesel

The National Biodiesel Board, the foremost advocate for the biodiesel industry in the U.S., has brought together some of the nation’s leaders to work on sustainable solutions for this country’s energy challenges.

A symposium in St. Louis this week featured the NBB’s Sustainability Task Force, a group put together last February at the National Biodiesel Conference & Expo in Orlando, Florida. This NBB press release says the meeting featured discussions of critical issues related to the promise of biofuels, including greenhouse gas emission models, biodiesel’s positive energy balance, and the development of next generation feedstocks:

“As America searches for solutions to our energy challenges, U.S. biodiesel is delivering with a cleaner and sustainable renewable fuel source,” said Emily Landsburg, Chair of the NBB’s Sustainability Task Force. “Biodiesel is already helping the nation make important strides toward energy independence and we will continue to explore new and promising practices.”

This week’s symposium included representatives from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the American Soybean Association, the World Initiative for Soy in Human Health (WISHH) and the U.S. Department of Energy Clean Cities.

This week at the NBB’s fall board meeting, the board adopted several resolutions addressing sustainability. The resolutions pledge to continue to develop internal policies and support practices which promote the use of sustainable feedstocks and biodiesel production methods, and to actively engage in forums addressing global sustainability standards.

The NBB is also trying to counter what it calls “unsound and incomplete science which distorts the effects of biofuels” by providing accurate information about biodiesel to educate the public, elected leaders and the media. To that end, the board has launched a new web site, www.biodieselsustainability.com. Check it out!

E-Station to Open in Florida

The first green “E-station” is slated to open in Destiny, Florida soon. The 6,000 square-foot will offer a wide array of traditional and non-traditional fuels for the motoring public. E85 and biodiesel are planned to be included.

“Destiny’s E-Station will introduce solar, renewable energy and new sustainable practices into the lives of residents of Osceola County while also educating consumers on how clean technology and carbon reduction can be implemented,” said Randy Johnson, chief operating officer for Destiny. “The E-Station will be a proving ground for technologies and practices of the future and is a testament to our commitment to create a truly eco-sustainable community in the state.”

Mid-State Energy Inc. of Lake Wales, Florida, had purchased the former site known as Key Stop, and had planned on merely updating the facility. They were approached by Destiny with the E-Station idea.

“We are thrilled to be at the forefront of the creation of one of the country’s first E-stations and are excited to work with Destiny to turn their vision into reality,” said Ken Allen Jr., president of Mid-State Energy. “We believe the E-Station offers a remarkable opportunity to be part of the transition of change from fossil to alternative fuels and a platform for educating the public on new green technologies, and the latest in energy efficient systems which is long overdue in our traditional industry.”

Ethanol Report from Cellulosic Summit

Ethanol Report PodcastThe third annual Cellulosic Ethanol Summit was held this week in Coral Gables, Florida and Renewable Fuels Association president and CEO Bob Dinneen was once again chairman of the summit.

In this “Ethanol Report” podcast, Dinneen discusses a number of issues – including the race to commercialize cellulosic ethanol, the new administration, getting more flex fuel vehicles on the road, the continuing attacks from the food industry, and the all important land use issue.

You can listen to “The Ethanol Report” on-line here:

Or you can subscribe to this podcast by following this link.

Indy Chooses Brazilian Ethanol

The domestic ethanol industry is pleading with the Indy Racing League to reconsider the decision to make Brazil the official ethanol supplier for the 23 IndyCar Series races.

Green FlagIn a letter to IRL commercial division president Terry Angstadt this week, Renewable Fuels Association President Bob Dinneen implored the IRL to “at least ensure that the Indianapolis 500 be run on American homegrown ethanol and suggested the league need look no further than the network of ethanol producers in the state of Indiana.”

Earlier this week, IRL announced a multi-year partnership with APEX-Brasil making the trade promotion agency the official ethanol supplier to the IndyCar Series beginning with the 2009 season. The deal includes cooperation from UNICA (the Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association) to identify those interested in supplying ethanol to the series. Initially, UNICA will look to partner with a U.S.-based ethanol company to supply the IndyCar Series with corn-based ethanol.

“The move to other sources of ethanol is a natural progression as the ethanol industry continues to grow and evolve,” said Angstadt. “We continue to strive to be on the leading edge of the greening of racing. The IndyCar Series was the first motorsports series to mandate use of a renewable fuel, and now we will work with the ethanol industry in both the United States and Brazil to promote the use of all types of ethanol by consumers.”

Reportedly, the new agreement with Brazil does include an exception for the Iowa Corn Indy 250 to use domestically produced corn ethanol, but no exception for the Indy 500.

Wind to Power Texas Wal-Marts

In one of the largest investments of wind energy by a U.S. retailer, mega-seller Wal-Mart has announced it will buy 226 kilowatt-hours of wind power from Duke Energy for about 360 stores and distribution centers in Texas… around 15 percent of the electricity those places use.

The Washington Post reports that the the four-year agreement will take out of the environment the equivalent of the emissions of 25,000 cars:

The move is the latest step in the company’s three-year-old effort to transform itself into a more sustainable business. Wal-Mart chief executive H. Lee Scott Jr. has vowed that the retailer will eventually be completely supplied by renewable energy. The deal with Duke is expected to be announced today.

“That’s just a huge, huge goal for us to work toward,” said Kim Saylors-Laster, vice president of energy for Wal-Mart. “We’re actually very pleased with our results and excited about the things that we’re learning.”

Nearly two years ago, Wal-Mart began talks with wind power company Tierra Energy, which was based in Austin, to supply its stores. When Tierra was bought by North Carolina-based Duke last year, the company brought Wal-Mart with them.

“They have a very compelling case for their sustainability and environmental effort,” said David Marks, senior vice president for wind energy at Duke. “They were very focused on trying to make as much of their Texas electricity load be renewable as they can.”

Wal-Mart won’t say how much it is paying for the wind power but would say that it won’t be more than it pays for traditional energy (big surprise there, huh?)

PA Biodiesel Refiner to Star on Discovery

As if I didn’t need another reason to stay glued to my couch watching the Discovery Channel (Dirty Jobs, Survivorman, Mythbusters… what more could a guy want?), now Pennsylvania’s first large-scale biodiesel producer will be featured on the popular cable channel.

This story from eMediaWire.com says Lake Erie Biofuels, LLC will have its national primetime debut sometime next year:

“Shades of Green,” a new television documentary on The Discovery Channel, will showcase the cutting edge technology and on-site laboratories that Lake Erie Biofuels, LLC utilizes in its state-of-the-art facility. While emphasizing the importance of biodiesel in today’s global economy, “Shades of Green” will provide an inside look into the production of biodiesel and the incredible impact it could have on our planet’s future.

The show’s main focus is to highlight the very latest topics and trends impacting the world by providing its viewers with information on alternative energy and sustainable living. Each feature segment of “Shades of Green” will focus on a specific renewable energy source, such as wind, fuel and solar power. Lake Erie Biofuels, LLC was chosen by The Discovery Channel to represent the biofuel industry because of its unique facilities that produce 45 million gallons of biodiesel annually.

They’re shooting “Shades of Green” this week at the Pennsylvania biodiesel refiner with plans of airing the show next February.

Now, if they can just coordinate this with a history of biodiesel I once saw on the History Channel, I may never make it off my couch.

Nova: Testing Shows Our Readiness for RFS’ Biodiesel Portion

Officials with Houston, Texas-based Nova Biosource Fuels, Inc., say that testing of their variety of biodiesel shows they will be ready when the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) for biodiesel usage is increased to 500 million gallons in 2009.

This company press release says Nova’s biodiesel has passed the Cold Soak Filtration Test for more than a year. Biodiesel under ASTM D6751-08 must pass the test as a qualitative evaluation meant to replicate performance of the biodiesel in cold climates:

“Nova’s patented process has always focused on producing high quality biodiesel,” said Kenneth Hern, Chairman and CEO of Nova. “The new ASTM Cold Soak Filtration Test is a hurdle for some companies, but Nova’s biodiesel meets this requirement regardless of feedstock input used in our proprietary process.”

The Company continues to operate efficiently and conserve working capital while maintaining sustained rates of approximately 50 percent to 60 percent nameplate capacity at the Seneca refinery. During the month of October, three million gallons of biodiesel were produced at Seneca, bringing the cumulative total to over 14 million gallons produced to date.

Nova says it will be well-positioned to help supply the biodiesel needed for the increased standard.

Florida Biofuels Developing

At the same time Florida was hosting the third Cellulosic Ethanol Summit in Coral Gables this week, U.S. Sugar announced an agreement with Coskata to explore building a 100 million gallon per year cellulosic ethanol facility in Clewiston, Florida. The facility would be the world’s largest second generation ethanol facility, converting left-over sugar cane material into ethanol.

Cellulosic Summit Dana WeberThat is great news for the relatively young Florida Biofuels Association, which helped to host the summit in south Florida.

“We launched in May of 2007 so we are a pretty new organization,” said FBA Executive Director Dana Weber. “We’re focused primarily on a sustainable, clean and safe biofuels sector here in Florida.”

Weber says Florida has an extremely positive environment for biofuels growth. “We’ve got a very aggressive governor who has put some pretty strong policies in place with regards to climate change and alternative energy.”

You can listen to an interview with Dana Weber here:

See photos from the Cellulosic Ethanol Summit here.

FFVs Developing Fast Globally

According to the China Economic Net, the global vehicle manufacturers are committed to increasing the economical efficiency of the existing fuel and developing the alternative energy. They are practicing the new energy system strategy further. Against this background, more and more new energy vehicles with commercial outlook have gone beyond the laboratory stage and are stepping into the commercialization rapidly. The flexible fuel vehicles are one of the products which are developing fast.

At present, in the markets of America, Canada, Europe and Brazil, the GM’s vehicles which can use different fuels flexibly have reached 3.5 million, among which 2.5 million vehicles can use E85 fuel (namely the gasoline fuel with 85% ethanol). In addition, in Brazil, over 90% vehicles sold by GM can use the fuel with 100% ethanol and such types of vehicles have reached 1 million. Presently, GM has produced over 1 million flexible vehicles in its global facilities.

At the “China International Conference on bio-fuels” on the 20th of October, GM revealed that they would explore the commercial feasibility of non-grain ethanol. That means GM is seeking the feasibility of developing the Chinese market for such flexible fuel vehicles and preparing for that now. Mr Chen Shi, Vice President of GM in Chinese branch said that among a variety of ways, the bio-fuel was the most feasible approach for new energy vehicles.

Iowa Gives Grant for Biodiesel Lab

A $740,000 grant has been given to Ames, Iowa-based Renewable Energy Group Inc. to fund staff for a new state-of-the-art biodiesel research and feedstock commercialization lab at the company’s headquarters.

This story in Biodiesel Magazine says the announcement of the Iowa Power Fund money was made by Iowa Gov. Chet Culver and Iowa’s Office of Energy Independence Executive Director Roya Stanley:

The grant awarded to REG’s lab will help Iowa move closer to energy independence through partnerships with business and industry, community leaders, government and public agencies, and other stakeholders. “As governor, I have long been committed to building on Iowa’s strengths in renewable energy,” Culver said. “These Power Fund grants will help keep Iowa on the forefront of the green energy revolution.”

The company builds and manages a network of six commercial-scale biodiesel production facilities. REG said the grant will help it build a biodiesel research center to support the existing network of plants and aid in improving the overall industry. According to REG Research Development Manager Glen Meier, the research center will focus on three key issues: alternative feedstocks, biodiesel moisture capacity, and measurement of soaps and sterol glycosides.

“REG has been at the forefront of the biodiesel industry’s quality and feedstock research for more than a decade,” said REG’s Chief Operating Officer Daniel Oh. “This grant will further help REG research how to better understand and utilize alternative feedstocks, challenges in fuel handling due to biodiesel’s emission-reducing moisture levels, and the need for continued advancement in fuel purity.”

Construction on the new lab, which will employ staff from up to 15 companies in Iowa, is expected to be completed next spring.

Colorado Town Turning Turkey Oil into Biodiesel

Don’t know what to do with the used cooking oil leftover from frying your turkey for Thanksgiving? The folks in Fort Collins, Colorado will be able to turn their used oil into clean-burning biodiesel.

This story in The Coloradoan has details:

The city of Fort Collins and Rocky Mountain Sustainable Enterprises, or RMSE, are having its second annual Holiday recycOil event to help residents recycle waste fryer oil after Thanksgiving. This will divert hundreds of gallons of waste vegetable oil from municipal sewer systems and landfills. So take that leftover vegetable oil to our one-day collection event from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 29 at the city’s Rivendell Recycling Facility, 1702 Riverside Drive. The oil will be used to manufacture biodiesel.

Bring your used vegetable oil in a sealable container, such as the original oil jug, a coffee can, etc. At the collection site, you’ll be asked to pour the oil into the recycOil barrel and take your container back home to be reused. Last year, 375 gallons were collected from city residents at the event.

More information is available at fcgov.com/recycling/.