Student Fees to Pay for Green Fuel

Students at Minnesota State University in Moorhead, Minnesota have been paying “green fees” that will help build a wind power generator for the school’s science center.

This story in the Dickinson Press has more:

minnstatesustain1.jpgThe 39.5-kilowatt wind turbine will generate enough energy to run the building, plus 20 additional kilowatts per month that could be sold back, said Pete Sand, co-chairman of the Sustainable Campus Committee that distributes green fee money.

The goal of the wind turbine is to help reduce the amount of electricity produced from coal fire, which releases carbon dioxide gases, Sand said.

“It’s the right thing to do and somebody’s got to start doing it,” he said.

The turbine could be up by next fall.

US BioEnergy Earnings Up

US BioenergyUS BioEnergy Corporation reports higher third-quarter earnings on rising output and lower corn costs.

According to the company, net income in the third quarter was $11.1 million, or 15 cents per share, compared with $8.3 million, or 12 cents per share, in the second quarter.

The company went public last December.

Gordon Ommen, US BioEnergy’s CEO says, “It was the first full quarter of production at our Ord, Nebraska plant and we now have four plants in operation and four additional plants under construction. Additionally, we successfully closed the acquisition of US Bio Marion, LLC (formerly Millennium Ethanol, LLC) during the third quarter, which positions us to bring our total production capacity to 750 million gallons per year (mgy) by the end of 2008.”

The company is in the process of building a transportation system that will allow it to move ethanol more efficiently from its facilities.

“This positions US BioEnergy to become one of the largest volume shippers of ethanol in the U.S. by the end of 2008, adding transportation efficiency to our growing list of competitive advantages,” Ommen said.

The Vicious Cycle of Irony

Increased demand for biodiesel has meant an increased demand for biodiesel plants… which has increased demand for feedstocks such as soybeans… which has pushed up the price for soybeans… which has hurt the operation of the biodiesel plants. That’s irony, right?

Some biodiesel plants are starting to feel the negative effects of the surge that brought them to life in the first place. This story in the Janesville (WI) Gazette says construction of a $42 million biodiesel plant in Wisconsin has stopped:

npp-logo.jpgThe rising cost of soybean byproducts forced North Prairie Productions to temporarily suspend construction on its biodiesel plant in Evansville, President Mike Robinson said.

npp-construction1.jpg“We always knew there’d be times when markets are good and markets are bad,” he said. “You’re most vulnerable as a company when you start, and you don’t want to start when times are bad. We just wanted make sure that we are secure when we enter the market.”

Company officials point to a 20 percent rise in soybean oil prices since last August as the main reason for the stop in construction.

Meanwhile, according to this story on the NewsOK.com web site, a biodiesel plant in Northeastern Oklahoma has gone bankrupt because of the high cost its feedstock:

Green Country’s largest unsecured creditor was agricultural giant Cargill Inc., which is owed more than $128,000 for soy oil.

The biodiesel plant began operations in an industrial park in Chelsea in 2005. The business was formed by David Allen and his partner, Scott Williams. Allen bought out his partner for $25,000 in September 2006.

That brings the number of Oklahoma biodiesel plants down to just one, the Earth Biofuels plant near Durant. But two more are still in the works for Tulsa and Guymon. Let’s hope they can stay afloat through this latest storm.

Tyson, Syntroleum Biodiesel to Keep Air Force Flying

syntyson.pngTyson and Tulsa, Oklahoma-based Syntroleum have formed a company called Dynamic Fuels that will make jet fuel out of animal fat.

This article on the cleantech.com web site says the two will turn 2.3 billion pounds of animal fat into 75 million gallons of biodiesel a year:

Tyson announced that it would build the first biodiesel plant under its venture with Tulsa, Okla.’s Syntroleum (Nasdaq: SYNM) on a site in Louisiana, citing the area’s proximity to feedstocks, transportation, and the Barksdale Air Force Base, which has three squadrons of B-52 bombers.

“The B-52 has been the first Air Force jet that has been certified for synthetic fuels,” said Jeff Webster, Sr. VP of renewable products at Tyson, in a conference call.

“We’ve met all of the standards that have been set in the preliminary testing for synthetic fuels, and we’ve contracted with the Air Force for our next set of fuels for further testing.”

Construction on the biodiesel plant will start next year with production expected in 2010.

Biofuel Makers Want Changes to Farm Credit Rules

Leaders in Iowa’s renewable energy field are asking Congressional leaders to change federal law so Farm Credit would be allowed to make loans to build ethanol and biodiesel plants that do not have a majority of farmer-stockholders as owners.

harkin.jpgThis story in Wallaces Farmer says they’ve sent a letter to both of Iowa’s U.S. Senators, Chuck Grassley and Tom Harkin, and to other senators asking for support of the change to Farm Credit’s lending authority because of the problems expanding the renewable fuels industry and maintaining its profitability. The new farm bill, currently under debate, has an amendment with the change:grassley.jpg

The current economic climate is challenging, to say the least,” says Sam Cogdill, president of Amaizing Energy LLC, an ethanol plant at Denison in western Iowa. He is one of eight people representing ethanol and biodiesel plants across the state who signed the letter.

“We understand the struggles of expanding the ethanol and biodiesel industry and trying to keep it profitable in changing economic times,” he adds. “Rising input costs and other factors are creating increasingly smaller margins for ethanol and biodiesel producers.”

But bankers are balking at the idea:

The Farm Credit System was created under a federal charter years ago and operates as a cooperative. “As a government-sponsored lender, they have certain advantages we don’t have,” says Jim Schipper, president of American State Bank at Osceola and current chairman of the Iowa Bankers Association.

The Farm Credit System has preferential tax treatment and access to funding at interest rates a commercial bank is not eligible to get. “That’s fine as long as Farm Credit lenders are within their mission–providing credit to farmers,” says Schipper. “But this expanded horizons idea goes way beyond that. If they want to finance enterprises that are not farmer-owned projects, then they should have to discontinue their federal support.”

Schipper goes on to point out that guys such as Bill Gates, who owns one-fourth of Pacific Ethanol, would be eligible for the Farm Credit loans if the change happens.

EU, NBB Face Off over Tax Credit

eu-flag.gifLobbyists for the European Union and the National Biodiesel Board have been working Congress hard over the issue of tax credits.

This article from The Hill.com says EU officials say the tax credit just allows American biodiesel to be dumped in Europe while the NBB argues the incentives are needed to support the alternative fuel:

At issue are increased U.S. exports of biodiesel to Europe, which EU officials argue are displacing European crops that would otherwise be converted into biodiesehttp://domesticfuel.com/wp-admin/upload.php?style=inline&tab=upload&action=&ID=&post_id=-1194925751&paged
Uploadl in European countries. EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson raised the issue with Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab during his visit last week, according to an EU official.

One of Mandelson’s arguments is that the current policy cheats U.S. taxpayers, whom the EU argues are subsidizing biodiesel exports to Europe. EU officials say these subsidies do nothing to lower U.S. dependence on foreign oil — one of the initial justifications for providing the U.S. industry with tax credits — since the biodiesel is just sent to Europe.

nbb-logo.jpgThe NBB, however, argues that the rise in U.S. exports simply reflects the higher demand for biodiesel in the EU, where policymakers are trying to increase the percentage of biodiesel as a proportion of total diesel fuel use to 10 percent. That would be huge in Europe, where about 50 percent of the passenger-car fuel used for transportation comes from diesel.

Denying the tax credit to biodiesel that is exported would close the free flow of trade, according to the NBB, endangering a U.S. industry that has made tremendous strides in recent years. NBB CEO Joe Jobe argues this would create a “serious disincentive” for the U.S. industry.

European biodiesel producers say much of the biodiesel sent to Europe is made entirely from U.S. crops, and U.S. producers add a splash of petroleum to to qualify for the tax biodiesel blending tax credit.

The NBB is fighting a similar measure that is allowing biodiesel producers from Indonesia and Malaysia ship biodiesel to a U.S. port for a “splash” of petroleum, at which point the blenders’ tax credit is pocketed and the finished product dashes off to Europe. The Europeans aren’t happy about this practice, either, but see the American biodiesel as a bigger threat.

Good News in WSJ Article

A Wall Street Journal article on water use for ethanol production points out that the industry is taking steps to address the concerns.

RFAEthanol producers say they are prepared for the challenges as the business expands and are ready to adapt quickly. Producers, plant designers and water engineers are all teaming up to try to reduce water consumption, says Matt Hartwig, a spokesman for the Renewable Fuels Association, a Washington, D.C.-based group that represents ethanol producers.

Producers as small as newcomer US BioEnergy of St. Paul, Minn., and as big as Archer-Daniels-Midland Co. of Decatur, Ill., have discussed measures to reduce their impact.

The article points out that advancements in engineering and new technology are being developed to reduce water usage.

Significant technical innovations are required to reduce the amounts of water that ethanol plants consume. One ethanol plant designer, Delta T Corp., based in Williamsburg, Va., says it has created a system that will reduce consumption to just one-and-a-half gallons of water per gallon of ethanol, down from four gallons of water.

To further reduce the plants’ impact on drinkable water, engineers also can route more low-quality water — even waste water — to functions where high purity is unnecessary. In the past two years, demand for engineers experienced in this kind of work has skyrocketed in the ethanol industry.

And the WSJ report notes that even without increased ethanol production, the nation still needs to get fuel somehow.

Canadian oil reserves, seen as a possible source of conventional fuel for the U.S., produce a thick grade of oil that requires just as much — if not more — water for refining than ethanol does, says Mr. Hartwig.

“The water from that [refining] process is so toxic that it has to be put into holding ponds so large they can be seen from space — and it takes 200 years to separate,” he says.

Chrysler Gives Grant to Alt. Energy Company

chrysler.jpgChrysler has handed out a $150,000 grant to alternative energy incubator company NextEnergy.

nextenergy.jpgThis story on the Detroit News web site says the two Detroit-based companies are collaborating on several projects, including the National Biodiesel Energy Lab, which is developing standards for biodiesel used in vehicles:

“This grant is an extension of Chrysler’s commitment to being a good neighbor,” said Frank Fountain, Chrysler LLC senior vice president for external affairs and public policy. “It’s a priority for Chrysler to increase the use of alternative fuels by investing in research into biodiesel technology.”

NextEnergy’s research into biodiesel is of high interest to Chrysler. Ross Good, Chrysler senior manger for energy and substance, said the automaker aims to recommend a 20 percent blend of biodiesel for all its diesel vehicles, but can’t make that recommendation until a national standard for the fuel is established.

Chrysler was the first automaker to partner with NextEnergy several years ago, said Jim Croce, CEO of NextEnergy.

“With The Chrysler Foundation’s grant,” he said, “we have been able to complete a testing platform that helps check out the viability of new bio and synthetic fuels as they progress from concept to use in vehicles and power generators.”

Storm Spotlights Ethanol

StormKearney, Nebraska’s Tri-City Storm hockey team is planning to host an “Ethanol Awareness Night” in conjunction with a February home game, according to the United States Hockey League (USHL).

The Friday, Feb. 8 hockey game will be designated as Ethanol Awareness Night. Sponsors in support of the game night event will be on hand to visit with fans about the impact of ethanol on the community. The promotion is being endorsed by the Nebraska Ethanol Board.

“A Storm hockey game provides a unique platform to reach a captive audience, and many companies have found this avenue as a means to display or convey a mass marketed message,” said team vice president of operations, Greg Shea. “We have many fans and business partners that are connected in one way or another to the agricultural community, and thus we intend to use our home games from time-to-time to generate interest and enthusiasm about topics that impact our local economy.”

Ethanol awareness promotions are beginning to dot the sports landscape. The Kansas City Royals, Iowa Cubs and Kansas City T-Bones are just a few of the most recent contributors to ethanol awareness in the Midwest.

“The concept of utilizing a hockey game as a vehicle to drive awareness on the topic was met with great enthusiasm by the Nebraska Ethanol Board,” said Shea. “Ethanol success will mean more dollars in our community and that will trickle down to even the entertainment sector that we represent.”

Biodiesel By-products for the Kitchen

By-products of the biodiesel production process from Imperium Renewables’s Grays Harbor, WA refinery are going into some countertops.

paneltech.gifThis story in the Grays Harbor (WA) The Daily World says Paneltech International is using recycled paper with some kind of resin product from Imperium:

Paneltech president Roy Nott said the goal is to create a petroleum-free resin to produce its countertops and other materials.

“Today, most plastic and plastic composite manufacturers rely upon oil refineries for their chemical building blocks,” Paneltech said in a press release announcing the arrangement. “Paneltech is an exception. Paneltech produces petroleum-free resins from raw materials like cashew nut shell liquids.”

He didn’t disclose what specific byproducts will be used for his company’s new process. Details of the financial arrangement between Imperium and Paneltech also weren’t released.

imperium-logo1.gifMartin Tobias, Imperium’s chief executive officer, said he was “pleased that we have a way to put our process byproducts to good use — especially with a company that shares our ideals and is building products that are environmentally friendly.”

Both Imperium and Paneltech are part of the Grays Harbor sustainability plan.

Using Green Fuel to Move Snow

mdsnowplow.jpgMaryland’s State Highway Administration will be moving those white snowdrifts off the gray concrete of the state’s roads running on the green fuel of biodiesel.

This story on the Examiner.com web site says it’s part of the state’s annual gearing up for winter:

SHA’s fleet will use biodiesel fuel in all its trucks this year. Each tank will contain 5 percent of the mostly soybean-oil fuel, and officials hope to have a 20 percent concentration in the coming years.

Forecasters say this winter shouldn’t be too bad. Of course, you KNOW what that means… lots of snow. At least you can count on the biodiesel.

New Holland Supports Use of 100% Biodiesel

newholland.gifFarm implement maker New Holland announced today that it supports the use of 100 percent biodiesel in all equipment with New Holland-manufactured diesel engines. That would include electronic injection engines with common rail technology.

This press release from the company says it will help give customers a wider choice of equipment that uses the green fuel:

Overall, nearly 80% of New Holland-branded products with diesel engines are now available to operate on B100 biodiesel. New Holland has also asked other suppliers of diesel engines used in New Holland-branded products to test and approve higher levels of biodiesel.

In addition to extensive testing and development within the company, New Holland has been involved in an ongoing research project in collaboration with Penn State University to put B100 to the test under real-life conditions. Penn State’s College of Agriculture is operating new, unmodified New Holland tractors on B100 biodiesel on their 1,500-acre research farm to find out what diesel equipment owners can expect to experience when they use B100. After nearly two years of use, the tractors have performed with no adverse effects in performance or maintenance, according to Glen Cauffman, the university’s manager of farm operations and services.

Paul Trella, New Holland Director of Product Marketing for Under-100 HP Tractors, said that by supporting B100 use, New Holland is making a leap forward in its commitment to renewable energy. “We are committed to providing equipment that is compliant with biodiesel use, and to providing top-rate biodiesel support for our customers. As the use of biodiesel continues to gain greater acceptance and the infrastructure for providing a quality product to consumers, New Holland equipment is ready,” Trella said.

Company officials do stress that quality biodiesel from reputable dealers needs to be used in its equipment.

Veto Override Gains Approval of Biodiesel Feedstock Growers

Congress’s override of President Bush’s veto of the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), which authorizes much-needed improvements to waterways that are vital to the transport of U.S. soybeans, has gained the praise of at least one growers group of the biodiesel feedstock.

mosoy.jpgThe Missouri Soybean Association (MSA) is applauding the House of Representatives’ 361-54 override vote and the Senate’s 79-14 vote:

“We are truly pleased to see such overwhelming support from Congress on this critical piece of legislation,” says MSA President Greg Sharpe, a soybean farmer from Ewing, Mo. “The WRDA provides much needed relief to the river transportation infrastructure that soybean farmers depend upon to transport grains. We’d like to specially thank Senator Kit Bond who has provided relentless support and leadership to modernize our river systems’ locks and dams.”

“This long overdue bill will do wonders to revitalize river transportation,” says Dale R. Ludwig, executive director/CEO of the MSA. “More than 50 percent of U.S. locks and dams have aged beyond their life cycle and many are crumbling. In addition, many are unable to handle today’s barges because they are twice as long as when the system was built in the 1930s. When barges must be split, costly delays occur.”

MSA points out that more than three-quarters of U.S. soybean exports move to world ports through the Upper Mississippi and Illinois river systems. WRDA legislation will authorize funding for construction of seven new locks and other critical improvements on the Upper Mississippi and Illinois rivers.

World Ethanol Leaders Issue Statement

In conjunction with F.O. LICHT´S World Ethanol 2007 conference being held in Amsterdam this week, leaders of the world’s largest ethanol production and trade associations issued a joint statement on the necessity of developing a robust and vibrant renewable biofuels industry around the globe.

World Ethanol 07The statement was issued jointly by Gordon Quaiattini, President, Canadian Renewable Fuels Association, Canada; Robert Vierhout, Secretary General, European Bioethanol Fuel Association (eBIO), European Union; Bob Dinneen, President, Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), United States; and Marcos Jank, President, Sugar Cane Industry Association (UNICA), Brazil.

The leaders stress that renewable fuels must be a central component of a global strategy to lessen reliance on fossil fuels, to mitigate the impacts of global climate change, and to provide real economic opportunity for rural residents in every country on Earth.

“Ethanol will continue to create economic opportunity for farmers in developed and developing countries and who are often most affected by low world agricultural prices. Enhanced rural development means improved income, less pressure on urban areas, and greater opportunities to the world’s poorest who often pay the greatest penalty for high energy prices.

“The success achieved by the world’s ethanol industry is in and of itself a good story. But the narrative does not stop here. The rapid evolution of the world ethanol industry is quickly yielding new technologies that are improving production efficiencies at existing biorefineries and introducing diverse new feedstocks such as grasses, bagasse, straw, wood chips and other biomass into the ethanol and bio-electricity generation production process. By continuing to work together and sharing ideas, these new technologies promise not only to increase ethanol production where it already exists but to make the benefits of ethanol production available in more countries.”

This is the tenth year for the World Ethanol conference, which as the name implies, features ethanol industry leaders from all over the globe.

Goshen Energy, Native American Biofuels Ink Landmark Deal

Goshen Energy has struck an agreement with Native American Biofuels International, which represents biofuels interests for about a dozen Native American Tribes, to help NABI distribute biofuels.

This story from CNNMoney.com says the partnership is designed to help development of both bio-fuels and other renewable energy resources, along with necessary accompanying infrastructure, to establish a low cost feedstock source on tribal lands to produce biodiesel at higher profit margins, and secure operating contracts with governmental departments:

Native American Biofuels International CEO James Cooke said, “Goshen Energy Resources provides NABI with a more technologically advanced and strategic approach to developing and distributing biofuels. This JV agreement will allow the tribes we represent an opportunity to broaden their profit potential in a positive way, utilizing Goshen’s advanced systems, processes and extensive government and community relationships. This is a highly profitable niche market and we feel Goshen Energy Resources is an ideal partner.”

“Our partnership with Native American Biofuels International provides us a stable crop source for biodiesel production to service our customers over the long-term. Additionally, James Cooke brings to us over 15 years of experience in securing significant multi-million dollar governmental contracts. We believe this partnership will help us directly increase our shareholders’ value and enhance our bottom line profits,” said City Capital (owner of Goshen Energy) CEO Ephren Taylor.