Ethanol Industry Meets in Omaha

ACE 1The 21st Ethanol Conference & Trade Show is underway in Omaha with the theme “Fueling Revolution.” The event kicked off officially with the opening of the trade show at the Qwest Center.

The conference is expected to draw more than 1,200 attendees, with more than 200 companies represented at the trade show. Topics that will be covered during sessions over the next two days include ethanol blender pumps and mid-range blends, innovations in corn ethanol, cellulosic ethanol commercialization and feedstock logistics, and much more.

ACE 2Prior to the start of the conference, the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) held its annual business meeting and voted to expand their board of directors. The ACE board now includes representatives from Fagen, ICM, Nebraska Ethanol Board and Missouri Corn Growers.

“ACE has always prided itself on being the grassroots voice of the industry, and today we’re proud to expand our board of directors to better represent the industry as a whole by adding two leading companies and two grassroots organizations,” said Brian Jennings, Executive Vice President of ACE.

ACE is also offering a new blog to follow the convention proceedings – at ethanol.typepad.org.

See the ACE 2008 Photo Album here

John Deere, Clean Fuels Clearinghouse Announce Partnership

John Deere Agri Services has teamed up with Clean Fuels Clearinghouse, developer of the RINSTAR™ Renewable Fuel Registry, to provide Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs) and reports that meet the requirements of the Renewable Fuel Standard.

This press release from John Deere says AGRIS V9 system users will be integrated with the RINSTAR solution:

The RIN-based system was created to identify, measure, and track batches of renewable fuel. RINs are unique serial numbers that renewable fuel producers or importers assign to each batch of fuel produced or imported and must be reported to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and listed on product transfer documents if the batch is transferred to another party. Each year refiners, blenders, and importers obligated to meet the renewable volume requirement must acquire sufficient RINs to demonstrate compliance. RINs can be traded and serve as the currency for the credit trading program.

“We are pleased to provide our biofuel producer customers an efficient, straightforward process to manage RIN compliance,” says Tom Angell, director of marketing for John Deere Agri Services. “By having the ability to communicate with the RINSTAR registry, our customers can focus on their business and reduce effort to meet Renewable Fuel Standard reporting requirements.”

“The renewable fuel registry interacts with more than 450 companies each day throughout the entire renewable fuel supply chain,” notes Clayton McMartin, president of the Clean Fuels Clearinghouse. “This partnership further expands the universe, bringing more certified RINs to the market and more confidence to the transactions.”

Ethanol Group Expands Board

ACEThe American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) this week voted to expand its board of directors to add representation from key ethanol companies and grassroots organizations.

With the vote, four new members have been added to the board – Ron Fagen of Fagen, Inc; Greg Krissek of ICM; Todd Sneller with the Nebraska Ethanol Board; and Missouri Corn Growers Association CEO Gary Marshall.

The decision was made during the ACE annual business meeting which is held the day before the annual ACE Ethanol Conference & Trade Show begins. The conference starts today in Omaha.

USDA Increases Corn Crop and Ethanol Use

Ideal summer growing conditions have helped the U.S. corn crop bounce back from flood damage, according to the latest report from USDA.

USDAThe August crop production forecast is now 12.3 billion bushels, nearly five percent higher than predicted last month. It is still down 6 percent from last year’s record, but up 17 percent from 2006.

The big story in the crop report is yields, which are now expected to average 155 bushels per acre, up 3.9 bushels from last year. If realized, this would be the second highest corn yield on record, behind 2004.

Meanwhile, today’s World Supply and Demand Estimates from USDA increases use of corn expected for feed and ethanol. Feed and residual use is raised 100 million bushels with the larger crop and lower expected prices. Ethanol use is raised 150 million bushels as increased supplies and lower prices
are expected to improve plant operating margins and capacity utilization rates. Exports are unchanged as increased competition from wheat feeding limits prospects for U.S. shipments. Ending stocks for U.S. corn are projected at 1.1 billion bushels, up 301 million bushels from last month.

Cellulosic Ethanol Demo Plant Opens in Montana

A cellulosic ethanol demonstration plant opened Monday in Butte, Montana – reportedly the first such plant to integrate the use of both cellulose and starch based feedstocks.

AE BiofuelsCalifornia-based AE Biofuels celebrated the opening of its plant with various government representatives, including both U.S. senators and Governor Brian Schweitzer, who commented that he was proud “AE Biofuels’ groundbreaking technology was developed here in Montana.”

According to the company, the plant uses “proven, patent-pending Ambient Temperature Enzymes for converting cellulose and starch to fermentable sugars to optimize process conditions for multiple feedstocks. Non-food ethanol feedstocks used at the facility include switch grass, grass seed straw, small grain straw, sugarcane bagasse, and corn stalks either alone or in combination with a variety of traditional starch and sugar sources such as corn, wheat, barley, and sugarcane.”

The $1.5 million, 9000 square foot plant was privately funded. AE Biofuels officials say they plan to build a full-scale, $100 million production plant in the United States as early as next year.

POET to Open 24th Ethanol Plant

POETThe largest ethanol producer in the world will get even bigger next month.

On September 11, POET will host a grand opening event for POET Biorefining – North Manchester, Indiana. The $105 million ethanol production facility will be the 24th POET production facility and will produce 65 million gallons of ethanol per year from more than 22 million bushels of local corn. The program will include addresses from Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels and POET CEO Jeff Broin.

POET Biorefining – North Manchester will be the third ethanol plant opened by POET in Indiana with others near Portland and Alexandria. Once the North Manchester facility is operational, POET’s annual production capacity will be 1.4 billion gallons.

BlueFire Ethanol Presents at GM Briefing

Blue Fire EthanolGeneral Motors recently held a briefing in California on cellulose to ethanol production in North America. One of the companies that presented was BlueFire Ethanol of Irvine, CA.

BlueFire president and CEO Arnold Klann talked about the company’s Concentrated Acid Hydrolysis process known as the “Arkenol Process” which converts cellulosic, or “green” waste materials to ethanol. His presentation is featured here on the GMnext blog in a post by contributor Matt Kelly.

VeraSun Boosts Earnings on Ethanol

VeraSunOne of the nation’s largest ethanol producers has announced a revenue increase of nearly 500 percent over last year.

VeraSun Energy Corporation on Monday reported its financial results for the three months ending June 30, which increased revenues by 499% over the second quarter of 2007, to $1.015 billion, and generated earnings of $.15 per diluted share, driven by higher ethanol volume sold and an increase in average ethanol price.

During the quarter, VeraSun completed the merger with US BioEnergy effective April 1, adding five facilities and 420 million gallons to operations. The company also completed construction at its Hankinson, North Dakota; Welcome, Minnesota; and Hartley, Iowa biorefineries, with a combined capacity of 330 million gallons per year. Upon completion of two additional ethanol production facilities in Dyersville, Iowa and Janesville, Minnesota, the company expects to have a capacity of 1.64 billion gallons of ethanol through 16 production facilities by the end of 2008.

GE, Acciona Open Massive Wind Energy Project in Dakotas

General Electric has teamed up with Spanish energy company Acciona to build a wind farm in the Dakotas that will power 60,000 homes.

This Reuters story says the $381 million wind farm will crank out 180-megawatts of electricity:

GE Energy Financial Services is investing $141 million in the Tatanka Wind Farm, which spans 14,000 acres along the border of North Dakota and South Dakota. Wachovia Investment Holdings LLC also provided financing for the project, which went online last month.

The farm is owned and operated by Acciona Energy North America. It is the first U.S. wind farm built entirely by Acciona, the companies said.

Acciano officials say the project will provide power throughout the Midwest.

Biodiesel Proves Its Worth in Buses

A year-long test of biodiesel in city buses in St. Louis, MO has shown that the green fuel is comparable in fuel economy to the cleanest version its petroleum counterpart, while being much more reliable with fewer maintenance issues.

This story posted on CanadianDriver.com says the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) study showed B20 biodiesel was within two percent of ultra-low sulfur diesel (ULSD) in fuel economy:

The evaluation was undertaken on buses in the St. Louis, Missouri Metro fleet and was conducted by NREL and the National Biodiesel Board. The study is the first B20 in-fleet study using buses equipped with EGR valves, and the first to compare B20 to ULSD. It involved 15 40-foot model-year 2002 transit buses with Cummins engines; eight operated exclusively on B20 and seven on petroleum USLD. The groups operated from different depots at St. Louis Metro, but the routes were matched for duty cycle parity.

Average fuel economy over the 12-month period for the ULSD buses was 3.58 mpg US (65.7 L/100 km), while average economy for the B20 buses was 3.52 mpg US (66.8 L/100 km).

The study also found that the biodiesel-fueled buses went longer between road calls (2,375 miles for the ULSD and 2,627 miles for the B20 groups)… an indication of biodiesel’s reliability… and the biodiesel fuel systems and engines went longer between road calls: 8,211 for B20 and 6,924 for ULSD.

CNN Wraps Up Biodiesel Road Trip

Two weeks and more than 4,000 miles after they left San Francisco, CA, a CNN producer and his web developer colleague have rolled into CNN headquarters in Atlanta, GA… finishing up their cross-country, biodiesel-fueled road trip.

Along the way, the pair sent in reports from the road detailing their trials and triumphs of taking a 1978 International Harvester Scout across the nation, while learning a little more about the biofuels business. This is their final entry on the blog:

Well… here we are. We made it back to Atlanta in (mostly) one piece after a two-week journey I’ll never forget. This morning my colleague Brian Hardy and I did a little recap video interview with CNN.com Live which you can see here. We also have an iPhone review (it never left my side) that we’ll put up a little later.

Four-thousand miles later — and many gallons of bio and regular diesel — I would call this road trip a success. It wasn’t perfect — but we talked to a lot of people, saw a lot of things and learned a good deal about biodiesel fuel and long-distance travel.

Now, it can be debated how much good they really did for the image of biodiesel, driving an old vehicle without making the proper preparations for this long of a trip. My understanding is they had trouble finding biodiesel… until our friends at the National Biodiesel Board provided them with a listing of biodiesel stations that were along the way.

I agree that they could have focused more on the positive aspects of biodiesel… instead of the emphasis on their old truck. But they did prove to the novices who tuned in and logged on to their adventure that biodiesel is a viable fuel.

Iowa Senator Harkin Looks at Mandating FFVs

U.S. Senator Tom Harkin is supportive of alternative fuels and would like to push for mandated flexible fuel vehicle production. He asks, “Why do we run cars on gasoline?”

According to the Iowa Independent, the Senator said he plans to introduce legislation that would require all vehicles produced in the U.S. run as flexible fuel.

Brazil has made flex-fuel cars a key part of its energy strategy, Harkin noted. “We could do the same thing here in two years,” Harkin said. “In two years we could mandate that every car sold in America be flex fuel. That would do more in two years to bring down the price of gasoline than any other single thing we could do.”

Harkin said more oil drilling is not a long-term answer — and he thinks most Americans understand this. He noted that President Bush centered a State of the Union speech around the nation’s addiction to oil and its need to break it.

“If you’re addicted to oil it would seem to me the last thing you’d want to do is go out and start drilling for more oil,” Harkin said. “That’s just feeding your addiction.”

McCain Opposes Ethanol Subsidies in Iowa

Republican presidential candidate John McCain visited the Iowa State Fair Friday, shook a lot of hands, but probably didn’t make a lot of friends in corn country when he clearly stated his opposition to subsidizing ethanol production.

“My friends, we will disagree on a specific issue and that’s healthy,” McCain said during a Des Moines Register forum address at the fairgrounds. “I believe in renewable fuels. I don’t believe in ethanol subsidies, but I believe in renewable fuels.”

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey and Iowa Farm Bureau Federation President Craig Lang stood beside McCain during his speech and applauded as McCain discussed his views on energy policy, despite the candidates remarks about ethanol in the nation’s top producing state.

McCain touted his “Lexington Project” strategy to achieve energy independence. “It’s got to be wind, tide, solar, nuclear,” he said of his plan, which also includes support for cellulosic ethanol and increasing the number of flex-fuel vehicles on the road.

Mississippi State University Biofuels Conference

MSUMississippi State University (MSU) will be holding a Biofuels Conference on August 14 and 15 at McCool Hall on the campus of MSU. The conference will be presented by MSU’s Department of Chemical Engineering, Industrial Outreach Service, and the Sustainable Energy Research Center.

On day 1 (August 14, 2008) of the conference, international experts in the biofuels area will provide information on feedstock availability and cost, as well as the challenges that need to be overcome to sustainably convert these feedstocks into biofuels. At the end of the day, the audience should have the tools to understand the rate of progress of the biofuels industry, and the need to integrate the agriculture, transportation, and chemical sectors to displace large quantities of petroleum from the market. On Day 2 (August 15, 2008), the conference will highlight the state and regional efforts to increase the availability of biofuels. State leaders will inform on specific projects and strategies to reduce petroleum dependency in the region and assist on the establishment and operation of biofuels industries.

A complete agenda can be found by clicking here. To register, click here.

Southeast Bioenergy Conference

SE Bioenergy ConferenceAs ethanol industry leaders meet in the Midwest next week, biofuels will be the focus of another conference in Georgia at the same time.

The third annual Southeast Bioenergy Conference will be held August 12th-14th at the UGA Tifton Campus Conference Center. Keynote speaker for the event is Ron Fagen, president and CEO of Fagen, Inc, one of the world’s foremost ethanol plant design-builders. Other speakers include Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue and Gale Buchanan, USDA’s Under Secretary for Research, Education, & Economics.

The conference will focus on the potential for the southeast to be a leader in biofuels production.