As legislators in Wisconsin continue their months-long wrangling over what should be in the state budget, biofuels advocates are making sure renewable energy is not left by the wayside.
The Wisconsin Legislature was supposed to have approved a budget starting by July 1st, but that process is not complete… making the state the only one without an approved budget right now. Universal healthcare and some tax increases have been the snagging points.
But backers of biodiesel and ethanol don’t want the lawmakers to leave out their projects when the budget is finally done. This story on Wisconsin Ag Connection says the Wisconsin Soybean Association and the Wisconsin Biodiesel Association have renewed their calls… and are asking farmers to call their lawmakers as well… to support Governor Jim Doyle’s proposed $30 million for renewable energy and a proposal that calls for a new program of incentives to stimulate the biodiesel fuel market in Wisconsin:
WSA Director Bob Karls says his group is asking members to call key legislators and ask them to support three other specific budget items.
“We are supporting infrastructure incentives including wholesale tax credits for in-line blending racks and retail tax credits, grants for soybean crushing facilities with Landmark committed to matching up to $4,000,000, and the income tax credit for biodiesel producers in Wisconsin,” Karls says.
A similar call has been put out by backers of ethanol.
Korean automaker Hyundai has used the Frankfurt Motor Show to debut its new fuel-cell concept vehicle… the i-Blue. The company touts it as a zero-emissions vehicle built on a car-based platform.
This story on the stuff.co.nz web site has more:
“The i-Blue is Hyundai’s first-ever model designed from the ground up to incorporate fuel-cell technology,” said Dr Hyun-Soon Lee, Hyundai president of research and development.
“Our engineering team has successfully designed a more compact fuel-cell vehicle, while still realising the safety, comfort, convenience and driving range of a traditional internal combustion engine vehicle.”
Mass production could start within the next 10 years.
Science is giving the desert regions of the world the chance to get in on the biodiesel boom. Oil-producing algae could hold more promise than conventional Midwestern crops now primarily used to make the green fuel.
This story in the El Paso (TX) Times says a company called Valcent Products has unveiled to the media its system of 10-foot-long water-filled plastic bags set up like a greenhouse in the West Texas desert that grows the oil-producing algae:
“We expect to produce 100,000 gallons (of vegetable oil) per acre per year,” which is a much higher yield than soybeans and other plants being used for biofuel, (president and CEO of Valcent Products Glenn) Kertz said Wednesday. He was showing off his patented Vertigro algae-growing system to news media, El Paso city officials and others at his company’s 6.2-acre research facility in the Upper Valley.
The article goes on to say the closed-loop system is the key to its success, keeping out foreign particles and maximizing the algae’s growth. Construction of a test algae biodiesel plant will begin later this year.
As naysayers try to bash the promise of biofuels, a man in Washington state is doing his part to spread the word through his brotherhood of biodiesel.
This story in the Othello (WA) Outlook says Bill Riley, the director of Big Bend Economic Development Council, has been making his own biodiesel for several years. He’s taking the approach that every little bit helps:
“It isn’t rocket science,” he said, referring to making biodiesel fuel at home. “It’s easily done.”
Riley opted to start making his own biofuels because it helps lower pollution, is a form of recycling (using restaurant waste oils), means he can save on his own fuel bills and is a way of keeping more money in America. For every gallon of foreign oil coming into the U.S., $2 per gallon goes to the country of origin, he said.
Riley had a $99,000 USDA grant to tout the benefits of biodiesel around the Basin, and gave his last demonstrations last week in Othello and Ritzville and in Lind this week to show people how easy it is to make biodiesel and how inexpensively a processor can be made.
“You can make a processor for a couple hundred bucks — all the guys I’ve met who make their own processors have all used different methods,” he said. “And some guys are making biodiesel fuel for less than a buck a gallon.
Riley admits that making biodiesel is a bit addictive. But he adds the real addictive part is spreading the Gospel of biodiesel to more members of the biodiesel brotherhood.
Business Week is reporting that Big Oil is trying to put the brakes on ethanol.
In the October 1 edition on-line, the article entitled “Big Oil’s Big Stall On Ethanol” claims that oil companies “seem determined to fight the spread of E85, a fuel that is 85% ethanol and 15% gas.”
At the same time the industry is collecting a 51 cents-per-gallon federal subsidy for each gallon of ethanol it mixes with gas and sells as E10 (10% ethanol and 90% gas), it’s working against the E85 blend with tactics both overt and stealthy. Efforts range from funding studies that bash the spread of ethanol for driving up the price of corn, and therefore some food, to not supporting E85 pumps at gas stations. The tactics infuriate a growing chorus of critics, from the usual suspects—pro-ethanol consumer groups—to the unexpected: the oil industry’s oft-time ally, the auto industry.
Ethanol industry supporters should be pleased that the media has taken an interest in this.
Citigroup is presenting “Ethanol on the Cob II,” a biofuels conference, October 2 in New York City.
A number of companies with a biofuels interest will be presenting at the event, including Bunge North America. Tim Gallagher, Executive Vice President, Bunge North America and Todd Bastean, Vice President & General Manager, Bunge North America Biofuels, will address the conference and the presentation will be webcast live on Bunge.com.
Aventine Renewable Energy Holdings CFO Ajay Sabherwal will also be presenting at the event and a link to the live webcast presentation will be available on that company’s website as well.
The largest dry mill ethanol producer in the United States has now become the first to have its own YouTube site.
POET has introduced POET TV to feature coverage of events, interviews and “anything else that gives you a deeper understanding of our company,” according to a post on POET’s blog Rhapsody in Green.
Our focus for POET TV is not high production values or fancy bells and whistles. We want to use POET TV as another vehicle to bring you the latest news and information about POET, the largest producer of biofuels in the world.
Dutch-based insurer and financier, ING Group, will buy wind energy credits to make up for the power it will use at its American locations.
This article in the Hartford (CT) Courant says the company is having to buy the wind energy credits because it can’t directly buy the wind power for its properties:
Initially, the Dutch financial services firm will purchase enough credits to cover power use this year and next. ING will invest about $600,000 in the credits, according to Philip K. Margolis, an ING spokesman in Hartford.
Like most businesses, ING can’t obtain its electricity directly from renewable energy sources, such as wind. Instead, it is contracting to purchase 70,000 megawatt hours of wind-energy credits. Each credit represents 1 megawatt-hour of electricity from wind energy sources.
Producers of such energy sell the credits through brokers and the money that is raised helps pay for generating electricity by wind, cutting down on energy production by burning fuels such as coal.
Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell has unveiled his plan to his state legislature to increase the use of renewable fuels in Pennsylvania. Now, to follow up that call, Rendell has made a call to Beaver County, PA at will be the biggest producer of biodiesel in the state.
This story in the Beaver County Times-Allegheny Times has more details about Rendell’s visit to the plant which will provide up to 30 million gallons a year of biodiesel when it is running at its full potential:
Rendell used his appearance at the grand opening of Pennsylvania Biodiesel in Potter Township to reiterate the plan he presented in Harrisburg on Monday, one that would set aside money for development of a fund for alternative energy grants and a requirement that will boost the production and sales of alternative fuels in the state.
“This is one of the most important plant openings I have ever attended,” Rendell said. “When this plant reaches capacity, it will be producing about 9 percent of the national supply of biodiesel.”
Rendell’s plan has two components. First, the PennSecurity Fuels Initiative would require that all diesel or gasoline sold in the state have a percentage of ethanol or biodiesel by 2017 and that the state be in a position to produce 1 billion gallons of alternative fuels by the same date.
You can read more about Rendell’s energy initiative by clicking here.
Midwest farmers and truckers, as well as environmental enthusiasts, have long admired the green benefits of biodiesel… green because of how clean it is and green because of the money it saves its users. Biodiesel gets 30 percent better mileage than gasoline (although, I realize the engines are different, and you can’t make a direct comparison between the two).
This story on CNNMoney.com says now biodiesel could be making some green for those suits at the New York trading firms:
These days biodiesel isn’t just good for the environment – it’s good for the bottom line. The U.S. market for the combustible stuff has more than doubled every year since 2004 and will hit $1 billion this year. The number of retail pumps nationwide has grown from 350 in 2005 to more than 1,000 today. A couple of biodiesel IPOs are in the offing – and opportunities abound. “Biodiesel is the rock star of fuels,” says Will Thurmond, author of Biodiesel 2020: A Global Market Survey. “It has moved from Woodstock to Wall Street.”
The article goes on to say how the biggest player is Renewable Energy Group, a biodiesel plant builder and producer from this author’s home area. Accounting for more than a quarter of the total American biodiesel production, REG is poised to increase its total capacity to 340 million gallons a year by the end of next year… thankls in part to its relationship with soybean growers. And it’s also ready to make a hit on Wall Street:
REG should be the first biodiesel company to hit Wall Street, having filed for an IPO in July. But REG won’t be the last: Also mulling a stock offering is Seattle-based Imperium Renewables, founded three years ago by former commercial-jet pilot John Plaza. Imperium operates the largest U.S. biodiesel plant and plans to cut a production deal with Washington’s canola farmers.
CNN.com has an interactive special report called “Fueling America” that features information on a variety of alternative fuel and energy source with a relatively objective viewpoint – simply putting it out there and pointing out some pros and cons.
There is also a good article on CNN about the lack of ethanol production outside of the Midwest.
Outside the country’s corn-producing leaders, efforts to produce biofuels vary widely. In the Northeast, Pennsylvania has moved forward with several measures outlined in Gov. Ed Rendell’s Penn Security Fuels Initiative. Conversely, New York and New Jersey produce no ethanol, though two plants are expected to come on line in New York in the next few years.
There is a focus in the article on Florida’s efforts to move into biofuels production, quoting Dana Weber, executive director of the Florida Biofuels Association.
Take Florida. While it does produce corn, it is without an existing ethanol plant and has none under construction.
The state government, though, has begun an aggressive funding program aimed at developing alternative energy sources, including the types of biofuels that will be needed to reach Gov. Charlie Crist’s goals that the state’s energy sources be 20 percent renewable by 2020.
“One of the challenges we have is this is all very new territory. There’s a lot of technologies out there,” Weber said. “Everybody’s trying to figure out what is going to be the best thing not only for their state but also globally.”
And it also talks about state efforts to develop cellulosic ethanol.
Several states are moving aggressively in developing cellulosic ethanol, which uses various materials from the biomass including switchgrass, corn stalks, wood chips, municipal waste and other substances. Among the cellulosic leaders have been Tennesee and Georgia, where dot.com billionaire Vinod Khosla has financed the construction of a plant that will use the state’s abundant long-leaf pines to create ethanol.
Worth checking out.
UseCorn.com has introduced a Virtual Stock Trading program on its website that explores the ethanol industry and other companies related to the renewable fuels market.
According to Use Corn’s Dave Clark, “The program simulates actual stock trading, and the user-friendly interface is both inspiring and entertaining.”
The UseCorn Virtual Stock Trading program features some of the ethanol and industry related public companies that are traded on the stock market. The program provides an excellent opportunity to research these companies and
formulate possible investment strategies.
UseCorn.com, L.L.C. is an ethanol information and virtual stock trading website that was established in November of 2006 by a group of professionals in Dallas, Texas.
Congressman Randy Neugebauer from Texas has proposed and the U.S. House has approved a study to look into his measure to put a public database online to find out what kind of wind turbines could go up without causing problems for aviation sites.
This story in the Wichita Falls (TX) Times Record News says it will help the industry and reduce the risks of accidents:
“The basic point behind this is let’s look at it from every single angle to make sure that we’re doing this right and there aren’t any mistakes,” Neugebauer spokesman Michael Frohlich said.
The database would show acceptable height and distance for wind turbines in relation to civilian and military aviation. It would also identify the level of obstruction turbines might mean for aviation sites such as airports.
“From the industry’s point of view, anything that helps minimize the risk of surprises as part of the permitting process is something that’s good,” said Christine Real de Azua, spokeswoman for the Washington-based American Wind Energy Association.
The Philadelphia Eagles don’t just wear green jerseys (although, what was up with those UGLY uniforms this past weekend?). They also are living the green lifestyle.
This story on the ABC News web site says the team is probably the greenest franchise in American sports:
When the lights come on for an Eagles game at Lincoln Financial Field, 30 percent of the power comes from so-called clean sources, such as wind power and methane reclaimed from landfills.
When the Eagles fly to an away game, their organization plants trees in the Philadelphia area to make up for the carbon dioxide emitted by the team’s plane.
If you go get a beer at halftime, you’ll notice recycling bins every 46 feet on the concourse. Why that distance? Because a study showed people will actually walk that distance to drop off a plastic cup for recycling; any further, and the cups will just be dumped with regular trash.
The team’s tickets are printed on recycled paper. So are the programs. Even the machine that vacuums the field after the game runs on biodiesel.
Gotta love their all-around “Go Green” program and motto.
The Wisconsin Biodiesel Association is opening its monthly meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 25th at 9:30 a.m. at the Wisconsin DNR office in Madison to the general public.
This story on Wisconsin Ag Connection says it’s an effort to educate people about the benefits of biodiesel in the state:
WBA President Jeff Pieterick says the group has prepared a particularly informative series of presentations that will offer a substantial overview of the biodiesel industry in Wisconsin.
“Please join with us to learn about the exciting developments, the opportunities, and the challenges that bear impact upon Wisconsin’s effort to develop ‘Homegrown fuel for a better Wisconsin,’” Pieterick says.
The agenda includes a legislative update with Attorney John Wilson of Michael, Best & Friedrich, LLP; a discussion on fuel distribution by Tim Glynn from EH Wolf & Sons; and an update on biodiesel production in Wisconsin by BEST Energies Vice President Tony Janowiec.
Contact Jeff Pieterick at the WBA at (920) 988-4058 for more information.