GOP Platform Addresses Ethanol

Delegates to the Republican National Convention this week have adopted a party platform that would essentially end the Renewable Fuels Standard passed by Congress and signed by the president in December as part of comprehensive energy legislation. However, they do support the development of cellulosic ethanol and increased flex-fuel vehicles on the road.

Under the agriculture section, the platform talks about food versus fuel concerns and states that the “U.S. government should end mandates for ethanol and let the free market work.”

GOP 2008Under the energy section, the platform states that we “must continue to develop alternative fuels,
such as biofuels, especially cellulosic ethanol, and hasten their technological advances to next-generation production” and says that “because alternative fuels are useless if vehicles cannot use them, we must move quickly to flexible fuel vehicles.”

The Renewable Fuels Association expressed concern about the Republican platform. RFA President Bob Dinneen called it “inconceivable that the Republican Party would adopt a platform that limits the energy options available to the American people.”

“Fortunately, many leaders in the Republican Party, including the President of the United States, understand the importance of a strong renewable fuels policy,” said Dinneen. “Regardless of the outcome of this year’s elections, the American ethanol industry stands ready to continue working with Congress to provide a clean, safe and secure alternative to foreign oil and gasoline.”

RFA will be among many organizations and companies participating in an AgNite event in conjunction with the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis Tuesday evening, sponsored by the Minnesota Agri-Growth Council. The event is designed to celebrate America’s food, agriculture and energy industries and educate delegates and other attendees about their importance to the nation. Stay tuned for reports from the event here on Domestic Fuel.

Biodiesel May Replace Ethanol Plans in Florida

Plans for an ethanol plant near Tampa have been scrapped, but a biodiesel plant could take its place.

EnvirofuelsAccording to the St. Petersburg Times, legal problems caused Port Sutton EnviroFuels to shelve plans to build Florida’s first ethanol plant but a Texas company has stepped in to take over Port Sutton’s 22-acre lease and build a biodiesel plant instead.

Green HunterGreenHunter Energy, based near Dallas, reportedly plans to invest up to $100-million in a biodiesel plant and terminal that will produce 50-million gallons a year.

U.S. EnviroFuels, one of the investors in the proposed ethanol plant, is currently in the process of developing a 20 million gallon per year ethanol plant in Highlands County, Florida using sweet sorghum as the primary feedstock. Earlier this year the company received a $7 million grant from the state of Florida for that project.

Hurricane Debris Could Provide Energy Resource

As Hurricane Gustav storms its way toward the coast of Louisiana, a New York-based lumber company is preparing to swoop in afterward to clean up the debris.

Green Energy ResourcesGreen Energy Resources says it will take up to 10 million tons of hurricane storm wood in 2008, if it becomes available. The company is asking for the public’s assistance to help procure the wood from FEMA and the Gulf States through the purchase of Green Energy Resources carbon offset credits.

Green Energy Resources is a global supplier of wood fiber fuels to the power generation industry. Wood biomass has multiple applications including ethanol production, co-firing with coal, direct burn and gasification.

Funding Sought for East Coast Ethanol Plants

A company seeking to build ethanol plants in four southeastern states needs to raise over $800 million to get the job done.

East Coast EthanolEast Coast Ethanol already has about $10 million in seed money, but they are looking for at least $254 million from equity investors to complete the four 110 million gallon a year plants in North and South Carolina, Florida and Georgia.

The company was formed in September of last year with the merger of Mid Atlantic Ethanol, Palmetto Agri-Fuels, Atlantic Ethanol and Florida Ethanol – all of which were separately developing ethanol plants in the four states.

According to a July 21 filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the company said the “four facilities (if and when they become operational) can supply ethanol to the Southeast United States at a much cheaper rate than imported ethanol because of reduced transportation costs given our geographical location.”

Fagen, Inc. is expected to design and build all four of the planned ethanol production facilities.

Corn Growers Provide Ethanol Facts and Free Bumper Stickers

***Post Update*** The National Corn Growers Association is regretfully out of these free bumper stickers. Thanks for your support of American Farmers!

Ethanol FactsThe National Corn Growers Association has updated its Ethanol Facts website. The Web site provides information on ethanol production, blends, suitability for engines and economic and environmental impacts, as well as a glossary and links to other online resources. Among the changes to the updated site is printer-friendly formatting.

“Given how much misinformation about corn ethanol can be found on the Internet, this update provides a timely service to consumers, policy makers and the news media,” said Steve Ruh, chairman of the NCGA Ethanol Committee and a grower from Sugar Grove, Ill. “This is a comprehensive resource that will help make sure the truth prevails in any ethanol debate.”

Corn Bumper StickerThe corn growers are also trying to get the word out that they are capable of meeting the nation’s needs for food, feed and fuel by bumper sticker. While supplies last, they are offering free bright yellow bumper stickers that proclaim “US Farmers – Producing Food, Feed and Fuel” to anyone who wants to help them get that message out on the road. For a sticker, email NCGA at corninfo@ncga.com.

Ethanol to be Featured at RNC AgNite

The Minnesota Agri-Growth Council is hosting a celebration of America’s food, agriculture and energy industries during the second night of the Republican National Convention in the Twin Cities.

AgNiteAgNite is a non-partisan event independent from the RNC being coordinated by the council with the help of numerous sponsors, including the ethanol industry under the auspices of the Renewable Fuels Association. The companies and organizations will have exhibits and information available for the thousands of visitors expected, including delegates and policy makers attending the convention. The Ethanol Promotion and Information Council has provided the Team Ethanol show car for display on the floor during the AgNite event. Minnesota is the nation’s fourth largest ethanol producing state, with 17 plants producing 1.1 billion gallons per year.

Organizers are expecting as many as 4,000 people to attend the invitation-only event which is being held Tuesday, Sept. 2, from 8 pm to 2 am in the historic Minneapolis Depot.

Oregon Biodiesel Plant Opening Triggers Mandate

The opening of the 5-million-gallon-a-year Sequential Pacific Biodiesel refinery in Salem, Oregon today is attracting celebrities and kicking in a new biodiesel mandate.

The Eugene (OR) Register-Guard reports not only is country music legend and biodiesel backer Willie Nelson expected at the opening, but Oregon’s new biodiesel mandate will start:

Once the plant is producing at the 5-million-gallon capacity, that will trigger the state’s renewable fuel standards for diesel, requiring that all diesel sold in Oregon include at least 2 percent biodiesel. Hitting that threshold should help Sequential and the biodiesel industry because it guarantees that a certain amount of biodiesel will be consumed in Oregon, company co-founder Ian Hill said. The new standard will double demand for biodiesel to about 20 million gallons per year, Hill said.

To fight some of the food-versus-fuel debate, the folks at Sequential are using used cooking oil for about 90 percent of their feedstock.

Biodiesel Bus Patrons Ride for Free

Riders of the new biodiesel bus at the University of Montana in Missoula won’t get just a clean ride on an eco-friendly piece of mass transit… they’ll get all that for free.

This story from the Missoulian says drivers could end up fighting over who gets to get behind the wheel of the 50-passenger bis:

The new addition is the sixth bus in UM’s commuter fleet, and it couldn’t come at a better time, [Nancy Wilson, director of the Associated Students of the University of Montana’s Office of Transportation] said.

“Last year, the bus system shuttled 314,000 people,” she said. “We expect an increase in riders this year because of the high price of gas, the difficulties in finding campus parking and because more people are concerned about being more environmentally friendly.”

Riders will get to enjoy that “new bus smell,” while knowing they’re doing their part for the environment.

A Destiny of Sustainable Energy

Destiny, Florida, the first eco-sustainable city in the country, is creating Florida’s first sustainable energy farm.

This press release from the green city just south of Disney World in Central Florida says the Destiny Sustainable Energy Farm will be a learning center, applying and showcasing 21st century farming technologies and practices to produce alternative fuels:

“Destiny’s Energy Farm 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,” said Anthony V. Pugliese, III, Destiny founder. “It’s just the beginning of building a city that operates with minimal impact on the environment and serves as a scientific hub where the latest green technology innovations will emerge.”

The Energy Farm is a result of a cooperative effort between several private/public individuals and companies, including the University of Florida; GreenTechnologies, LLC; Everglades Farm Equipment; American Drilling Services, Inc.; Global Renewable Energy; Southern Farms; Energy Structures & Systems, Inc.; and Bio Greens Oil USA, LLC.

The energy farm is growing 20 acres of sweet sorghum, which requires less water and fertilizer and is hardier in bad soils. Samples of the grain are being tested at the University of Florida to measure yield and ethanol potential.

Officials say they’re trying to grow crops that are good for alternative fuels, while looking at new food production for the community.

Colorado Cellulosic Ethanol Plant Confirmed

A cellulosic ethanol demonstration plant is planned for Grand Junction, Colorado.

Lignol BiofuelLignol Energy Corporation has received approval from the U.S. Department of Energy to locate the facility on the western slope of Colorado. The approved location is a change from the originally proposed site adjacent to Suncor Energy refinery in Commerce City, Colorado. According to the company, the Grand Junction location offers logistical advantages including access to feedstock and ethanol distribution efficiencies.

In January 2008, the DOE approved Lignol’s funding application for a proposed cellulosic ethanol plant, including up to $30 million in funding to construct the facility. The proposed facility will be designed to process hard and soft woods and agricultural residues such as straw and corn stover.

Lab to Test Ethanol Feedstock Powders

Gulf Ethanol Corporation has contracted a commercial testing laboratory to perform analysis on its preprocessed feedstock powders.

Microbac Laboratories has over fifteen years’ experience in analyzing a wide range of biomass products. They work directly with national Renewable Energy Laboratories and various private entities to characterize and analyze biomass materials.

GulfAccording to a company release, Gulf Ethanol CEO Bill Carmichael says their goal is to establish the credibility of our cellulosic pre-processing technology and confirm the performance characteristics of our products. “Our clients as well as our investors will want to see scientific proof of the efficiencies created by this process,” Carmichael said. “We expect this processing technique to be a standard component of all cellulosic ethanol production in the future because of the increased yield and processing efficiencies we believe it will produce.”

Initial product samples will be provided to the lab this week.

Ag Secretary Defends Ethanol in WSJ

The Wall Street Journal published a letter to the editor this week from U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Ed Schafer that defends ethanol and the nation’s biofuels policies.

Florida Farm to Fuel Ed SchaferSchafer wrote the letter mainly in response to an op-ed by Texas Governor Rick Perry that appeared in the paper after EPA’s recent decision to deny his request to waive the Renewable Fuels Standard.

Shafer writes:
This decision has recently generated some critical commentary in your pages. I, however, support and applaud the EPA’s decision. Renewable energy is a tremendous American success story. We are the world leader in biofuels. Since 2000, U.S. ethanol production has quadrupled. Biodiesel production soared from two million gallons to 450 million last year. Cellulosic ethanol, which will derive fuel from non-food feedstocks, is moving into production.

Schafer also noted that the rising cost of food in recent months is due to a number of factors, including higher oil prices. “…the sharp rise in global grain prices in recent years is driven primarily by soaring energy costs, improved diets in rapidly developing nations, two years of bad weather in some countries, and new export restrictions in several nations. U.S. biofuels production contributed only an estimated 0.2%-0.6% to the 5.1% rise in U.S. consumer food costs.”

Read the entire letter here.

Transition to Bioeconomy Conference

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Ed Schafer will be the keynote speaker at the Oct. 15-16 conference, Transition to a Bioeconomy: Environmental and Rural Development Impacts. Secretary Schafer will address public policy challenges for the bioeconomy. Also featured on the program will be Under Secretary for Rural Development Thomas Dorr.

Transition to BioeconomyThe conference is is a collaboration of Farm Foundation, and USDA’s Office of Energy Policy and New Uses, Rural Development, Economic Research Service and Natural Resources Conservation Service, and the U.S. Forest Service.

“Building a biofuels industry puts demands on natural, human and community resources, while at the same time generating potential returns for investors, workers and communities where the industry operates,” says Farm Foundation President Neil Conklin. “This conference is designed to build understanding of the short-and long-term impacts of those demands and potential returns, identify issues that must be addressed and options for the future.”

The “Transition to a Bioeconomy” conference series is designed to inventory current knowledge of key issues of the bioeconomy, identify options for the future, and determine information and research needs. The conferences provide government, industry, academic and community leaders with objective information and analysis on key issues of the evolving bioeconomy.

More information about the conference can be found here on the Farm Foundation website.

Wind Power Stored as Compressed Air

New Jersey-based Energy Storage and Power says it is investing $20 million over the next three years to develop an underground compressed-air storage system for wind turbines and other power sources.

This story from C|Net.com says Energy Storage and Power is a joint venture formed by energy developer PSEG Global and Michael Nakhamkin, who designed the only compressed air-storage facility in the U.S.:

With Compressed Air Energy Storage (CAES), air is pumped into underground formations, such as depleted natural gas wells or salt caverns, using a natural gas-powered machine. The pressured air is released later to drive a turbine to make electricity.

The system allows for several hours or even days of stored energy, which allows power producers to deliver electricity during peak hours when the demand for electricity–and price–is highest.

Energy Storage and Power said that it intends to develop equipment for storing renewable power resources at a large scale. Utilities are already using more wind and solar, but energy storage means that they can be used more broadly since electricity can be “dispatched” as needed.

Energy Storage and Power joins General Compression in the commercial compressed-air storage wind energy business. General Compression is also designing a wind turbine that has a compressor built into the nacelle, the housing at the top of a wind turbine tower.

Enterprise Taps Sayre to Head Biofuel Efforts

St. Louis-based Enterprise Rent-A-Car has named Dr. Richard Sayre, a leading biofuels researcher, to head its Institute for Renewable Fuels at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in St. Louis.

This press release says the company created the Institute in 2007 with a $25 million gift from the company’s founding family, the Taylors… who own Enterprise, National Car Rental and Alamo Rent A Car and operate the world’s largest automotive fleet, with more than 1.1 million vehicles:

“Just as we are committed to using our fleet to grow the market for commercially viable new fuels and engine technologies, we believe it is important to play a role in the search for sustainable, renewable fuels that can curb greenhouse gas emissions and reduce dependency on finite fossil fuels,” said Andy Taylor, chairman and chief executive officer of Enterprise. “Dr. Sayre and his team bring tremendous leadership to this effort.”

Dr. Roger N. Beachy, president of the Danforth Center, said Sayre’s deep experience in plant science will advance the mission of the Danforth Center and the Institute for Renewable Fuels. “Attracting a researcher of Dr. Sayre’s caliber speaks volumes about the work we have done over the last decade – and the pioneering work we will do in the future,” Beachy said. Continue reading