USDA Report Good News for Ethanol

NASSThe USDA Planted Acreage report out Monday was good news, although it does not yet reflect the damage from Midwest flooding.

Corn planted area is reported to be 1.31 million acres more than was estimated in the March intentions report at 87.3 million acres, down just 7 percent from last year. That is the second highest since 1946, behind last year’s total of 93.6 million acres. If it were all to make it, growers would harvest 78.9 million acres for grain, down 9 percent from 2007 and the second highest since 1944.

RFAPutting the acreage report in context with respect to America’s ethanol industry, Renewable Fuels Association President Bob Dinneen said it shows how American farmers are capable of meeting the growing demand for feed, food, fiber and fuel.

“This report once again demonstrates that together with agriculture, American ethanol producers can help lead this nation in new, renewable energy direction,” said Dinneen.

National Corn Growers Association chairman Ken McCauley says his corn in Northeast Kansas looks good right now and it’s important to remember that there is plenty of corn being grown outside of Iowa.

“I tell you what, everybody is going to produce some corn,” McCauley said. “Iowa will produce a lot of corn and when you get down to it we’re gonna have a good corn crop and it could even be one of the better one or two or three.”

Listen to an interview with Ken here:

New EPIC Board Member Calls for a Cohesive Ethanol Industry

Another representative of Fagen Incorporated has joined the ranks in the Ethanol Promotion and Information Council. Matt Sederstrom of Platinum Ethanol is a new board member, elected at EPIC’s first annual meeting earlier this month.

Matt says he hopes to drive a solid cohesiveness in the ethanol industry, bringing more members and industry partners together for a common cause.

“Now more than ever you’re probably seeing a need for us to step up and be more of a cohesive industry,” Matt said. He echoed LifeLine Foods‘ Dave Vander Griend saying “everyone has to shoulder the load.”

Chuck spoke with Matt at EPIC’s first annual meeting. You can listen to Chuck’s interview here:

Biodiesel Boat Shatters World Record

Sixty days after it left port in Sagunto, Spain… and 14 days ahead of the previous world record… the 100 percent biodiesel-powered boat, Earthrace, has finished circling the globe faster than any other boat ever has before.

This update comes from the Earthrace’s web site:

Sagunto, Spain, 27 June 2008, 13.24 GMT: Earthrace, the world’s fastest eco-boat, has smashed the world speed record for a powerboat to circumnavigate the globe, knocking almost 14 days off the previous record.

The boat crossed the finish line in Sagunto at 13.42 GMT on Friday 27 June having travelled around 24,000 nautical miles fuelled by biodiesel to demonstrate and draw global attention to the potential for alternative fuel sources.

“This fantastic team of people and our astonishing boat have broken the record by a massive margin, said Pete Bethune, New Zealand skipper and owner of Earthrace, “I finally feel that all the sacrifices made, especially by my wife and daughters, have been worth it. I don’t even know how to begin to thank all the individuals and companies that have supported us along the way, some of them since the very beginning over five years ago. Without them, none of this would have been possible”

While it is the end of this world-record ride, it’s not necessarily the end of the road for the Earthrace. The boat and crew will start a two-year promotional tour, visiting Europe, the Caribbean, US and Australia, before returning home to New Zealand.

Big Wind Projects Not the Only Solution

While big wind farms are part of the U.S. Department of Energy’s plan to have wind power make up 20 percent of the nation’s energy supply by 2030. But at least one small wind power generator is saying, “Don’t forget about the little guys.”

A press release from Kentucky-based Wind Energy Corporation, which uses a unique sail-like design (pictured right) for its wind turbines that is more friendly to birds and bats, says the company’s CEO, James R. Fugitte, says the DOE’s “20 Percent Wind Energy by 2030″ report puts too much focus on large-scale wind farms, new transmission lines and an overall major expansion of the electricity grid system in the U.S.:

“Utility-scale electricity, whether provided by fossil fuels or renewable sources like wind and solar, is not the sole answer to what ails us,” said Fugitte. “The best way for communities, institutions and commercial enterprises to mitigate rising fuel costs is to invest in on-site renewable energy generation assets that can work in conjunction with their traditional sources of power. On-site ownership also greatly accelerates attention to conservation.”

Wind Energy Corporation is a pioneer in the untapped commercial and community distributive energy market. “Distributive” means providing power directly to, and under the control of, consumers and businesses. While the government is focused solely on large wind farms designed to sell electricity into the overtaxed national power grid, Wind Energy Corporation is bringing an alternative wind energy solution to the marketplace. Continue reading

GM Announces 18 FFVs for Model Year 2009

GMDETROIT – General Motors will offer 18 flexible fuel vehicles (FFVs) in model year 2009. The number of E85 compatible vehicle models available in 2009 is a sharp increase from the past following the group’s commitment to making their line at least half E85 compatible by 2012.

“We continue to believe that biofuels, specifically E85, is the most significant thing we can do in the near-term to offset future energy demands,” said Beth Lowery, GM vice president of Environment, Energy and Safety Policy. “We are on target to make 50 percent of our vehicles flex-fuel capable by 2012 providing the infrastructure is in place.”

The models cover the gamut from the four-cylinder Chevrolet HHR small crossover to the full-size Cadillac Escalade ESV luxury utility.

Infrastructure includes both the availability of the E85 fuel and stations where it is sold. Currently, there are more than 1,600 E85 stations thorughout the U.S.

GM cars and trucks account for 3 million of the 7 million flex-fuel vehicles on U.S. roadways and the company produced more than 1 million flex-fuel models in North America and Brazil last year.

Below is the listing of 2009 models GM offers that include flex-fuel capability at no additional charge to the customer:

Chevrolet: Avalanche, Express, HHR, HHR Panel, Impala, Silverado, Suburban, Tahoe

GMC: Savana, Sierra, Yukon, Yukon XL

Cadillac: Escalade, Escalade ESV, Escalade EXT

Hummer: H2, H2 SUT

Buick: Lucerne

“We are pleased to see the increasing number of models of FFVs that General Motors will be offering during model year 2009 and are especially excited about the new 4 cylinder addition to their E85 model lineup,” stated Executive Director of the NEVC, Phil Lampert.

E85 Stations Rise Above 1600

The Glenville Mobil Mart in Glenville, New York is the proud 1,600th E85 fueling facility. The station is located at 245 Saratoga Road in Glenville, New York and the milestone was made just in recent weeks when they began selling the alternative fuel.

NYSERDA“We decided to sell E85 to help reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil,” said Stephen Weekes, President of Glenville Mobil. “We need E85.”

The station currently sells regular unleaded gasoline as E10 and diesel. They are open 24 hours and offer a full convenience store and 24 hour Dunkin Donuts. The 5000 E85 tank supplies four E85 nozzles.

Glenville Mobil received a grant from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority which contributed to half the cost of the E85 infrastructure.

At this time last year, only 1230 stations were providing E85.

EPIC Board Embraces Veteran Experience with Ethanol

Gary Pestorious (pictured speaking with EPIC founder Ron Fagen) isn’t new to ethanol nor to the Ethanol Promotion and Information Council. Gary was elected for another term as an EPIC board member at the organization’s first annual meeting.

As a two year veteran with EPIC, one thing Gary stresses is EPIC’s role in the ethanol industry. He says EPIC is not a political arm, rather its an organization meant to do exactly what its name states “promote and inform.”

Gary says informing the public is crucial to the growth of the industry, “once [consumers have] understood the truths, they’re always for ethanol… If you understand ethanol you will vote for it.”

Chuck spoke with Gary at EPIC’s first annual meeting. You can listen to Chuck’s interview here:

Duke Energy Expands Wind Portfolio

One of the nation’s largest power companies has added to its wind energy holdings. Charlotte, North Carolina-based Duke Energy has spent $240 million to acquire Vermont-based wind energy company Catamount Energy Corp.

This Reuters story has more:

Catamount has about 300 megawatts of renewable energy in operation, as well as about 1,750 megawatts of development interest in the United States and the United Kingdom.

Duke said the deal price does not include $80 million of assumed debt.

Duke bought Tierra Energy, a leading wind developer in Texas, in May 2007.

It said that combining Catamount with Tierra will result in an entity with more than 5,000 megawatts of wind energy under development in 12 states and about 500 megawatts of operating assets by the end of 2008.

Biodiesel, Ethanol, Wind Part of ND Energy Future

A North Dakota commission is recommending that ethanol, biodiesel and wind play a larger role in that state’s energy future.

The Dickinson (ND) Press reports that the state’s EmPower Commission has issued 10 major goals with renewable fuels at the forefront. Here are some of the goals:

*Support the nation’s 25X25 Initiative to derive at least 25 percent of all energy produced from renewable sources by 2025.

*Increase installed capacity of wind generation to 1,500 megawatts by 2020.

*Produce 450 million gallons of ethanol by 2011 and develop both in-state and out-of-state markets for ethanol and associated byproducts.

*Build new biodiesel plants in North Dakota to produce 135 million gallons by 2015.

The commission, created by the state legislature last year, has worked for the last 10 months to come up with these recommendations and suggestions that also deal with conventional energy sources in North Dakota.

More Tuscon Buses to Run on Biodiesel

Over the next five years, Tuscon, Arizona will be buying more biodiesel buses for the city’s public transportation system.

This story from the Arizona Daily Star says Sun Tran, Tuscon’s bus system, is increasing the number of biodiesel buses… even as the green fuel already goes into a majority of the buses:

The transit system has a contract to expand its fleet of buses running on biodiesel, which already makes up about 56 percent of the buses on our streets. The other 44 percent of the buses run on CNG, said Michele Joseph, spokeswoman for Sun Tran.

Sun Tran plans to buy an additional 119 biodiesel buses over its five-year contract with bus manufacturer Gillig Corp. The buses are also capable of running on regular diesel, but Sun Tran does not use regular diesel in any of its buses.

Sun Tran uses B20 and B5 biodiesel blends in its 114 biodiesel buses.

The article points out that the new biodiesel buses are replacing an even cleaner-burning fuel, compressed natural gas (CNG). But the problem with CNG is that the city would need a new CNG fueling station… a costly proposition at this point. In addition, CNG-fueled buses have to refuel more often.

Louisiana Law Promotes Non-Corn Ethanol

Governor JindalLouisiana Governor Bobby Jindal this week signed into law the Advanced Biofuel Industry Development Initiative, the most comprehensive and far-reaching state legislation in the nation enacted to develop a statewide advanced biofuel industry. Louisiana is the first state to enact alternative transportation fuel legislation that includes a variable blending pump pilot program and a hydrous ethanol pilot program.

The legislation includes the development of ethanol derived solely from Louisiana harvested crops capable of an annual yield of at least 600 gallons per acre. The law also provides for two pilot programs – an advanced biofuel variable blending pump trial and a hydrous ethanol trial.

Officials with Renergie, Inc. are pleased with passage of the law. Renergie is in the process of developing a network of ten ethanol plants in the parishes of the State of Louisiana. Brian J. Donovan, CEO of Renergie, says the legislation will “maximize rural development, benefit consumers, farmers and gas station owners while also protecting the environment and reducing the burden on local water supplies.” The Florida-based company recently received $1.5 million in grant money to design and build Florida’s first sweet sorghum juice mechanical harvesting system and ethanol plant capable of producing fuel-grade ethanol solely from sweet sorghum juice.

New EPIC Board Member Man of Many Hats

One of the newest board members of the Ethanol Promotion and Information Council is a man of many hats. Ray Defenbaugh is the CEO of Big River Resources, a company that’s based in Southeast Iowa. The company already operates a one 100 million gallon ethanol plant and another is under construction.

But, Ray doesn’t just know ethanol production. He’s also quite the fiscally savvy farmer. Ray serves as chairman of the board for a $330 million bank.

That’s still not all. He serves as a director for the Renewable Fuels Association as well.

When asked about this latest “hat” though, Ray says ethanol possesses a “wide area of influence and effect.” He says the fuel is an excellent representation of value added agriculture, “bringing value right back into our Midwestern community right where it belongs.”

Chuck spoke with Ray at EPIC’s first annual meeting. You can listen to Chuck’s interview here:

World Ethanol, Biodiesel Production Doubling by 2030

The amount of biofuels being produced in the world will double between 2010 and 2030… and that represents a significant increase from previous U.S. government estimates of how much ethanol and biodiesel will be produced in the future.

This story from Reuters says a report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration says biofuels will be “an increasingly important source” of global energy supplies over the next two decades:

Global biofuels production will rise from 1.3 million barrels per day in 2010 to 2.7 million bpd in 2030, with the United States accounting for almost half that growth, EIA said in its new long-term forecast.

The forecast marks a big jump from the EIA’s previous estimate of 1.7 million bpd of biofuels production by 2030.

The boost will help renewable fuels take up about 8.5 percent of global energy use by 2030, up from about 7.7 percent in 2005, the EIA said.

The report goes on to say that U.S. biofuels output will grow from half a million barrels each day in 2010 to 1.2 million barrels each day in 2030.

Students Build Hydrogen Car, Win Competition

A group of junior high students from Boise, Idaho has won first place in the National Fuel Cell Competition at the 2008 National Middle School Science Bowl in Golden, Colo.

This story from KBCI-TV in Boise says it was a good chance for the students to learn… and the sponsoring U.S. Department of Energy to get some new ideas:

“Each team started out with their motor and this fuel cell,” said eighth grader, Alex Baca, one of the master minds behind the design of the car. “And it was up to you to design some kind of car.”

Five students from the Treasure Valley Math and Science Center at Riverglen Junior High school are bringing home the overall first place trophy in the National Alternative Fuel Cell Competition for their little hydrogen cell vehicle.

“This year we got a monster trophy, so we can show everybody this is what we did and this is what we got,” said Eddie Smith, an eighth grader on the team.

The US Department of Energy sponsored this week’s National Middle School Science Bowl in Colorado, all in search, for creative ideas when it comes to researching alternative fuels.

One of the students’ mentors said while hydrogen may or may not be the answer to the nation’s energy problems… but they won’t know if it is the answer until they ask questions like this.

Biodiesel Rebuilding Iowa Town

On May 25th, 2008, an F5 tornado ripped through the town of Parkersburg, Iowa… killing six people and practically wiping out the small town in Northeast Iowa. Now, with some help from biodiesel, the town is rebuilding.

This story from Biodiesel Magazine says the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association and the Ames, Iowa-based Renewable Energy Group Inc. have announced a $10,000 donation toward the purchase of biodiesel to aid the recovery effort. And that has turned into a statewide money-raising effort:

“The idea was to round the price of diesel up to $5 a gallon and ask people if they would like to donate just a gallon,” an REG representative told Biodiesel Magazine. “We have been overwhelmed by the participation in this fundraising activity.”

KCPS Radio in West Burlington, Iowa, donated $1,000 accumulated from listeners, and although the deadline for helping to purchase biodiesel has passed, persistence to help continues. “My sidekick and I raised the money from our listeners in just one week,” said Chip Giannettino, KCPS station owner and morning show host. “In fact, we’ll exceed $1,000 as donations are still drifting in.”

Western Dubuque Biodiesel in Farley, Iowa; and Central Iowa Energy in Newton, Iowa joined REG and the IRFA in making addiitonal $500 donations. GATX Rail and the Iowa Biodiesel Board were also noted donators among dozens of others.