Ethanol and Biodiesel Groups React to Anti-Biofuels Coalition

The leaders from the two biggest biofuels groups in the country are countering what they term as a smear campaign against the benefits of biodiesel and ethanol by the nation’s grocers.

The National Biodiesel Board and the Renewable Fuels Association (which represents ethanol production in the U.S.) both issued statements today to counter the anti-biofuels campaign launched by the Grocery Manufacturers Association, which is trying to blame biodiesel and ethanol for the spike in food prices:

NBB’s Chief Executive Officer Joe Jobe:

“With oil prices up more than 100 percent in the last 12 months, it is wrongheaded for groups to attack biofuels which represent one of the few components of US energy policy that is actually working. Biofuels are currently contributing over 8 billion gallons of fuel to our fuel supply, without which fuel prices, and consequently food prices, would be even higher than they already are.”

And the RFA’s President Bob Dineen:

“It’s time for some truth in advertising from the world’s largest food processors. Instead of smearing American farmers and the only fuel that is backing out foreign oil, why aren’t GMA and its allies pointing to the skyrocketing price of oil as the main cause of increasing food prices and the main reason American’s have less to spend.

Dineen also points out that every dollar spent on biofuels… which adds up to billions every year… is a dollar kept in American pockets… out of the reach of OPEC. Both groups also make the point that they are working to find more non-food sources for their green fuels.

UPI Energy LP Opens Third E85 Station in Canada

UPI UPI Energy LP in Ontario recently opened the third E85 station in Canada. The station is located at 685558 Highway #2/Oxford Road #2 in Woodstock, Ontario.

General Motors (GM) is the country’s largest manufacturer of E85 compatible vehicles in Canada. “GM welcomes the news of UPI’s E85 Launch in Woodstock and commends the fuel retailer for expanding the availability of this green fuel in Ontario,” said David Paterson, Vice President Corporate and Environmental Activities for General Motors of Canada. “In order to significantly reduce vehicle greenhouse gases in Canada, it is imperative to not only offer motorists greener vehicle technologies, but also make available green energy alternatives, such as E85 fuel.”

UPI Energy was referred to as “stewards of the environment” by the city’s mayor for their leadership in environmentally safe fuels.

“UPI continuously strives to bring innovative products to the market and to position itself as a leader in the advancement of renewable fuels. We believe the addition of E85 biofuel accomplishes that and paves the way for a greener tomorrow involving the expansion of environmentally friendlier energy products and a future less dependent on non-renewable oil,” said Robert Sicard, UPI’s President and Chief Executive Officer. “In the next six to twelve months, UPI plans to further expand the availability of E85 by offering it at two more of its sites in Ontario.”

Other E85 fueling locations in Canada include Chatham EnviroStation in Chatham and Topia GreenStop in Ottawa, Ontario.

Wind to Power Dems’ & GOP’s Conventions

After a long primary season, the presumptive Democratic and Republican nominees for president continue to expend plenty of hot air… and probably will continue to do so through Election Day in November. Now, maybe some of that wind will actually power their conventions.

This year, XCel Energy is donating wind power to help run both the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis, MN and the Democratic National Convention in Denver, CO. This story from the Rocky Mountain News says it will help both parties meet their campaign pledges of reducing CO2 emissions while using domestically-produced, clean energy:

“We are pleased to provide clean, renewable power to the conventions because we want to display for the nation’s elected leaders and delegates what a 21st Century utility can look like,” Dick Kelly, Xcel Energy chairman, said in a statement Monday.

Xcel said the two, week-long conventions combined would use about 3,000-megawatt hours of power. The donated wind power is worth about $30,000, a utility spokesman said.

That much coal-generated power would produce about 1,800 to 2,000 tons of CO2. Replacing it with clean wind power would be as beneficial as taking 300 to 330 cars off the road annually, according to the American Wind Energy Association.

The power will come from wind farms along the Colorado-Wyoming border and in Southwestern Minnesota.

Biodiesel Boat Back in the Water

As we last left the Earthrace, a boat powered by 100 percent biodiesel trying to set a world record for circumnavigating the globe, she was limping into Singapore after hitting some debris near Palau and damaging a prop.

Today, the Earthrace is back in the water, racing across the India Ocean, still on pace to set the world record:

Despite the delays for repairs, the boat is still 1,556 miles ahead of the world record pace, set by the British Cable and Wireless team in 1998, despite sustaining significant damage in Palau and having to complete the last leg of the journey on one engine.

The crew has relied on the generosity of a number of companies that stepped forward to offer Earthrace support for speedy repair upon arrival to Singapore, particularly POSH SEMCO, an offshore marine service contractor, Assetton asset management, and J B Global, project sponsor. Repair work was successfully carried out in three days, after the ground crew spent the whole of last week sourcing components and shipyard space.

The next stop for the Earthrace is Cochin, India this coming Friday, June 13th. Let’s hope it’s actually a lucky day for the racers.

You can track Earthrace’s progress at www.earthrace.net.

Biodiesel One of the Stars of LA Film Fest

Hollywood is recognizing the importance of renewable energy and a greener approach to entertainment. The Los Angeles Film Festival, scheduled for June 19th-29th, will be using biodiesel, as well as offsetting carbon usage with investment in wind energy.

This commentary from film critic Emanuel Levy has more information:

Changes being made for the overall Festival will impact everything including the use of bio-diesel fueled generators and the recycling of all paper, wood, glass and plastic used at the Festival. Printed materials will be produced on recycled paper using eco-friendly inks, and catering will use organically-grown produce purchased from local farms within a 150-mile radius of Los Angeles. In addition, all carbon emissions created by the production of the 2008 LA Film Festival will be offset by TerraPass, which funds clean energy and carbon reduction projects, including wind power, farm power, and landfill gas capture.

The festival will also feature 50 short ecologically-based films and green booths to highlight environmentalism.

And speaking of the silver screen, Josh Tickell’s biodiesel documentary, “Fields of Fuel,” will be playing this week at the Seattle International Film Festival. As you might remember from Cindy’s post back in February from the National Biodiesel Conference in Orlando, Josh has been a biodiesel backer for more than a decade. The folks at the conference got a sneak peek at Tickell’s film. In addition, “Fields of Fuel” picked up the Audience Award for Best Documentary Film at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival.

2009 Cadillac Escalade to be E85 Compatible

Cadillac EscaladeGeneral Motors (GM) announced today that their 2009 Cadillac Escalade will be able to run on either gasoline or the alternative fuel blend of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline (E85). The Escalade, Escalade EXT and Escalade ESV will join the 2009 line-up of flexible fuel vehicles (FFVs).

“The success of E85 as an alternative fuel depends on having the fuel readily available and having a range of cars and trucks that can use it,” said GM Vice President of Environment, Energy and Safety Policy Beth Lowery . “We will offer more than 15 flex-fuel capable models for 2009 compared with 11 this year.”

Previously announced this year, other 2009 FFV models will include the GMC Denali, Chevrolet HHR, Buick Lucerne and Hummer H2 and H2 SUT. This will assist GM in their effort to providing half their vehicle line as E85 compatible by the year 2012.

Midwest Governors Support Ethanol

The Midwestern Governors Association is calling on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to uphold the Renewable Fuels Standard passed by Congress in December.

Midwestern Governors AssociationIn a letter to EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson, the group said that granting a waiver would be contrary to the agency’s mission of protecting human health and the environment. The letter adds that blame placed on ethanol for higher food prices is misguided.

The Midwestern Governors Association includes the governors of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin working together on issues of significance to the Midwest.

Ethanol Talk at Pork Expo

Ethanol production as it relates to high feed costs was a major topic of discussion at the World Pork Expo in Des Moines last week, but pork producers understand that there are other factors impacting their input costs.

World Pork Expo 2008 Bryan Black“This is not specifically an ethanol problem,” said National Pork Producers Council president Bryan Black. “The world demand for grain, the total energy price crisis and shortages of grain across the world have led to this situation and we are not pointing the finger at any one particular one.”

The NPPC has created a brand new task force to look at new feed alternatives to help them deal with the rising cost of corn and soybean meal, which have been the primary source of feed for hogs.

World Pork Expo 2008 Chuck ConnerDuring a speech to pork producers at the expo, Deputy Agriculture Secretary Chuck Conner admitted that ethanol is a factor in the higher prices. “Ethanol is a new demand factor in the corn market, to the tune of about a third of our production going forward,” Conner said. “Fortunately, we did produce 13 billion bushels of corn and so despite large quantities going to ethanol, we actually did feed more corn to livestock than in previous years, so we managed to grow that market for both feed and ethanol.”

“We do recognize that there is some hurt out there in the livestock sector and with 70 percent of the cost of pork production going to feed, we know that you are first in line to get clipped,” said Conner. That is why USDA is buying pork for food assistance programs, which is helping the pork industry while at the same time helping the needy.

Conner said that USDA is also opening up some Conservation Reserve Program acreage to haying and grazing, which is primarily a direct benefit for cattle producers but it indirectly benefits hog farmers by increasing the amount of feed available to the livestock industry.

Promoting Biodiesel at CMA Music Fest

Joe Jobe and Chuck LeavellOver on our sister AgWired site we’ve had coverage of New Holland activities at the CMA Music Fest. One of those is the annual Michael Peterson/New Holland Celebrity Tractor Race. It provides a great opportunity to promote renewable fuels to the country music loving public.

Joe Jobe, CEO of the National Biodiesel Board (left) and Chuck Leavell, keyboardist for the Rolling Stones (right) were two of the competitors out here at the Race today. In this post you can watch Joe give it all he had this year, which was good but just a tad short. I’m betting he’ll be back though. He really commends Michael Peterson for being such an advocate for renewable fuels like biodiesel (the tractor was running on B20) and also New Holland for their support. He says that this country music audience is a great one to expose to the message.

Listen to my interview with Joe:

Watch Joe ride:


2008 CMA Music Festival Photo Album

Biosource Boosts Biofuel Production

Nova Biosource Fuels is building up its biofuels. The energy company has announced that it has commissioned its second 20 million gallon per year train. It’s biodiesel refinery in Seneca, Illinois has also produced more than 3 million gallons of ASTM 6751 standard biodiesel fuel.

“Our progress at the Seneca refinery continues to solidify our proven process technology that enables the use of high free fatty acid (FFA) feedstocks, which tend to cost less than feedstocks with lower FFA levels,” said Kenneth T. Hern, Chairman and CEO of Nova. “Two of the three trains have operated at nameplate capacity and have exceeded our performance objectives for yield, throughput, and quality. The refinery has successfully demonstrated conversion of feedstocks with free fatty acid levels above 10 percent. To date, we’ve produced more than 3 million gallons, and we expect to begin starting up the refinery’s final 20 MGY train in June. Our B100 quality continues to be excellent.”

“We are commissioning the Seneca refinery one train at a time, spaced at 45 to 60 day intervals to smoothly integrate equipment shakedown, staff training, logistical support, markets and overall refinery operations while ramping up production at a methodical and structured pace,” said Mr. Hern. “We could not be more pleased with the progress on the first two trains and are looking forward with great anticipation to the startup of the final one.”

Nova says it is committed to building and operating a number of Nova-owned biodiesel refineries. The company is aiming to position its production to reach between 180 to 220 million gallons of biodiesel fuel on an annual basis.

SunEthanol Gets New CEO

Biofuels expert William Frey is the new CEO of SunEthanol. Frey will lead SunEthanol’s commercialization of fuel that is created from plant waste and fast growing grasses.

SunEthanol announced today that it has hired biofuels leader William Frey, Ph.D., as the cellulosic ethanol company’s new chief executive officer.

Previously, Dr. Frey led the efforts to commercialize advanced biofuels and new cellulosic process technologies being developed by DuPont. Frey was one of the first business development leaders who established the DuPont Bio-Based Materials business in the late 1990’s, now known as DuPont Applied BioSciences. He personally led the team that developed DuPont Biofuels as a business unit in 2002, and has broad partnership experience with industry leaders such as BP, British Sugar, Tate & Lyle and Genencor, a division of Dansico, as well as significant experience in working with global government agencies, including the U.S. Department of Energy. Dr. Frey had been with DuPont for 28 years prior to accepting the position as CEO of SunEthanol.

SunEthanol says its mission is to help the nation power automobiles without relying on fossil fuels.

IEA: Solar and Wind Part of Plan to Halve CO2 Emissions

A report out from the International Energy Agency (IEA) says the world will need to spend $45 trillion if it wants to cut in half the amount of carbon dioxide emissions by 2050. And part of that money will need to be spent on solar and wind power.

In this story posted on Bloomberg.com, Nobuo Tanaka, the IEA’s executive director, says the U.S. and leading economic nations will need to go through a “Global Energy Revolution”:

“A global energy technology revolution is both necessary and achievable, but it will be a tough challenge,” Tanaka said in the statement. “The world faces the daunting combination of surging energy demand, rising greenhouse gas emissions and tightening resources.”

The world needs to build 32 new nuclear power plants and 17,500 wind-power turbines each year to halve emissions by 2050, according to the Paris-based energy adviser. G-8 environment ministers last month pledged to achieve such a reduction. By contrast France, Europe’s biggest nuclear power, has 58 reactors.

The agency said that increased use of nuclear power, the development of renewable energy sources, such as solar power, and carbon capture and storage are vital to reducing emissions. Carbon capture is a technology in which carbon dioxide emissions are caught in the air and stored underground.

So, if environmental reasons aren’t enough to get you on board with clean energy, consider this: non-renewable petroleum jumped more than $11 a barrel today… closing at a record $139+! And its expected to climb to $150 a barrel by July 4th. Happy Independence Day, huh?

Biofuels Revenues Expected to Nearly Double by 2012

While some other sectors of the U.S. economy are struggling right now, the future looks pretty bright for making money producing biodiesel and ethanol.

Wisconsin Ag Connection reports that an analysis from Frost & Sullivan titled “North American Biofuels Market: Investment Analysis,” shows that market earned revenues of nearly $10 billion last year will grow to $18.52 billion in 2012:

“Regulatory support coupled with the need to address the geopolitical risk posed by relying on the turbulent Middle East and Venezuela is driving the growth of the North American biofuels market,” notes Frost & Sullivan Research Analyst Shrikanth S. “Furthermore, there is a strong venture capital investment climate in the next-generation biofuels, which are expected to be more efficient, using algae, waste, straw, wood, and other forest-based inputs that can be found in abundance in the United States.”

The expanded Renewable Fuel Standard, Volumetric ‘Blender’ Tax Credit, Small Agri-biodiesel Producer Tax Credit, and Alternative Fuel Refueling Infrastructure Tax Credit provide the necessary regulatory support for the North American biofuels industry.

The article goes on to say that the U.S. is importing $1 billion a day from foreign countries… many times from countries not very friendly to the U.S., like Venezuela and Iran. Biofuels will help relieve some of that pressure, producing more than 15 billion gallons annually, up from today’s approximate 9 billion gallons a year.

Turning Weeds Into Biodiesel

As the prices of better-known biodiesel feedstocks, such as soybeans, remain high, more refiners are looking for additional sources for the green fuel. The latest feedstock might be some of the weeds you’re battling in your garden this year.

This story from the Albany (NY) Times Union says Innovation Fuels Inc., already producing 40 million gallons of biodiesel at its New York Harbor location from nonedible animal fats and used vegetable oils, is looking to what many people are NOT trying to grow as a source for two other plants at Fulton and Hampton, NY:

Innovation Fuels also is looking at other plant sources — mustard seeds, pennycress and camelina — that could produce the oils for biodiesel, said chief executive John Fox.

“They grow in northern regions, and grow in the shoulder months,” he said in a phone interview Thursday. The plants could be interplanted with corn and soybeans, and harvested with the same equipment. “You can do two plantings a year.”

In the past, the plants have been considered annoyances. “There’s a lot of research on how to eradicate them, but very little on how to cultivate them,” Fox said.

He said the weeds being explored as oil sources can yield 80 to 100 gallons of biodiesel per acre, compared to 40 gallons per acre for soybeans.

Recently, Innovation Fuels set up $15.5 million in financing, possibly for the new biodiesel plants.

FAO Agrees to Biofuels Study

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization High Level Conference on Food Security focused on solutions to fight global hunger and increase agricultural development this week, rather than place restrictions on biofuels production.

The final declaration adopted by 180 countries calls for further study on the issue, an approach which world biofuels producers called “thoughtful.”

FAOIn a statement, leaders from the Canadian Renewable Fuels Association (CRFA), the European Bioethanol Fuel Association (eBio), and the Renewable Fuels Association said they the proposal to undertake further study of biofuels in agriculture. “We are confident it will underscore the valuable contribution biofuels can make to ease the energy and agriculture challenges confronting all nations,” they said.

Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer also welcomed the declaration’s recognition of the important issues related to the challenges and opportunities of biofuels. “The United States is firmly committed to the sustainable production and use of biofuels, both domestically and globally,” he said in a statement.

During a press conference with reporters from Rome, Schafer said that during his time there, he has “become more confident that our ethanol policy of energy security, of better environmental factors, and a reduction in the cost of petroleum use in our country is the right policy direction. And I certainly am going to urge continuing along the way we’re going.”

The real focus of the summit was on getting countries to come up with more money to meet urgent humanitarian needs for food and to help countries achieve continuing food security through investment in agriculture and research. Schafer said the United States will continue to provide the majority of food aid globally, projecting to spend nearly $5 billion on programs to combat hunger over the next two years. By contrast, oil-rich countries like Venezuela and Kuwait have only pledged to spend $100 million a year.