Abu Dhabi Breaks Ground on Carbon-Neutral City

Masdar InitiativeThe world’s first zero-carbon, zero-waste, car-free city goes not to the renewable fuel-crazed U.S., but to Abu Dhabi. The capital of the United Arab Emeriates broke ground on Masdar City earlier this month. If this city actually functions as its supposed to, I think it will be rather impressive. When is the U.S. breaking ground on it’s own carbon-neutral playground?

Masdar CEO Dr. Sultan Al Jaber announced a total development budget for the city of $22 billion. Of that investment total, Masdar (“the source” in Arabic) will contribute $4 billion to develop the city’s infrastructure. The remaining $18 billion will come through direct investments and the creation of various financial instruments to raise needed capital. An essential driver for the development of the city is carbon finance. Carbon emissions reduced by Masdar City will be monetized under the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism.

In addition to full-time residents, Masdar City will seek to attract and encourage collaboration between experts in sustainable transportation; waste management; water and wastewater conservation; green construction, buildings and industrial materials; recycling; biodiversity; climate change, renewable energy and green financial institutions. Masdar will maximize the benefits of sustainable technologies, such as photovoltaic cells and concentrated solar power, through an integrated planning and design approach.

By implementing these technologies, Masdar City will save the equivalent of more than US $2 billion in oil over the next 25 years, based on today’s energy prices. The city will also create more than 70,000 jobs and will add more than two percent to Abu Dhabi’s annual GDP. Continue reading

Wind Energy Bringing More Jobs to Iowa

siemensftmad.jpgA wind turbine maker says it will expand its operations at a plant in Iowa.

The Des Moines Register reports that Siemens Power Generation will invest in a $33 million expansion at its wind turbine blade factory in Fort Madison. The move is expected to add 287 good-paying jobs:

The new jobs would pay an average of $17.14 an hour, said the company, which seeks state incentives.

Siemens said it’s considering add 75,000 square feet to its 311,000-square-foot plant. It also would add a 125,000-square-feet facility and construct a rail yard. The Siemens plant in Fort Madison has been open a year and is its only U.S. blade manufacturing facility. It employs 246.

The Iowa Economic Development Board will consider providing Siemens with a
$1.4 million forgivable loan Thursday and an estimated $1.9 million in tax credits and sales tax refunds. Fort Madison also seeks to capture $2.8 million in state withholding taxes the company would pay, under a pilot program designed to help revitalize urban renewal areas in border cities.

As you might remember from my post back on October 11th, 2007, Iowa is seen as riding the crest of a potential $10 billion wind energy market. That was also the same time when Hendricks Industries said it would become the fifth wind turbine maker to locate in the state.

New Hampshire Legislature Getting Greener

nhlegislature.jpgA bill that would require all state vehicles in New Hampshire that run on diesel to have a percentage of biodiesel in the mix has passed that state’s House and is moving to the Senate.

This story in the Nashua Telegraph says the legislation also includes the heating oil used for state buildings:

The bill requires the commissioners of the Department of Transportation and the Division of Plant and Property Management to purchase fuels that contain 5 percent biodiesel.

It was sponsored by Rep. David Borden, D-New Castle, who is chairman of the state Biodiesel Commission. Recently, the bill was voted out of the Transportation Committee with a recommendation that it ought to pass.

“HB 1631 went through the House without a hitch being on the consent calendar. We are hoping it will have no trouble with the Senate,” Borden said.

“The way things are going now, if oil keeps going up, it’s very likely biodiesel will become very competitive,” he said. “It does lengthen engine life, so the purchasers for state agencies may decide it’s worth it even if they have to pay a small premium.”

There is a clause that allows the state to opt out of buying the biodiesel if it is cost-prohibitive. But it says the purchasing director must also consider biodiesel’s benefits, such as longer engine use, when figuring up the cost.

Arkansas Getting New Biodiesel Plant

arksoyenergy.gifA new biodiesel plant that is being touted as Arkansas’ first and only biodiesel refinery with its own on-site crusher will open on Tuesday.

Arkansas Business reports that Arkansas SoyEnergy Group will open the one-stop plant that will eventually produce seven million gallons of the green fuel a year near the town of DeWitt:

The event will feature remarks from U.S. Sen. Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark.; Rep. Marion Berry, D-Ark; and former Arkansas House of Representatives Speaker Benny Petrus.

Arkansas Business reported on Arkansas SoyEnergy’s plan early last year. The firm is owned by brothers Jon, Jeff and Troy Hornbek.

With the new plant, the Hornbecks aim to create a new market for area farmers by buying and crushing locally grown soybeans, saving their neighbors the heavy toll of transportation costs while providing “homegrown energy” that can be used in farm machinery and vehicles. A byproduct of the process, soybean meal, can be used for animal feed.

The Hornbecks say they’ll get most of their feedstock from local farmers within a 30 mile radius of the plant.

Get Schooled in Coal-To-Liquid

The Shaw GroupEngineers wanting to learn more about coal-to-liquid clean fuel projects have some new options for getting the education. Fuel Frontiers, Inc. has developed a CTL engineering program with Shaw, Stone and Webster.

Fuel Frontiers, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Nuclear Solutions, Inc., has announced that it has transferred funds to Shaw Stone & Webster (Shaw), a division of The Shaw Group Inc., to launch the engineering program that will provide a technical basis for a 400 Tonne per day Coal-To-Liquid (CTL) Ultra-Clean Diesel fuel production facility in Muhlenberg County, Kentucky.

Nuclear SolutionsFFI is planning to employ a commercially proven plasma gasification system designed by Westinghouse Plasma Corporation (WPC) coupled to commercially available Fischer-Tropsch (FT) gas-to-liquids (GTL) diesel fuel production systems, to be designed and constructed by Shaw Stone & Webster (SS&W) for its coal to ultra-clean diesel production facilities.

Policy Choices Will Impact Prices

Researchers at Purdue University have developed a model that shows how economic policies related to ethanol may impact future prices and production.

Purdue professor of agricultural economics Wally Tyner says the prices of corn and crude oil, which prior to 2007 fluctuated almost independent of one another, have become more closely linked as the use of corn to make ethanol has grown.

Wally TynerAccording to Tyner, the fixed 51-cent per gallon subsidy paid to ethanol producers will become increasingly expensive for the federal government as oil prices and levels of ethanol production continue to rise.

Tyner analyzed four policy options – the current 51-cent fixed subsidy, the variable subsidy, no subsidy and a renewable fuel standard – at oil prices ranging from $40 per barrel to $120 per barrel. The renewable fuel standard contained in the 2007 Energy Act mandates that energy companies purchase 35 billion gallons of ethanol by 2022, with a maximum of 15 billion gallons coming from corn.

“Regardless of the policy, results become similar at high crude oil prices where the market dominates,” Tyner said. “At low oil prices, however, government policies have huge effects, and all the results are enormously different. The policy choices we make will be critical.”

Read the report here.

Solar Power Saves Energy for San Diego School

HoneywellHoneywell won the bid to outfit the Poway Unified School District in San Diego, CA with more solar power capabilities. The new solar hardware is expected to reduce the school district’s utility costs and offer a district-wide education tool to students.

Honeywell has announced that Poway Unified School District in San Diego, Calif. has awarded the company a solar project that is expected to save the district more than $1 million in energy costs over the next 20 years. Under the agreement, Honeywell will install solar arrays at four of the district’s schools and sell the electricity the panels produce to the district.

Honeywell will install the solar arrays on the roofs at Poway High School, Westview High School, Oak Valley Middle School and Chaparral Elementary School. The arrays are expected to generate a collective 578 kilowatts of power and more than 1 million kilowatt-hours of electricity annually — enough energy to power 90 homes per year. They also will cut energy costs during peak consumption when utilities typically charge a premium.

In addition to reducing costs, the solar arrays are expected to provide an educational tool that faculty can use to teach students about energy conservation and alternative energy sources. Through a Web-based portal, teachers and students will be able to see the real-time electrical output from the solar technology and learn how the systems operate.

The new arrays will deliver substantial environmental benefits as well, cutting carbon dioxide emissions by approximately 1.1 million pounds per year. According to figures from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, this is equivalent to removing more than 100 cars from the road or planting 400 acres of trees.

Honeywell expects that the school will start benefiting from the solar arrays by October of this year.

Work Trucks Work Out Alternatives

The Work Truck ShowAlternative fuels and hybrid automobiles are being featured at this year’s Work Truck Show. The Show is sponsored by the National Truck Equipment Association.

Work trucks — those vocational vehicles that labor every day to deliver packages, clear snow, build roads, repair utility lines and otherwise keep the country running — are getting greener. The rising cost of fuel, new emissions regulations and environmental concerns are making hybrid and alternative fuel vehicles increasingly attractive to a wide range of companies and government agencies.

In response, manufacturers are developing a host of new products, including vehicles that run on electricity, biodiesel, hydrogen, CNG, LPG and propane. There are hydraulic hybrids, diesel electric hybrids and even solar-powered options in development.

Many of these new products will be exhibited at The Work Truck Show(R) 2008 and 44th Annual National Truck Equipment Association (NTEA) Convention, North America’s largest vocational truck event. To help attendees sort through it all, the show will feature a full-day “Hybrid Truck and Alternative Fuels Summit,” as well as a ride and drive.

The Work Truck Show 2008 runs Feb. 26-28, 2008, at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, GA, with the Convention and educational sessions starting Feb. 25. The Summit is from 9am to 4:30pm on Feb. 25.

The U.S. Deparment of Energy under secretary, Clarence H. “Bud” Albright, Jr., will offer the keynote address at this year’s Summit. Industry experts will then follow with presentations on the latest developments in hybrid and alternative fuel technologies. Attendees will also have the chance to test drive hybrid and alternative fuel commercial vehicles as part of the Hybrid Truck and Alternative Fuels Ride-and-Drive.

Racing Fever

indyethanol.jpgChomping at the bit for the 2008 Indy racing season to get underway? You’re not the only one. A fellow photog that covers the Indy Racing League sent me this all too appropriate IndyCard. I think it’s safe to say that the smell of burning ethanol has quickly evolved into one of the distinct smells of Indy races. That and burning rubber!

Does the smell of ethanol get you excited about racing? Tell others about your obsession with the authentic IndyCard.

And don’t miss the Homestead season opener on March 29 at Miami Speedway. Even if you can’t make it to the track to “smell ethanol,” you can catch the race at 8 p.m. on ESPN2.

Study Says Personal Wind Power Generators Better

A study by South Dakota State University says that personal wind power generators are a better way to go compared to commercial wind power generators… at least in one county in South Dakota.

This story in the Mitchell (SD) Daily Republic says in the Agricultural Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Workshop at the Wagner High School Auditorium last week, students from the school found that at least for Charles Mix County, there are some issues with commercial wind power ventures:

According to Charles Mix County Commissioner Red Allen, transmission issues factored heavily into the group’s decision.

It was the group’s opinion that the difficulty in finding transmission lines to distribute the power from a large wind farm meant that personal-use windmills were much more feasible.

“They’re recommending that people in Charles Mix County go with small wind generators for their homes,” he said. “You can get one that produces 800 kilowatts per month for $12,000 to $14,000.”

Allen expects the group to present its complete results at a set of future meetings in the area.

He wasn’t surprised by the group’s results. However, it did reinforce his disappointment in the way the federal government handles energy produced in the county.

“We gave up thousands of acres of riverboat land when they built the (Fort Randall) dam,” he said. “The state only gets 18 percent of the power.”

Some experts say that if all the wind power in South Dakota were captured, it could heat half the United States.

Great Race Running on Biofuels

greatracelogo.jpgOne hundred years after the original 1908 event designed to show the world how dependable automobiles could be, the 2008 Great Race will feature vehicles running on alternative fuels, such as biodiesel, ethanol, and even solar power.

This story from the Los Angeles Times says the alternatively-powered vehicles will also join some classic roadsters on the 22,000 mile New York to Paris race:

greatracemap.jpgThis time around, the field will consist of a motley mix of vintage and new cars, including a 1904 Thomas Flyer and a 1941 Willys Jeep. They will rub fenders, metaphorically speaking, with various vehicles running alternative fuels — in an attempt to prove these new technologies by forging them in the crucible of a high-endurance test. Think Range Rovers on biodiesel, a multi-fuel-capable Aston Martin DB6 and a 2007 Buell Ulysses motorbike on E85 ethanol.

The race starts on May 30th and wraps up on August 2nd.

Self-refining Biodiesel SUV Stops in Seattle

biodieselsuv2.jpgThis is one of the most unique things I’ve seen in just more than a year of blogging for Domestic Fuel: a sports utility vehicle (SUV) that has its own biodiesel refinery in the back!

This story from the Seattle (WA) Post-Intelligencer says that Japanese sports journalist Shusei Yamada and the Biodiesel Adventure Team have started a quest to drive 20,000 to 30,000 miles around the world in the unique machine.. depending on the kindness and donations of strangers with used vegetable oil:

Standing in front of a donated diesel Toyota Land Cruiser, covered with decals and painted with a green-metallic tint that shifted slightly in color depending upon the angle of view, Yamada described how the vehicle can take many kinds of dirty, used vegetable oil and refine it for use as a fuel. The portable refinery, rolled out of the back end of the SUV, looked like a massive espresso machine.

Speaking with assistance from translator and collaborator Satori Murata, Yamada asked that individuals interested in promoting biodiesel and environmentally friendly transportation alternatives “spread the word” so they can find people willing to donate vegetable oil as they proceed across the country.

Having just shipped the self-refining biodiesel-fueled Toyota SUV from Japan to Vancouver, B.C., they have only driven about 250 miles of their tentatively planned 20,000 to 30,000-mile trip. “We’re a little nervous,” acknowledged Murata, noting they arrived in Seattle on veggie fumes. They are headed toward Los Angeles next, she noted.

“I saw the movie ‘Back to the Future’ and got the idea for this,” said Yamada, a journalist and photographer in Japan. He said he is most excited about eventually driving the vehicle across the Sahara Desert. Yamada said his portable refinery can process about 14 liters (3.7 gallons) of waste vegetable oil at a time and the tank holds about 340 liters (90 gallons).

The article goes on to say the idea is not untested, as the Biodiesel Adventure Team and this vehicle finished third in the commercial, unmodified biodiesel class at the 2007 Paris-Dakar Rally.

They have a web site, although, most of it is in Japanese. Check it out at BiodieselAdventure.com.

Penn State’s Venture into Biodiesel Proving Effective

pennstate.jpgOfficials at Penn State University say there has been no negative effects on tractors that they moved up to running on 100 percent biodiesel. The school started running its tractors on B20 in 2002 and more recently began testing three New Holland tractors (out of the 100 the school uses) on the B100.

This story by the college’s newspaper, The Daily Collegian quotes Glen Cauffman, Penn State manager of farm operations and facilities, as saying there’s been no degraded performance or power in the two years they’ve been testing the higher biodiesel content:

“[Using biodiesel] is the right thing to do because it is contributing to the greening of Penn State,” Cauffman said.

The stress to the environment is apparent in the black exhaust flowing from petroleum-based diesel fuel. The exhaust contains tiny carcinogenic particles, which are harmful to the environment and to people, Cauffman said.

“Petroleum diesel emits particles out of the exhaust of vehicles that are hazardous to the environment,” he said. “Those particles are especially bad for humans because when they get in your lungs, they are very difficult for the body to get rid of.”

The use of biodiesel fuels can translate from farming machinery into the lives of most Americans, said Andre Boehman, professor of fuel science and engineering.

“It could make big difference. A lot more companies are going to start to produce more diesel cars in the next decade,” Boehman said.

Boehman cited a test Volkswagen did on its vehicles, displaying the effectiveness of diesel fuels. The diesel-fueled car got twice the mileage per gallon in comparison, he said.

“We all should be driving diesel vehicles. They are anywhere from 30 to 100 percent more efficient in miles per gallon,” Boehman said.

AZ Bill Would Help Pay for Adding Biofuels

boone.gifA bill introduced in the Arizona legislature would help pay the costs of gas stations adding biofuels to their lineups.

The Tucson Citizen reports HB 2620, offered by Arizona House majority leader Tom Boone (R-Peoria), will help stations meet the growing numbers of vehicles that can run the green fuels:

“We need to make sure Arizonans have cleaner fuel choices available to them,” Boone said.
He added that because of the state budget crunch, the bill would not allocate any funds toward the program, but it would “create a conduit through which to distribute and gather monies for the program.”

There are 7,127,966 vehicles on the roads in Arizona, said Cydney DeModica, spokesperson for the Arizona Department of Transportation. Bill Schaeffer, executive director of the Valley of the Sun Clean Cities Coalition, said of these vehicles, an estimated 150,000 are capable of running on E-85 and 230,855 could run on biodiesel.

There are 13 E-85 stations and nine biodiesel stations in Arizona.

The money to pay for the conversions would come from gifts, grants, donations or other state, federal or private sources and go into a central fund. The conversion costs, particularly to hold E85, are expected to be between $50,000 and $100,000. If a station already carries diesel, there’s no conversion to carry biodiesel.

Homegrown Mustard Biodiesel in Monterey-Salinas Buses

mstbus.jpgBuses in the Monterey-Salinas, California area could soon be running on biodiesel made from mustard seeds. And what makes this idea even more intriguing is that the transit authority itself will be growing the alternative to the more conventional feedstocks, such as soybeans.

This story in the Salinas (CA) Californian says Monterey-Salinas Transit could be helping quell some of the “food vs. fuel” debate:

After planting, the crop requires little to no irrigation or tending, a major contrast with other higher-maintenance biofuel crops, such as corn, MST leaders said. Because mustard seed is planted as a cover crop during the Salinas Valley agriculture industry’s off-season, it would not displace other crops nor would it drive up prices for food, a concern recently cited as a potentially adverse impact of the biofuel industry.

Once harvested, mustard seeds are pressed into raw oil, which is then refined into biofuel.

“MST is very happy to be on the cutting edge of this technology,” said Zoe Smallwood, the agency’s marketing analyst. “We’re happy to be part of a sustainable fuel source.”

The transit authority will be growing a variety of mustard seeds to see which ones are best for biodiesel. Once the seeds are harvested and the oil is collected, MST will also use a local company, Energy Alternative Solutions Inc., to actually make the biodiesel.