- Save the date for the 10th Annual Biofuel Financial Conference taking place on August 27-28, 2014 in Bloomington, Minnesota. The event is hosted by Christianson & Associates and registration will open soon.
- The Environmental Law & Policy Center is hosting a webinar Wednesday, April 2, 2014 at 11:30 AM EDT/10:30 AM CDT to reveal the new Farm Energy Success Stories report. The report offers an analysis of the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) between 2008-2012 and offers details of 16 projects from across the nation where REAP assisted in advancing biomass, biogas digesters, energy efficiency, geothermal, hydroelectric, solar, wind, and hydroelectric, technologies. The 2013 Farm Bill contains funding for Energy Title programs. The USDA is now accepting applications for projects.
- In conjunction with Washington State University Extension, USDA is co-hosting the Northwest Wood-Based Biofuels/Co-Products Conference April 28-30, 2014 in Seattle, Washington. The goal of the conference is to bring together the community of researchers, business leaders, government agencies, and economic development personnel to share and exchange research findings, ideas, and strategies for the common goal of sustainable development of wood-based bio-refineries for production of biofuels and co-products in the Pacific Northwest.
- The Global Energy Storage Alliance has been established as an international non-profit organization to bring together many of the world’s leading energy storage and clean energy industry associations to advance education, collaboration, and proven frameworks about the benefits of energy storage. Its co-founders are the U.S. Energy Storage Association, California Energy Storage Alliance, China Energy Storage Alliance, Germany Energy Storage Association, India Energy Storage Alliance and the Alliance for Rural Electrification.
Fuel retailers in ethanol producing states had compelling stories to tell at the American Coalition for Ethanol Biofuels Beltway March last week in Washington DC. Several of them sat down with reporters during the event to talk about their success selling higher ethanol blends, as well as the hurdles they had to overcome to do so.
Glenn Bedanhop is a third generation farmer who is also president and CEO of American Freedom Energy in the small town of Liberty Center, about 30 miles west of Toledo, Ohio. “It’s rewarding knowing the value you’re putting back in your local community,” said Badenhop, who became the first retailer in Ohio to offer E15 in January because he believes in consumer choice. “It’s their choice,” he said. “We’re not mandating that they buy Coke, Pepsi, Dr. Pepper – it’s just like the fuels.” Interview with Glenn Badenhop, Ohio fuel retailer
Charlie Good has been in the fuel retailing business for 34 years as a convenience store operator and auto mechanic and he started offering higher ethanol blends at his Good and Quick store in Nevada, Iowa last August despite his supplier’s objections. “I had to de-brand because the oil company didn’t want that under their canopy,” said Good. “My sales are up 20-25% a month and of the gallons that they’re up, virtually all of it is the ethanol fuels.” Interview with Charlie Good, Iowa fuel retailer
Bruce Vollan started using blender pumps at his rural Baltic, South Dakota convenience store six years ago. “My experience has been pretty incredible,” he said. “You see a lot of people actively seeking out blends.” Vollan has seen his small business has grown to 13 full and part time employees and he says the negative publicity about ethanol doesn’t bother him because he believes he’s on the right team. He was happy to take time away from his business to take his story to Washington DC and let lawmakers and bureaucrats know what is really happening. “That’s what the ethanol industry is all about,” he said. “It’s about telling the truth.” Interview with Bruce Vollan, South Dakota fuel retailer
Biodiesel processor maker Florida Biodiesel, Inc. has delivered one of its refiners to Africa. This company news release says a B-500 biodiesel plant was sold to the Lorymat Corporation in the Ivory Coast.
The Lorymat Corporation has chosen the B-500 Biodiesel processor for their prime transesterification facility. The B-500 Biodiesel plant is economical to operate and will allow the Lorymat Corporation to safely produce 9000 gallons of Biodiesel each 24 hours. The B-500 will also be used as a hands-on educational tool to show students and government agencies how to make renewable energy. “We will process used cooking oil collected locally and from sustainably grown Palm oil into Biodiesel fuel,” says Guy Kouadio, of the Lorymat Corporation. “The B-500 is very user friendly, has a low carbon footprint, and will economically produce Biodiesel for us.”
Florida Biodiesel claims several innovations in biodiesel production equipment, including the safety external heat exchanger, cyclonic mixer, methanol recovery module, and the AUTOBIO Biodiesel plant automation system.
Expected big plantings of corn and soybeans underscore the need for a strong Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS). New estimates from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) show a possible record amount of soybeans expected to be planted this year and the fifth largest corn acreage to be planted as well. The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) says these factors show why a strong and growing RFS is needed this year.
“The past eight years were prosperous for agriculture because the RFS was allowed to act as a sponge, soaking up additional corn and soybeans when needed,” stated IRFA Executive Director Monte Shaw. “The vast amount of corn and soybeans expected to be planted in 2014 demonstrates the importance of a strong and growing RFS. If the EPA’s proposal to essentially gut the RFS is allowed to become final, we could see huge carryovers, crop prices plummet below the cost of production, and family farms placed in jeopardy.”
Nearly 92 million acres is expected to be dedicated to corn this year and a record 81.5 million acres for soybeans, a six percent increase from last year.
How does the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) feel about its proposal to cut the amount of ethanol and biodiesel to be blended into the Nation’s fuel supply? Well, that depends on who the folks at the agency are talking to.
Speaking before the House Appropriations Committee last week, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy seemed to backtrack on last January’s statements before biofuels advocates when she told them that her agency “heard loud and clear that we didn’t hit that right,” indicating the EPA could be changing its stance. But when grilled by Congressman David Valadao (R-CA) who represents California agriculture and oil interests, McCarthy had a different response.
“We’re going to make sure to take a reasonable approach that recognizes the infrastructure challenges and the inability at this point to achieve the levels of ethanol that are in the law,” she said.
It’s also interesting that McCarthy did not challenge part of the premise in Valadao’s original question that stated how consumers’ vehicles could not handle higher blends than being offered right now, specifically E10. Biofuels advocates have long made the claim that most vehicles can handle at least 15 percent ethanol blends (E15), and two years ago the EPA approved E15 for use in 2001 and newer vehicles.
You can hear for yourself what McCarthy said here: EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy Before House Appropriations Committee
A team of four biofuels supporters had the chance to meet with Sen. John Thune (R-SD) last week while in Washington DC for the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) Biofuels Beltway March.
In an interview following that meeting, Thune talked about some of the issues facing the biofuels industry, in particular the EPA proposal to lower volume requirements under the Renewable Fuel Standard. “Trying to reverse the EPA’s decision on this is what we’ve been focused on since it came out,” said Sen. Thune.”Going down to 13.1 gallons is horrible for the industry so we hope they make some accommodation for getting beyond the blend wall.”
Thune says he expects to Congress to get a package of expired tax credit extensions passed soon, including renewable energy credits for wind, advanced biofuels, and biodiesel. “It’s very hard for people to plan to invest when they don’t know what the rules are going to be,” he said.
The senator also talked about the rail delays that have been impacting shipments of ethanol and grain. “The railroads are going to have to do a better job,” he said, noting that the problem has been caused by both the long, cold winter and increased shipping of crude oil from North Dakota. “It’s important that the railroads recognize that agricultural commodities need to be shipped too.” Interview with Senator John Thune (R-SD)
2014 ACE Biofuels Beltway March photo album
The Environmental Protection Agency has announced it will halt new petitions for renewable fuel pathways for six months or so. In response, the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) urged the agency to speed up rather than slow down the Petition Process for New Renewable Fuel Pathways under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). The petition process was established in March of 2010 during the process of finalizing the rules for the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).
“EPA’s effort to improve the petition process for new renewable fuel pathways under the RFS is welcome. But the agency should aim to complete this review process in a more timely manner,” said Brent Erickson, executive vice president of BIO’s Industrial & Environmental Section. “Advanced biofuel companies need a pathway to the fuel market in order to attract necessary investment to build and start up new production facilities that create new jobs. The lengthy wait for approval of new pathways chills job creation and investment in the sector.”
Erickson noted that in the last four years, the EPA has completed less than half of the 62 petitions it has received for approvals for new renewable fuel pathways. In fact, he said there are 36 petitions are still waiting action with an average wait time of nearly 17 months. Companies filing cellulosic biofuel pathway petitions have faced the longest wait times, an average of 24 months. Erickson said this delay has slowed deployment of new advanced biofuel technologies.
Erickson concluded, “Combined with the proposed rule the proposed delay of the petition process may further undermine the development of advanced and cellulosic biofuels just as they are set to produce millions of commercial gallons and launch a rapid scale up.”
- Amyris, Inc. and Kuraray Co., Ltd. have announced the expansion and extension of their ongoing collaboration in high performance polymers using Biofene, Amyris’s brand of renewable farnesene.
- The 2014 International Fuel Ethanol Workshop & Expo is taking place June 9-12, 2014 at the Indiana Convention Center and the conference tracks have been announced: Production and Operations; Leadership and Financial Management; Coproducts and Product Diversification; and Cellulosic and Advanced Ethanol.
- Mission Linen has announced that is has more than quintupled the number of alternative fuel vehicles in its fleet. Recently, the company increased its number of compressed natural gas vehicles (CNG) from six to 32, and has added six new propane vehicles to its fleet of 500.
- VIASPACE Inc. has announced that the St. Croix government has approved Tibbar Energy’s permit to build a 7-megawatt biogas power plant on the island of St. Croix. The government approved the permit on March 25, 2014 during a meeting at the Virgin Islands Port Authority.
Ethanol backers got their voices heard during the recent American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) Biofuels Beltway March in Washington, D.C. And at least some lawmakers were listening.
In this edition of the Domestic Fuel Cast, we talk to Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL), Sen. Mike Johanns (R-NE), and Sen. John Thune (R-SD), who met with ACE and its supporters and all expressed their backing of efforts to keep renewable fuels, especially ethanol, in the forefront of federal policies.
Listen to what they had to say after they listened to ACE: Domestic Fuel Cast - Lawmakers Meet with Ethanol Advocates
A candidate for Congress believes his background in ethanol will help him in the upcoming primary and general election. And for Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) Executive Director Monte Shaw, who has served in that role for nearly 10 years and now is running for the 3rd Congressional District seat, that background runs pretty deep.“This is Iowa. If agriculture does well, Iowa does well,” said Shaw during an interview in Washington DC last week, pointing out how the renewable fuels has helped power the ag industry and the overall economy in the Hawkeye State. “So when people talk about how we need to get the economy going a bit more, we need more jobs, we need more robust economic growth, I have been part of that. And that’s something I want to put to work in Congress.”
Shaw says Big Oil has been fighting the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) hard, and Iowans need a representative on the inside in Washington who will fight for the economic interests that alternative energy brings.
“I think it would be good for the industry to have someone like me in the House Republican Caucus. There’s a lot of petroleum folks in there, and sometimes they like to forget all the tax credits and mandates and loan guarantees that petroleum gets, and I’d be happy to go there and point those things out out,” he said.
Shaw is facing five other Republicans in the June 3rd primary, so he is hitting the campaign trail as hard as he can while still working full time for Iowa RFA, with the flexibility granted to him by the association board of directors. If elected to Congress, he feels confident in the many renewable energy leaders back in Iowa who can step up in his place.
“As one of my board members is fond of pointing out to me, the graveyard is full of indispensable men,” he said, laughing.
You can read more about his campaign here.
And you can hear all of Cindy’s interview with Monte here: Interview with Monte Shaw, Iowa Congressional Candidate
Argentina has formally asked the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) to look at the European Union’s block of Argentine biodiesel. This article in MercoPress says the South Americans believe the EU’s antidumping measures imposed last November violate the international law.
The release recalls that since 2009 Argentina became the main provider of biodiesel to the EU, with sales of 1.847bn dollars in 2011, which represented 13% of all Argentine exports to the EU.
“The biodiesel sector in Argentina outstands for its sustainability and high level of development, scale and integration along the whole production chain, and is currently one of the most efficient producers globally”, adds the release.
On the other hand, the EU industry is “highly over dimensioned and since 2012 the EU has been involved in different protectionist measures with the purpose of excluding from the European market the Argentine bio-diesel”.
The Argentinians are also making the case that these protectionist barriers harm developing countries.
The goal of the initiative is to highlight the accomplishments of green programs that have helped reduce the NASCAR’s carbon footprint. “This partnership with NASCAR Green truly shows the sport’s commitment to preserving our environment. Each race further proves ethanol is a reliable, high-performance fuel that has revitalized our rural communities and created more than 400,000 jobs across the country,” said Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy.
American Ethanol has partnered with NASCAR since 2011 to promote the use of biofuels by using Sunoco Green E15, a 15 percent ethanol blended fuel, across its three national series. American Ethanol also sponsors the Richard Childress Racing No. 3 Chevrolet SS driven by Sunoco Rookie of the Year™ contender and 2013 NASCAR Nationwide Series™ Champion Austin Dillon.
I had a chance to catch up with Buis while in DC last week and this year’s American Ethanol program was one of several topics we discussed. Interview with Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis
The latest forecast calls for global ethanol production to exceed 90 billion litres, or about 24 billion gallons, in 2014.
The Global Annual Ethanol Production Forecast from the Global Renewable Fuels Alliance (GRFA), in cooperation with F.O. Licht, estimates the world’s ethanol output will peak at 90.38 billion litres this year.
That amounts to an increase of almost 2.7% growth in production, up from 88 billion litres in 2013, according to GRFA spokesman Bliss Baker. “While forecasts of global economic growth remain sluggish, the global ethanol industry continues to increase its production and contribution to the global economy,” said Baker.
The latest data from F.O. Licht shows significant growth in most major ethanol producing regions in 2014. The world’s two largest producers, Brazil and the United States, are forecasted to maintain and increase their production by almost 2.5% respectively. Another major producing region, the European Union, is forecasted to see ethanol production jump over 8% this year. Africa, an emerging region with huge biofuel production potential is forecasted to see a growth of more than 136% in ethanol production in 2014.
“Although total volumes of ethanol produced in emerging regions like Africa are lower in comparison to more established producers, a production increase of over 130% is incredible because we know that these production increases will drive new investment in agricultural and job creation while reducing Africa’s reliance on imported oil,” stated Baker.
After the ACE Biofuels Beltway March, I was able to stop by and visit with Renewable Fuels Association president and CEO Bob Dinneen in his Washington DC office and we covered the waterfront on issues currently facing the ethanol industry.
In this Ethanol Report, Dinneen discusses what he’s hearing about the EPA proposal to lower the RFS, the latest anti-RFS ad campaign from Big Oil, rail delays impacting ethanol shipments, getting the tax credits for advanced biofuels reinstated, USDA plans to continue to support ethanol, and enthusiasm in the industry.Ethanol Report with RFA president Bob Dinneen from DC
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A new white paper from the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) finds that lowering the volume requirements for biofuels under the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) as proposed by the administration will lead to an increase in emissions of greenhouse gases next year.
According to Brent Erickson, Executive Vice President of BIO’s Industrial & Environmental Section and lead author of the special report, the proposal from the Environmental Protection Agency could “reverse progress on one of the central goals of the law – reducing climate-changing emissions from the U.S. transportation sector.”
The paper utilizes Energy Information Administration projections of fuel use from 2014 to 2022 to estimate volumes of petroleum and biofuel use for each year. The authors then assigned estimates of greenhouse gas emissions from the GREET1.2013 model to the volumes and added up year-by-year emissions. Based on EPA’s proposed requirements for 2014, the United States would emit 6.6 million more metric tons of CO2 equivalent greenhouse gases than it did in 2013. If EPA followed past practice, allowing the overall requirements to remain at the statutory level, the achieved reduction in GHG emissions would be 21.6 million metric tons CO2e. The difference between the increase and the achievable decrease is equivalent to putting 5.9 million additional cars on the road next year. Under other available options for setting the RFS volume requirements, the United States could still achieve carbon emission reductions, the paper finds.