Ethanol on the Road to Sturgis

Fueled with Pride 2014 Motorcycle RallyMany bikes are already rolling into the Black Hills of South Dakota ahead of the 74th Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally which officially kicks off on Monday. The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) will once again be there at the Sturgis Buffalo Chip campground to promote ethanol to the motorcycle set. Approximately 500,000 motorcyclists from all over the world gather in Sturgis, S.D., for the week-long rally that offers a unique opportunity to promote the benefits of high-octane, low-cost ethanol.

Robert White, director of market development for RFA, says this year marks the 6th year that RFA has been involved in the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally and the Free Fuel Happy Hours are back by popular demand, offering motorcycle riders a free tank of E10 93-octane fuel. The fuel is brought in specifically for the rally and riders can receive their free tank at 1–4 pm Tuesday-Thursday, August 5-7. Robert says that they really just want to help educate the riders about using E10 in their bikes.

I’ll be attending the rally this year with RFA and looking forward to the Legends Ride as well as spending time at the Buffalo Chip Campground that turns into quite the entertainment junction where many of the concerts will be taking place. Domestic Fuel will have all your coverage from Sturgis Motorcycle Rally once again. Stay tuned!

Interview with Robert White, RFA

Ethanol Safety Seminars Head to Alabama & Kansas

The Ethanol Safety Seminars are heading to Alabama and Kansas. The first seminar will be held August 7, 2014 at the Alabama Fire College in Tuscaloosa and is co-hosted by Alabama Southern Railroad and the second seminar will be held on August 8, 2014 at Doster Community Center in Prattville and is co-hosted by Autauga Northern Railroad. Tuscaloosa is hosting two sessions: from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm and 5:30 pm to 10:00 pm.
Seminars are free, but registration is limited. Lunch and dinner will be provided. Certificates will be awarded to attendees at the completion of the course.

The Ethanol Safety Seminars then head to Kansas. The first seminar is August 11–12, 2104 at the Overland Park Fire Training Center near Kansas City co-hosted by the Missouri & Northern Arkansas Railroad with sessions from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm. The next seminar is August 13, 2014 at the Webster Conference Center in Salina, followed by the final seminar on August 14, 2104 at Pratt Community College near Wichita. Both will be co-hosted by Kansas & Oklahoma Railroad and both will have morning sessions (9 am- 2pm) and evening sessions (5 pm- 10 pm).

Ethanol Safety Seminar LogoAll seminars are funded by a Federal Railroad Administration grant through TRANSCAER. RFA has been a TRANSCAER member since 2007.

The goal of these seminars is for attendees to gain full ethanol emergency response training experience that they can put to use immediately in the field as well as pass along to other first response teams. A majority of this training is based on the “Training Guide to Ethanol Emergency Response,” a training package created by the Ethanol Emergency Response Coalition (EERC) that has been distributed throughout the United States and to several countries worldwide.

“Rail has proven itself to be one of the safest modes of transportation for hazardous materials over the years,” said Jimmy Patterson, general manager at Kansas & Oklahoma Railroad. “We must be mindful of possible risks, however, and be ready to respond should an incident occur. The Ethanol Safety Seminars provide emergency responders with the training they need to effectively react to a sudden event.”

Attendees will receive in-depth information on proper training techniques that first responders and hazmat personnel need to effectively respond to an ethanol-related emergency. While primarily targeting first responders, hazmat teams, safety managers, and local emergency planning committees, it is also open to the general public.

“The public relies on the nation’s first responders to protect them during the worst of emergency events,” said Kristy Moore, RFA vice president of technical services. “With these seminars, RFA makes sure that personnel receive the training they need to tackle these safety challenges before venturing into potentially hazardous conditions.”

Invateus Solar Starts Solar Farm on Superfund Site

Inovateus Solar and participated in the development of a 43-acre ground-based solar array project sited on an existing Superfund Site with previous ground contamination. The Maywood Solar farm is located near Vertellus Specialties headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana and was supported by Indianapolis Power & Light’s (IPL) Rate Renewable Energy Production (REP) Program. The 10.82 MW project is part of a renewal energy production program administered by the Indianapolis Power and Light Company (IPL).

Maywood Solar FarmThe Maywood land is a Superfund project site that was remediated in 1992 under the supervision of the United States Environmental Protection Agency EPA) and Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM), and is now in a monitoring-only status. The solar array was constructed by Hanwha Q CELLS USA along with the EPA, IDEM, IPL, and Vertellus Specialties Incorporated.

“We were excited to start the development of this project with Vertellus Specialties, and hand it over to Hanwha Q CELLS for completion,” said Inovateus Solar President T.J. Kanczuzewski. “This is another example of how public utilities and private companies can work together to achieve the goal of introducing more renewable energy in the state of Indiana. Our company is looking forward to making other announcements on projects built in the IPL Rate REP program soon.”

Under the voluntary feed-in tariff program, IPL will pay Hanwha Q CELLS 20 cents per kW hour for the project. A total of 100 MW of renewable energy projects are allowed under the IPL Rate REP program, of which Inovateus is involved with approximately 24 MW of qualified solar energy generation through the Maywood Solar Farm and other projects.

BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDFYingli Green Energy Holding Company Limited has announced that its wholly-owned subsidiary, Yingli Green Energy International AG, has entered into a strategic alliance with AMB Energia Wytwarzanie , a subsidiary of AMB Energia S.A. to co-develop 30 MW of solar projects in Poland. Within the framework of the agreement, AMB Energia as a local partner will fully develop the projects with the support from Yingli throughout all project stages.
  • Finavera Wind Energy Inc. has announced it has received a final $16.5 million of consideration, primarily in the form of debt forgiveness, from Pattern Renewable Holdings Canada ULC, a subsidiary of Pattern Energy Group LP as the final amount payable under the Purchase and Sale Agreement for 184 megawatts (MW) of wind projects, previously announced on April 29, 2013. The final consideration has been received earlier than the anticipated date in Q1 2015, based in part on the successful development of the Meikle Project.
  • Boralex Inc., through its subsidiary Boralex Europe S.A., has acquired Calmont 14 MW wind power project in the Midi-Pyrénées region in France. With a 15-year power sales contract with EDF France, construction work on the Calmont wind farm will begin during the first quarter of 2015 with commissioning scheduled for year end 2015. In all, Boralex will invest approximately €25 million to complete this project. Calmont is located a few kilometers from Boralex’s Avignonet-Lauragais hybrid solar/wind site offering attractive operating synergy opportunities.
  • Amicus Solar Cooperative, a purchasing cooperative that is 100% owned and managed by its member companies, has obtained an initial allocation of $50 million for qualifying businesses desiring solar through LFC Capital’s Solar Ownership Program. This Amicus/LFC Capital collaboration represents the first round of a multi-stage rollout of program funds planned for future solar photovoltaic (PV) projects.

Amyris & GOL Take to the Skies with Biojet Fuel

Amyris along with Brazilian airline GOL have flown the industry’s first commercial flight with farnesane, a recently approved jet fuel. Flight 7725 left from Orlando, Florida July 30 at 5:15 pm ET and landed in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

GOL committed to fly its Boeing 737 fleet with up to a 10 percent blend of the renewable farnesane fuel starting with this initial flight on July 30, 2014. According to Amyris, Farnesane can reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by up to 80 percent compared to petroleum fuels. When blended with Jet A/A1 fuel at 10 percent, farnesane can also reduce particulate matter emissions, decreasing pollution near airports and major metropolitan areas.

The global aviation industry has committed to aggressive goals to reduce its GHG emissions, including achieving carbon neutral growth by 2020 and reducing emissions by 50 percent by 2050 compared to 2005. In addition to improving the efficiency of airplanes and flight operations, this renewable biofuel represents a major opportunity for commercial aviation to reduce emissions. The approved renewable jet fuel is drop-in and can be blended directly with petroleum jet fuel without any changes to airplanes, engines or fueling infrastructure. Amyris will now begin to quantitatively measure the positive impact to GHG emissions and air quality with every flight using the renewable jet fuel.

China Solar Panel Maker to Install Panels in Malaysia

Wuxi Suntech Power Co LtdOne of the world’s biggest makers of solar panels will work to power rural schools and villages in Malaysia. China-based Wuxi Suntech will put in photovoltaic (PV) panels that will generate 7.5 MW of power under the Rural Solar Hybrid Electricity Project for Villages and Schools in the Interior.

The project was launched recently and is set to be completed in several phases and continue into 2017. The first phase will provide 960 kW to power three schools – SK Nanga Metah, SK Nanga Janan and SK Sungai Tunoh – as well as to 20 surrounding villages. The subsequent rollout of the project will reach a total of 7.5 MW of electricity to additional rural schools and villages.

The PV modules will form a micro-grid system set to provide 24 hour electricity to three schools and 20 surrounding villages. The system will consist of Suntech’s high-efficiency, VDE Quality Tested modules.

“We have been working diligently with our partners Helios Photovoltaics and the Malaysian government for several years to launch this revolutionary project. We’re using diesel generators and German battery packs to backup Suntech’s best in class PV Modules in this system. Many locations in the region are only accessible via boat or helicopter and have previously been left to rely on diesel generation for power. These new micro-grid systems will help to significantly reduce diesel costs and cut 10,000 tons of CO2 emissions per year, providing clean, reliable energy for the schools and villages in Sarawak. We are extremely proud of our work with Helios and the Malaysian Government that has enabled us to bring this project to fruition,” said Samuel Zhang, sales director for APMEA & China at Suntech.

Suntech officials say the company’s recent acquisition by Hong Kong-based Shunfeng Photovoltaics Ltd. has helped its balance sheet and allows it to pursue a a new business strategy that will make it the largest integrated clean energy provider globally.

Varying Opinions on Farming Tech

New Holland ZimmPollOur latest ZimmPoll asked the question, “How can technology make farming even better?”

We all seem to have a different opinion on what type of farming technology would be the most beneficial. Right now I am leaning towards weather control. It would be nice to simply click a button when we need some rain. I still believe that is a little farfetched. However, I know we will all be seeing drones and robots in our near future.

Here are the poll results:

  • Remote control tractors – 15%
  • Drone crop management – 22%
  • Robot livestock feeders – 19%
  • Remote crop & livestock sensors – 15%
  • Weather control – 15%
  • Can’t imagine it yet – 7%
  • Other – 7%

Our new ZimmPoll is now live and asks the question, I prefer to get my farm news from:

In this day and age we can get news at the drop of the hat. It is pretty much everywhere we look. But we all have our preferred source for the latest news in the agriculture community. Let us know where you prefer to get your farming news.

Plug-In Electric Vehicles Talk in the Cloud

Plug-In electric vehicles (EV) will soon be “talking in the cloud” as Ford Motor Company collaborates with seven of the world’s largest automakers and 15 utility companies to develop technologies for EVs to talk to the utilities via the cloud. According to Ford, this would help manage energy use and improve the efficiency of the power grid.

The pilot program will create a standards-based communications platform for use by plug-in EVs and the electric grids. This platform will enable the utilities to contact vehicle customers who have opted-in to the program, sending a request for those cars to stop charging temporarily to help manage a grid that is DCF 1.0becoming overloaded. This approach uses existing communications technology and standards, such as Ford’s MyFord® Mobile App, and pushes to advance those systems by enabling two-way communication between the electric grid and electric vehicles.

“This innovative platform provides a critical enabler for the next step in vehicle electrification,” said Mike Tinskey, associate global director, Electrification Infrastructure for Ford. “It’s a way for plug-in electric vehicle drivers to be financially rewarded for their willingness to help manage the electric grid.”

Participating utility companies are prepared to offer financial incentives to owners who make their cars available to the grid, similar to utilities offering customers discounts for allowing their home air conditioning to run intermittently during times of high demand. Customers who opt-in to the program can charge their cars at a location of their choice and have the ability to ignore the utility’s request to stop charging.

The formal collaboration between the automakers, utilities and Electric Power Research Institute began in fall 2012. However, the concept and application of electric vehicle/grid integration has been studied extensively by numerous research groups for more than 10 years.

UIC Researchers Convert Waste Carbon to Fuel

University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) scientists, under the lead of Amin Salehi-Khojin, UIC professor of mechanical and industrial engineering, have synthesized a catalyst that improves their system for converting waste carbon dioxide into syngas. The syngas is a percursor of gasoline and other energy-rich products and this recent achievement in the the research team’s process has brought the production of CO2 to energy closer to commercial viability. The study was published in the journal Nature Communications on July 30, 2014.

The research team developed a unique two-step catalytic process that uses molybdenum disulfide and an ionic liquid to “reduce,” or transfer electrons, to carbon dioxide in a chemical reaction. The new catalyst improves efficiency and lowers cost by replacing expensive metals like gold or silver in the reduction reaction.

UIC researcher Amin Salehi-KhojinMohammad Asadi, UIC graduate student and co-first author on the paper said the discovery is a big step toward industrialization. “With this catalyst, we can directly reduce carbon dioxide to syngas without the need for a secondary, expensive gasification process,” explained Asadi. In other chemical-reduction systems, he noted, the only reaction product is carbon monoxide. The new catalyst produces syngas, a mixture of carbon monoxide plus hydrogen.

Salehi-Khojin, principal investigator on the study continued the explanation by noting the high density of loosely bound, energetic d-electrons in molybdenum disulfide facilitates charge transfer, driving the reduction of the carbon dioxide. “This is a very generous material,” said Salehi-Khojin. “We are able to produce a very stable reaction that can go on for hours.”

The proportion of carbon monoxide to hydrogen in the syngas produced in the reaction can also be easily manipulated using the new catalyst, said Salehi-Khojin.

“Our whole purpose is to move from laboratory experiments to real-world applications,” he said. “This is a real breakthrough that can take a waste gas — carbon dioxide — and use inexpensive catalysts to produce another source of energy at large-scale, while making a healthier environment.”

MSU to Develop Hardier Switchgrass for Biofuels

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) along with the U.S. Department of Agriculture have awarded $1 million to Michigan State University (MSU) to develop hardier switchgrass. The feedstock is a North American native plant that holds great potential as a biofuel source. The research team believes that if switchgrass would better survive northern winters, the plant could be an even better source for clean energy.

Robin Buell, MSU plant biologist, will work to identify the genetic factors that regulate cold hardiness in switchgrass. “This project will explore the genetic basis for cold tolerance that will permit the breeding of improved switchgrass cultivars that can yield higher biomass in northern climates,” said Buell, also an Robin Buell MSUMSU AgBioResearch scientist. “It’s part of an ongoing collaboration with scientists in the USDA Agricultural Research Service to explore diversity in native switchgrass as a way to improve its yield and quality as a biofuel feedstock.”

One of the proposed methods to increase the biomass of switchgrass is to grow lowland varieties in northern latitudes where they flower later in the season. Lowland switchgrass is not adapted to the colder conditions of a northern climate, however, and merely a small percentage of the plants survive. It is these hardy survivors that are the subject of Buell’s research.

“Dr. Buell’s investment in this collaborative project will identify important genetic elements in switchgrass that control survival over the winter and can be used to breed better adapted cultivars to meet biomass production needs,” noted Richard Triemer, chairperson of the plant biology department.

Buell hopes to identify alternative forms of the same gene that is responsible for cold hardiness by studying switchgrass’ genetic composition, These could then be applied in breeding programs for switchgrass that can thrive in northern climates.

BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDFGevo, Inc. has announced that it intends to offer and sell, subject to market and other conditions, common stock units. Each common stock unit will consist of one share of common stock and a warrant to purchase a certain number of shares of common stock. The units are to be sold by Gevo subject to market and other conditions in an underwritten public offering. Gevo currently intends to use the net proceeds from the offering to fund capital to complete the side-by-side configuration of its Luverne, MN facility, to fund working capital and for other general corporate purposes.
  • The Solar Foundation has recognized community-owned solar developer Clean Energy Collective as a 2014 Solar Foundation Award recipient for exceptional work and dedication to advancing solar energy. Clean Energy Collective received the Industry Advancement Award for its innovative approach to community-owned solar.
  • San Carlos Solar Energy, Inc. was recently presented with the 2014 Philippines Solar Photovoltaic (PV) System Integrator of the Year award at the 2014 Frost & Sullivan Philippines Excellence Awards held on July 17, 2014 at the Makati Shangri-la Hotel, Manila. This award is presented to the company that has demonstrated excellence in the three key areas of demand generation, brand development and competitive positioning.
  • JinkoSolar Holding Co., Ltd. has announced that China Development Bank International, the Macquarie Greater China Infrastructure Fund, a fund managed by Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets, and New Horizon Capital have agreed to invest a total of US $225 million in the company’s downstream solar power project business.

New Jersey Home to First Energy Resilience Bank

New Jersey has created what they term the first of its kind in the U.S. “Energy Resilience Bank” (ERB) to focus on energy resilience. The bank was created in response to the impacts of SuperStorm Sandy where over 8 million people lost electric power in the region – many for several days. The ERB will provide $200 million for municipalities to finance clean resilient power solutions. Projects could include those that “would ensure a highly reliable power supply to critical public facilities such as water and wastewater treatment plants, hospitals, shelters, emergency response centers and transit networks in the event the larger electrical grid fails.”

New Jersey Disaster Recovery Action PlanOn July 23, 2014, the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities approved a sub-recipient agreement with the New Jersey Economic Development Authority to work jointly in the establishment and operation of the ERB. The ERB would be financed through use of $200 million of New Jersey’s second Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) allocation. According to the Governor Christie’s announcement, “the ERB will support the development of distributed energy resources at critical facilities throughout the state …to minimize the potential for future major power outages and increase energy resiliency.”

Clean Energy Group’s President, Lewis Milford, applauded the creation of the ERB. “New Jersey has created a model for all states to finance resilient power projects, to protect against power outages during severe weather events. The ERB is an important way for states to finance projects like solar with energy storage in food banks, fire stations, wastewater treatment plants, and schools. It deserves to be a national infrastructure finance model for states around the country.”

The Clean Energy Group is working with states and communities to help deploy more resilient power projects, and the organization cites financing as a remaining a key stumbling block. The New Jersey approach through the new ERB is a model that all states should consider as they deal with increasing problems of severe weather and the power system, problems that are only growing worse, according to Clean Energy Group.

Free Webinar: Muncipal Solid Waste to BioProducts

Renewable-Waste-IntelligenceMunicipal solid waste is a big concern for cities around the world and many are discovering that they can make money from their waste. How? But converting the waste stream into biofuels and bioproducts. Yet a question that remains to be answered is where and when will this development play out and how are developers strategizing their business model to reach commercialization?

People can learn the answers to these questions by signing up for Renewable Waste Intelligence’s  free webinar, “The challenges of achieving a commercial scale MSW to biofuels and bio-products project“. The webinar will take place Thursday, August 7, 2014 at 10:30 am ET.

Speakers include experts from several of the country’s leading biofuels and bioproducts companies who will share their views on the unfolding project plans, how commercialization has been reached and how MSW can be used to produce a viable and green “drop in” solution for the biochemicals industry.

Speakers include:

  • Tim Cesarek, VP, Enerkem
  • Steve Csonka, Executive Director, CAAFI
  • Sadesh Sookraj, EVP, Novomer

For more information and to register click here.

DF Cast: Syngenta Helps Ethanol Infrastructure Efforts

A company that is getting more ethanol out of corn is trying to get more infrastructure for higher blends of ethanol. Recently, Syngenta announced a new fund to help fuel retailers put in infrastructure to handle higher blends of ethanol from E15 to E85. The announcement was made at a NASCAR event, where fans have been able to witness just how good the higher blends are for engines.

In this edition of the Domestic Fuel Cast, we hear from Syngenta’s David Witherspoon and Growth Energy’s Kelly Manning, as they talk about the effort to get more ethanol infrastructure into gas stations and how Americans, especially NASCAR fans, have really come around to the green fuel.

Domestic Fuel Cast - Increasing Ethanol Blends

You can also subscribe to the DomesticFuel Cast here.

SheerWind Offers INVELOX for Wind Power

There is a new technology available for wind power generation: INVELOX system. The new concept for wind power generation was developed by SheerWind and uses multiple turbines in a row or series to produce greater electrical power output. In essence, the INVELOX system is a large funnel that captures, concentrates and accelerates wind before devlivering it to turbines located at ground level, according to the company.

The company explains that by placing two turbines ina series, power increased by 1.7 times when compared to a single turbine. For example, one 1,000 kilowatt turbine-generator system in an INVELOX produces electrical energy for 341 homes, and two turbines operating in succession produces enough electricity to power 579 average sized homes.

“Because the INVELOX system directs and controls wind, we are able for the first time in history, to place multiple turbines together to produce more energy. This means a single INVELOX tower is able to increase its output— reducing cost per kilowatt— all without additional structure or land use,” said Cyndi Lesher, President of SheerWind “Increasing the ability to operate in areas never before feasible or economical with even less environmental impact.”

In addition, the company explains that because there are multiple turbines in a single INVELOX tower there is nearly no operational downtime because maintenance can be done on one turbine while the other continues energy production. With INVELOX, turbines are installed safely and conveniently at ground level, making maintenance less costly, safer and more efficient, according to SheerWind.