Is there Enough Feedstock for Gen 2 Ethanol?

Last week Biofuels Digest Editor Jim Lane posed the question: Is there really enough affordable feedstock for the second generation ethanol wave? According to Robert Kozak of Atlantic Biomass Conversions an co-founder of Advanced Biofuels USA, “Yes, if we realistically address the financial realities of feedstock producers and feedstock buyers.” He reviewed the current weaknesses in current biomass development philosophy for feed, fuel, chemicals and biobased products and penned his findings in a white paper.

Advanced Biofuels USA Biomass Crops white paperKozak looked at a several possible biomass feedstocks including switchgrass, miscanthus and other grasses to dandelion roots and carrot and sugar beet residues. He concludes that the combination of saturated markets and increasing production costs may soon cause corn growers to either start returning land to the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) and other programs (and increasing U.S. taxpayer costs) or to find other crops. In response, he advocates taking a closer look at what we have learned about biomass conversion technologies over the past 10 years along with farm policy.

In the paper he writes, “So, with approximately 20-25 percent of current US corn production being used for fuel ethanol, the questions for growers become: Could portions of this land be used for lower nutrient input biomass crops that would produce comparable income from ethanol or other biofuels and biomaterials? Could corn land not within current shipping distance of existing ethanol refineries also be used for biofuel/biomaterial crops? … I think the right answers to these questions could not only retain current grower incomes but more importantly, could be an opportunity to build the foundation of a true Advanced Biofuel and Biomaterial System.”

Kozak proposes root crops as a viable solution to these challenges. He bases his arguments on cell wall structure, lack of pesky lignin, and potential for over-wintering in situ to address storage logistics, etc. He acknowledges that these are very preliminary thoughts on a complex issue which deserves greater scrutiny. He also suggests convening an action-oriented conference or a series of workshops where experts involved in all aspects of the subject can gather for intense discussions.

“PUMP” Coming to a Theater Near You

There is a new documentary coming to a theater near you: PUMP. The film tells the story of America’s addiction to oil. Stories told range from Standard Oil’s illegal tactics to the dominance of oil companies. The goal of the film is to explain why and how consumers can end Big Oil’s monopoly and “win choice at the pump”.

According to the movie’s website, gasoline is our only option of transportation fuel today. With global demand rising and the continued dependence on gas our wallets are thinning. In addition, air pollution is getting worse and Americans are fighting wars in oil-rich countries.

PUMP shows consumers how making a variety of replacement fuels widely available will reduce fuel prices across the board. Diversifying the market with replacement fuels that are cheaper, cleaner and American made will also create jobs, strengthening the economy at home and promoting stability abroad.

The movie features experts including John Hofmeister, former President of Shell Oil Co.; Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors, Inc.; Peter Goldmark, former president of the Rockefeller Foundation; our colleague Jim Lane and other noteworthy figures.

To see where the movie is headed and to buy tickets, visit the PUMP website.

Registration Open for 20th NEC

rfa-nec-15“Going Global” is the theme for the 20th annual National Ethanol Conference (NEC) from the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA).

The event is being held February 18-20, 2015 at the Gaylord Texan Resort and Convention Center in Grapevine, Texas. With the U.S. leading the world in the production and exports of ethanol fuel and co-products, export markets are critical to the future of the industry. That will be explored in depth at the conference.

To find out more and get registered, go to NationalEthanolConference.com.

Tide Detergent Cleaning up with Cellulosic Ethanol

A new use for cellulosic ethanol has been announced by DuPont and Procter & Gamble.

tideThe two global leaders in science and consumer products are planning to a first-of-its-kind use of cellulosic ethanol in North American Tide® laundry detergent.

Tide Cold Water will be the first brand in the world to blend cellulosic ethanol in a scalable and commercial way. Ethanol has long been a key ingredient in the Tide® formulation, allowing for stability of the detergent formula and better washing performance. The substitution of the current corn based ethanol with cellulosic is the latest innovation in the companies’ 30-year partnership, making it easier for consumers to make sustainable choices in their everyday lives.

DuPont will produce this renewable, cellulosic ethanol at the company’s new biorefinery, currently under construction in Nevada, Iowa. Once completed, the plant will be the world’s largest bioethanol refinery, producing 30 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol per year – a process with zero net carbon emissions.

According to the companies,Tide® Cold Water “powered by nature” will re-purpose over 7000 tons of agricultural waste a year. “As one of the world’s largest laundry manufacturers, we have a responsibility to lead renewable sourcing in products,” said Gianni Ciserani, Procter & Gamble Group President of Global Fabric and Home Care. “We do this by ensuring consumers still get the great Tide® laundry performance they want, while further reducing the impact on the environment. In January, we committed to removing phosphates in our laundry products. This partnership on renewables is one more step in our journey.”

“With this collaboration, DuPont is also taking the first step to diversify its markets for cellulosic ethanol beyond fuels. As we build on our integrated science capabilities, we will continue to seek out new opportunities and new collaborations to transform value chains with more sustainable solutions,” said James Collins, Senior Vice President, DuPont.

Both Collins and Ciserani will be speaking at the World Conference on Fabric and Home Care in Montreux, Switzerland this week.

Homemade Biodiesel Works As Well As Conventional

EECLResearchers at Colorado State University (CSU) have found that a homemade mix of unleaded gasoline and crushed oilseeds works about as well as diesel or biodiesel produced by more conventional means. This article on the Lab Manager website says the mix was tested by farmers who operate an oilseed processing facility and CSU’s Engines and Energy Conversion Laboratory in Fort Collins.

“There was an 8 to 10 percent drop in maximum power,” said Aaron Drenth, a CSU doctoral student who led the most recent testing of the homemade fuel. “That’s not very much — most drivers would never notice it. It’s also consistent with what the farmers who use it have been telling us.”

Drenth and Daniel B. Olsen, a professor of mechanical engineering at CSU, have spent the past two years testing different versions of the homemade fuel, called TGBs (triglyceride blends), and comparing the performance to biodiesel, renewable petroleum diesel, and traditional diesel fuels.

They swapped out oils made from sunflower, corn, canola, soybean, pennycress, camelina and carinata seeds to make different TGBs…

In addition to performance, Drenth and Olsen also evaluated the TGBs’s emissions, fuel consumption and thermal efficiency. TGBs were comparable to biodiesel, renewable diesel, and diesel in each of those areas; in some cases, they outperformed one of the conventional fuels.

For example, the engine got better “mileage” with TGB than biodiesel.

“We were surprised at how well TGBs did overall,” Olsen said.

The researchers did say that people should not necessarily start making their own fuel, because more study is needed on long-term effects on engines and potential safety concerns.

Biomass-to-Biofuel Plant Gets USDA Loan Guarantee

coolplanetA Louisiana biomass-to-biofuel operation received a $91 million loan guarantee from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). This news release from USDA says the agency will back the loan under the Biorefinery Assistance Program to finish building the Cool Planet plant at the Port of Alexandria in Louisiana.

The Cool Planet facilities will produce approximately 8 million to 10 million gallons of reformate per year at full capacity. Often referred to as a “drop-in” fuel, reformate is an ingredient in gasoline and jet fuel that can be added during the regular refinery process. Many biofuels, like ethanol, are fuel additives that are instead blended into a finished product to oxygenate fuel. Reformate enhances the energy content of gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel. Pine chips will be the feedstock source for the Cool Planet facility, but the company can use almost any type of renewable cellulosic material.

Another benefit of Cool Planet’s facility is that it will produce biochar, a bioenergy byproduct that has been noted for its ability to sequester carbon and potentially reduce atmospheric greenhouse gas levels.

Google Ventures, BP, ConocoPhillips, GE, Exelon and NRG Energy are also kicking in on the project, in addition to USDA’s contribution. Cool Planet is putting $50 million in its own equity into the project.

Greenbelt Resources Cellulosic Tech On Stage

Greenbelt Resources Corporation has been selected as one of only 30 showcase companies to present during GloSho’14. The prestigious event is focused on the global clean tech industry and takes place October 6-7, 2014 at Los Angeles Theater in downtown Los Angeles, California. Company CEO Darren Eng will be presenting on Monday, October 6, 2014 between 2:15 to 3:15 PM PST during the Air & Waste session in Theatre 1. The membrane technology will be displayed at Table 34 in Theater 4.

GloSho’14 helps provide the resources, skills and partners necessary to be a global player. The event includes an investment boot camp, reverse investment showcasGreenbelt Resources membrane technologyes and several sessions covering water issues in California, clean energy policy at federal and state levels, and how to capitalize on university partnerships. Attendees will include the global clean tech business community, investors, entrepreneurs, mayors, politicians, city municipal managers, energy and environmental experts and more.

“We’ve had a great response to our clean energy technology,” said Darren Eng, CEO of Greenbelt Resources. “Our invitation to present during this event solidifies what we already know – that we have a viable, cost-competitive, critically needed solution that the clean tech, agriculture, food and energy industries are taking great interest in adopting.”

Greenbelt Resources offers a modular food waste recycling system featuring an end-to-end automated ethanol production system with 24/7 remote monitoring. This configuration is the only one in the world that utilizes patent-pending membrane technology which maximizes energy and water efficiency. By feeding the system waste feedstocks including dairy, agriculture, food, beverage, brewery and alcohol wastes; or biomass feedstocks, the technology produces fuel, feed, fertilizer and filtered water coined by Eng as the “four Fs”. Continue reading

MN Wind Industry Shines in Profile Report

A new report demonstrates the successes and competitive advantage its clean energy industry has brought to Minnesota. The findings were released by MN Governor Mark Dayton and led by the Minnesota State Departments of Commerce and Employment and Economic Development with input from those in the clean energy industry including Wind on the Wires.

“Minnesota’s early action to embrace wind energy has created thousands of great professional jobs in our economy,” said Wind on the Wires Executive Director Beth Soholt. “We applaud Minnesota’s leadership in the clean energy sector. We are enormously proud of the nearly 2,000 wind power jobs and particularly the 553% increase in wind power businesses in Minnesota since 2000.”

According toMinnesota Clean Energy Economy Profile the Minnesota Clean Energy Economy Profile report, Minnesota has seen a 288 percent increase in wind power jobs since 2000, compared to an 11 percent state employment growth during the same time period. Wages in the wind power sector are more than $10,000 higher than the average annual wage in Minnesota. The report find that for wind, the greatest number of jobs can be found in installation and maintenance, project development and financing, and supplying manufactured component parts.

“Wind on the Wires has worked side-by-side with many groups, organizations, and our members to establish the key policies that have helped drive this incredible growth and economic development for our state,” added Soholt. “We urge Governor Dayton and the legislature to ensure that Minnesota achieves at least half of its electricity from clean energy by 2030 because it’s the right thing to do to create jobs, boost economic development, and reduce carbon emissions that endanger our health and pollute Minnesota’s vast water resources.”

UNICA’s ‘Ethanol the Complete Fuel’ Is Back

The Brazilian Sugarcane Industries Association (UNICA) has launched is next phase of its advertising campaign, “Ethanol the Complete Fuel“. The multimedia campaign will primarily run in the state of São Paulo, the ads are designed to reinforce the positive impacts of ethanol on the economy and environment. The communication strategy consists of a 30 second TV commercial, sponsorship of television and radio programs, a striking jingle, online actions and presence in social networks.

“With the resumption of the campaign we want to remind consumers the advantages and benefits of biofuel. Ethanol generates environmental, social gains and promotes economic growth significantly in over a thousand Brazilian municipalities, “said Elizabeth Farina, UNICA president.

When first released in November 2012, the campaign leveraged ethanol sales in the state of São Paulo. In one month of placement sales increased 10%. Last year, the advertising action also aired three other states: Paraná, Goiás and Minas Gerais.

“Right now, the price of ethanol is more advantageous than gasoline for the consumer, ie the 70% parity has already been achieved in some states, yet the demand for the product did not react as expected. This reinforces our diagnosis that direct contact with the public should be constant, “said Farina.

BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDFThe Massachusetts Clean Energy Center has released its annual industry report detailing the impressive growth of the state’s clean energy industry and the impact it is having on jobs and economic activity across Massachusetts. The 2014 Massachusetts Clean Energy Industry Report describes the size, scope, and growth of the Commonwealth’s clean energy industry.
  • The SunShot Initiative team recently enjoyed a day in the sun on a rooftop in Washington, D.C., where they volunteered to install a solar energy system on a Habitat for Humanity home. The install was organized by GRID Alternatives as part of a two-day event to bring solar power to underserved communities and to celebrate the launch of GRID’s new mid-Atlantic office. GRID has a decade-long track record of successful solar deployment in low-income communities in California, Colorado, New Jersey and New York.
  • A new report finds that India’s rapidly growing solar and wind programs are creating enormous economic opportunity, providing significant employment opportunities for India’s workforce, and expanding much-needed energy access for India’s citizens. In just four years, India’s solar market has grown more than a hundred fold and India is now also the world’s fifth largest wind energy producer. Together, the wind and solar industries have already created approximately 70,000 clean energy jobs in India according to new findings by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW).
  • Texas Renewable Energy Industries Association (TREIA) is hosting its Texas Renewables 2014 conference taking place Monday, November 3-6 in Dallas, Texas. The event will explore today’s energy landscape, acknowledge the significant contribution the renewable energy industry is making, and discuss the very real role it will play and challenges it will face in shaping Texas’ energy future.

Abengoa Yield’s Solana Solar Project Wins Award

Abengoa Yield has announced that Solana, its Arizona-based solar power plant, received the Energy Storage North America (ESNA) Innovation Award in the Utility-Scale category. WinnersAbengoa Yield Solana solar field were announced on October 1st, 2014, at the ESNA Innovation Awards ceremony in San Jose, California. Winners were chosen by the ESNA Advisory Board and votes on social media.

According to the company, Solana is the largest solar parabolic trough plant in the world. Located near Gila Bend, Arizona, it has a total installed capacity of 280 megawatts. With a six-hour molten-salt thermal energy storage capacity, it supplies clean energy to Arizona Public Service (APS), Arizona’s largest utility, meeting peaks of demand before dawn and after dusk.

Intermittency issues are a signficant hurdle with renewable energy such as solar. Using solar thermal energy coupled with molten salt elimates this issue according to the company. The storage component also increases dispatchability in
the power generation process, creating systems which can operate flexibly both with and without solar radiation.

The company explains that Solana’s parabolic trough collectors track the sun and concentrate sunlight onto receiver tubes located at a focal point of each collector. A heat transfer fluid (HTF) is heated as it circulates inside the tubes and is then circulated back to a central power plant. The HTF then passes through a series of heat exchangers to produce superheated steam that is used to generate clean electricity in a conventional steam turbine generator.

Clean Tech Will Provide Jobs in Emerging Countries

According to a new report from World Bank Group, there are significant clean tech opportunities for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in developing countries. The new report, “Building Competitive Green Industries: the Climate and Clean Technology Opportunity for Developing Countries,” frames responding to climate change as an extraordinary economic opportunity, particularly in developing countries. The report, published by infoDev, recommends actions by the public and private sectors to foster the growing market for SMEs in the clean technology sector.

World Food Bank Clean Tech report“Fostering home-grown clean-tech industries in developing countries can create a sustainable and wealth-producing sector of the economy,” said Anabel Gonzalez, senior director for the World Bank’s Global Practice on Trade and Competitiveness, “While simultaneously addressing such urgent development priorities as access to clean and affordable energy, clean water and climate-resilient agriculture.”

In just the last decade, clean technology has emerged as a major global market. Over the next 10 years, an estimated $6.4 trillion will be invested in developing countries. Of the total market in developing countries, some $1.6 trillion will be accessible to SMEs, according to the report. China, Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa are the top three markets in the developing world for SMEs in clean technology, with expected markets of $415 billion, $349 billion and $235 billion, respectively for sectors such as wastewater treatment, onshore wind, solar panels, electric vehicles, bioenergy, and small hydro.

More can be done to support green entrepreneurship. As sited in the report, clean technology SMEs face daunting challenges, particularly in accessing early and growth stage financing. Countries can help by creating targeted policy incentives to encourage their own clean technology sectors. The report provides policymakers with a range of practical instruments that help support SMEs in clean technology sectors such as innovative finance, entrepreneurship and business acceleration, market development, technology development, and the legal and regulatory framework.

B10 Biodiesel Blend in Minnesota a Success

msga-logo1The first summer of Minnesota running a 10 percent biodiesel (B10) mandate is being called a success. The Minnesota Soybean Growers Association (MSGA) says as the state moves back to a B5 mandate over the winter months, the group is celebrating how well the higher blend made mostly from its soybeans went.

“The implementation of B10 went very well,” said George Goblish, President of the MSGA. “I think we alleviated the concerns of truckers and auto manufacturers.”

Steve Howell, president of MARC-IV Consulting, said Minnesota has proven biodiesel blends can be a high-quality fuel at the retail pump level.

“The stability of the product in Minnesota far exceeded the stability specs, and people in Minnesota can feel good about the fuel they are getting,” he said.

Howell said the high quality of B10 in Minnesota at the pump is because of the quality control measures in place throughout the state.

Officials from the fuel consulting company MEG Corp. say the B10 easily met and exceeded the key quality indicator of oxidative stability, a measure of degradation caused by exposure to oxygen. This means consumers can expect the B10 they buy to be good for at least a year after purchase, allaying fears some automobile groups had that the green fuel would drop in quality by the time it hit fuel tanks.

From now through April 1, 2015, Minnesota goes back to a 5 percent biodiesel blend, with B10 kicking back in after that for the next summer.

Corn Harvest Could Affect Propane Supplies, Prices

A big corn harvest this year could affect the supply and price of propane, a big fuel for drying the crop. This story from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) says if the weather allows farmers to dry their crops in the field before harvest, there will be plenty of supply, and prices will be stable … unlike last year’s wet harvest time.
propanechart2
Last year, propane demand in the top five corn-producing states increased in October to levels that rivaled the normal peak demand in January, drawing down propane inventories before the heating season began. Propane inventories in the Midwest were drawn down by 4.1 million barrels (130,000 bbl/d) in October, which was the largest October stock draw since 1985.

As a result, Midwest inventories of propane started the heating season at relatively low levels and remained at the bottom of the five-year range through December. Logistical problems, including the closure for maintenance of the Cochin Pipeline that transported propane from Canada to the Upper Midwest and disruptions of rail transportation, prevented Midwest inventories from being replenished before winter began. With prolonged cold weather in January and February, propane inventories dipped well below the five-year range.

EIA says propane inventories in the Midwest are higher going into this harvest season, and the supplies should be in good shape, despite the fact that the Cochin Pipeline was reversed earlier this year and now moves condensate from the Midwest to Canada. Those supplies going to Canada will be replaced by additional supplies from domestic sources and better rail and storage capacity.

Martifer Solar Closes Contracts

Martifer Solar, a subsidiary of Martifer SGPS, has added close to 90 MW of new third party O&M contracts throughout Italy. According to the company, they have been able to distinguish its O&M Service capabilities in Italy by leveraging a resourceful and qualified local O&M staff, the company´s high quality processes and systems integration, such as its award-winning Operation Management System, and its global industry expertise.

Henrique Rodrigues, CEO of Martifer Solar, said, “We are proud when Clients such as DIF and Eland rely on our O&M team to complement their Asset Management services as it demonstrates that the market is recognizing our strength and reliability as a global O&M Service provider.”

MTS_OM_Italy_PR_1With this recent achievement from the Italian team, Martifer Solar´s global solar O&M portfolio has grown to more than 550 MW of plants under supervision across Europe, Asia and the Americas. The portfolio is comprised of both plants completed by third parties and those built by Martifer Solar.

David Lau, Associate Director of DIF who has contracted with Martifer Solar, said, “As our strategy is focused on targeting investments that generate predictable, long-term and stable cash flows, we need to count on a credible and trusted partner like Martifer Solar to provide operation and maintenance services for our assets.”

The recent addition to the Italian portfolio will strengthen Martifer Solar´s pace as the third largest vertically-integrated O&M player in Europe, as named by recognized research firm, Greentech Media Research. “As we have done here in Italy, as well as other European markets such as Spain, France and the UK, we expect to double the capacity of our O&M portfolio in the near future,” added Rodrigues.