BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDFWide bandgap (WBG) materials such as silicon carbide (SiC) and gallium nitride (GaN) are best positioned to address emerging power electronics performance needs in electric vehicles (EVs), with SiC displacing silicon as early as 2020, according to Lux Research report, “Silicon vs. WBG: Demystifying Prospects of GaN and SiC in the Electrified Vehicle Market“. As silicon struggles to meet higher performance standards, WBG materials are benefiting critically from evolving battery economics.
  • Hanergy Holding Group Limited, a multinational clean-energy power generator and a leading thin-film solar company, today announced that it has completed the acquisition of Alta Devices, whose thin film solar technology has a conversion efficiency of 30.8 percent, the highest among the solar energy technologies currently available in the world.
  • Whether it’s established markets concerned about securing long-term energy supply or emerging nations seeking to efficiently improve their generating capacity, biomass for power generation is taking a strong hold on the global market. According to the July analysis of the Waste Business Finder database, published in Waste Industry Sales Monitor, there were 43 such projects, with an identifiable value of US $1.3 billion. The popularity of biomass is being driven by the array of biomass types – from animal/agricultural waste, through domestic food waste to forestry residues – allowing countries to specialize in the types most available to them. In this way, developing countries such as Burma, Honduras or Nigeria, which all reported developments in the month, can more easily meet their growing electricity generation needs.
  • The U.S. carport market has emerged as a substantial component of the U.S. solar industry. According to the latest report from GTM Research, “U.S. Solar Carport Market 2014-2018: Landscape, Outlook and Leading Companies,” the U.S. is forecasted to add over 180 megawatts of solar carports in 2014, making it the fourth consecutive year with more than 100 megawatts installed.

Are Right to Farm Laws Necessary?

New Holland ZimmPollOur latest ZimmPoll asked the question, “What’s your favorite way to eat peanut butter?”

It’s official…you can put peanut butter on anything. We had votes all over the board with this poll. But it is clear people like peanut butter. Some of the top ‘others’ we got included apples and toast.

Here are the poll results:

  • PB & J – 19%
  • Crackers – 8%
  • On a spoon – 11%
  • With celery – 8%
  • Cookies – 14%
  • Candy – 3%
  • Pie – 3%
  • Ice Cream – 6%
  • Pancakes/waffles – 6%
  • Other – 22%

Our new ZimmPoll is now live and asks the question, What do you think of Right to Farm laws?

Missouri just narrowly passed a constitutional amendment on the right to farm and North Dakota has had one for two years. Is this necessary or is agriculture over-reacting?

Fire Dept. Saves Money & Lives Brewing Up Own Biodiesel

rioricofdA southern Arizona fire district is saving lives and money by brewing up its own biodiesel to run in its trucks. This article from the Nogales (AZ) International says the Rio Rico Fire District has been making its own biodiesel from waste cooking oil since 2008 and figures what was made kept thousands of dollars in places better spent, such as saving lives.

Since 2008, [firefighter Mark] Gerbert and others at RRFD’s Station No. 1 have been cooking up thousands of gallons of biodiesel in a surprisingly sophisticated lab funded by a $90,000 grant from the Environmental Protection Agency. The primary purpose of that grant was to reduce food oil waste and cut down on emissions, but the financial benefits of the project have also been significant. According to administrative manager Marcela Ceballos, the fire district has saved nearly $40,000 in fuel costs in the last three fiscal years alone.

“Like milk, diesel keeps going up,” [firefighter Frank] Granados said.

Gerbert said that most of the district’s engines can run on the B50 blend they make, which is a half-biodiesel, half-petroleum diesel blend.

When Herbert started with the project, he was short on know-how.

“I didn’t know a frickin’ thing about this when I got started,” he said.

Now, six years later, he expertly cooks waste oil into clean biodiesel with ease and explains each step of the process with the skill of a high school chemistry teacher.

The firefighters do warn people not to try this at home.

Area restaurants and homeowners wanting to help out are encouraged to contact the Rio Rico Fire District to arrange to donate their waste grease.

Biodiesel By-Product Glycerol to Hit $2.52 Bil Global Worth

A new study says the global worth of the biodiesel by-product glycerol will hit $2.52 billion by the year 2020. The report, “Glycerol Market By Source (Biodiesel, Fatty Acids, Fatty Alcohols), By Application (Personal Care, Alkyd Resins, Polyether Polyols), Downstream Opportunities (Propylene Glycol, Epichlorohydrin, 1,3 Propanediol) And Segment Forecasts To 2020,” from Grand View Research also says biodiesel is the leading source of the ingredient now found in personal care products, alkyd resins, and polyether polyols applications.

Biodiesel emerged as the leading source of glycerol, accounting for over 1,400 kilo tons of glycerol production in 2013. Growing application market coupled with increased production of oleochemicals in Asia Pacific is expected to augment glycerol demand over the forecast period.

Personal care and pharmaceuticals were the largest application segment, with glycerol consumption exceeding 870 kilo tons in 2013. However, food & beverage is expected to be the fastest growing application segment at an estimated CAGR of 8.4% from 2014 to 2020, owing to improving lifestyle in emerging economies leading to increased consumption of processed and packed foods.

The report went on to say that the Asia-Pacific region was the leading market and accounted for more than one-third of market volume in 2013 and will be the fastest growing market over the next six years. In addition, the global glycerol market is highly concentrated with the top four companies including IOI Group, KL Kepong, Emery Oleochemicals and Wilmar International accounting for more than 65 percent of market revenue last year.

You can read the full report here.

USDA Predicts Record Corn Crop

U.S. farmers are expected to produce more corn than last year, according to the latest USDA report out today.

The August Crop Production report finds that good growing conditions are expected to help growers bring in a record-high crop at 14.0 billion bushels of corn, up 1 percent from 2013 which was also a record at the time. Yields are expected to average 167.4 bushels per acre, which would be the highest yield ever for the United States. Objective yield data indicate the greatest number of ears on record for the ten largest corn producing states.

NCGA-LogoDue to the increased production, the average farm price was lowered a dime from its July estimate, to a range of $3.55 to $4.25 per bushel, which National Corn Growers Association President Martin Barbre says makes it important to keep demand moving forward. “Now is not the time for our federal policymakers to be cutting into the ethanol standard, imposing undue regulations or going slow on trade agreements,” said NCGA President Martin Barbre. “Our farmers are doing their part, working hard and smart on their farms to bring in a good crop. It’s time Washington removed obstacles and cleared a path so we can sell America’s biggest and most versatile crop at a good and fair price.”

growth-energy-logoThe new World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimate projects ending corn stocks to be 1.808 billion bushels, up 7 million bushels from July and the highest level of carryover stocks since 2005. “It is clear from this report that the food versus fuel debate over the U.S. renewable fuel policy can be put to bed,” said Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis. “It is time to stop attacking a homegrown American industry that is creating jobs, improving our environment and mitigating climate change, all while decreasing out dependence on foreign oil and fossil fuels. It is time that the facts, not rhetoric drive the debate and today’s WASDE report should finally end these ridiculous claims. This report makes clear that the American farmer can fuel America and feed the world.”

RFA Making Inroads in Motorcycle Education

rfa-biker-bobbyConcluding the sixth year of sponsorship at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally and the Buffalo Chip Campground, Robert White with the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) believes they are making some real headway in getting the true story about ethanol to motorcycle riders.

“The education to the riders is actually taking on a new life,” said White. “We’re seeing riders talking to riders.”

ethanol-report-adIn this edition of the Ethanol Report, White talks about a rider who pulled up for the Free Fuel Happy Hours who said he defended ethanol to his friends at the rally who told him it was a bad for his motorcycle. “He said ‘I kinda came unglued on them’,” he related. The biker told him that he had been talked in to using it at the rally the year before, and he’s “been using it this entire last year without any issue.”

In another case, White said a guy with a brand new Harley said he had been told by the dealer not to use ethanol and he wanted to get a response to that. “And I said why would you believe me?” White said. “I didn’t engineer your motorcycle, I didn’t put the parts together, I’m not providing a warranty for that motorcycle.” The man agreed, noting that neither did the dealership, but his owners manual from Harley in fact said he could use 10% ethanol. “Harley’s been doing this a long time, as have (other motorcycle manufacturers) they know what fuel is going to be most prominent, least expensive, highest octane option for these motorcycles, and it’s going to be ethanol.”

White says they are looking forward to next year, which will be the 75th annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, where RFA will having an even bigger presence with an even bigger crowd.

Find our more about RFA making inroads in motorcycle education here:
Ethanol Report on Motorcycle Education

Subscribe to “The Ethanol Report” with this link.

2014 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally Photo Album

Listen below to White’s interview with automotive expert Bobby Likis from Sturgis:

Some Retiring Utility Plants Need No Replacement

According to Black & Veatch’s 8th annual Strategic Directions: U.S. Electric Industry report, many retiring nuclear and coal power plants may not need to be replaced on a megawatt-to-megawatt basis. With new technologies and distributed generation along with soft energy demand growth, utilities will be able to replace those retiring with ones that produce less energy.

“This year’s Strategic Directions: U.S. Electric Industry report finds many utilities at a crossroads,” said Dean Oskvig, president of Black & Veatch’s energy business. “The influx of new technologies, new energy sources and new generation approaches, create immense challenges and opportunities for utilities. What has not and will not change, however, is the mandate to deliver the ‘always on’ reliable electric service the
industry has provided for more than 100 years.”

modal-primary-driver-for-rate-increasesThe report found that the rise of distributed generation in particular creates unique challenges for utilities. The technology requires rapid changes to the power grid in order to integrate new assets and resources. Utilities must also be able to ramp up capacity to account for varying renewable energy output (aka wind doesn’t always blow, the sun doesn’t always shine). Where distributed generation reduces demand, utilities will have to revisit their current revenue structure in order to ensure continued reliable service.

John Chevrette, president of Black & Veatch’s management consulting business, noted, “Every kilowatt that is now being produced by a third party or a consumer is a kilowatt not being sold by the utility. At the same time, utilities still carry the burden of building, maintaining and operating the bulk of the power delivery system. Given the high cost of maintaining these assets, we expect to see more utilities making the case with regulators to adjust their business models.”

Based on data collected by industry professionals across the U.S., the report tracks utility leaders’ views on a range of major issues. Some key findings include:

  • Half of the respondents stated their company is planning to replace retiring coal and nuclear power plants with gas generation. Natural gas will also be used as backup power for renewable generation.
  • Nearly 60 percent of utilities are updating emergency response plans in order to improve resiliency to weather and unanticipated events.
  • Utilities are working to provide consumers with resources to better manage energy consumption. Almost one-third of utility respondents stated their organization is offering Home Area Network solutions, such as smart thermostats, to support demand response programs.
  • More than 60 percent of utility leaders believe DG will grow beyond its current 5 percent market share of U.S. power generation by 2020.

OPA Announces FIT 3 Contracts

The Ontario Power Authority has announced the offer of 403 Commercial Rooftop Solar PV Feed-in Tariff (FIT) contracts as part of its FIT Version 3 Renewable Energy Contract announcement. Reliant First Nation Limited Partnership (RFNLP), led by Solar Income Fund Inc. and Adelaide Solar Energy Inc., received FIT 3 contract offers on 176 commercial rooftop projects totaling 38.7 MW of power. Offers on 89 percent of the applications submitted by RFNLP were awarded contracts.

Solar Income Fund logo“We are very pleased with the results detailed in the OPA’s announcement,” said Solar Income Fund Inc. President and COO Jennifer Jackson. “The success achieved here is reflective of the hard work and perseverance of the Partners involved in this project. This is a great example of the successful partnerships that Solar Income Fund continues to develop both here in Ontario and globally.”

Of the 123.5 MW of contracts the OPA was authorized to offer proponents with renewable energy applications, RFNLP represented over 31% of the total successful applications and over 45% of successful Solar Rooftop applications.

BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDFKazakhstan adopted a new feed-in tariff in July 2014. The EBRD has worked with the Ministry of Industry and New Technologies and the Ministry of Environmental Protection to help develop various aspects of the new legislation. The tariff is set at 34,61 tenge/kWh (approx. 14 eurocents), and will be fully indexed/adjusted for inflation annually. The term of the Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) is 15 years. With the new tarriff in place, PrimeSolar is developing a 100 MW project at Jambyl Province. Construction is scheduled to begin in April of 2015.
  • CHS Inc has announced that Mark Palmquist, executive vice president and chief operating officer, Ag Business, will leave the organization effective Aug. 31, 2014, to assume the top leadership role with an Australian grain company. Current CHS strategic leadership team member Shirley Cunningham will assume a new role as executive vice president and chief operating officer, Ag Business and Enterprise Strategy. Palmquist will become managing director and chief executive officer of GrainCorp, Sydney, Australia, on Oct. 1, 2014.
  • While plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) are now available in all U.S. states, most Canadian provinces and territories, and in every Western European country, they are not readily accessible in the Asia Pacific region. That will change over the next several years as Asia Pacific becomes the largest market for PEV sales. According to a recent report, “Electric Vehicle Geographic Forecasts,” from Navigant Research, sales of PEVs in North America, Western Europe, and Asia Pacific will grow from 352,000 annually in 2014 to 1.8 million in 2023.
  • STR Holdings, Inc. has announced its entry into a strategic relationship with Zhenfa Energy Group Co., Ltd., a leading developer of solar PV power stations based in Chongqing, China. The contemplated transactions with Zhenfa, which are subject to approval by STR stockholders and satisfaction of other customary closing conditions, include the sale of shares of common stock representing a 51% interest in STR (based on current shares outstanding) for an aggregate purchase price of approximately $21.7 million, the payment by the Company of a special dividend in the aggregate amount of approximately $22.6 million to STR stockholders of record after the closing date (excluding Zhenfa), and the execution of a Sales Service Agreement pursuant to which Zhenfa will, among other things, help drive sales of STR encapsulant to China-based solar module manufacturers.

Bio Revolution America Uses Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding is coming to biofuels. On August 3, 2014, Bio Revolution America launched a 45 day Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign to fund its biofuels projects in Appalachia and within one week is reporting reaching 30 percent of their goal. The company has developed a Bio extractor machine that has they believe has the potential to change the face of biofuel manufacturing. The extractors are made in America, have six years of field testing and are patent pending.

According to Bio Revolution America, the machine extracts 100 percent carbon neutral bio oil and byproducts from plants using a cold oil extraction process. Cold oil extraction uses no chemicals or solvents and leaves everything in its natural, organic state. The bio-oil can then be used in foods, as biodiesel and the pressed meal can be used for cosmetics, medicine and more.

“There has probably never been a time in the history of America when something this important could happen,” said Bio Revolution America spokesperson Randall Richards. “Everyone wins! We help create jobs and income in the poorest parts of the U.S., We help save the environment, and become the world’s leader in pure, green, bio technology on a large scale!”

Upon reaching their Indiegogo funding goal they plan to help farmers in Appalachia plant seeds this fall so that the plants can be harvested in the spring 2015. The initial outreach is taking place in Appalachia, but will expand from there to the Midwest and Western U.S. in the next year.

JinkoSolar Opens Solar Module Factory in Cape Town

Jinko Solar logoCape Town, South Africa is the home of JinkoSolar Holding Co.’s news solar module factory. Located at 2 Evans Avenue, Epping Industrial 1, Cape Town, the factory covers an area of 5,000 square meters and has an annual production capacity of 120MW.

The company invested nearly U.S. $7.5 million in the factory that is expected to create 250 jobs. Modeled after its state-of-the-art Chinese production facilities in China, the Cape Town factory will employ measures to ensure the highest quality PV module production process.

“We are proud to be the first foreign solar manufacturer to have built production facilities in South Africa,” said Mr. Kangping Chen, JinkoSolar’s Chief Executive Officer. “Since winning our first South African tender in 2012, JinkoSolar has become the market leader having sold over 300MW to date. The completion of this factory highlights JinkoSolar’s strong capital base and ability to diversify its global manufacturing facilities geographically.”

“The factory will also enhance JinkoSolar’s global production chain allowing it to serve customers across the region with local content,” added Chen. “We are committed to providing the highest quality products and services to our customers around the world as we work to increase shareholder value over the long-term.”

US Trade Rep Warned About Letting in Imported Biodiesel

IBBFroman1The prospect of Argentine biodiesel replacing U.S. biodiesel… while American biodiesel producers take a hit on the government’s requirement for the amount to be blended… is something not sitting well with the green fuel’s advocates in this country. U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman got an earful about the issue while on a trip to Iowa, where he visited on the family farm of Grant Kimberley, executive director of the Iowa Biodiesel Board just outside Des Moines.

During Ambassador Froman’s tour of the farm where the Kimberleys raise corn and soybeans on 4,000 acres, Kimberley discussed a concerning application made to the Environmental Protection Agency. Submitted by the trade association representing Argentine biodiesel producers, the organization is asking EPA to approve an “Alternative Renewable Biomass Tracking Requirement.” If approved, it would in effect replace the stringent feedstock recordkeeping requirements of the [Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS)] regulations and allow Argentine biodiesel to qualify for the U.S. biomass-based diesel program under a more streamlined review process.

“The unfortunate fact is that if EPA approves Argentina’s application, we could be looking at 600 million gallons or more of Argentine biodiesel imported to the U.S., displacing our own domestic production,” Kimberley said. “We know this because an Argentinean tax subsidy would allow each gallon of biodiesel from Argentina to enter the United States at prices lower than biodiesel produced in the U.S.”

“Flooding the market with Argentine biodiesel in addition to this sharp cut would lead to a devastating loss of jobs currently supported by the domestic biodiesel market,” Kimberley said. “Until the proposed cuts, the RFS had been working as intended, but now we’re in the unfathomable position of also replacing imported oil with imported biodiesel. It makes no sense.”

The current RFS proposal would set biodiesel volumes at 1.28 billion gallons, about 600 million gallons… or the same amount threatened to come in from Argentina… less that what American biodiesel producers turned out last year. Kimberley said Ambassador Froman and his staff were aware of the issue and receptive to the Iowa Biodiesel Board’s point of view.

RFA Helps Legends Ride Raise Money for Charity

rfa-legends-ride-14The Renewable Fuels Association was once again a sponsor last week of the 7th annual Legends Ride, established by the Sturgis Buffalo Chip to raise money for local charities. Thanks to RFA and rider contributions, they raised $54,800 this year for the Special Olympics Black Hills and the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum & Hall of Fame.

The Legends Ride kicks off the Sturgis Rally with an escorted, scenic ride alongside hundreds of fellow Legends Riders through the beautiful Black Hills, ending up at the Sturgis Buffalo Chip for a special riders-only reception with complimentary food, drinks and special live memorabilia auction. To highlight the evening’s festivities, Legends Riders are treated to a double-headliner concert under the stars at the largest music festival in motorcycling.

At the Legends Ride party afterward, RFA was pleased to distribute Ethanol Fueled With Pride beer koozies and t-shirts to bikers. It was just another way that RFA was able to educate riders about the proper use of ethanol in their motorcycles.

2014 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally Photo Album

New Campaign Spotlights Winners if RFS is Lost

fuels-americaA new Fuels America campaign spotlights who wins if we lose the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

The top ten list includes:
1. Supertankers: Cutting production of U.S. renewables means more oil imports.
2. Big Oil Execs: Less ethanol in your tank means more in big oil’s wallets.
3. Asthma Inhaler Manufacturers: Cutting the RFS means dirtier fuel and dirtier air.
4. The Air Conditioning Industry: Cutting renewable fuel = more CO2 = climate change.
5. Persian Gulf Realtors: Less American fuel = pumping more dollars overseas.
6. China and Brazil: Killing the RFS means advanced biofuel investments go overseas instead.
7. The Dowager Countess from Downton Abbey: Afraid of change? Killing the RFS kills investment in American innovation.
8. Oil Spill Cleanup Crews: There were 6000 oil spills in 2012.
9. The Koch Brothers: Filling up on fossil fuels fills up their pockets.
10. Gondoliers: Climate change = more sunken cities.

The campaign, which also highlights the negative consequences for all Americans if the RFS is weakened, will run inside the beltway and target the Hill, Politico, the New York Times, the New Republic, and mobile ads. The ads ask, “If America loses the Renewable Fuel Standard, who wins?” and go on to suggest answers: “Less Lower-Cost Ethanol = More $$$ For Big Oil,” or “There were 6,000 oil spills in 2012—16 per day.”

Another Successful ACE Conference

ace14-brianAmerican Coalition for Ethanol Executive Vice President Brian Jennings was pleased with the 27th annual ACE conference held last week in Minneapolis.

“It was another great conference, we covered a lot of important topics,” said Jennings as the conference concluded. “We try to feature our members as much as we can, whether it’s technology they’re implementing at their plant or they’re working on exporting ethanol or distillers grains – we try to give our members the spotlight and I think we did that once again.”

Jennings said one of his favorite sessions during the conference was the Ethanol Innovators panel. “It shows everyone these producers are not relying on the past, they’re looking to the future … they want to reduce their expenses, increase their efficiency and position themselves to be competitive for the long run.”

While Jennings says there is little time left in this year’s Congressional Session to worry about any anti-ethanol legislation being past, he is concerned about the elections and he encouraged his members to exercise their right to be an informed voter. “Talk to these candidates and find out their positions on ethanol and hold them accountable,” he said.

Finally, Jennings adds that next year’s conference will be in Omaha – see you then! Interview with Brian Jennings, ACE Executive Vice President

27th Annual Ethanol Conference photo album