U.S. Census Bureau Releases Renewable Energy Stats

For the first time the U.S. Census Bureau is now publishing economic census statistics for wind, geothermal, biomass and solar electric power generation. Between 2007 and 2012 revenues rose 49 percent from $6.6 billion to $9.8 billion. The electric power generation industry saw an overall decline of 1.2 percent in revenues from $121.0 billion to $119.5 billion between 2007 and 2012. The overall decline was driven by the fossil fuel electric power generation industry, which saw revenues decrease from $85.4 billion to $79.7 billion, or 6.7 percent, during the same five-year period.

Renewable Energy RevenueIn the 2007 Economic Census, wind, geothermal, biomass, and solar electric power generation were included in the broad “other electric power generation” industry but were not given separate designations. Beginning in the 2012 Economic Census, these industries had been broken out with the “other electric power generation” industry limited to only tidal electric power generation and other electric power generation facilities not elsewhere classified. Among the newly delineated industries (wind, geothermal, biomass, solar and other electric power generation), the number of establishments more than doubled in five years, from 312 in 2007 to 697 in 2012.

“As industries evolve, so does the Census Bureau to continue to collect relevant data that informs America’s business decisions,” said Census Bureau Director John H. Thompson. “Industries that use renewable energy resources are still relatively small, but they are rapidly growing.”

Specifically revenues for the wind electric power generation industry totaled $5.0 billion in 2012, the highest revenues among the industries using renewable energy resources. Hydroelectric power generation followed with revenues of $2.4 billion. Geothermal electric power generation had revenues of just under $1 billion ($995.4 million), followed by biomass electric power generation, with $934.6 million in revenues, solar electric power generation, with $472.4 million, and other electric power generation, with $59.0 million.

Together, these industries were a relatively small portion of the electric power generation industry, collectively accounting for just 8.2 percent ($9.8 billion) of total industry revenues in 2012. Fossil fuel and nuclear electric power generation are still the major revenue sources of the electric power generation industry, comprising 66.7 percent ($79.7 billion) and 25.1 percent ($29.9 billion), respectively, of total revenues.

Thanksgiving Blessings to All

thanksgiving-2014aO God, source and giver of all things,
You manifest your infinite majesty, power and goodness
In the earth about us:
We give you honor and glory.
For the sun and the rain,
For the manifold fruits of our fields:
For the increase of our herds and flocks,
We thank you.
For the enrichment of our souls with divine grace,
We are grateful.

Supreme Lord of the harvest,
Graciously accept us and the fruits of our toil,
In union with Jesus, your Son,
As atonement for our sins,
For the growth of your Church,
For peace and love in our homes,
And for salvation for all.
We pray through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Global Investment for Climate Change Falls Again

According to a new report from Climate Policy Initiative, global investment in activities that reduce the threat of climate change fell for the second year in a row from USD $359 billion in 2012 to USD $331 billion in 2013. The report, “Global Landscape of Climate Finance,” found while public sources and intermediaries contributed $137 billion, private investment dropped by $31 billion (all numbers USD).

Global Landscape of Climate Finance 2014The study found that the decrease in private funds was due largely to falling costs of solar PV. Solar development costs were down $40 billion in 2013 as compared to 2012. However, the report states that the situation remains grave: The International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates that an additional $1.1 trillion in low-carbon investments is needed every year between 2011 and 2050, in the energy sector alone, to keep global temperature rise below two degree Celsius. In other words, the world is falling further and further behind its low-carbon investment goals.

Climate finance spending was split almost equally between developed (OECD) and developing (non-OECD) countries, with $164 billion and $165 billion respectively. Nearly three-quarters of all spending was domestic: It originated in the country in which it was used. Private actors had an especially strong domestic investment focus with $174 billion or 90 percent of their investments remaining in the country of origin. These figures illuminate a bias by private investors toward environments that are more familiar and perceived to be less risky. However, public sector money made up the vast majority of developed to developing country flows, which fell by around $8 billion from the previous year to between $31 and $37 billion in 2013.

“As policymakers prepare a new global climate agreement in 2015, climate finance is a key ingredient to bring the world on a two degree Celsius pathway. Our analysis shows that global investment in a cleaner more resilient economy are decreasing and the gap between finance needed and actually delivered is growing,” said Barbara Buchner, senior director of Climate Policy Initiative and lead author of the study. “Our numbers demonstrate that most investment is happening at the national level with investors favoring familiar environments they perceive to be less risky. This implies that domestic policy frameworks and appropriate risk coverage are critical to encourage investment.”

Massachusetts Offshore Wind Auction Announced

The Department of Interior’s Secretary Sally Jewell along with Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) Acting Director Walter Cruickshank have announced that more than 742,000 acres of offshore Massachusetts will be offered for commercial wind energy development. The auction will take place on January 29, 2015.

“Thanks to the leadership of Governor Patrick and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the hard work of BOEM staff members, this will be our largest competitive lease sale to date for offshore wind energy development,” said Jewell. “This sale will triple the amount of federal offshore acreage available for commercial-scale wind energy projects, bringing Massachusetts to the forefront of our nation’s new energy frontier.”

MASS offshore wind auction areaAccording to an analysis prepared by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory, if fully developed, the area being offered could support between 4 and 5 gigawatts of commercial wind generation. Twelve companies have qualified to participate in the auction for the Massachusetts Wind Energy Area.

“Over the past five years, the Commonwealth has worked with its federal, state, tribal, industry and community partners to put the infrastructure and planning pieces in place to make Massachusetts the launch pad for the U.S. offshore wind industry,” said Governor Patrick. “This offshore wind energy area not only has the capacity to generate enough electricity to power half the homes in Massachusetts, but it will create local jobs and a renewable and home-grown source of power.”

The Massachusetts Wind Energy Area starts about 12 nautical miles offshore. From its northern boundary, the area extends 33 nautical miles southward and has an east/west extent of approximately 47 nautical miles. Under the terms of the Final Sale Notice, which will be published in the Federal Register on November 26, 2014, the Massachusetts Wind Energy Area will be auctioned as four leases: Lease OCS-A 0500 (187,523 acres), Lease OCS-A 0501 (166,886 acres), Lease OCS-A 0502 (248,015 acres), and Lease OCS-A 0503 (140,554 acres).

BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDFEcoEngineers is hosting a Business Breakfast in Des Moines, Iowa on December 12, 2041 from 7:30 to 9:30 am CST. Grant Menke of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association and Jeff Hove of the Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Owners of Iowa will be the featured speakers. They will speak about creating effective policy and frameworks for growth in the renewable fuels industry. Click here to register.
  • Ambassador Energy is partnering with Veteran Asset and Mission Career College to offer training to veterans and their families through the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill. The solar PV course offered by Mission Career College and Ambassador Energy is an 80-hour curriculum followed by the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) Entry Level Exam, proctored on the final day of the two-week course. The inaugural 10-day course is being offered January 12th through 23rd, 2015 in Murrieta, California, and seats for qualified veterans are still available.
  • The Renault-Nissan Alliance has sold its 200,000th electric vehicle (EV) and has a leading 58% market share for zero-emission cars. Together, Renault and Nissan EVs have driven approximately 4 billion zero-emission kilometers – enough to circle the earth 100,000 times. Renault-Nissan’s EVs represent 200 million liters of fuel saved – enough to fill about 80 Olympic-sized swimming pools. Alliance EVs also represent 450 million kg of CO2 that has not been emitted while driving. The Alliance sold its 200,000th EV in early November, about four years after the launch of the Nissan LEAF, the world’s first mass-market electric vehicle. Nissan LEAF remains the best-selling electric vehicle in history.
  • Solar Universe has announced the industry’s first-ever Black Friday sale on power. Instead of participating in the traditional hype of Black Friday, Solar Universe decided to lighten the meaning and call the event “Bright Friday“. The holiday deal includes a $1,000 gift card for new customers who visit BrightFridaySolar.com by Dec.1, and sign-up with Solar Universe by Jan. 5, 2015.

Biodiesel By-Product Gets Into Sticky Situation

A by-product of biodiesel production is getting into a sticky situation… but in a good way. This story from Iowa State University says researchers at the school are turning glycerin into a commercially viable bioplastic adhesive.

grewell1“The basic feedstock is glycerin, a byproduct of the biodiesel industry,” said David Grewell, a professor of agricultural and biosystems engineering. “We’re turning waste into a co-product stream.”

Eric Cochran, an associate professor of chemical and biological engineering who also works on the project, said glycerin sells for around 17 cents a pound, much cheaper than the components of traditional acrylic adhesives.

“It’s almost free by comparison,” Cochran said. “And it comes from Iowa crops.”

The project recently received a grant of about $1 million from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to show that the technology can be competitive in the marketplace. The third and final year of the grant will see the researchers begin production at a pilot plant currently under construction at the ISU BioCentury Research Farm. The pilot plant will be able to produce up to a ton of adhesives per day, Grewell said.

The ISU research team is developing products for three primary markets: construction, pressure-sensitive adhesives and water-based rubber cement.

Biodiesel Board Gives Thanks for the Green Fuel

nbb-logoOur friends at the National Biodiesel Board (NBB) are grateful for many things, but above all… biodiesel! And they’ve put together a top 10 list of how you can show your gratitude to those who support America’s advanced biofuel this Thanksgiving:

10. Clean your house for the big day with Method products. The company “set out to change the world by creating beautiful cleaning products that are as kind to the planet as they are tough on dirt.” Method uses biodiesel to power more than one-third of its U.S. truck shipments.

9. Serve Kettle chips as a pre-feast snack. All of the waste vegetable oil from the Kettle Brand® production process is converted into biodiesel. The company chips into the environment by fueling its fleet with biodiesel, too.

8. Stock the fridge with Sierra Nevada. This craft brewing company uses a blend of up to 20 percent biodiesel (B20) in its delivery trucks. The Chico, Calif. company grows eight acres of hops, also fueling its tractors with biodiesel.

Other items include driving over the river and through the woods to Grandma’s house in a truck powered by biodiesel, cheering on your favorite football team to the Super Bowl, which has used biodiesel blends in its generators, and heating your home with a blend of biodiesel and heating oil, Bioheat® fuel.

And of course the top way to show your gratitude for America’s biodiesel makers is probably the easiest one of all:

1. Eat turkey! We’re confident millions of Americans will assist with this biodiesel-supporting directive! Biodiesel can be made from any fat or vegetable oil, including poultry fat, or leftover frying oil. In Arizona, Tucson Clean Cities will celebrate the 10th anniversary of its Day-After-Thanksgiving Grease Collection event, with other cities hosting similar programs to keep grease out of the sewers and recycle it to make biodiesel.

Equal Earth Aquires 3 Solar Projects

gI_60412_hiramsolar-panels-final3Equal Earth, a diversified renewable company, has acquired three separate solar projects. The combined projects generate 1.6 MW of power and the off-takers include two established Ohio colleges and a local government organization.

Similar to recent Equal Earth acquisitions, this portfolio of projects has long-term PPA’s with the off-takers. The deal is part of the firm’s broader growth strategy to acquire long-term revenue-generating projects with low operational costs to generate predictable future cash flows and attractive after-tax returns.

“We’re proud to play our part in helping schools and government to save money on their utility bills with solar,” said Equal Earth Chairman, President and CEO, Andrew Duggan. “These projects will deliver environmental and financial benefits for years to come.”

Earlier this month, Equal Earth announced that it is acquiring a 5 MW solar photovoltaic farm near Columbus, Ohio.

Sydney Int’l Airport Testing EV Passenger Bus

Carbridge Pty. Ltd., Australia’s leading airport ground transportation provider, has begun a six-month testing program with an Electric Bus at Sydney International Airport. BYD Company built the bus that was selected for the pilot program. The EV bus has been touted for its industry leading operational range and will be used as an airport passenger shuttle.

BYD Australia eBusDuring a launch ceremony held at Sydney International Airport, BYD Asia Pacific General Manager Liu Xueliang said, “Compared with fossil-fueled buses, BYD’s pure electric bus has zero emissions, doesn’t make noise and ensures a comfortable ride without disturbances associated with conventional buses of combustion engines. These characteristics will provide a great experience for visitors to the Airport.”

Some unique features of the bus include the BYD Iron-Phosphate battery, in-wheel hub motors and regenerative braking system. According to BYD, the iron-phosphate battery is fire-safe and non-toxic; there are no caustic materials contained in the battery, no toxic electrolytes or heavy metals and the battery can be completely recycled.

Sydney Airport plans to electrify their entire bus fleet in the coming years.

BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDFEnviroMission’s U.S. Solar Tower development subsidiary, EnviroMission, Inc., has signed a milestone Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Western Area Power Administration (Western) for its proposal based on the future transmission needs of a Solar Tower within Western’s territory. The project will service EnviroMission’s proposed La Paz Solar Tower development and provide regional transmission benefits to other projects and initially meets the statutory prerequisites set out within the Recovery Act, which is funding the project.
  • Algonquin Power & Utilities Corp. has announced that it intends to proceed with a 10 MW project adjacent to its 20MW Bakersfield I Solar project in Kern County, California, which is currently under construction.
  • Ecovacs Robotics has been named a 2015 CES Innovation Awards Honoree for the RAYBOT, the Water-Free Solar Panel Cleaning Robot. Products entered in this program are judged by a preeminent panel of independent industrial designers, independent engineers and members of the trade media to honor outstanding design and engineering in cutting edge consumer electronics products across 28 product categories.
  • Clean Valley: San Joaquin Valley Leveraging Natural Resources to Grow the Clean Economy,” a new analysis from the nonpartisan nonprofit group Next 10, finds the San Joaquin Valley is using a mix of natural, technological, governmental, human, and business resources to mold key building blocks in California’s clean economy. The region’s water cluster features more than 200 companies located in the valley and networked nationwide, ranging from farms to tech firms. Innovative partnerships have also helped the San Joaquin Valley become California’s leader in installed renewable energy capacity.

Propane Autogas Ford Transit Expected in 2015

ford-transitThe Ford Transit 3.7L engine conversion to propane autogas is in development and expected to go in for EPA certification by January 2015, according to Blossman Services, managing member of Alliance AutoGas and exclusive United States distributor of Prins Autogas products.

The Transit will be the first “bolt & plug” conversion to be installed by Blossman Services which says the bi-fuel Prins VSI system conversion will require no intake manifold drilling, cutting, or splicing of wiring. The Ford Transit conversion will go into testing this month.

Replacing the Ford E-Series, the Ford Transit vans and wagons are available in single and dual-rear wheels models, with three body lengths, and three roof heights to choose from. Configurations cover 8, 10, 12 and 15 passenger seating, providing flexible cargo volume and payload options. Compared with the previous Ford full-size E-Series van, the all-new Transit Wagon offers higher fuel economy ratings and is designed to haul cargo or carry people. The 3.7L Ti-VCT V6 surpasses the E-Series standard 4.6L V8 gas engine in EPA estimated highway mpg by 19 percent.

NEC Agenda Available

rfa-nec-15The agenda for the 20th Annual National Ethanol Conference (NEC) is now available.

The theme for the 2014 conference, which will be held February 18-20 in Grapevine, Texas is “Gowing Global” with a focus on the export markets that are critical to the future growth and financial health of the ethanol industry.

Among the program highlights:

• Going Global: Building Ethanol Demand Internationally
• RFS and LCFS: Driving Demand or Stuck in Neutral?
• Advanced Ethanol Industry Breaks Through; Now What?
• Global Energy Market Outlook
• Global Grain Market Outlook
• The Road Ahead for Higher Blends
• How Rail Safety and Congestion are Impacting the Marketplace

As always, the agenda also includes the annual State of the Industry address by Renewable Fuels Association president and CEO Bob Dinneen, as well as the popular Washington Insiders Panel.

Early registration prior to January 30 saves $100 for both RFA members and non-members.

Biodiesel Benefits Livestock Producers

nafb14-nbb-weberWhile some have tried to pit the biofuels industry against livestock producers, the folks at the National Biodiesel Board (NBB) explain their green fuel is actually helping those producers.

“The livestock industry is a strong stakeholder. That’s how we view animal agriculture in terms of biodiesel production,” said Alan Weber, economic consultant for the NBB, during a recent interview with Cindy at the National Association of Farm Broadcasters convention.

Alan said that while soy oil still remains the main feedstock for biodiesel, the fuel is making inroads using animal tallow. In fact, he said that 25 percent of animal fat from livestock production now goes into biodiesel. He pointed out that while European demand has dropped for animal fats, biodiesel has helped maintain the market and keep money in farmers’ pockets. Alan also reiterated a point made many times before that with the crush of soybeans for biodiesel, it is actually helping keep feed for livestock plentiful.

“Every time we crush an additional bushel of soybeans, we also get more meal,” actually keeping down feed costs, he said. “It’s been a nice relationship, and we look forward to continuing that in the future.”

Listen to more of Cindy’s interview with Alan here: Interview with Alan Weber, economic consultant for the NBB

2014 NAFB Convention Photos

Coverage of the NAFB convention is sponsored by
NAFB Convention is sponsored by FMC

Kansas State Teaches Sustainability Through Biodiesel

kstateBiodieselStudents from Kansas State University are learning about sustainability through biodiesel. This article from the school talks about the Biodiesel Initiative, which includes converting waste oil on campus into the green fuel and using it to power equipment and trucks, in particular a truck that picks up the waste oil.

“We have a number of diesel trucks on campus that consume our biodiesel, and other smaller engines can use it as well,” said Ron Madl, K-State emeritus research professor of grain science and a leader of the Biodiesel Initiative…

Madl wanted to get students more involved in research centered on sustainability when he served as co-director for K-State’s Center for Sustainable Energy. The K-State 2025 visionary plan also emphasizes sustainability planning as a way to help K-State become a top-50 public research university.

“All universities need to teach our young people how we can have a smaller footprint going forward,” Madl said. “Getting them involved in recycling—how we do it chemically and how we do it economically—is important.”

Madl’s biodiesel biodiesel conversion lab gets some of its funding the Kansas Soybean Commission and attracts students representing many different majors, including grain science, biological and agricultural engineering, chemical engineering, chemistry and biochemistry, getting hands-on experience in making biodiesel safely.

Supporters Petition Chicago for E15 Ordinance

chicago-e15The Chicago City Council is on the verge of passing the “Chicago Clean Air Choice Ordinance,” which was proposed by city aldermen earlier this year, but the oil industry is fighting it.

The ordinance allows city drivers to choose 15% ethanol at the pump. The original ordinance was introduced last summer, while the enhanced ordinance includes an exemption for filling stations selling less than 850,000 gallons of fuel per year and provides a phase-in period of nearly a year.

The law would require all filling stations in the city to provide dispensing pumps and offer mid-grade E15 for sale. The proposal offers as justification the fact that Chicago is dedicated to reducing fuel costs, that ethanol is a renewable domestic fuel that burns cleaner than gasoline, E15 is approved for use in model year 2001 and newer vehicles and is less expensive than gasoline, “with expected savings between 5 and 15 cents per gallon.”

In addition, the ordinance points out that “Illinois is the third largest ethanol producing state in the nation, with 14 ethanol plants that can produce 1.5 billion gallons of ethanol per year.”

With oil companies working against passage of the ordinance, supporters have started a petition drive to allow ethanol proponents to voice their opinions to the city council. Over 4,000 from around the country have already signed on and many have left messages to state their reasons.

“Big Oil has arrived on the scene and is ready to spend whatever it takes to keep this legislation from seeing the light of day,” says Gene Griffith, CEO of Patriot Renewable Fuels, one of the 14 ethanol plants in Illinois. He is urging supporters to sign the petition in support of the ordinance.