RFS in Spotlight at Iowa Ag Summit

iowa-ag-walkerNine potential Republican presidential were asked to address their opinions on the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) at the Iowa Ag Summit in Des Moines on Saturday. The final score was six in favor, three opposed.

On the plus side were former Florida governor Jeb Bush, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. Last to speak at the event, Walker said he viewed the RFS as an access issue. “So it’s something I’m willing to go forward on, continuing the Renewable Fuel Standard and pressing the EPA to make sure that there’s certainty in terms of levels set,” said Walker, adding that he would like to see market access issued addressed in the long term and voicing support for blender pumps. “Right now we don’t have a free and open market,” he said. Iowa Ag Summit comments from Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker

couser-cruzOn the Texas side are former Governor Rick Perry, who sought a waiver from the RFS in 2008 and said it should be left to the states, and Senator Ted Cruz, who said it would “be the easy thing” for him to say he supported the RFS before the Iowa crowd. “But I’ll tell you, people are pretty fed up, I think, with politicians who run around and tell one group one thing, tell another group another thing, and then they go to Washington and they don’t do anything that they said they would do,” said Cruz. He compared the RFS to “corporate welfare” and said the government should not pick winners and losers and said ethanol was a big enough part of the industry that “demand will continue without the federal mandate.”

Cruz is pictured here with Bill Couser, an Iowa cattle producer and ethanol supporter who is co-chairman of America’s Renewable Future (ARF), an Iowa based bipartisan coalition that supported the summit. He invited both Cruz and Perry to visit his operation in Nevada.

“Show them why we do this, how we do this, and say what do you think?” said Couser in an interview at the recent National Ethanol Conference. “I can say, let’s go look at a corn field, let’s go look at a feedlot, let’s go look at some windmills, let’s go look at Lincolnway Energy, and then let’s go to the DuPont plant right next door and I’ll show you what we’re doing with the whole plant and being sustainable.”

Couser says they plan to approach all potential presidential candidates individually and invite them to visit and learn more about agriculture and renewable energy, including Hillary Clinton. “Wouldn’t that be something if she showed up?” he said.

Listen to my interview with Bill here: Interview with Bill Couser, America's Renewable Future Co-Chair

Also opposed to the RFS is former New York Gov. George Pataki, who “supports ethanol”, but honestly doesn’t think “the federal government should require anybody in America to buy anything, whether it’s renewable fuel or Obamacare” and thinks the RFS should be “phased out.”

New Energy in 2014 Dominated by Wind Power

According to a new report released this week by the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Energy Information Administration (EIA), more wind power was added to the grid in 2014 than any other energy resource. The data shows wind power generated 4.4 percent of all the electricity in America in 2014 and maintained its position as the fifth largest electricity source in the U.S. Iowa led the nation by producing 28.5 percent of its electricity from wind power, followed by South Dakota at 25.3 percent and Kansas at 21.7. Wind energy provided more than 15 percent of electricity in a total of seven states, more than 10 percent in a total of nine states, and more than five percent in a total of 19 states.

All renewable energy sources including hydropower now deliver more than 13 percent of the nation’s electricity, with wind energy providing more than one-third of that total.

Screen Shot 2015-03-06 at 1.08.01 PM“The U.S. is blessed with an abundant supply of wind energy. Pairing this homegrown resource with continued technology innovation has made the U.S. the home of the most productive wind turbines in the world,” said Emily Williams, deputy director of industry data and analysis for American Wind Energy Association (AWEA). Analysis released last year found the U.S. is number one in the world in wind energy production.

AWEA cites the wind industry growth as being driven by technological improvements and cost declines that have reduced the cost of wind energy by more than half over the last five years, as documented by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

In 2014, wind provided enough electricity to power the equivalent of 16.7 million homes, or all the residential households in Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, and Montana. Once recently added U.S. wind projects have had a full year of production, total wind output will likely rise to powering the equivalent of 18 million homes.

Wind has more than tripled since 2008, it can double from where it is today to 10 percent by 2020, then double again to 20 percent by 2030, and become the leading source of electricity in the U.S. by 2050,” said added Kiernan. “However, to get there Congress must provide wind with the same policy certainty it provides to other energy sources by rapidly extending the Production Tax Credit for as long as possible.”

Leno Anti Ethanol Rant Raises Eyebrows

Former Tonight Show host, comedian, and car enthusiast Jay Leno is being taken to task by automotive experts for a harshly-worded, negative article in AutoWeek entitled “Can’t We Just Get Rid of Ethanol?”

The thrust of the article is to support reform or elimination of the Renewable Fuel Standard and even attacks farmers.

I just don’t see the need for ethanol. I understand the theory—these giant agri-business companies can process corn, add the resulting blend to gasoline and we’ll be using and importing less gasoline. But they say this diversion of the corn supply is negatively affecting food prices, and the ethanol-spiked gas we’re forced to buy is really awful. The big growers of corn have sold us a bill of goods.

leno-e85-corvetteLeno has been a long-time supporter of renewable fuels. This picture from an April 2008 Popular Mechanics article written by Leno shows him with a 2006 Corvette Z06 that he said “has a top speed of 208 mph and runs on a homegrown alternative to gasoline – cleaner-burning E85 ethanol.”

In this interview with DomesticFuel in 2007, Leno talks about biodiesel specifically but all renewable fuels in general about being good for America and agriculture. “We try to support companies that make products here in America,” he said. “To me, it’s a great thing to see people no longer losing their farms because they can’t make a crop that’s viable anymore …you support the farmers, they watch my TV show, I buy their products.” 2007 Interview with Jay Leno on Renewable Fuels

Syndicated car show host and technician Bobby Likis thinks Leno’s article seems uncharacteristic. “I cannot believe “what Jay said” is “what Jay really believes.” His words smack of otherwise invested horse-whisperers who use personal agendas to sway vulnerable-for-whatever-reason people towards their way,” says Likis in an editorial for the E-xchange Blog refuting all of Leno’s claims.

Bob Reynolds, president of Downstream Alternatives and automotive engine specialist, particularly countered Leno’s claims that ethanol causes corrosion in vintage cars. Reynolds cited a study by Hagerty Insurance and Kettering University’s Advanced Engine Research Lab that concluded “with minor updates and proper maintenance E10 will not prevent the ability to enjoy your collector car.”

Renewable Fuels Association president Bob Dinneen commented on Leno’s apparent biofuels about-face. “Will the real Jay Leno please stand up?,” said Dinneen. “Unfortunately, it appears Leno has fallen victim to the relentless barrage of myths and misinformation about ethanol and classic cars coming from all of the usual suspects.”

Bi-Fuel Autogas Conversion System Announced

NTEA Work & Truck Show took place this week in Indianapolis, Indiana and several propane announcements were made during the show including a new bi-fuel autogas conversion system. The news was delivered by BSI President Ed Hoffman, and said the Ford Transit 3.7L engine conversion to propane autogas was under development and expected to be submitted to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for certification this spring.

Hoffman said the bi-fuel s2015 Ford Transit Vanystem conversion on the Transit requires no intake manifold drilling, cutting, or splicing of wiring, and the system provides OEM quality components and engineering with ½ the install time. He also noted with extended range capabilities the bi-fuel system insures a fleet gets where it needs to go.Twenty one gallons of propane will be added to the “tank” to be used in conjunction with traditional fuel. The Transit will be the first “plug & play” conversion to be installed by the Alliance AutoGas.

Replacing the Ford E-Series, the Ford Transit vans and wagons are in several configurations the wagon offers higher fuel economy ratings. The 3.7L Ti-VCT V6 surpasses the E-Series standard 4.6L V8 gas engine in EPA estimated highway mpg by 19 percent.

BioEnergy Bytes

  • http://domesticfuel.com/category/bioenergy-bytes/The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has announced up to $35 million in funding to advance fuel cell and hydrogen technologies, and enable early adoption of fuel cell applications, such as light-duty fuel cell electric vehicles. This funding opportunity will accelerate U.S. innovation in hydrogen and fuel cell technologies. The program is focused on reducing the costs and increasing technical advancements of critical hydrogen infrastructure, including production, delivery, and storage.
  • A new report “Wind Turbine Composites Material Market,” is available and profiles competitive strategies adopted by top composites wind turbine blade manufacturers. In addition, the report defines driving and restraining factors for the global Wind Turbine Composites Material Market with the analysis of trends, opportunities, burning issues, winning imperatives, and challenges.
  • SunEdison and Solar Grid Storage have announced that SunEdison has acquired the energy storage project origination team, project pipeline, and subject to customary consents and assignments, four operating storage projects from Solar Grid Storage. SunEdison now offers battery storage solutions to complement solar and wind projects worldwide, providing solutions that can benefit utilities, municipalities, businesses, and consumers alike.
  • The U.S. Energy Department and the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association have recognized Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association (Tri-State), which serves Colorado, Nebraska, New Mexico, and Wyoming, and San Isabel Electric Association (San Isabel) of Colorado as the 2014 WINDExchange Wind Cooperatives of the Year. The awards honor electric cooperatives that demonstrate outstanding leadership in advancing U.S. wind power.

“Clean, Secure, American Energy” Campaign Launched

This month marks the 102 anniversary of tax breaks signed into law by President Woodrow Wilson, for the oil industry. They were part of the first income tax code that took effect on March 1, 1913. As America marks this anniversary, Fuels America has launched a new campaign, “Clean, Secure, American Energy,” to highlight the success of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). This August will mark the 10th anniversary of the renewable energy legislation, a policy that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been dragging their feet on finalizing for 2014 and announcing renewable fuel volumes for 2015.

fuels-americalogoWhile oil companies have been benefiting from hand outs for more than a century, tax credits for corn-based ethanol expired several years ago. Fuels America cites that during the past 10 years, the commonsense, bipartisan RFS has tripled America’s biofuel production and helped lower our the country’s dependence on oil to the lowest level in decades – all while delivering environmental and economic benefits.

According to Fuels America, the “Clean, Secure, American Energy Campaign” is launching this week with a significant digital advertising campaign that will run on RollCall.com. The ads congratulate the oil industry by “Celebrating 102 Years of Oil Spills and Pollution”.

Last week, renewable fuel supporters highlighted the environmental benefits of the RFS by sending a letter to President Obama, urging him to ensure the EPA’s new multiyear rule for the RFS supports growth for existing and new biofuels technologies and lives up to the original intent of the bipartisan law.

“The RFS is working and has resulted in significant environmental gains,” the letter said. The RFS is America’s only fully implemented policy that reduces greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants.”

Neste Oil Tops Waste-to-Renewable Energy List

nesteoil_logoNeste Oil is now the world’s largest producer of renewable fuels from waste and residues. In this company news release, officials say last year, the company produced nearly 1.3 million tonnes (1.6 billion liters) of its renewable NEXBTL diesel from waste and residues, enough to power all the 650,000 diesel cars in Finland for two years.

“We can be really proud that we have succeeded in increasing our use of waste and residue-based feedstocks in the production of renewable NEXBTL fuels to such a significant extent. Thanks to this, Neste Oil has in just a few years become the world’s largest circular economy enterprise in the biofuels sector. The production of fuels from waste-based feedstock is resource-efficient, and our aim is to have the capability to use 100% waste and residues by 2017. We are constantly searching for new waste-based raw materials of increasingly poorer quality, and use the majority of our EUR 40 million R&D expenditure for raw material research,” says Kaisa Hietala, Executive Vice President of Neste Oil’s Renewable Products business area.

Neste Oil officials say they make their renewable fuel from 10 different feedstocks, including animal and fish fats, used cooking oil and various residues generated during vegetable oil refining.

Lenten Fish Fries Fuel Biodiesel Production in Omaha

omahabiofuelscoop1Truly one of the highlights of Lent, the six weeks from Ash Wednesday to Easter when Catholics make sacrifices, including meat on Fridays, is the church fish fry on those Fridays. This story from the Omaha World-Herald says the leftover fryer grease from those fish fries in the area is going to a very worthy cause: biodiesel production.

Just in time for this year’s Lenten season, a savior appeared: the Omaha Biofuels Cooperative, which is collecting used cooking oil from many area churches. The group places collection barrels out back free of charge and picks up the used oil the next day.

“They took a big-time problem off my hands,” [Pat Rupp runs the fish fries at St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church in Gretna] said.

And what happens next is the cool part: Co-op members make motor fuel out of the used cooking oil. The co-op has a production facility in an industrial park in South Omaha, where the used oil is cleaned up and made suitable for use in powering the motor vehicles owned by the co-op members. Any diesel car or truck made after 1996 can use the fuel without modification, the group says.

The article goes on to talk about how Omaha Biofuels has agreements with many area restaurants to collect their used vegetable oil and turn it into the green fuel.

Calling Energy Entrepreneurs

Calling student energy entrepreneurs. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has announced $2.5 million in funding for the Cleantech University Prize (Cleantech UP), which hopes to inspire the next generation of clean energy gurus. This funding opportunity will support the commercialization of promising technologies for sectors such as solar and wind that reduce carbon pollution and grow the clean energy economy.

According to DOE, the goal of the Cleantech UP is to create a strong national infrastructure focused on collegiate high-tech entrepreneurship that accelerates the rate of clean energy innovWind Turbine in Northern Iowaation in the U.S, while also establishing a national Cleantech UP Hub. The program will support up to eight Cleantech UP Collegiate Competitions.

The Cleantech UP Hub will create a national prize, train student entrepreneurs, and serve as a coordinating body for energy entrepreneurship training, while the Cleantech UP Collegiate Competitions will provide prizes for eight individual university-focused competitions that will equip students with business skills to move clean energy technologies from the discovery phase to the marketplace. Together, the Cleantech UP Hub and Cleantech UP Collegiate Competitions will form a strategic network that increases student entrepreneurs’ participation—both in quantity and quality—in clean energy, and addresses the existing gaps in early-stage commercialization training.

Cleantech UP will build on the success of its precursor, the Energy Department’s National Clean Energy Business Plan Competition. More information can be found here.

AmeriPride Adopts Propane

AmeriPride Services has adopted propane autogas fueled trucks for its fleets after a successful pilot test program. In addition to the five ROUSH CleanTech Ford F-59 delivery trucks in Topeka, Kansas, the uniform and linen company is adding 20 more in Northern California later this year. AmeriPride announced their program expansion plans at the NTEA Work Truck Show in Indianapolis.

“We’ve been extensively testing fuels and vehicles to find the right area and application that gives us the best environmental and economical benefits,” said Banny Allison, fleet services manager for AmeriPride. “Propane autogas reduces greenhouse gas emissions and has easy, cost-efficient fueling infrastructure. Because of our success in Kansas, we are implementing the same propane autogas vehicles in the Sacramento and Fresno areas.”gI_85238_AmeriPrideNew

According to AmeriPride, each of their propane autogas trucks will emit about 95,000 fewer pounds of carbon dioxide emissions over its lifetime. To fuel its vehicles, AmeriPride installed a private autogas station with 1,000-gallon tank at their Topeka facility because infrastructure for propane autogas is less expensive than any other alternative fuel, partly due to fewer requirements from the Environmental Protection Agency.

Currently the company pays $1.55 per gallon for propane autogas that, historically, has cost up to 50 percent less than diesel.

“AmeriPride has long been a champion for supporting the environment and the communities they serve,” said Todd Mouw, vice president of sales and marketing for ROUSH CleanTech, who is Ford’s only Qualified Vehicle Modifier for propane autogas. “Emissions-reducing, domestically produced propane autogas has met their criteria and now they are ready to expand into different markets with reliable Ford F-59 workhorses.”

BioEnergy Bytes

  • http://domesticfuel.com/category/bioenergy-bytes/The Maryland Clean Energy Center (MCEC) has added Joanne Ivancic, Executive Director, Advanced Biofuels USA to the MCEC 2015 Advisory Council. Advanced Biofuels USA , a nonprofit educational organization headquartered in Frederick, Maryland, advocates for the adoption of advanced biofuels as an energy security, economic development, military flexibility and climate change/pollution control solution.
  • Clean Focus has announced the completion of a new 3.75 MW solar project in the City of Adelanto, CA. The ground-mounted system, interconnected in late January, received its certificate of occupancy earlier this week. Construction financing was provided by Seminole Financial Services; Sol Construction led building efforts; and MPE Consulting served as lead engineer. The Adelanto project, sited on 20 acres will generate 7,156,000 kW hours of clean electricity a year.
  • A week ahead of the fourth anniversary of the Fukushima reactor disaster, five leading organizations fighting for America’s clean-energy future – Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, the Nuclear Information and Resource Service, Public Citizen, and the Sierra Club – are unveiling an interactive online video, “Our Epic Future: Create It With Clean Energy.” The entertaining, fact-filled video allows visitors to explore three scenarios in the “Epic Energy Labs” with very different future outcomes: one dominated by fossil fuels, another in which nuclear power is the focus, and a third relying on renewable energy.
  • Terra Motors Corporation, Japanese innovator of electric two- and three-wheelers, is establishing a joint venture to deal with the manufacturing and sales of electric vehicle in Dhaka with Runner group of companies, the most famous motorbike manufactures in Bangladesh, on February 18, 2015. The name of our joint venture is “Runner Terra EV ltd.”

Do You Agree With Government Controlled Internet?

New Holland ZimmPollOur latest ZimmPoll asked the question, “What do you think of proposed government control over the internet?”

It has been called net neutrality or open internet but now it should be called government controlled internet. In a vote along partisan lines the FCC last Thursday passed sweeping changes in how it will be regulating the internet. Basically, they are treating it like the telephone system using some very out of date laws. The goal is to provide more “equality” for users. How this plays out is anyone’s guess. Estimates have been made that the cost of the new regulations will include losing 500,000 jobs and $62 billion over the next five years. Wonder who will pay that and what they will allow. This 317 page move pushed by the Obama Administration has already caused uncertainty for investors in new technology.

It will be interesting to see what impact this has on American agribusiness in coming years.

Here are the poll results:

  • Agree – 25%
  • Disagree – 73%
  • Don’t know – 2%

Our new ZimmPoll is now live and asks the question, Should Congress grant TPA?

Congress is considering granting Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), formally known as Fast Track, to move forward on trade agreements being negotiated in Europe and Asia. Every president since Franklin Roosevelt has been given this authority to negotiate agreements that can just be voted up or down by Congress, but there is opposition even in agricultural circles to granting TPA or even pursuing new free trade agreements. What do you think?

Tennessee Waste-To-Energy Facility Approved

PGHEplant1A sustainable waste-to-energy facility has been approved for construction in Tennessee. PHG Energy (PHGE) says its deal with city of Lebanon, Tennessee, will build a downdraft gasification plant that will cleanly convert up to 64 tons per day of blended waste wood, scrap tires and sewer sludge into a fuel gas that will generate up to 300Kw of electricity. The power generated from this plant will provide the plant’s internal power needs as well as contribute electricity to the wastewater treatment plant where it will be located.

“This is not incineration or burning,” Lebanon Mayor Philip Craighead pointed out. “There is no smoke or odor. The feedstock material is broken down at very high temperatures in a sealed vessel, and about 95 percent of what goes into the gasifier comes out as the fuel gas.” Craighead also said the remaining 5 percent to 10 percent of material exiting the gasifier is a high-carbon biochar that can be recycled or sold for agricultural or industrial uses.

PHGE President Tom Stanzione said the Lebanon project will deploy what his company believes is the world’s largest downdraft gasifier and added, “This is the same basic technology we utilized in all our previous designs, and we have upgraded capacity and power density to accomplish a lot more gasification in what is not a lot more space.”

The Large Frame gasifier, as the company refers to it, has been vetted through a rigorous testing process for more than two years at PHGE’s research facility. A standard PHGE gasifier can convert up to 12 tons of feedstock per day to fuel gas, while the Lebanon model will process up to 64 tons per day without substantially increasing the footprint of the plant.

PHGE officials say the plant will keep more than 8,000 tons of material out of landfills each year – the equivalent of a line of trucks over 4 miles long, as well as cutting carbon dioxide emissions by 2,500 tons each year.

This project will mark the 14th gasifier installation for PHGE.

Moms Fight Colorado Roll Back of Renewable Energy

CO_MomsKnowsBest1A group of moms in Colorado are fighting proposed changes in that state’s legislature to Colorado’s renewable energy standards. The group, Colorado Moms Know Best, say they oppose the changes that would rollback from 30 percent down to 15 percent of the energy produced and consumed in the state.

“Moms believe we have a moral obligation to protect children’s health and future, ensuring they have clean air is one of the very basics,” said Data Gutwein with Colorado Moms Know Best. “The reality is that chopping the state’s renewable energy standard in half would mean relying more on coal-fired plants and more kids dealing with asthma and other respiratory problems.”

Colorado has been a leader in renewable energy. In 2004, Coloradans passed the first state ballot initiative to establish a renewable energy standards; 29 states and the District of Columbia have since adopted similar standards. In the years since, Colorado has added tens of thousands of clean tech jobs with an average salary of $78,000, according to the Metro Denver Chamber of Commerce’s 2014 Energy Cluster report.

“Renewable energy is not only good for kids’ health, it’s also great for their future career options,” said Colorado Moms Know Best’s Dana Gutwein. “If Colorado can remain on the cutting edge of the renewable energy industry, our children will be able to prepare for plentiful high-paying, clean tech job opportunities.”

The group has previously helped influence Colorado’s Air Quality Control Commission to adopt stricter air quality standards for oil and gas operations in the state of Colorado.

Iowa Governor Visits Golden Grain Energy

gge-branstadGolden Grain Energy officials and employees had the opportunity to thank Iowa Governor Terry Branstad for his support of ethanol when he paid a visit to the plant in Mason City on Wednesday.

“Governor Branstad has always been very supportive of the plant and the industry as a whole. It means a lot to be able to have the governor here in person to give a pat on the back to all of the people who have worked hard to help us reach the billion gallon production mark,” said Dave Sovereign, Chairman of the Board of Directors at Golden Grain Energy.

Governor Branstad toured the plant as to mark Golden Grain Energy’s recent production milestone of producing one billion gallons of corn ethanol.

“The backing and support from the governor’s office and from the local community helps us go a long way as we work towards producing another billion gallons of ethanol,” said Sovereign.

For his part, Governor Branstad had a photo posted on his Facebook page with – “Golden Grain ethanol just produced their BILLIONTH gallon of ethanol. To celebrate, the governor visited and got one of their t-shirts. “Keep calm and fuel on” ‪#‎iagov‬”