Cali #Biofuel Industry Calls for More Funding

As California continues down the highway of low carbon fuels, the state’s biofuel industry is calling for more funding to ensure the highway doesn’t end in the ocean. The biofuel industry, including the ethanol, biodiesel and biomethane trade associations, is calling on Governor Brown to allocate $210 million from the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund to help spur in-state production of low carbon biofuels. The biofuel supporters are hoping to see the Biofuel Initiative passed as part of this year’s budget.

© Megapixel1 | Dreamstime Stock Photos

© Megapixel1 | Dreamstime Stock Photos

To help meet California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard, fuel retailers are importing biofuels into the state from places such as the Midwest. However, according to the biofuel industry,with proper funding, California biofuel production could increase from 250 million per year in 2014 to 966 million gallons per year in 2019. This would also spur employment in the state in the biofuel industry.

“California has adopted some of the most forward-thinking policies in the nation to combat climate change – including AB 32, SB 535, the Low Carbon Fuel Standard, and SB 350 – and it is up to state legislators to encourage and promote in-state biofuel production to achieve the Governor’s goals,” said Russ Teall, president of the California Biodiesel Alliance. “Investing in this initiative helps improve the environment, while creating jobs and providing energy security.”

According to the biofuel industry, a $210-million allocation of AB 32 cap and trade auction proceeds from the state budget’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund, administered by the California Air Resources Board (ARB), would:

  • Create 24,750 direct and indirect jobs;
  • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 6,000,000 metric tons;
  • Spur economic development of $11.5 billion;
  • Displace 714 mgy of petroleum;
  • Generate fuel tax revenues of $230 million; and
  • Bring in other state and local tax revenues of $408 million.

“The biofuels we produce lower the carbon content and give consumers more choices,” added Neil Koehler, chief executive officer of Pacific Ethanol. “State investment needs to be prioritized for in-state production of biofuels that will pay back with local jobs, tax revenue and community growth.”

Legislators will determine how much money to allocate toward in-state biofuel production by June 15, 2016, at which point the allocation will be included in the state’s budget for Governor Brown’s approval or veto.

IA Gov Signs #Biodiesel Incentive Legislation

Joe Murphy, Iowa Soybean Association

Joe Murphy, Iowa Soybean Association

Iowa Governor Terry Branstad signed SF 2309 into law this week, a bill expanding state biodiesel incentives. The bill includes a tax credit that assists the states 13 operational biodiesel producers remain competitive in the marketplace. The bill also includes a retailer’s credit that encourages fuel retailers to carry higher blends of biodiesel than they may currently offer consumers.

Gov. Branstad signed the legislation into law at the REG Newton biodiesel plant in Newton, Iowa surrounded by biodiesel supporters from around the state.

“We are extremely grateful that Governor Branstad and the Iowa legislature appreciate the impact of biodiesel in Iowa and beyond,” said Grant Kimberley, Iowa Biodiesel Board (IBB) executive director. “Renewable fuels like biodiesel point the way to a more sustainable energy future—and a more independent, home-grown energy future as well. With these additional incentives, Iowa is perfectly positioned to experience even more economic growth in environmentally friendly biofuels.”

Recently, the governor signed legislation to secure another year of funding for the state’s successful biodiesel and ethanol blender pump program, the Renewable Fuels Infrastructure Program.

Duke Energy to Capture Methane from Swine Waste

Duke Energy has finalized a deal to purchase captured methane gas derived from swine waste. The project will take place at farms located in Kenansville, North Carolina and its the second waste-to-energy project of its kind for Duke Energy. The captured methane will be treated, injected into a pipeline system and then used to produce renewable electricity at two power stations: H.F. Lee Station Combined Cycle Plant in Wayne County, N.C. and Sutton Combine Cycle Plant in New Hanover County, N.C. The project should be operational by summer of 2017.

5-24-16+SWINE+2nd+Pork+Release_mid“We see continued advancement in this technology in North Carolina,” said David Fountain, Duke Energy’s North Carolina president. “This project has environmental benefits and is cost-effective for our customers.”

The location is in the heart of Smithfield Foods’ pork operations. Duke Energy says the power produced will be carbon neutral as compared to the emissions that would result if the waste was left to decay using current methods.

Under North Carolina’s Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard (REPS), Duke Energy companies must meet specific compliance targets for swine and poultry waste. In March, the company announced a project with Carbon Cycle Energy to use swine waste-derived gas at four power plants in North Carolina. With this project, the Optima KV digesters will produce about 80,000 MMBtus captured methane a year that will create about 11,000 megawatt-hours of renewable energy annually. The renewable energy credits (RECs) generated annually by the effort will help satisfy state mandates and Duke Energy has filed to have both power plants designated as new renewable energy facilities.

Biodico Awarded Net Zero Farm CEC Grant

Biodico has received a $1.2 million grant from the California Energy Commission (CEC) to help fund its Zero Net Energy Farms project, which would enable farms to generate all electrical and heating power needs from on-site renewable resources. The monies were awarded under CEC’s Electric Program Investment Charge Challenge, a program designed to help develop advanced energy communities. Biodico is matching CEC funds and its Net Energy Farms project will be undertaken at Red Rock Ranch in Five Points, California and will be designed to combine solar cogeneration, wind turbines, anaerobic digestion and gasification.

1199bb48ee9b5be6644cbaf6b474ce71_CEC-grant2-863-430-c“The Zero Net Energy Farms project leverages Biodico’s proprietary technology to create an energy-efficient farm by utilizing economically viable solutions,” said Biodico President and Founder Russ Teall. “Our goal is to establish a template for ranches, farms and other agricultural interests throughout California’s Central Valley and beyond. This project comes at a particularly important time as California’s agricultural community searches for more efficient ways to produce, process and store more than 400 food, fiber, flora and fuel crops, not to mention convert biomass into electricity, as biomass power plants continue to close.”

Teall continued, “Equally important is the water-energy nexus—the production of on-site renewable energy reduces the consumption of water used to produce grid-based utility energy. As California agriculture continues to suffer the impact of water constraints, this has become extremely important.”

“There is a great need today for establishing a rational business case for tomorrow’s energy efficient farm,” added JJ Rothgery, chairman of the board at Biodico. “A Zero Net Energy Farm will help diversify power production and reduce the reliance on fossil fuels and water to generate electricity. The incorporation of these technologies will also enhance local economic development by providing jobs and an increased tax base.”

USDA Leading Mexico Trade Mission

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Acting Deputy Secretary Michael Scuse is leading a U.S. ethanol mission to Mexico on May 24–25, 2016 to explore trade opportunities. On hand for the trip will be ethanol industry representatives from the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), Growth Energy and the U.S. Grains Council (USGC). While there, they will be meeting with government officials, legislators and the Mexican private industry.

Screen Shot 2016-05-24 at 9.22.29 AMAccording to the USDA, mission members will share their experiences with both ethanol production and the development of renewable fuels policies, with the goal of demonstrating how Mexico can implement its own renewable fuels program.

“Mexico, with the right policies in place, has the potential to achieve similar benefits producing ethanol from sugarcane,” Scuse said in a statement. “We view this as a partnership that can provide benefits for both Mexico and the United States.”

One reason for the visit is state-owned oil company PEMEX has plans to begin selling E6 (5.8 percent) ethanol-blended gasoline in selected cities in the Mexican states of Tamaulipas, San Luis Potosi, and Veracruz. Implementation of a nationwide E6 fuel option in Mexico would create a potential market for 790 million gallons of ethanol.

“The U.S. is the world’s largest producer of ethanol and for several years now has been the low cost supplier as well, allowing us to dramatically increase our exports. With domestic use artificially capped by EPA at 14.8 billion gallons, we will continue to seek export opportunities,” said RFA General Counsel Ed Hubbard, who attended the trade mission. “The world is short on octane and looking for low carbon alternative fuels to meet the climate change goals set in Paris last December. This is the right time to explore new trade opportunities. Mexico, in particular, should be looking for replacements to the highly toxic MTBE. Ethanol can help.”

Ryan LeGrand, USGC director in Mexico, added, “With the current reform to energy regulations in Mexico, the U.S. Grains Council believes that now’s the time to introduce ethanol into the Mexican fuel market in hopes of it one day becoming the principle oxygenate used in the country,” said “We see significant potential for exports of U.S. ethanol to Mexico — and therefore, U.S. grain demand — if the right policies are in place.”

Gevo and Clariant Ink ETO Tech Deal

Gevo logoGevo will be developing catalysts for Clariant to enable its ETO technology, which uses ethanol as a feedstock to produce tailor mixes of propylene, isobutylene and hydrogen. These chemicals are valuable as stand-alone molecules and also as feedtstocks to produce other products such as diesel fuel and bioplastics that would replace their petroleum counterparts.

Clariant will be scaling up the catalysts produced by Gevo via its ETO technology that uses mixed metal oxide cayalysts to produce polymer grade propylene or high purity isobutylene as well as high yields of hydrogen from ethanol in a single step. While Clairiant scale-ups the catalyst, Gevo will continue to focus on optimizing its isobutanol technology. According to Gevo, once the ETO technology has been successfully developed and scaled-up, Clariant will be in a position to produce quantities of the catalyst needed to meet commercial production requirements. As with its isobutanol technology, Gevo anticipates growing its ETO business through licensing.

Screen Shot 2016-05-23 at 12.46.23 PM“We see the opportunity for Clariant catalysts to convert ethanol, produced from cellulosic or other carbohydrate sources, into more value-added products to create greater growth potential for the ethanol industry,” said Stefan Brejc, Head of Specialty Catalysts Business Segment at Clariant.

Gevo has filed a series of patent applications related to this technology, and says its ETO technology has the potential to provide the estimated 25 billion gallon global ethanol industry a much broader set of end-product market and margin opportunities, beyond the use of ethanol as a gasoline blendstock.

“We are pleased to be working with Clariant. They have tremendous capability and know-how to scale-up developmental, customized catalysts to enable commercialization of new, large-scale processes. We see the potential with this technology to address several major opportunities cutting across chemicals, plastics, fuels and hydrogen,” said Dr. Patrick Gruber, Chief Executive Officer of Gevo.

USGC Heads to Egypt to Promote DDGS

The. U.S. Grains Council (USGC) recently returned from a trip to Egypt to discuss using dried distillers grains (DDGS), a by-product of corn-based ethanol production, as feed for its growing aquaculture industry. Also on the trip was USGC member Mirasco who has a large client base in the Egyptian aquaculture industry.

“Egypt has the most active and the largest aquaculture industry in the region,” said Hesham Hassanein, USGC regional director for the Middle East and Africa. “But this growing sector only has limited knowledge of the technical and economic advantages of using corn co-products in fish feeds.”

TOC-Egypt Aqua ProgramTo assess this industry’s potential to utilize U.S. DDGS in their feed formulations, the trip included site visits to fish farms.

“During the site visits, we saw that average aqua production in Egypt was 2 to 4 tons per acre,” Hassanein said. “However there is the potential for these farms to increase output to 8 to 12 tons per acre with improved management. This means there is a great growth potential that could increase demand for coarse grains and co-products.”

The mission wrapped up with a seminar that was attended by 75 executives from the aquaculture sector. “During the seminar, we gave an overview of the advantages of using U.S. DDGS in aqua rations and discussed the success the Council has seen in Vietnam with our catfish feeding trials,” Hassanein said. “While Egyptian aquaculture is mainly focused on the tilapia species, the information from the catfish trial was useful to those attending our program also.”

The group also explored the possibility of launching a similar type of feeding trial in Egypt. “We were also successful in reaching a preliminary agreement with an international aquaculture research institute in Egypt,” Hassanein said. “They have agreed to conduct feed trials using higher inclusion rates of DDGS with support from Mirasco, which will provide the needed DDGS, free of charge, to carry out the trials.”

#USDA to Award $21M for Bioeconomy R&D

USDAThe U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has made $21 million available to support the development of regional systems in sustainable bioenergy and biobased products. The funds will also be awarded to train the next generation of bio-scientists. The monies are offered through the AFRI Sustainable Bioenergy and Bioproducts challenge area designed to provide renewable energy, chemical, and product options, among other goals.

“This announcement marks the Obama Administration’s latest investment in the biobased economy, which pumps $369 billion into the U.S. economy each year and supports 4 million jobs in rural and small towns across the United States,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “Over the course of this Administration, America has more than doubled our renewable energy production, and today we import less than half our oil. We are saving money at the pump, bolstering national security by relying less on foreign oil, and combating climate change with investments in technologies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and provide for cleaner air.”

In fiscal year 2016, the Sustainable Bioenergy and Bioproducts challenge area is soliciting applications that focus on the following priorities:

  • Regional Bioenergy Coordinated Agricultural Projects (CAPs), which support the production and delivery of regionally-appropriate sustainable biomass feedstocks for bioenergy and bioproducts. While the focus of CAPs will be on feedstocks, competitive proposals must present the feedstock development and production in the context of comprehensive regional sustainable bioenergy and bioproducts supply chain systems.
  • Investing in America’s scientific corps: Preparing a new generation of students, faculty, and a workforce for emerging opportunities in bioenergy, bioproducts, and the bioeconomy.

Application deadlines vary by program area. See the request for applications for more information.

BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDF1Sealed, an energy software company based out of the NYU Tandon School of Engineering cleantech incubator called NYC ACRE, has announced the launch of Sealed Pay As You Save, the first program that invests in energy savings resulting from residential efficiency improvements. Sealed guarantees these savings to customers by leveraging its proprietary software and analytics. Sealed PAYS will enable New York homeowners to benefit from up to $7.5 million in energy-saving improvements. The initial credit facility is provided by the New York Green Bank, part of Governor Cuomo’s Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) initiative.
  • Kum & Go will be offering E15 at more than 100 stores across the country by the end of the year. The company will be offering consumers a choice of E15 at pumps across 10 states and at about 30 locations.
  • Natural gas and renewable energy can provide all of the new electric power that Texas will need in the foreseeable future, researchers with the Brattle Group find in a new report prepared for the Texas Clean Energy Coalition (TCEC). “Exploring Natural Gas and Renewables in ERCOT Part IV: The Future of Clean Energy in ERCOT,” looks at the Texas generation mix over the next 20 years and forecasts how market and regulatory factors affect how electricity will be generated in ERCOT, how much it will cost, and how much CO2 will be emitted.
  • Twenty-five students from Tracy Area High School toured Highwater Ethanol to get a better understanding of clean Minnesota-produced renewable energy. During the two-hour-long tour, the students toured the various processes of ethanol production at Highwater Ethanol, which delivered 59.42 million gallons of ethanol in 2015.

Anti-Ethanol Bill Steps Consumers, Farmers Back

There is still buzz around a bill introduced last week by Representatives Bill Flores (R-Texas), Peter Welch (D-Verm.), Bob Goodlatte (R-Vir.) and Jim Costa (D-Cali.) that would cap ethanol blends in America’s transportation fuels at 9.7 percent by volume. This cap would be in direct opposition to the goal of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) that aims for 20 percent of all fuels to be renewable fuels by 2020.

Growth Energy co-chair, Tom Buis noted that the bill is flawed in many ways, one being the ethanol industry is already producing, and fuel retailers are already blending and selling, more than 10 percent ethanol by volume.

Ethanol Blends Photo Joanna Schroeder

Photo Credit: Joanna Schroeder

This bill is incredibly flawed because the ethanol industry is already producing over the bill’s 9.7 percent threshold and growing. Perhaps more importantly this bill would deal a blow to American consumers who have embraced ethanol as a less expensive, 21st century fuel that is higher performing and allows for consumer choice,” Buis stated. Today, E15 availability is growing and is now being sold in 23 states.

Paul Jeschke, a farmer from Mazon, Illinois, and chair of the Ethanol Committee of the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA), called the bill a step backward for farmers and consumers. “Americans want cleaner air, affordable choices at the gas pump, and a strong economy that fosters investment in new technology and improves our energy independence. Meanwhile, American corn farmers are struggling, with prices below the cost of production and the largest carryover stock in two decades.” Jeschke added, “The Renewable Fuel Standard was created to promote American renewable energy while creating a steady market for corn. This bill would undercut the RFS and negatively impact corn farmers, and with it, the entire farm economy.”

As members of Congress head home for Memorial Day recess, Jeschke is urging farmers and consumers to use the opportunity to reach out to their elected officials and call on them to block the bill and share with them the benefits of ethanol.