BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDF1Tom L. Ward, chairman and CEO of Tapstone Energy, has joined the Board of Directors of Nopetro. Ward also completed an equity investment in the company, which is Florida’s leading compressed natural gas (CNG) infrastructure provider. Ward previously co-founded and served as president and COO of Chesapeake Energy, and as founder, chairman and CEO of SandRidge Energy. Ward’s investment in Nopetro will support the company’s expansion across the U.S.
  • Abengoa has had its credit rating upgraded by one notch by the rating agency Standard & Poors (S&P). S&P has revised the rating of Abengoa from B to B+ with a stable outlook.
  • Merkur Offshore has signed with respectively Alstom and DEME a binding Turbine Supply Agreement and Balance of Plant Contract for the construction of the Merkur Offshore wind farm, including supply and installation of 66 Alstom Haliade 150-6MW offshore wind turbines. Additionally, Alstom has signed a long term service and maintenance contract.
  • Under an agreement by Eagle Mountain LLC to buy the Kaiser Eagle Mountain mine near Desert Center from CIL&D (formerly known as Kaiser Ventures) is moving forward with the goal of transforming the site into a pumped storage electricity station that can bank energy from solar, wind and geothermal power plants for release during times of peak demand and to maintain grid stability. The proposal calls for converting two of the mine’s vacant pits into reservoirs that transfer water back and forth through a state-of-the-art underground turbine system that can produce up to 1,300 megawatts of electricity – enough to power nearly 1 million homes.

EFS Offering Hawaii Homeowners Solar Financing

Energy Finance Solutions (EFS) has partnered with the State of Hawaii’s Green Energy Market Securitization (GEMS) Program to help make clean energy improvements accessible to Hawaii utility customers. EFS has developed financing options that make the purchase and installation of solar photovoltaic systems simple and affordable for Hawaii residents.

Photo Credit: Blue Planet Foundation

Photo Credit: Blue Planet Foundation

“Often, utility customers want to install solar, but the upfront installation cost is a challenge, and it’s not always easy for them to obtain financing through a traditional channel,” explained Cyd Miyashiro of the Hawaii Green Infrastructure Authority. “We are thrilled to offer an easy, affordable way to get our customers the financing they need—and to work with EFS, a partner with a long history and strong track record in financing energy efficiency and renewable energy. The State of Hawaii is committed to renewable power and hopes this initiative will drive increased adoption amongst our residents.”

Loans through the GEMS Program are now available to finance up to 100 percent of the cost of solar electric systems (up to $75,000), with no down payment required. The Program partners with qualified installers to assist borrowers with the installation of solar photovoltaic equipment. Fixed-rate loan terms are available for up to 20 years, and there are no closing costs or prepayment penalties associated with the loans. To be eligible, owner-occupied, single-family homes must be located in the State of Hawaii and within the Hawaiian Electric Companies’ (HECO) utility service territories.

Speaking of Hawaii, a recent Today in Energy report looks at Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) that were recently passed by Hawaii and Vermont. Both pieces of legislation require significant increases in renewable electricity and home solar systems will be an important factor in achieving mandates. Hawaii is requiring 100 percent renewable energy by 2045 while Vermont passed a bill creating 75 percent RPS by 2032. Both RPS targets are higher than any other U.S. states.

Ocean Energy to Play Global Role

The Commission for the Environment, Climate Change and Energy of the Committee of Regions has endorsed a recent report that focuses on the development of ocean energy to meet growing demand for renewable energy. The report states the ocean energy sector will make an “important contribution….to meeting the future energy needs of the European Union.”

ocean-energy-europeIn response to the news, Rémi Gruet, CEO Ocean Energy Europe, noted, “The ocean energy industry welcomes this report from the Committee of the Regions, and recognises the strong leadership Europe’s regions have played in driving the sector forward. With the resource anchored at regional level, ocean energy developments will mean fresh economic activity for existing port infrastructures and maritime supply chains.”

The report looks at Europe’s global leadership in the ocean energy sector and the benefits in terms of industrial growth, jobs and exports. The report also underlines both the pivotal role of the EU in pushing the development of the sector and the significant potential that could be unlocked through exploiting synergies between regions, Member States and the EU itself.

“With 100GW of installed capacity by 2050, the ocean energy industry can make a major contribution to Europe’s energy security and decarbonisation goals. This report is particularly timely and correctly identifies the key actions for Europe to maintain its global dominance and benefit from the growth of ocean energy around the world,” added Gruet.

The report supports the European Commission’s Ocean Energy Forum initiative, assigned to draft an industry roadmap by September this year. The final roadmap will be presented to European Ministers during a summit on ocean energy taking place in Dublin, on October 20, 2015.

BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDF1Pattern Energy Group LP has announced the completion of C$393 million in financing of its 180 MW Meikle Wind power project located in British Columbia, approximately 33 km north of Tumbler Ridge. Meikle Wind, which is expected to commence commercial operation in late 2016, is the largest wind power project in British Columbia.
  • The Geothermal Energy Association is on the committee, speaker list and exhibition floor at the upcoming Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Expo, July 9, 2015 in Washington, DC. This event showcases renewables and energy efficient technologies in a unified event on Capitol Hill. This is an event of the Sustainable Energy Coalition, with the U.S. House Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency Caucus and the U.S. Senate Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency Caucus supporting as honorary hosts.
  • Celtic Bank has announced that it has funded the first commercial project utilizing PACE in the state of Utah. Proceeds from the bond issuance will be used by Hunt Electric to construct a solar canopy utilizing smart grid technology at their offices in West Valley City, UT. Celtic Bank worked in conjunction with Hunt Electric, Utah Clean Energy, and the Governor’s Office of Energy Development to bring the PACE funding structure to Utah.
  • Gardner Capital, Inc., an investment and solar project developer, and MC Power Companies, have announced the commercial operation of a solar farm in Macon, Missouri, as well as the groundbreaking and development plans for an additional solar utility-scale photovoltaic power generation system 80 miles away in Trenton, both totaling 6.5 MW.

Williamsburg Students Win BioenergizeME Challenge

BioenergizeME Infographic Challenge winning team from Williamsburg High School for Architecture and Design. From left to right: Nicholas Shannon, Najee Neil, Xavier Abreu Negron, Alfredo Sanchez III and Victor Perry. Photo credit: Joanna Schroeder

BioenergizeME Infographic Challenge winning team from Williamsburg High School for Architecture and Design. From left to right: Nicholas Shannon, Najee Neil, Xavier Abreu Negron, Alfredo Sanchez III and Victor Perry. Photo credit: Joanna Schroeder

The future looks bright for the bioenergy industry as the next generation is already showing great enthusiasm and talent for sustainable fuels and products. This past spring, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) kicked off a pilot program for high school aged teams (grades 9-12) to use technology and their creative mojo to design bioenergy-based infographics. The BioenergizeME Infographic Challenge theme was “Exploring the Future of American Energy Landscape,” and the winner was announced during the BioEnergy 2015 Conference to great applause.

The wBioEnergizeME infographic challenge winnerinning team was a group of 14 year old freshman students from Williamsburg High School for Architecture and Design located Brooklyn, New York: Nicholas Shannon, Najee Neil, Xavier Abreu Negron, Alfredo Sanchez III and Victor Perry. There were 76 teams that submitted entries and 50 teams shared their infographics through social media channels including Facebook and Twitter garnering more than 12,000 page views. Infographics from all competitors can be viewed on the BioenergizeME Infographic Challenge Map.

Teams were given four topic areas to choose from: Bioenergy History, Workforce and Education, Science and Technology and Environmental Impacts. Once a team selected their topic area, they conducted research and then developed an infographic that visually explained a specific area within a topic such as cellulosic energy or how algae is used to produce biofuels. With the success of the program, the BioenergizeME Infographic Challenge will be rolled out nationwide next spring.

View the 2015 BioEnergy 2015 photo album. 

Golf Course Repurposed to Solar Farm

Abandoned golf course in Japan that will be repurposed into a 23 MW solar farm.

Abandoned golf course in Japan that will be repurposed into a 23 MW solar farm.

The joint venture between Kyocera TCL Solar and Century Tokyo Leasing Corporation has birthed a solar farm on an abandoned golf course in Koyto Prefecture, Japan. Once complete, the 23 MW solar power plant will generated an estimated 26,312 megawatt hours per year.

In addition to this project, Kyocera and Century Tokyo Leasing, along with two other companies, are developing a 92MW solar power plant at another abandoned golf course in the region. Not limited to Japan, several states in the U.S. including Florida, Utah and Kansas are also considering re-purposing abandoned golf courses for solar development among other uses.

Rendering of the Kanoya Osaki Solar Hills Solar Power Plant in Japan.

Rendering of the Kanoya Osaki Solar Hills Solar Power Plant in Japan.

Solar, said Kyocera, can provide a particularly productive and environmentally friendly use for defunct golf courses, which are characterized by expansive land mass, high sun exposure, and a low concentration of shade trees.

When completed, the new plant will become the largest solar power installation in Japan’s Kyoto Prefecture. The site is located in Fushimi Ward, where Kyocera established its first major solar energy research center in the mid-1970s. This year marks the 40th anniversary of Kyocera’s entry into the solar energy business.

United Airlines Invests in Fulcrum BioEnergy

United Airlines has made a $30 million equity investment in U.S.-based waste-to-energy company Fulcrum BioEnergy, Inc., According to United Airlines, this is the single largest investment by a U.S. airline in alternative fuels and sets them apart in Infographic_Fulcrumthe aviation industry in the advancement of aviation biofuels and carbon emissions reductions. In addition to the equity investment, United and Fulcrum have entered into an agreement that will study the feasibility of developing up to five projects located near United’s hubs. If the projects come to fruition, the facilities would produce up to 180 million gallons of aviation biofuels per year.

“We know alternative fuels is an emerging industry that is vital to the future of aviation and this is just one of our initiatives to help make these fuels saleable and scalable,” said United’s Executive Vice President and General Counsel Brett Hart. “Investing in alternative fuels is not only good for the environment, it’s a smart move for our company as biofuels have the potential to hedge against future oil price volatility and carbon regulations.”

As part of the partnership, United has negotiated a long-term supply agreement with Fulcrum and, subject to availability, will have the opportunity to purchase at least 90 million gallons of sustainable aviation fuel a year for a minimum of 10 years at a EcoSkies+plane_1 (1)cost that is competitive with conventional jet fuel. Fulcrum anticipates its first alternative fuels plant will begin commercial operation in 2017.

According to Fulcrum, their technology converts household trash, or municipal solid waste (MSW), into renewable jet fuel. Fulcrum’s renewable jet fuel is expected to provide a greater than 80 percent reduction in lifecycle carbon emissions when compared to conventional jet fuel.

“United Airlines just demonstrated why they are one of the leaders in commercial aviation,” added E. James Macias, Fulcrum’s president and CEO. “United’s investment and participation in our projects is a tremendous boost to our program. Their support, commitment and backing accelerate our schedule to bring large volumes of competitively-priced, sustainable fuels to United and the rest of the aviation industry.”

BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDF1Pacific Ethanol announced it completed its merger with Aventine Renewable Energy Holdings, Inc. Per the terms of the definitive merger agreement, Aventine stockholders
    received 1.25 shares of Pacific Ethanol common stock for each share of Aventine common stock owned at closing. As a result, Pacific Ethanol issued approximately 17.76 million shares in the merger, resulting in 42.5 million total shares outstanding as of July 1, 2015.
  • Georgia Power has announced the launch of a new solar sales and installation service for customers beginning July 1. As an unregulated offering, the program will be administered by Georgia Power Energy Services, a business unit more than 20 years old focused on providing turnkey installation of energy efficiency products for customers.
  • Alterra Power Corp. and Starwood Energy Group Global, LLC have announced the completion of a $287 million construction loan facility for the 204 MW Shannon wind project. The facility was supplied by affiliates of Citi, Santander Bank, N.A. and the Royal Bank of Canada, and consists of a $212 million loan plus $75 million in various letters of credit. The loan is supported by a $219 million tax equity investment commitment supplied by subsidiaries of Citi and Berkshire Hathaway Energy.
  • While China’s installed wind capacity will treble from 115.6 GW in 2014 to an estimated 347.2 GW by 2025, global growth will begin to level off towards the end of the forecast period, with annual installations peaking at 56.8 GW in 2022, says research and consulting firm GlobalData. The company’s latest report states that China’s wind power landscape in 2025 will be dominated by onshore capacity, which will account for 334.7 GW, representing just over 96% of all installations, with offshore wind accounting for a mere 12.4 GW of installed capacity.

Franklin Orr Shares Optimism for Bioenergy

Franklin OrrDr. Franklin Orr, Under Secretary for Science and Energy, U.S. Department of Energy, provided the keynote address at the recent BioEnergy 2015 Conference which took place in Washington, D.C. In his role, Dr. Orr is the principal advisor to the Secretary and Deputy Secretary on clean energy technologies and science and energy research initiatives.

“If there is any technology that we are working on that illustrates the facets of innovation that we are trying to foster, it’s bioenergy. It goes from the fundamental science side of the house, to development, to demonstration and deployment. And we have lots of activities going on in all these areas.”

Dr. Orr said he truly believes that biofuels are a very important part of America’s energy and economic future. He added that this is clear when you look at the global context of energy.

He mentioned a few examples which indicate broader global challenges that we are going to face. “Energy security is one of those, creating good paying jobs in the United States is very important for us and of course reducing the emissions that lead to climate change.” Dr. Orr admits these are all big challenges, but stresses that biofuels can help in each of these measures.

Listen to Dr. Franklin Orr’s complete remarks to learn more about the future role of biofuels when it comes to science and energy across the United States: Franklin Orr's Remarks

View the 2015 BioEnergy 2015 photo album. 

Sen Klobuchar: Time to Govern by Opportunity

Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) keynoted the opening session of the BioEnergy 2015: Opportunities in a Changing Energy Landscape conference in Washington, D.C. During her remarks, she noted it isn’t an easy time to be in Washington in terms of Sen Amy Klobuchar BioEnergy 2015energy policy and the country has “lost opportunities” in energy policy since 9-11.

Sen Klobuchar explained that in the summer of 2008, right before the downturn, energy legislation was pushed through but legislators were unable to push through a federal Renewable Electricity Standard (RES). Instead, President Obama, during the worst downturn since the Great Depression, opted to move forward with failed Cap and Trade legislation.

“We’ve been governing by crisis,” said Klobuchar who stressed that now is the moment to govern by opportunity. She quoted Pope Francis who recently released his Encyclical on climate change who asked, “What kind of world do we want to leave to those who come after us?” A better world, said Klobuchar.

Klobuchar ended her remarks focusing on ways the country can build on the progress of the past few years, including the success of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

Listen to Senator Amy Klobuchar’s remarks: Senator Amy Klobuchar Remarks

View the 2015 BioEnergy 2015 photo album.

(Note: two days after her presentation the EPA held a public comment hearing in Kansas City where hundreds of people from across the country came together to support the RFS. Coverage can be found here.)