Scottish Whisky Used to Power Homes

Scottish Whisky is being used to power homes. Well, not exactly the whisky, but the by-products, such as energy, as being used to power communities. The project, The Rothes CoRDe, part-owned by The Combination of Rothes Distillers, is leading the distilleries program.

“A number of whisky companies are part of an industry consortium looking at sustainable ways of processing by-products from our distilleries,” explained Iain Lochhead, Operations Director for John Dewar & Sons Ltd., part of the Bacardi group of companies.  “We believe we are doing our part in protecting the environment of Scotland. Since we use natural ingredients to make our whisky, we want to leave our surroundings in the same pristine condition as we find them.”

draff from whisky production

The plant utilises draff which is a by-product of whisky production. This comes from 17 different distilleries and is mixed 50/50 with wood chips.

The Speyside area of the Scottish Highlands is home to around 50 whisky distilleries. Rothes, in the heart of that region, is the site of a new, blended-biomass plant that generates heat and power for local communities. It works by burning draff (the spent grains used in the distilling process) with woodchips to create steam-generating electricity.

“We generate 8.3 megawatts of electricity every hour of every day. We use some onsite and export the rest – enough for 20,000 people in 8,000 homes,” said Frank Burns, Managing Director, Rothes CoRDe. “We are powering all of the local communities.”

Another innovation is converting pot ale – the residue from copper whisky stills – into organic feedstock that local farmers use for their animals. “By recovering by-products from our distilleries, we turn them into material of purpose and value,” Burns said. “Ultimately, everything we make, whether it’s animal feed – or even the ash from our boiler process – goes back to the land or to the farm.”

David Williamson of the Scotch Whisky Association, added, “In the end, we want to take this industry forward, to invest and grow, but also make sure we preserve the natural environment we rely on to support Scotch whisky for many years to come.”

BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDF1The Public Utilities Commission voted to keep solar net metered customers on existing rates until the Commissioners determine long-term rules by December 31. The Commission’s decision allows Nevadans to go back to work. The solar market shut down last Thursday when NV Energy declared that the previous cap had been hit. Hundreds of solar workers appeared before the Commission during several hearings over the last month to tell their personal stories about the impact of NV Energy’s attempt to stop solar competition.
  • The World Wildlife Fund and ICLEI Local Governments for Sustainability USA recently highlighted the Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing model as one of five top priorities to be addressed at the state and national levels, in order to support cities in their fight against climate change. PACE programs provide financing for energy- and water-efficiency improvements and enable property owners to pay for them over time through their property taxes. Meanwhile owners see immediate savings on their utility bills, while reducing their greenhouse gas footprint or their water use.
  • Marathon Capital has announced the successful sale of OwnEnergy, a leader in locally-owned renewable energy systems, to EDF Renewable Energy. The acquisition of OwnEnergy’s team, development platform, and pipeline of wind projects will add to EDF RE’s already extensive North American portfolio containing 3.2 gigawatts (GW) of wind, solar, biomass, and biogas projects.
  • PosiGen Solar Solutions, marked the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina by making a clean energy contribution to the City of New Orleans to help create a resilient City Hall. PosiGen, with partners SimpliPhi Power and Schneider Electric, is providing 25 kW of solar PV panels, energy storage and an educational monitoring display for the public. The rooftop solar installation will deliver clean power for City Hall to reduce energy costs, as well as provide backup power in the event of power disruptions or a future natural disaster.

#ACE15 Success, Jennings Highlights What’s Next

The 28th Annual American Coalition for Ethanol’s (ACE) Ethanol Conference was a huge success. At times the room was stand-up only and the content was engaging and informational for attendees. I had a chance to sit down with Executive Vice President Brian Jennings who kicked off the conference and closed the conference and he said that there were a few presentations that really stood out.

The first was the retailer panel that featured Kum & Go and what they are doing to promote the use of E15 and other ethanol blends to consumers in the Midwest, along with Protec and what they are doing in a totally different way and different part of the country (South/Southwest) to bring ethanol to consumers.

Brian Jennings EVP of ACE“There are a lot of smart, progressive companies out there that see the advantage, that see the price advantage, see the other advantages that E15 and higher blends bring to the table,” said Jennings. “I know it’s frustrating for some in our industry because the progress of E15 is going as quickly as any of us like but progress indeed is being made and it’s a testament to the work that ACE and others are doing with the Kum & Gos in the world and the Protecs of the world.”

Another panel that was very informative, noted Jennings, was the panel of ethanol producers who are adopting new technologies and becoming pioneers of emerging technologies. These plants, he said, are leading the way in production improvements, in new product developments, bring in new revenues and help them diversify. Jennings hopes that other ethanol producers both at their conference and not, will look to these plants as examples and also embrace these new technologies and co-products.

The conference really focused on emerging technologies and wins in the industry but none the less talk of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) was common among attendees. I asked Jennings what the next step was for ACE, on behalf of the industry, to keep the fight for the RFS front and center. He said that the industry has until November 30th to continue engaging with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and they will continue to do just that. “They have mountains of comments they have to sift through and we’re proud of ACE and the ethanol industry on how many comments were submitted.”

“I am enormously frustrated with the EPA,” said Jennings. “I have to be honest. We try to be constructive, we try to be helpful, and they just really want to continue to base this thing on the blend wall. So we have our work cut out for us.”

ACE hopes to engage in a Power to the People campaign this fall in the beltway and around the country to educate consumers about the benefits of ethanol.

To learn more about the Ethanol Conference and what’s next for ACE, listen to my interview with Brian Jennings here: ACE's Brian Jennings Conference Review

2015 ACE Annual Meeting Photos

Eric Degesero: Bioheat Wins Environmental Contest

Eric Degesero runs the Fuel Merchants Association of New Jersey who represents retail heating oil and Bioheat distributors as well as motor fuel distributors throughout the state. Degesero said during the Biodiesel/Bioheat Forum in Mankato, Minnesota last week that the state, and thus his members, are seeing interest in Bioheat but an accelerated interest in the heating oil blend due to regulations and the cleanliness of fuels.

biodiesel-bioheat-15-degesero“What’s happened to us over time is that the goal line has been moved. We’ve worked out addressing our fuel being ‘dirty’ from a traditional environmental perspective,” said Degesero. “We worked very hard to remove sulfur from the fuel which we did, and we hadn’t even got that across the goal line and they kicked in a new game around greenhouse gas and global warming potential. That is where biodiesel blended into heating oil, thus the term bioheat, is a game changer because it allows us to be better than our competitor, which is natural gas in the Northeast that is relative to emissions across the board.”

He stressed that using a B5 Bioheat blend poses no problems for current equipment but trials with blends of up to B20 have also posed no issues. Degesero explained that a study they did in conjunction with Penn State found that using a B20 Bioheat blend actually increases system performance in existing heating systems in the field.

Learn more about how New Jersey is adopting and using Bioheat to meet environmental goals by listening to Chuck Zimmerman’s interview with Eric Degesero: Eric Degesero, Fuel Merchants Association of New Jersey

Biodiesel/Bioheat Forum Photo Album

Protec Takes Unique E15, E85 Approach

Todd Garner, CEO of Protec Fuel, has more than 30 years in the fuel business. As such, he has been able to launch an interesting model in how they bring more choice at the pump by helping retail stations offer E15 and E85. The company started offering E85 in 2006 and has made incredible strides in getting more ethanol into the marketplace. But they do more than just distribute biofuels. They are also a large fuel logistics provider, basically, they do all of the aspects that any oil company might do but work primarily with small to midsize retailers and companies. Attendees were able to learn about their business model during the ACE Ethanol Conference last week in Omaha, Nebraska.

Todd Garner ProtecProtec is the largest supplier of ethanol to the military in the U.S. and has E85 stations on nearly every naval base in the country. And for the first time, they have begun to supply the rental car companies at the Nashville, TN and Charlotte, North Carolina airports. Garner said rental car companies used to buy their own fuel. Today it’s all done together and outsourced. So Protec has convinced these rental car operations to change to E15 because nearly all cars on the road can use this ethanol blend. Gardner said that they will continue to push this program with other rental car agencies located at airports across the country.

To learn more about how Protec is promoting/selling E15 and E15 listen to Todd Garner’s remarks here: Todd Garner, Protec

2015 ACE Annual Meeting Photos

Fuels America Ad Targets President Obama

Screen Shot 2015-08-26 at 8.04.06 AMIn conjunction with the National Clean Energy Summit that took place in Las Vegas, Fuels America published a full-page ad in the Las Vegas Review-Journal aimed at President Obama. The theme of the ad is the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and a call to action to uphold the law as signed in 2007 by then President Bush. Obama was a keynote speaker at the event and the ad was accompanied by a Review Journal homepage takeover, as well as banner ads geotargeted at the conference.

The ad touts the progress under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) – passed 10 years ago this month by Senator Reid and a bipartisan coalition – including the creation of more than 850,000 American jobs and the reduction of America’s oil imports by nearly two-thirds.

The ad describes how the EPA caved to pressure from the oil industry and changed the law midstream with its latest proposal that would let oil companies continue to ignore their obligations under the law and block market access to renewable fuel for American consumers.

Fuels America notes in the ad that American biofuel innovators have invested billions of dollars in the next generation of biofuels – fuels that is cleaner and helps curb climate change, cutting carbon emissions by 88-108% compared to petroleum – under the promise of the RFS that it would end the oil industry’s chokehold on fuel distribution and market access, create American jobs, and give consumers a choice at the pump.

BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDF1The Ross Solar Group has completed two record setting solar installations for Gengras Motor Cars at the dealership group’s Volvo and Chevrolet facilities on Connecticut Blvd., in East Hartford Conn. Comprised of 1,280 high efficiency SunPower E-Series solar panels, the two systems, are the largest single SunPower rooftop solar installations to date in East Hartford.
  • FFP New Hydro LLC has announced the continued expansion of its hydroelectric power portfolio in the U.S. with its closing of a senior loan facility with Crestline Investors, Inc. and the acquisition and integration of Rye Development, FFP New Hydro’s manager, into the company. FFP New Hydro has completed these transactions in order to pursue continued development of its portfolio of 21 advanced stage hydropower projects on existing dams across five states, the first of which received a 50-year license from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in September of 2014.
  • Doosan Fuel Cell announced its newest fuel cell installation at Norco College, which is part of the Riverside (Calif.) Community College District. The PureCell Model 400 power plant is expected to reduce overall costs and lower greenhouse gas emissions at the 141-acre campus. Unlike conventional grid energy that consumes water for cooling, Doosan’s fuel cell operates with zero water consumption, reducing the campus’ impact on water usage in the drought-stricken region by 1.4 million gallons annually.
  • Clean Energy Fuels Corp. has announced that it will construct new compressed natural gas (CNG) stations for Arlington Transit (ART) in Arlington County, Virginia; Nassau Inter-County Express (NICE) in Long Island, NY; and North Kansas City (MO) School District, which is set to become the largest school district in the U.S. to transition its school bus fleet to CNG.

Everyone Wins with Bioheat

Paul Nazzaro said that Bioheat has been a win, win situation for marketers, the biodiesel industry and the petroleum people as well during the Biodiesel/Bioheat Forum that recently took place in Mankao, Minnesota. Nazzaro is the President of Nazzaro Group, who is a liaison between the National Biodiesel Board (NBB) and companies who want to, or do sell Bioheat. Specific to Bioheat, he said the product has allowed the biodiesel industry to reinvent itself and produce a product that is more accepted by consumers.

biodiesel-bioheat-15-nazzaro“In the past, heating oil was dirty, prehistoric and linked to to big oil,” said Nazzaro. “They’re finding out Bioheat is the next generation fuel for them and they are valuing the benefits that come with it.”

He said that education has been very important for the increased adoption of Bioheat and that NBB has been leading the way. But he noted that the education is not coming from newspapers and radio ads and stories, its coming from “gorilla marketing”. “It’s a fuel dealer talking to a consumer about the Bioheat and its benefits.”

You can listen Chuck Zimmerman’s interview with Paul Nazzaro: Paul Nazzaro, Nazzaro Group

Biodiesel/Bioheat Forum Photo Album

Kum & Go, E15 Leader #ACE Award Honoree

Jim Pirolli Kum and GoKum & Go is well known in the Midwest, especially in states like Iowa and Nebraska where this year’s #ACE annual Ethanol Conference took place (Omaha). During the event, Jim Pirolli, Vice President of Fuels for Kum & Go talked about his company’s commitment to rolling out E15 stations as well as their efforts to continue to sell more E85. The retailer opened their first E15 station in Des Moines, Iowa recently with 6 more planned over the coming months.

How are they successful? Well, for starters they are price competitive at the pump. Pirolli said that Kum & Go recognizes that alternative fuels such as ethanol support local economies, better for the environment and help them deliver more to the customer than they might expect via an expanded product portfolio and also offering the economic and performance benefits. This summer they have done a very aggressive promotion campaign for E85 in Omaha and also for E15 in Des Moines. He did ask for help in helping to educate consumers about E15.

Listen to Jim Pirolli’s presentation here: Jim Pirolli, Kum & Go

Paul Dana Marketing Vision Award

American Coalition for Ethanol’s (ACE) Ron Lamberty (left) awards Jim Pirolli with Kum & Go the Paul Dana Marketing Vision Award.

Also during the event, Kum & Go was awarded the Paul Dana Marketing Vision Award, to honor a retailer who is supportive of ethanol. Ron Lamberty with ACE noted that the retailer has been an ongoing leader in ethanol selling E10 back in 1979, today as 170 E85 stations in 11 states. He praised them for stepping up for ethanol and for marketing the fuel aggressively and for being a leader in offering E15 to consumers.

Listen to Ron Lamberty’s remarks about Kum and Go here: Kum & Go Honored with Paul Dana Marketing Vision Award

2015 ACE Annual Meeting Photos

New Biodiesel Techs, Feedstocks Help Expand Bioheat

Doug Root works in the world of biofuels in his role with the Ag Utilization Research Institute (AURI) where he looks for new opportunities for Minnesota commodities and co-products. One example: biodiesel. Root spoke during the Biodiesel/Bioheat Forum in Mankato, Minnesota where East met Midwest, or the home of Bioheat met the home of soybean production.

biodiesel-bioheat-15-rootThere are new technologies, explained Root, including new technologies to make biodiesel, new opportunities to utilize the biofuel, and new markets to expand to. There are also opportunities for reduced cost, quality and alternative feedstocks for manufacture of biodiesel or sale into the bioheat market and into the transportation fuels market.

Root said its been exciting to see the biodiesel industry mature and see the improvements in biodiesel quality, year after year to the point where there are virtually no longer low-temperature issues with the biofuel.

You can listen Chuck Zimmerman’s interview with Doug Root here: Doug Root, Ag Utilization Research Institute

Biodiesel/Bioheat Forum Photo Album