BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDFPanda Power Funds has announced that it has completed the acquisition and successful financing of Moxie Energy’s planned 829-MW natural gas-fueled, combined-cycle “Patriot” generating station, located in Lycoming County, Pennsylvania. When completed, the Patriot project will be the second new power plant in the Keystone State — after Panda’s “Liberty” power plant — specifically developed to take advantage of its proximity to the Marcellus Shale. Panda will immediately start construction on the 85-acre site and expects commercial operations to begin by the middle of 2016.
  • ReVision Energy has flipped the switch on solar panels atop Churchill Rink and the Durham Police Station (New Hampshire), and both have begun generating power. In addition, a solar array on the Durham Public Library has been online for several weeks. The Churchill Rink solar project includes 390 panels on its south-facing roof capable of producing 99 kW of electricity. The 20-panel array at the police will produce about 5.5 kW and the 60 panels on the library will generate 15 kW.
  • According to a new report from Navigant Research, worldwide sales of Stop Start Vehicles (SSVs) will grow from 8.8 million in 2013 to 55.4 million in 2022. SSVs, which eliminate idling by shutting off the engine when the vehicle is stationary and restarting it automatically when it is time to move. The report, “Stop-Start Vehicles”, analyzes the opportunities and challenges present in the global market for light duty SSVs, also known as micro hybrids, idle stop vehicles, and a variety of other names branded by automakers, and examines stop-start component systems, including the technologies used for energy storage.
  • According to several news reports, Benton County Wind farm, located in Northern Indiana, is suing Duke Energy Indiana for breach of contract. The owners of the wind farm say Duke signed a contact to purchase the wind energy produced from the wind farm but hasn’t done so, causing a lost of output and revenue. When Benton County Wind Farm became operational in 2008, it was the first commercial-scale wind farm in Indiana.

Cogeneration Explained

WASILENKOFF headshot-1The country is beginning to hear a lot about cogeneration, or cogen, but what it is exactly? How is it different, then say, a traditional electricity plant? To get the low-down on cogen I spoke with Chad Wasilenkoff, CEO of Fortress Paper whose company has been working with cogeneration and recently put its first cogen project online.

Q: Can you explain how cogeneration is different than a traditional electricity plant? For example, “wind” can provide power to the grid but is not considered cogen.

A: Wind will run a turbine and produce electricity similar to cogeneration. The difference is cogen also produces energy mechanically with steam to turn the turbine but also uses the thermal energy produced in the industrial process for additional energy needs. In conventional systems the heat is an unused byproduct of energy production. Cogen can also uses waste material as the energy source and in our case residual biomass from the paper making process.

Q: Obviously, cogeneration is not a new idea. Why do you think there is such a small rate of adoption/use of cogeneration in North America?

Cogen OutsideA: Cogeneration plants are capital intensive and the costs involved have to be balanced with the costs of other energy sources in the area. For industrial installations cogen works well for operations that use a lot of power, steam and heat. Cogen also tends to be more suitable in areas where the heat can be utilized. An example is Denmark where some cities get 95 percent of heat from cogeneration sites. There are also some small scale cogeneration units on the market for the individual homeowner.

Q: The potential for cogeneration is quite large. For cogen to reach its full potential, what would need to happen? Would there need to be legislation, tax credits, etc?

A: Yes assistance with financing, preferential pricing tax credits etc. would all help cogen to reach its full potential. Cogeneneration is already part of many plans for expanding renewable energy, According to the International Energy Agency (IEA).

Q: Fortress Paper has made a significant investment in cogen at your Fortress Speciality Cellulose Mill in Thurso, Québec where you have constructed a cogen facility. Can you give the readers of DF more information about this project?

A: The Fortress Specialty Cellulose mill capex for the Cogen Plant was over Canadian $120 million and included a new turbine and generator with cooling tower and condenser, new biomass boiler, and new water treatment system among other items. Continue reading

Wind Tax Credit Set to Expire

The wind energy tax credit is set to expire tomorrow and unlike last year, there has been virtually no noise from the wind energy industry on the need to save the Production Tax Credit (PTC). In January 2013 Congress extended the tax credit for one year but single wind turbine Photo Joanna Schroederstructured the credit different in the past. Could this be the reason there has been all but silence from the industry on its expiration?

Heading in the the third and fourth quarters of 2012 wind supporters claimed that if the tax credit expired, the industry would all but halt. However this argument has not been heard this year.

While speculation, it could be because when the tax credit was restructured for 2013, it said that a project only has to be in construction by the end of 2013, not completed to qualify for the PTC. But it wasn’t until September of 2013 that the IRS (Internal Revenue Service) released rules that defined a project “in construction” if the project developer has incurred 5 percent of the total capital costs. In addition, the IRS guidelines also stipulate that all the wind turbines for a project must be delivered to the project site by April 15, 2014 and the wind farm must be in operation by December 31, 2015.

Under this structure, the wind industry should remain strong through 2015 and this past month, many companies have announced their wind farm projects have entered the “construction phase”.

According to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), during the forth quarter at least 27 requests for proposals were issued with an estimated 4,175 MW of new wind energy to be generation upon completed. Looking further ahead, reports AWEA, 5,600 MW of new wind projects have secured long-term contracts, and another 1,900 MW have received state regulatory approval.

Screen Shot 2013-12-30 at 12.33.55 PMSo how is 2013 shaping up for the wind industry? AWEA reports that American wind energy will finish 2013 with strong momentum for installations in the new year according to the U.S. Wind Industry Third Quarter 2013 Market Report. The industry experienced a painful slowdown at the beginning of 2013 as result of the scheduled expiration of the federal wind energy PTC at the end of 2012, but has now rebounded. However, says AWEA, lack of certainty over federal tax policies continues to keep wind energy from reaching its full potential in the United States. Continue reading

IA Senate Candiate Mark Jacobs Fights for RFS

US IA Senate Candidate Mark JacobsIowa U.S. Senate candidate Mark Jacobs has submitted comments to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on the proposed changes to the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). The EPA has proposed to reduce the amount of renewable fuels used in the U.S. transportation fuel supply for 2014. Jacobs wrote:

Dear President Obama and EPA Administrator McCarthy:

I am deeply concerned that the proposal to reduce the amount of renewable fuel we use under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) will negatively impact jobs and economic growth in my home state of Iowa as well as other states.

In addition, the proposed changes will result in reduced consumer choices and higher prices at the pump across the country. Ethanol has demonstrated that it can compete head-to-head with petroleum products on an economic basis. Today, however, the oil industry exerts significant influence and control over the distribution of transportation fuels, and the RFS is essential to help level the playing field for alternative sources of energy.

We need reliable, affordable energy that is developed in an environmentally responsible way. Increased energy production in America can add thousands of new jobs and help keep energy prices low for all Americans. Low energy prices, in turn, help drive growth in other sectors of the economy. Renewable energy sources can continue to play an important role in this regard. The development of the renewable fuels industry has been one of the great success stories in America, and it has helped us reduce our dependence on foreign oil.

In Iowa alone, the renewable fuel industry supports 60,000 direct and indirect jobs. Most of these jobs are located in our rural communities. Reducing the amount of renewable fuels means replacing it with more oil. Studies have shown that this proposal would result in several billion dollars of additional cost for consumers. Moreover, the U.S. has a stated policy of enhancing our national security by reducing our dependence on the Middle East. Over the last seven years, our dependence on foreign oil has dropped from over 60% to just over 40%. The development of the renewable fuel industry has played a significant role in this improvement.

The RFS has been under attack recently. I would encourage our policymakers to look beyond the rhetoric and carefully consider the facts. Without the RFS, our nation’s transportation fuels market will be left as a petroleum monopoly, with prices subject to the whims of geopolitical events. American families will be denied sensible fuel alternatives and our economy will be denied precious, good-paying jobs. We must protect the RFS. In the case of renewable fuel, what’s good for Iowa is also good for American consumers.

Mr. President and Administrator McCarthy, I respectfully ask that you do what’s right and stand up for everyday Americans and protect the current RFS.

World Energy Center Heeds Call for Renewable Energy

The Southern California-based World Energy Center is reporting that it has heeded and exceeded President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden’s call for the use of renewable electricity. The administration has called, as part of its “new energy plan” for America, to develop and use 25 percent renewable electricity by 2025. This will spur clean energy jobs, says the Obama administration as well as reduce greenhouse gases and other sources that lead to climate change.

img_energy-center-mapThe World Energy Center is comprised of more than 30 companies, cities, colleges, participants’ partners and affiliates. Larry Hales with Hales Global Group has been providing consultant business development services and says the World Energy Center is the nation’s leading clean energy nerve center in North America. The Center collaborates with multiple companies to develop the most technological advanced renewable energy projects with the goal of spurring clean energy innovation and creating a commercialization Hub to reduce the cost of clean energy and accelerated its worldwide deployment.

World Energy Center aims to create more new jobs and further economic growth says President and COO, Michael Reich, “With billions being spent on new construction projects, long-term manufacturing, engineering, maintenance and management jobs, ancillary growth and service jobs, manpower will be needed for us to succeed. We need to create green job training facilities, educational programs and a number of diversified renewable energy projects will be brought online.”

The World Energy Center and its collaborative group of partners expect to build out more than 5,000 Megawatts of solar, geothermal, wind, natural gas and other clean energy projects over the next 15 years. Reich said the Center will position the United States as a leader in low cost renewable energy, create tens of thousands of green jobs and educate the next generation of young Americans keeping pace with President Obama’s goal and Energy Secretary Dr. Moniz’s mandate.

Ian Campbell, senior lobbyist with Manchester Associates noted that World Energy Center is extremely efficient at Photovoltaic, PV, converting sunlight into electricity. “We are building on the development of applicable PV affordable solar renewable clean energy which was born in 1979, and today with support from private and public partners, the price of PV systems has fallen in half; however, maintaining such a viable U.S. clean technology industry will require policy makers to advance energy subsidies that will lead to improvements in technology and lower prices.”

BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDFChina Sunergy Co., Ltd. has announced that it has completed the sale of a solar farm project to Lightsource Renewable Energy Ltd., which is a UK solar energy generator. The solar project, located in the southwest of Cornwall in the United Kingdom (UK) was connected to the grid at the end of March of this year and now generates enough local green electricity to power over 1500 households.
  • Dominion has announced it has begun commercial operations at its Dominion Bridgeport Fuel Cell facility located in Bridgeport, Conn., and the Dominion Somers Solar Center located in Somers, Conn. Together, the two facilities produce approximately 20 megawatts of clean energy for the people of Connecticut, enough power for approximately 20,000 homes.
  • The full agenda has been announced for the International Biomass Conference taking place in Orlando, Florida March 24-26, 2014. The General Session will be a “state of the industry” and include speakers from several national biomass associations.
  • RGS Energy has joined forces with Green Lantern Capital to co-develop seven solar projects totaling 4.5 megawatts (MW) in Vermont. RGS Energy will design, install, monitor and maintain the solar power systems. The company expects to begin construction in summer of 2014 and complete it by November. On an annual basis, the solar power systems will be designed to generate more than 5.3 million kilowatt hours of electricity.

Iowa leads Ethanol Production in 2013

During 2013, 42 ethanol plants in Iowa produced 3.7 billion gallons matching 2011 and 2012. This was reported by the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) who also notes that Iowa continues to be the number one ethanol producing state and is estimated to account for nearly 28 percent of national ethanol production for the year.

IRFA points out that the recent start-up of a new we mill and three cellulosic ethanol projects set to go into production in 2014 provide hope for growth next year.

Quad County Corn Processors in Galva IowaIowa ethanol production was up in 2013, but not enough to round the decimal point,” said IRFA Executive Director Monte Shaw. “With the record U.S. corn harvest in the bin and new production facilities coming on line, there is hope that Iowa can once again expand ethanol production.”

“But hanging over that potential like a gray cloud is the EPA proposal to cut the RFS. Maintaining the RFS would launch new E15 and E85 markets and Iowa could easily grow to meet the demand. But without a strong RFS, we’ll be looking for export opportunities to drive production. That’s sad when you consider the U.S. still imports a sizeable chunk of its crude oil,” added Shaw.

IRFA is urging all Iowans to contact President Obama and the EPA to urge them to stand behind a strong renewable fuel standard (RFS). Those wishing to submit a comment can do so on the Fuels America website.

BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDFGeorgia Power is soliciting proposals through a combined Requests for Proposals (RFP) process to fulfill nearly 500 megawatts (MW) of utility-scale solar generation. The RFP includes 70 MW to complete the Georgia Power Advanced Solar Initiative (GPASI) portfolio and 425 MW approved as part of the company’s 2013 Integrated Resource Plan (IRP). The RFP will be conducted with oversight by the Accion Group, Inc., which is serving as the Independent Evaluator for the process. Details about the solicitation and the in-service dates for the programs are outlined on Accion’s website. The company will accept comments on the draft RFP documents through January 31, 2014 and will host a RFP bidders conference at the company’s Atlanta headquarters on January 13, 2014.
  • Higher Power Energy LLC, based in Flower Mound, Texas has broken ground on a 300 megawatt wind farm in Castro County, southwest of Amarillo. Lincoln Renewable Energy will build the wind farm, which will have more than 100 General Electric turbines spread out over 35,000 acres.
  • Basin Electric has signed a power purchase agreement associated with the development of a new wind project to be developed in South Dakota. The project is co-owned by Fagen Inc. of Granite Falls, and the principals of Dakota Plains Energy, a wind farm developer based in Aberdeen, S.D. The project is planned to be operational by the end of 2015.
  • Ferrellgas Partners, L.P. has announced the acquisition of Motor Propane Service, an independent propane company with locations in Manitowoc and Sheboygan, Wisconsin. It is Ferrellgas’ second acquisition in its fiscal year that began August 1, 2013, joining the company’s recent purchase of KanGas Corporation, which was completed on Nov. 25, 2013. Specific terms of the transaction, which the company indicates will be immediately accretive, were not disclosed.

Gevo Applauds UL Biobutanol Decision

gevo logoGevo, Inc. has applauded Underwriter Laboratories (UL) decision to approve the generic use of up to 16 percent isobutanol (biobutanol) in UL 871A pumps manufactured by any company that meets ASTM specifications. If a retail gasoline station currently has these pumps, then no changes need to be made to offer consumers isobutanol.

Gevo has been working with UL for several years to approve the use of isobutanol in UL 87A pumps. UL in working with various companies and independent laboratories compiled data for their scientific determination on isobutanol. Gevo sponsored a large study based on SAE J1681 and using a model created in a previous UL investigation with ethanol-surrogate gasoline fuel blends.

“I am very pleased with what we have accomplished with UL. They are great organization to work with in the commercialization of isobutanol,” said Glenn Johnston, Executive Vice President for Regulatory Affairs at Gevo. “This removes another hurdle in the commercialization of renewable isobutanol in on-road gasoline.”

Senator Max Baucus Unveils Tax Reform Proposal

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Ranking Member Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) have launched a process for the committee to begin developing a proposal to reform America’s tax code. Over the next several months, the committee will convene weekly to discuss a series of topics and collect feedback from members on a wide range of options for taking on tax reform. The revised incentives are designed to be more technology neutral.

Senator Max Baucus“It is time to bring our energy tax policy into the 21st century,” Baucus said. “Our current set of energy tax incentives is overly complex and picks winners and losers with no clear policy rationale. We need a system of energy incentives that is more predictable, rational, and technology-neutral to increase our energy security and ensure a clean and healthy environment for future generations.”

Ethanol Today reports that information released by Baucus finds that current law contains 42 different energy tax incentives, including more than a dozen for fossil fuels. An additional 10 tax incentives exist for renewable fuels and alternative vehicles, along with six credits for clean electricity. Of these, 25 are set to expire every year to two years and if they are extended, could cost taxpayers nearly $150 billion over the next decade.

The proposal aims to neutralize clean energy technologies, i.e. not play “favorites” as the federal government is often accused of doing. Based on several criteria, tax incentives for all forms of energy would be based on a “cleanliness credit” or determined by a ratio of the greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) of a facility divided by its electricity production.

The incentive would be available as either a production tax credit of up to 2.3 cents per kilowatt hour or an investment tax credit of up to 20 percent. The production tax credit would be indexed for inflation and could be claimed on a single facility for a maximum of 10 years.

orrin-hatchA second incentive outline by the proposal is the clean transportation incentive and would be available for fuels that are 25 percent cleaner than conventional gasoline. The percent of “cleanliness” would be determined by the production process’s lifecycle emissions basis as determined by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The max credit would be $1 per gallon.

Senator Baucus has invited members of Congress, key stakeholders and the general public to provide feedback on the draft. Comments must be submitted by January 31, 2014 (the same time comments for the EPA’s proposed renewable fuel volumes for the 2014 Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). Click here for information about the proposal as well as information on how to submit comments.