Get Your Sustainable Energy in America Factbook

Bloomberg New Energy Finance has released the 2014 installment of the Sustainable Energy in America Factbook. The resource was developed for The Business Council for Sustainable Energy, and found that renewable energy, natural gas and energy efficiency advancements are leading a transformation of America’s energy.

The 2014 Factbook documents the upward trajectory of energy efficiency, natural gas and renewable energy, using the latest data from 2013. The report finds renewable energy provided 13 percent of U.S. electricity generation in 2013, up from 12 percent in 2012 and just 8 percent in 2007. At the same time, renewable energy costs reached all-time 2014 Sustainable Energy in America Factbooklows, allowing clean energy, with the aid of incentives, to be cheaper than fossil fuel electricity in some parts of the country. Small, distributed generators and off-grid installations, meanwhile, began to emerge as a transformative force in the power industry. Financiers who back small-scale solar systems have raised nearly $6.7 billion since 2008.

“The U.S. energy transformation that began in the mid-2000s gained additional momentum in 2013,” said Lisa Jacobson, president of The Business Council for Sustainable Energy. “The Factbook plays a vital role in chronicling this fast-moving transformation, which is creating whole new industries and thousands of new jobs in the energy efficiency, natural gas and renewable energy sectors.”

The factbook also found that energy efficiency financing is on an upward trend. Spending by energy service companies and by electric and gas utilities totaled more than $12 billion in 2012. Today 31 states and the District of Columbia, representing 77 percent of the U.S. population, have legislation in place to enable the financing of energy efficiency via property-assessed clean energy programs (PACE). Technology for smart grid and for smart homes is making its way into the market and has potential to be pervasive in the future, driving even further efficiency gains in the years ahead.

“The changes unfolding in the U.S. energy industry have been profound and, by the typical time scale of the industry, abrupt,” said Michel Di Capua, Head of North American Analysis for Bloomberg New Energy Finance. “The effects of these changes will be felt in seemingly every nook and cranny of the American economy, from military bases to manufacturing plants, from homes to highways. 2013 saw some detours from the long-term trends, but overall, it is clear that the long-term transformation of how the U.S. produces and consumes energy continues.” Continue reading

Q&A on EPA 2014 RFS Proposal

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has received more than 15,000 comments on its 2014 proposed rules for the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). According to the thousands of Third Way logocomments, should the renewable fuel volumes go forth as proposed, not only would the first generation biofuel industry be harmed, but significant harm would bestow advanced biofuel development including cellulosic ethanol and efforts to develop drop-in biofuels just as biojet fuels and algal-based biofuels.

In response to the many questions surround the proposed rule, with a big one being is it legal or does it go against statue, the online think tank, Third Way, has released a Q&A on EPA’s proposed rule to lower the 2014 renewable fuel volumes.

The document addresses questions on the importance of biofuels, Renewable Identification Numbers (RINS), the status of cellulosic ethanol and more.

Smithfield’s Renewable Energy Commitment Tangible

Smithfield Foods commitment to renewable energy is showing tangible results according to the company. During the past several years, the company has been monitoring scientific advancements that have removed barriers to efficiently and sustainably create renewable energy from agricultural waste, in particular the use of anaerobic digestion processes that covert decomposing organic matter, such as hog manure, into renewable energy.

“The bottom line is that our company’s commitment to creating renewable energy is about to produce some very tangible and beneficial results,” said C. Larry Pope, president and chief executive officer of Smithfield Foods.

cute pigsPope noted that two Smithfield Foods strategic partnerships at Murphy-Brown LLC facilities in northern Missouri and Milford, Utah, involving anaerobic digestion technology are seeing results and the projects will soon deliver electricity to neighboring communities.

“Our Missouri and Utah projects are a classic win-win. We will considerably reduce the greenhouse effects on the Earth’s atmosphere by recycling agricultural waste, help to protect our natural resources and provide a more environmentally friendly energy source,” Pope said.

In northern Missouri, Murphy-Brown of Missouri, LLC (MBM) and Roeslein Alternative Energy, LLC, have announced joint plans to develop a $100 million renewable biogas project. Biogas produces energy when organic matter decomposes without oxygen present. The biogas will be harvested from MGM finishing farms in northern Missouri and construction is set to begin this spring.

In addition, the company’s project Milford, Utah, is ramping up. Murphy-Brown’s
Circle 4 Farms will be producing electricity via two methane digesters. In this project, manure will be converted to energy and as a result, the manure, or solid waste, will no longer be stored in lagoons.

Pope added, “Our manure-to-energy projects are just another step in our sustainability
journey.”

Sustainable Poplar Plantation Provides Biofuels Biomass

The GreenWood Tree Farm Fund, LP (GTFF), managed by GreenWood Resources, has become the first short rotation forest plantation worldwide to earn certification under the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials (RSB). The RSB certification covers GTFF’s cultivation, management and harvesting of coppiced poplar trees, used as biomass feedstock for the cellulosic ethanol industry or pelletized for direct combustion in biomass electric plants. The certification was conducted by SCS Global Services (SCS), a world leader in third-party sustainability certification.

“Biomass from trees is an ideal solution for generating renewable fuels and chemicals while reducing reliance on fossil fuels,” said Jeff Nuss, President & CEO of GreenWood Resources (GWR). “GWR’s high-yield, short-rotation tree farms need less fertilizer and less energy to produce than traditional row crops, and they produce greater energy output per unit of production. We take our sustainability mission very seriously and are proud to have received the RSB designation.”

Poplar_GreenWoodResources_AutumnWebSCS audited the Boardman, Oregon tree farm to RSB standards jointly with GWR’s annual Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification renewal. Combined, these two certifications recognize GreenWood’s efforts to maintain biodiversity, protect water resources, account for greenhouse gas emissions, treat workers fairly, and benefit the community.

“While biofuels for both transportation and energy production offer promise as an alternative to fossil fuels, production of its raw material can have a major impact on land, air, and water resources,” said Neil Mendenhall, Manager of Supply Chain Services at SCS. “GreenWood Resources is demonstrating a sustainable approach to the production of biomaterials that has a greatly reduced environmental impact.”

Rolf Hogan, Executive Director of RSB added, “RSB is pleased that GWR has demonstrated the sustainability of its biomass feedstock production sufficient to earn certification. GreenWood is a great example of a short-rotation tree farm that can reach the highest level of sustainability.”

Elevance Moves Forward with Natchez Biorefinery

Elevance Renewable Sciences is moving forward with the development of its biorefinery in Natchez, Mississippi and has selected URS Corporation to provide engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) services. The company says it is on track to meet customer forecasts for its Inherent renewable building blocks in 2016.

Elevance Renewable Sciences logo“URS is a natural partner for us, and we’re looking forward to working together to advance our second biorefinery,” said Elevance CEO K’Lynne Johnson. “Just as our Inherent renewable building blocks are a breakthrough category of novel products that provide innovative solutions to multiple industries, URS brings an innovative approach to getting the job done.”

Under the contract, URS’ scope of work involves converting Elevance’s existing biodiesel plant into a new biorefinery.

“With our presence in Baton Rouge, near the site of the new biorefinery, URS is able to provide an EPC solution to Elevance that features a local, experienced team and proven construction delivery,” said Ken Martinez, URS Vice President and General Manager, Process Engineering. “URS’ expertise supporting clients worldwide with a variety of systems and processes makes us an ideal partner for Elevance’s latest biorefinery project.”

Elevance is a specialty chemicals company that will have two world-scale biorefineries in operation by 2016. The Natchez project will be the second biorefinery based on Elevance’s proprietary metathesis technology. Commercial production is already underway at the company’s first biorefinery, a 180,000 MT joint venture with Wilmar International Limited located in Gresik, Indonesia.

The commercial-scale manufacturing facility in Natchez will produce novel specialty chemicals, including multifunctional esters such as 9-decenoic methyl ester; a unique distribution of bio-based alpha and internal olefins including decene; and a premium mixture of oleochemicals. It will have a capacity of 280,000 MT (approximately 617 million pounds).

The high-value performance specialty chemicals, olefins and oleochemicals produced at the company’s biorefineries will be used in personal care products, detergents and cleaners, lubricants and additives, engineered polymers, and other specialty chemicals markets.

BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDFRMD has become a gold sponsor of the Wind Energy Summit South Africa taking place April 9-10, 2014 in Cape Town. During this industry meeting, RMB will share their experience of successful financing during the round one development at Hopefield wind farm. The summit brings together the key decision makers of South African wind, including the National Treasury and the Department of Environmental Affairs, NERSA, Eskom, Nedbank Capital, Gestamp Wind, Siemens and Suzlon.
  • Lignol Energy Corporation has announced that it has closed the transaction previously announced to acquire all of the current outstanding and issued ordinary shares of Territory Biofuels Limited increasing its ownership of TBF from 55% to 100%. TBF owns the largest biodiesel plant in Australia with an annual capacity of 140 million litres with plans to re-start operations in the latter half of 2014.
  • National Cooperative Bank provided $82 million in financing for solar projects during 2013. The Bank worked with Strata Solar of Chapel Hill, North Carolina on 15 solar projects around the state that provided 94 MW of power. The projects the Bank financed resulted in 94 MW of power, which equates to powering 11,250 homes.
  • Submissions and nominations for the 2015 Zayed Future Energy Prize are open. The prize, an annual US$4 million award, recognises individuals, organisations and schools who have made significant strides to advance the fields of renewable energy and sustainability. Submissions will open globally across five categories: Large Corporation, Small and Medium Enterprise (SME), Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO), Lifetime Achievement and Global High Schools. In the Lifetime Achievement category, nominations are also being be accepted.

We Have A Farm Bill!

baby-farm-billToday the U.S. Senate voted 68-32 to pass the 2014 farm bill after years of work by both Agriculture Committees. The House passed its version of a conference bill Jan. 29, and now the farm bill goes to President Obama’s desk.

The President is expected to sign the bill into law. The Agricultural Act of 2014 expands bio-energy production, supporting non-food based advanced biomass energy production such as cellulosic ethanol and woody biomass power. Specifically, the new Farm Bill funds biomass initiatives for the next five years:

  • Bio-Based Markets for $3 million per year
  • Biomass Research and Development for $3 million per year
  • Biorefinery, Renewable Chemical and Bio-Based Product Manufacturing Assistance Program for $100 million in 2014 and $50 million in 2015 and 2016
  • Biomass Crop Assistance Program for $25 million per year
  • Bioenergy for Advanced Biofuels for $15 million per year

“America’s farmers are core to the innovation that’s driven down our dependence on foreign oil – and this policy will keep them doing it, said Adam Monroe, regional president of the Americas for Novozymes, a global leader in bioenzyme production. There’s already enough concern about energy policy in America with EPA’s proposed revisions to the Renewable Fuel Standard. It’s a power sign to see policy certainty surrounding the energy programs in the farm bill. We thank Congress for taking action and we urge President Obama to swiftly sign it.

Growth Energy is also supportive of the Farm Bill with CEO Tom Buis commenting, “This legislation will encourage further development in biofuels by continuing to fund essential programs such as the Biorefinery Assistance Program, Rural Energy for America Program and Biomass Crop Assistance Program.

“The bottom line is that this bill helps create jobs in rural America and advances first and next generation biofuel production that will help improve our environment and reduce our dangerous addiction to foreign oil.

Ormat Completes Kenyan Oklaria III Geothermal Plant

Ormat Technologies has successfully completed construction and reached commercial operation of Plant 3 in the Olkaria III geothermal power plant complex located in Naivasha, Kenya. With Plant 3 online, the complex’s total generation capacity has increased to 110 MW. The power generated by the Olkaria III is sold under a 20-year power purchase agreement (PPA) with Kenya Power and Lighting Company Limited (KPLC).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Olkaria III complex was financed with a $310 million debt facility provided by the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC). In November 2013, Ormat drew down the remaining $45 million available under the project finance debt facility for the completion of Plant 3.

“Olkaria III is a prime example of our multi-stage approach to project development generating higher investment returns and reducing risk,” said Dita Bronicki, chief executive officer of Ormat. “In less than one year, we’ve completed construction of two additional plants and, over the course of five years, more than doubled the facility’s generating capacity.”

Bronicki added, “Due to our operational expertise and innovative technology, we’ve accomplished that growth ahead of schedule resulting in a significant increase in revenues. As we complete this project, we remain committed to support the growing power needs of Kenya with this indigenous, reliable and environmentally friendly source of electricity. Kenya is an important market for our future growth due to its high geothermal potential and we are focusing our efforts on increasing our operation in Kenya.”

BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDFRandy Olson, executive director of the Iowa Biodiesel Board (IBB), has resigned to take a position with the U.S. Soybean Export Council. According to Mark Cobb, a biodiesel producer and petroleum distributor who serves as IBB Chair, Olson’s efforts leave the biodiesel industry in Iowa stronger.
  • ROUSH CleanTech has hired Ford Motor Company veteran Rob Stevens as its new vice president of strategy. In this position, Stevens will spearhead future product and customer strategy.
  • CEOs from the wind industry will debate how to get ‘back to business’ in the current climate and other business leaders such as Google will discuss new opportunities at the upcoming EWEA 2014 Annual Event, March 10-13, 2014 in Barcelona Spain. Portuguese Energy Minister Moreira da Silva and IEA chief Maria van der Hoeven will speak on the opening day on 10 March. There will be a range of press activities, thirty conference sessions and an exhibition hall with hundreds of companies present.
  • Iowa Governor Terry Branstad has been named the new Vice Chairman of the Governors’ Biofuels Coalition.

Louis Dreyfus Purchases ICM SMT Technology

Louis Dreyfus Commodities has signed a contract to purchase two Selective Milling Technologies (SMT) from ICM. The systems will be installed at Louis Dreyfus Commodities Grand Junction, LLC, located in Grand Junction, Iowa, and Elkhorn Valley Ethanol, LLC, Louis Dreyfus Commodities logolocated in Norfolk, Nebraska. According to ICM, SMT is a value-added technology that increases ethanol yield, reduces viscosity and increases oil recovery.

“Our ethanol plants are both located in areas of high feedstock production and we are committed to responsibly investing in these assets to give them further strategic advantages in the industry,” said Bruce R. Chapin, Vice President – Chief Operating Officer, North American Region for Louis Dreyfus. “We are excited to choose Selective Milling Technology as a value-added technology not only because of its proven ability to increase ethanol and oil recovery yields, but also because of the potential we see with ICM’s line of sight that builds upon the SMT platform.”

Chris Mitchell, president of ICM, Inc., said, “ICM is very pleased to continue offering SMT as a yield enhancement solution for our ethanol plant customers. SMT is ICM’s platform technology to our proprietary Fiber Separation Technology and Generation 1.5 Technology. We appreciate the opportunity to work with Louis Dreyfus Commodities, a global merchandiser of commodities and processor of agricultural goods.”