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.”

Princeton Power, EnStorage Awarded BIRD Grant

Princeton Power Systems and EnStorage have been awarded a $950,000 grant from the Israel-U.S. Binational Industrial Research and Development Foundation (BIRD). The grant will support the commercialization and deployment of an energy storage system based on EnStorage’s proprietary hydrogen bromide (HBr) flow battery and Princeton Power Systems’ inverters and site controller. The first system will be deployed to support a photovoltaic (PV) installation and would be able to support the grid for at least six hours per day for a minBIRD winner logosimum of 20 years.

“The BIRD Foundation grant will enable our companies to develop a comprehensive solution for PV installations and various other applications,” said Marshall Cohen, Chairman of Princeton Power Systems. “We aim to develop inverters as well as software for EnStorage’s HBr technology to add to our long-term energy-storage offering.”

The commercial system will be a 150kW/900kWH containerized system, to be based on EnStorage’s grid connected 50kW/100kWH technology demonstrator.

“Our partnership with Princeton Power Systems will allow us to expedite the commercialization of our technology,” said Arnon Blum, CEO of EnStorage. “The ability to deploy our battery at a customer site and rely on Princeton Power Systems’ experience in optimizing the interaction between the grid and our battery’s performance will serve as a significant step for future deployments.”

Solar Lights Up Students in Zambia

SolarAid and Yingli Green Energy have “lit up” Mayukwayukwa High School in Kaoma, Zambia by installing a solar PV system on the newly built UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) School. The project was successfully completed with partner contributions including Atama Solar Energy, Kingspan Energy and Solar Roof Systems. YINGLI GREEN ENERGY HOLDING COMPANY LIMITED ZAMBIA STUDENTSThe High School is located in the Mayukwayukwa Settlement, one of Africa’s oldest refugee camps that was established in 1966 following the break-out of Angola’s 27-year civil war, 300 km to the west of the capital city, Lusaka. About 15,500 refugees reside in the Mayukwayukwa camp at the moment and many of them know no other home, having been born in the camp.

UNHCR representative to Zambia, Laura Lo Castro, said in a statement that her organisation appreciated the solar lighting system and that it would help them meet the lighting needs at Mayukwayukwa High School. “At UNHCR, we appreciate the donation made by Yingli Green Energy and their partners, through SolarAid. We are aware that this school will greatly benefit the refugees and the host community, thereby enhancing co-existence,” said Lo Castro.

The construction of the high school started in September 2008 as UNHCR intends to provide education for refugee students who struggle to access day school because of the limited school places in the area. Thanks to the solar system installed, Mayukwayukwa High School is now able to light one of the school’s large classrooms, the Headmaster’s office and a dormitory, helping scholars with studying and providing security lighting at the same time. The solar system can also charge cellphones.

“The solar system, donated by Yingli Solar and their partners through SolarAid, will meet the lighting needs at the school and will provide safe and clean electricity, bringing huge benefits to the 600 students between 14 and 19 years old who are in the school, as well as staff and the host community around. Yingli Solar together with their partners support SolarAid to fund specific schools in Africa to provide lighting and get study lights into the hands of teachers and pupils through school campaigns. The solar lighting lengthens learning hours, improves education quality and reduces dependence on expensive and toxic kerosene lamps,” said Richard Turner, Chief Fundraiser at SolarAid.

Liansheng Miao, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Yingli Green Energy, added, “We are pleased to know that hundreds of students and teachers can now use the power of the sun to extend the time for study and other community activities. We are happy to support SolarAid’s ‘Lighter Learning’ program together with our partners. Bringing clean safe light to communities in Africa helps create brighter and better futures for students and families currently living without electricity.”

Only 9 percent of rural sub-Saharan residents in Africa have access to electricity and families can spend up to 25 percent of their income on toxic kerosene for lighting.

2014 Propane Engine Fuel Summit

The fourth annual 2014 Propane Engine Fuel Summit will take place on March 27, 2014 in Irving, Texas. The event will include panels of industry experts discussing topics such as how fueling with propane autogas can benefit your company’s bottom line, which propane autogas vehicle technologies are available now, which OEMs offer propane applications, and more.

2014 Propane Engine Fuel SummitJoe Thompson, president of ROUSH CleanTech, will be a keynote speaker. Thompson plans to share his years of experience in the automotive industry while addressing technological advances in the field of propane autogas fuel systems in the session, “This Isn’t Your Grandpa’s Propane Vehicle.”

“The leaders in the propane industry have a wealth of new knowledge to share about our rapidly advancing industry,” Thompson said. “This domestic resource supports job creation, economic growth and energy security nationwide — all while providing both economical and environmental advantages.”

The agenda will include speakers ranging from fleet managers who have adopted propane autogas vehicles in their fleet, to executives from the Propane Education & Resource Council, CleanFUEL USA, the Industrial Truck Association and more.

According to the event hosts, TSN Communications, converting a corporate fleet to propane autogas can create a positive impact on the environment and sizeable savings for an organization. Propane fueling stations, both private and public, are attainable and accessible, and propane industry equipment, such as forklifts and lawn mowers, is now widely available.

The 2014 Propane Engine Fuel Summit can be attended in person or viewed live via the free online webcast on March 27. There is no charge for viewing the entire event online, courtesy of the North Central Texas Council of Governments. The summit kicks off the 5th Annual Texas Alternative Energy & Transportation Conference & Expo.

BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDFOrion Energy Systems was recognized as a 2013 Xcel Energy Efficiency Partner for outstanding efforts to save energy.
  • SeaRoc, was awarded 2nd place award in the 2014 renewableUK and The Crown Estate Health & Safety Awards for their innovation and delivery of a ‘minimal human intervention’ lattice tower installation methodology, recently deployed at Dogger Bank, alongside Forewind and Universal Foundation.
  • The Håkan Frisinger Foundation for Transportation Research has awarded its 2013 scholarship to Professor Lars Nielsen at Linköping University. Nielsen will receive the scholarship of SEK 250,000 for his national and international successes in vehicular systems research as well as hybrid technology, where Nielsen has been a strong contributor to the research development of national hybrid technology within The Swedish Hybrid Vehicle Centre (SHC).
  • According to a recent report from Navigant Research, worldwide revenue from electric vehicle supply equipment, or EVSE, sales will grow from $567 million annually in 2013 to $5.8 billion in 2022.

Despite Record Offshore Wind Projects, Industry Slows

Despite record offshore wind energy projects coming online in 2013, a recent report shows that new projects have slowed. Last year, 418 offshore turbines came online in Europe making a record 1,567 Megawatts (MW) of new capacity. This is one-third more than the capacity installed in 2012.

This makes a new total of 6,562 MW of offshore wind power – enough to provide 0.7 percent of the EU’s electricity.

European Offshore Wind in 2013However, the report finds that when taking a closer look at what happened, there was a slow-down during the year: two-thirds of the new capacity came online in the first six months. With 11 projects now under construction, down from 14 this time last year, market and regulatory stability is critical to bringing forward the 22,000 MW of consented projects across Europe.

“The unclear political support for offshore wind energy – especially in key offshore wind markets like the UK and Germany – has led to delays to planned projects and fewer new projects being launched,” said Justin Wilkes, Deputy CEO at the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA). “This means installations are likely to plateau until 2015, followed by a decline as from 2016.”

Wilkes added, “An ambitious decision on a 2030 renewable energy target by the Heads of State in March would be the right signal to send to the offshore wind sector that Europe will develop its massive offshore wind potential for green growth, jobs, industrialisation, technological leadership and CO2 reductions.”

In 2013 Siemens was the leading turbine supplier (69%), DONG Energy the leading developer (48%), and Bladt the leading substructure supplier (37%), as they were in 2012.

Greenercars.org Releases Environmental Ratings

Greenercars.org has released its 17th annual 2014 Environmental Scores with the Smart ForTwo Electric Drive topping the list with the hightest-ever score of 59 out of 100. The vehicle will be rolled out nationally this year. The GreenerCars initiative is part of the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE).

2011_smart_fortwo-electric-drive-cabriolet_Softtop_RoadsterThe next two “greenest” cars were the Toyota Prius C and the Nissan Leaf. Toyota’s entire family of Priuses performed exceedingly well, with the regular Prius and the Prius plug-in hybrid nabbing spots #4 and #7. Other top scorers for 2014 include the Honda Civic Hybrid (#5), Lexus CT 200H (#6), Honda Insight (#10), and the Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid (#12). Making its return to the “Greenest” list after an absence last year is the Honda Civic Natural Gas vehicle (#9).

“We’ve had such an influx of hybrid and electric vehicles in recent years that the race to earn a spot on the “Greenest” list is more competitive than ever, particularly for conventional vehicles. It’s encouraging to see automakers investing heavily in eco-savvy vehicles on the whole,” said ACEEE lead vehicle analyst Shruti Vaidyanathan.

New to the list this year is the Mitsubishi Mirage, Mitsubishi’s new subcompact offering for the American market. The gasoline vehicle takes the 8th spot on the list. The only other non-hybrid gasoline model to make the list this year is the Smart ForTwo which placed at #11.

“From the rise in the number of efficient vehicles in car-sharing and car rental fleets to the myriad advanced technology vehicle choices available to consumers, the leading edge of the U.S. auto market is evolving rapidly,” said Steve Nadel, ACEEE’s Executive Director.

In addition to the “greenest” cars, the list also includes “greener choices” and the “meanest” cars as well. The dirtiest vehicle for 2014 is the Class 2B Ram 2500 followed by the Bugatti Veyron and the Ford E-150 FFV Wagon.