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.

BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDFSave the date for the Ethanol 2014 Emerging Issues Forum taking place in Omaha, Nebraska April 10-11th 2014.
  • Ethanol Producer Magazine is hosting a free webinar on January 16, 2014 at 2:00 at 2:00 pm CST, “Early 2014 Distillers Grains Exports Outlook: New Opportunities, New Challenges”. The webinar will provide a near-term outlook on distillers grains exports, along with year-end export data for 2013 and supply and demand projections for early 2014. Industry experts will explain the drivers behind the rising use of DDGS and other coproducts, including the ongoing education (and reeducation) of major buyers, and the latent growth potential represented by the sheer volumes of feed needed to meet the world’s growing demand for protein. Click here to register.
  • Canadian Solar Inc. one of the world’s largest solar power companies, has officially joined the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) at the board level.
  • MarketResearchReports.Biz has released “Global Algae Biofuel Technologies Market 2014-2018” with a CAGR of 43.4 percent for the period 2013–2018. Several driving factors and trends will contribute to this growth—all of which will be outlined with detail in this report. Analysts use a unique methodology to scrutinize individual vendor performance, trends, drivers and challenges, and a number of other factors to provide the most accurate and detailed market research reports possible. Overview of market share and landscape for the following key geographies: APAC, Europe, Americas, Africa and the Middle East.

2013 Brought Global Growth to Geothermal

This year marks strong global growth for the geothermal industry and is positioned to see greater growth by 2020. In 2013, the Geothermal Energy Association (GEA) identified 70 countries moving forward with nearly 700 geothermal power projects. In 2007, the number was only 46 countries developing or considering geothermal projects. In addition, more U.S. companies are pursuing projects in other countries.

“We are seeing new technology developments move forward and new projects being announced in every region of the world,” said Karl Gawell, Executive Director, Geothermal Energy Association. “Despite slow growth in the United States, the global market continues to gain steam. So, many American geothermal companies are using their industry know-how in friendlier economic and political climates overseas.”

geothermal energy Photo Jennifer BoyerThis year, the industry surpassed 12,000 MW of geothermal power operational, with about 600 MW of new geothermal power coming online globally. New geothermal power came online in Kenya, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Turkey, and Mexico, as well as Oregon, Nevada and Utah in the United States. New announcements in the U.S., Ethiopia, Kenya, the Caribbean and others have increased the developing resource of geothermal power to about 30,000 MW.

The international geothermal power industry is poised to place between 500 and 1,000 MW on line per year for the rest of the decade. This year new geothermal geologic studies or exploration moved forward in places as diverse as American Samoa, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Azerbaijan, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Taiwan, Thailand, Uganda, the United States, and Yemen.

Financing was also strong during 2013 with projects announced in Costa Rica, Dominica, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Tanzania, and the United States, while projects in drilling and start-of-construction phases made headway in Chile, Germany, Guatemala, Italy, Japan, Montserrat, The Philippines, Rwanda, and Zambia.

Technological advancements were made this year in Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS) with successful EGS projects in the U.S. completed by Calpine Corp., Ormat Technologies and AltaRock Energy. Around the world, Australia put its first EGS pilot plant, a 1-MW trial, on line at Habanero, and in Europe, there were EGS advancements in Hungary, the United Kingdom and Switzerland.

At the beginning of 2013, geothermal tax credits were adjusted to qualify projects at the construction stage. Only in the last month of the year have there been signs of change in Washington D.C., with a bipartisan, bicameral budget deal in the Congress and a new clean energy tax proposal by Senate Finance Chair Max Baucus (D-MT).

“The budget deal could open the door to finishing appropriations bills, which could reinvigorate the DOE research program,” Gawell said. “And the Baucus tax paper breathes new life into efforts to establish long-term incentives for geothermal and other clean power technologies.”

All They Want for Christmas Is a Biogas Generator

Franklin, Vermont farmers Denna and Mike Benjamin were heading into the holidays with a big wish: natural gas to start their anaerobic digester to convert the methane fro their cows’ manure to electricity. The project was partially funded by a federal grant, and if the digester was not operating by year’s end they would lose a major portion of the money.

The challenge they were facing was not living near a natural gas pipleline and a “shot of pure gas” was needed to get the biogas generator going.  So the Benjamins called NG Advantage, a company that trucks compressed natural gas (CNG) to very large industrial NGA starting farmers methane producer 2013 6customers not located on gas pipelines. The company brings several tractor-trailer loads of gas each day to their large customers, whose factories run their boilers 24/7. These isolated facilities save an estimated 20-40 percent on their fuel bills and emit 26 percent less CO2. The Benjamins hoped that NG Advantage could bring them the much-needed natural gas to get their digester operating.

Even though the Benjamins did not need a trailer full of gas, NG Advantage worked with the Benjamins’ engineer, John Forcier of Forcier Consulting Engineers PC, Christopher Herrick, the Chief of the Vermont HAZMAT Response Team, Mike Raker of the Green Mountain Power Renewable Development Fund, Robert Achilles of the Vermont State Agency of Agriculture, and a Canadian company Bio-Methatech, to make a small delivery of gas available to the Benjamins within two days of the phone call. General Transportation of Bridge Water, MA (NG Advantage’s hauler) provide the use of their tractor at no charge to help reduce the cost.

NG Advantage’s VP of Operations and Safety, Gerry Myers, organized the holiday rescue team. He explained why the company went out of its way to help the Benjamins, “Environmental stewardship and embracing the needs of our community at large are embedded in our company’s daily operations. Helping the Benjamin family and Riverview Farm achieve success with their digester project was the right thing to do.”

Denna Benjamin described why it is important for them to build a digester at the Riverview Farm by saying, “We, as other farmers, are looking for ways to diversify our income steam so that we can keep farming. This project seemed like a way to do that and to improve the environment at the same time.”

The Benjamins built the anaerobic digester to use the manure from their cows to create electricity that they can sell back to the grid, to generate heat their farm, and to create a byproduct that provides dry bedding for the cows. By using the methane from the manure to generate electricity, they also eliminate the substantial release of greenhouse gas that would have otherwise naturally occurred. Continue reading

Seasons Greetings From Greenbelt Resources

Twas the night before startup, and all through the plant
Not a creature was stirring, not even an ant.
The wiring was hung by the electrician with care,
With hopes that good lining would keep them from wear.

The cooker tank was nestled on a slant on its beam,
While starchy feedstock inside it mixed with enzymes and steam.
The fermenters sat empty from bottom to hatch;
The system on idle before its long process batch.

Happy Holidays from Greenbelt ResourcesWhen out in the parking lot arose an engine’s roar,
I sprang down from the catwalk and headed for the door.
Past the boiler I flew with wind at my back,
I grabbed the door handle and open’d just a crack.

With the sun just setting down past the airport,
The shadows grew longer making sight tough to sort.
When who in the lot to mine eyes should appear,
But a tanker truck, full of what looked to be beer.

Despite a sharp reflection off the trucks’ front windshield,
I knew in a moment it must be Butterfield.
Then quickly behind, other feedstock trucks came,
And he pointed, and shouted, and directed by name!

“Here beer waste, here crop wastes, here waste wines and waste booze,
There soda, there sports drinks, there juice and waste foods!
To the back of the lot! To the back of that wall!
Pull in quickly big rigs, pull in quickly you all!”

As professional drivers on a closed course do drive,
when instructions were finished, their gears came alive.
So into the lot the tankers they flew,
With an assortment of feedstocks, and Butterfield too.

And then, with a swoosh, I heard in the pipes
The flowing of liquids of various types.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around
Through the bay door Butterfield came with a bound.

He was dressed like a local, from his cap to his boot,
In a button-down and jeans, the local version of a suit.
He looked at the tanks all filling, wide-eyed.
You could see by his stance he was brimming with pride.

His eyes…how they sparkled! His smile, quite friendly!
He walked straight to the control screen and touched it ever so gently.
All around us the tanks were now full to their brims.
I wondered if we’d all might soon have to swim.

Just as fast as it started, the filling stopped with a squirt.
And then I wondered how such varied feedstocks would convert.
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And activated preset system programs; then turned with a jerk.
And lifting his cap by its hard edged visor,
He nodded toward the screen, leaving us all a bit wiser.

He hopped in his rig, to the others gave a whistle,
And away they all drove as fast as a missile.
But I heard him exclaim, like a Saint to his disciple,
“Make Fuel, Fertilizer and Filtered Water from your food wastes; Happy Holidays to all, but please remember to Recycle!”

BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDFAccording to POET-DSM Advanced Biofuel, their first commercial cellulosic bio-ethanol plant remains on schedule for startup in the first part of 2014 as workers continue equipment installation and other activity through the winter. “Project LIBERTY” will produce 20 million gallons of cellulosic biofuel per year – later ramping up to 25 million gallons – from corn cobs, leaves, husk and some stalk. Commissioning for select parts of the process is scheduled to begin in January.
  • Amyris, Inc. has announced an agreement to sell senior convertible promissory notes in a private placement for $28 million in cash proceeds. Under the terms of the agreement, one of Amyris’s largest stockholders, Temasek, in conjunction with new investors affiliated with Wolverine Asset Management, agreed to purchase an aggregate $28 million of the notes. Temasek’s participation will complete its commitment to purchase notes under the Company’s previously announced two-stage convertible note placement. Amyris expects the closing of this placement to occur on or about January 15, 2014.
  • Vestas has received a 117 MW order for the first utility-scale wind power plant to be built in Jordan. The project consists of 38 V112-3.0 MW turbines which will be installed about 180 km south of Amman, in the Tafila region, Jordan. Delivery of the turbines will start in the second quarter of 2014, and the wind power plant is expected to be commissioned in the second quarter of 2015. The contract for the Al Tafila wind power plant includes supply, installation and commissioning of the wind turbines, civil and electrical works, a VestasOnline Business SCADA solution as well as a 10-year custom-designed energy based service agreement for the entire wind power plant. The order has been placed by Jordan Wind Project Company (JWPC), a company set up by InfraMed Infrastructure, Masdar and EP Global Energy (EPGE).
  • BBI International has announced the agenda for the technical sessions of the 7th annual International Biomass Conference & Expo, taking place March 24-26 in Orlando, FL. The 2014 main program will include 30-plus panels and more than 100 speakers, including 90 technical presentations, all within the structured framework of four informative tracks: Track 1: Pellets & Densified Biomass; Track 2: Biomass Power & Thermal; Track 3: Biogas & Landfill Gas; and Track 4: Advanced Biofuels & Biobased Chemicals.