Clean Jobs Increase 19% in 2013

Ecotech Institute Clean Jobs IndexThe Clean Jobs Index shows 2013 ended with a 19 percent increase in clean jobs. The study also shows more than 3.5 million clean jobs were available in 2013 with a 57 percent increase in solar jobs. Published by Ecotech Institute, the Clean Jobs Index was created to provide objective job information about the renewable energy industry. In addition, the index looks at various sustainability factors including alternative fueling stations, LEED projects and total energy consumption across the U.S.

The index found large growth in clean jobs when compared to 2012 job postings, with solar jobs increasing 57 percent, wind jobs up 20 percent and renewable energy jobs increasing 9.3 percent. The report also looked at states with the most incentives for sustainability and renewables: Minnesota, California, Oregon, Washington, Texas, Indiana, Colorado, Florida, New York and Iowa.

“Renewable energy is the future and this data proves that more than ever,” said Kyle Crider, Ecotech Institute’s Program Chair and Manager of Environmental Operations. “With solar jobs up 57 percent and clean tech jobs up overall nearly 20 percent, it’s definitely an exciting time in the sustainable energy industry.”

BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDFSunEdison along with Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company, National Bank of Arizona (NB|AZ), and Sol Systems have announced a $50 million fund to build a 13.4 megawatt (MW) solar portfolio for the State of California prison and hospital systems.
  • AltCar Expo, a forum for green car ride and drive, public education and demonstration of the latest green technology vehicles, will take place March 14 – 15, 2014 at Craneway Pavilion in Richmond, California. Showcasing the area’s largest selection of electric, hydrogen, natural gas, propane and hybrid vehicles in one location with accompanying rebate and infrastructure information, the AltCar Expo is free and open to the public. AltCar will be providing the first public opportunity to test drive the Honda FCX Clarity: a sleekly styled hydrogen fuel cell powered sedan propelled by an electric motor that runs on electricity generated in a fuel cell, while only emitting water.
  • Greenwood Biosar, a joint venture between Greenwood Energy and Biosar formed to provide engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) services for solar photovoltaic (PV) systems, has completed design and construction of a 2.4-megawatt (MW) solar PV project in Panama’s Herrera Province for Enel Green Power Panama. The solar array is located nine miles from the city of Chitre, is Panama’s first utility-scale solar PV installation, and can provide 30 percent of the surrounding area’s electricity demand – equivalent to 2,600 homes. The project has now been interconnected to the La Empresa de Generacion Electricita grid network.
  • Vestas has won a contract from BWP Eider for a 72.6MW citizen-owned wind power project in Germany. Under the contract, Vestas will supply 22 of its V112 3.3MW turbines for the wind farm located in the region of Eider in Schleswig-Holstein. The deal also covers installation and commissioning of the turbines along with a VestasOnline Business SCADA solution as well as a 15-year full-scope service agreement. Deliveries are scheduled to begin in the third quarter of 2014 and the wind farm is expected to becommissioned in the fourth quarter of 2014.

The Rise of E85

The latest edition of Today in Energy follows the rise of E85 (85% ethanol, 15% gas). According to the Alternative Fuels Data Center (AFDC), Minnesota leads the nation with 336 E85 retail locations, while states outside the Midwest are adding E85 stations most quickly. Today, 2 percent of all retail stations in the U.S. offer E85 serving 5 percent of the U.S. light-duty vehicle market, including flex fuel vehicles (FFVs) that can use E85.

In 2007, the majority of E85 stations were located in Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa and Wisconsin: the same states leading the nation in corn-ethanol production. Today, these states continued to add E85 stations while California, New York, Colorado, Georgia E85 retail stations by stateand Texas added 49 E85 stations through 2013. As a result, the share of nationwide E85 stations in the five traditional ethanol-producing states of the Midwest fell from 54 percent in 2007 to 36 percent in 2013.

California and New York have seen some of the fastest growth in new E85 fueling stations, increasing from fewer than a dozen stations combined in 2007 to more than 80 stations each in 2013. Only two states (New Hampshire and Alaska) currently have no E85 fueling stations, compared to nine that had none of these stations in 2007.

Growth in the number of E85 fueling stations has slowed in the past two years. The number of E85 fueling stations in the country nearly doubled between 2007 to 2011, from 1,229 to 2,442, but only increased by 7 percent from 2011 to 2013, when the total reached 2,625. Notwithstanding the increase in the number of retail outlets selling E85 since 2007, the vast majority of the nation’s approximately 156,000 retail motor fuel outlets do not offer E85.

Veterans Move Into Solar Industry Jobs

According to a new report released jointly from Operation Free and The Solar Foundation, veterans are employed within the solar industry at higher than average rates. The report finds that for a group facing high unemployment, the solar industry is one of the best industries for jobs.

The report, Veterans in Solar: Securing America’s Energy Future, highlights the contributions of veterans to the solar industry, using data derived from The Solar Foundation’s annual National Solar Jobs Census 2013. The findings show that America’s Veterans in Solarsolar industry has grown by 500 percent since 2008, providing more than 13,000 veterans with job opportunities as of November 2013. Veterans represent nearly 10 percent of all solar workers at a time when more than 15 percent of veterans aged 18-24 are currently unemployed. The report also discovered that the growth in the industry is continuing with nearly 62 percent of solar companies that employ veterans plan to add more solar workers within the next 12 months.

Congressman Scott Peters (CA-52), said of the news, “Our servicemen and women have made great sacrifices for our country and it is our responsibility to ensure that when they return home there are high-skill and well-paying jobs available. The solar industry offers our veterans a unique opportunity to use the knowledge they learned serving our country in a rapidly growing sector that is vital to both our national security and economic future.”

According to Operation Free and The Solar Foundation, this is the first time that the significant contributions of veterans to the solar industry have been documented. The two groups intend to amplify these findings in an effort to help more veterans enter into careers in the solar industry.

“This report highlights the ways solar strengthens the US economy and our national security,” added Nat Kreamer, CEO of Clean Power Finance and a former Intelligence Officer, Special Forces, US Navy. “Veterans are over represented in the solar industry because we know first-hand that clean, affordable domestic power makes America and the world safer.”

In addition to examining employment numbers, the report also suggests next steps to expand opportunities for veterans, including the creation of a tool for employers to translate veterans’ skills into language reflecting solar companies’ hiring needs.

BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDFGladstein, Neandross and Associates, organizers of the 2014 Alternative Clean Transportation (ACT) Expo taking place May 5-8, 2014, have announced that the expo will take place in tandem with multiple alternative fuel and advanced vehicle technology events. Additional industry events include: NGV Global 2014: 14th Biennial Conference & Expo; Lead the Way Propane Autogas Summit by the Propane Education & Research Council; Trucking Efficiency Workshop by North American Council for Freight Efficiency & Carbon War Room; California Hydrogen Business Council Spring Summit; Women in ACT Summit; and the Alternative Fuel Toolkit for Local Governments, Fleet Managers, and Employers Workshop by the South Coast Air Quality Management District.
  • The Ethanol 2014 Emerging Issues Forum taking place in Omaha, Nebraska on April 10-11, 2014 has announced several additional speakers including: Scott Hornafius, President & CEO of Elk Petroleum; Dan Olson, Partner, Skytrain Fund Management; and Chris Bender, Head of Public Affairs and Communications for Novozymes.
  • Royal DSM’s advanced cellulosic yeast product was named the ‘Breakthrough Technology of the Year’ by Green Power Conferences. The award recognizes a breakthrough technology platform “for the technology that reset the goal for bio-based production.” Green Power announced the honor, which focuses on sustainability criteria throughout the bio-based value chain, during its Sustainable Bio Awards, presented at the World Bio Markets 2014 conference in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
  • Congress has passed the Energy Efficiency Improvement Act of 2014 (HR 2126), sponsored by Representatives David McKinley (R-WV) and Peter Welch (D-VT). The bill includes several provisions to save energy in buildings.

UPS Expands Propane Commitment

Delivery giant UPS is expanding its commitment to propane. The company has announced plans to purchase 1,000 propane delivery trucks and will also install 50 fueling stations at UPS locations. The investment in propane vehicles and infrastructure is nearly $70 million.

The expanded propane fleet will replace gasoline and diesel fueled vehicles in many rural areas in Louisiana and Oklahoma. The company says trucks along these rural routes can travel up to 200 miles on a tank of propane. The trucks will beginning hitting the roads my mid-year. UPS is considering adding propane trucks to other states.

Propane_PERC_UPS_049_preview“The UPS alternative fuel strategy is to invest in the most environmentally friendly and economical energy sources,” said David Abney, UPS chief operating officer. “Propane meets those criteria as a clean-burning fuel that lowers operating costs and is readily accessible, especially on rural routes in the United States. States that attract this type of investment with tax incentives and grants will factor into the UPS deployment strategy.”

UPS tested 20 propane-powered brown delivery trucks this past winter in Gainesville, Georgia, and expanded its order with Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp. UPS uses a “rolling laboratory” approach to test different fuel sources and technologies according to their route characteristics. The new propane fleet is expected to travel more than 25 million miles and to displace approximately 3.5 million gallons of conventional gasoline and diesel per year.

“The opportunity to road test new propane vehicles and fueling equipment with one of the most sophisticated fleets in the country is a major milestone for the propane industry,” said Roy Willis, president and CEO of Propane Education & Research Council (PERC). UPS and PERC worked with equipment manufacturers to secure certifications with the EPA and California Air Resources Board. “This announcement is the culmination of many entities bringing together the best in propane technology to achieve the greatest economic and environmental results.”

UPS has one of the largest alternative fuel fleets in the country.

5th Anniversary of E15 Waiver

Growth Energy is marking the 5th Anniversary of the Green Jobs Waiver – the waiver that brought the choice of E15 to consumers. The waiver was filed on March 6, 2009 with the Environmental Protection Agency in an effort to get higher ethanol blends approved for commercial use.

E15 sign“We recognized five years ago that increased blends, such as E15 would be necessary to reduce our dangerous dependence on foreign oil and create jobs right here at home all while providing consumers with a choice and savings at the pump,” said Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy about the anniversary. “Additionally, for the biofuels industry to grow, higher blends in the commercial marketplace are necessary to foster development and innovation in next generation fuels.

Five years later, noted Buis, they consider their efforts to be successful even though challenges from Big Oil and special interests continue to arise. “We have faced every possible legal, regulatory and PR hurdle our opponents could throw at us, but our industry and members have been resilient,” said Buis.

Today, E15 can be found in 14 states and each week additional retailers are offering the fuel blend. Buis said retailers are beginning to recognize the economic benefits of offering a “less expensive, home-grown, high performance fuel. All of NASCAR runs on E15 and combined, race car drivers have driven more than 5 million miles on the ethanol blend.

Buis concluded, “E15 is the most tested fuel in our nation’s history. More than six million miles of testing on 86 vehicles without any engine problems or durability issues. One thing is clear; E15 is a safe, reliable fuel that more and more Americans are choosing.”

East Africa’s 1st Utility Solar Project Makes Progress

East Africa’s first utility-scale solar field is making progress. When complete, it is estimated to produce 8 percent of the country’s power generation capacity. The project is going forward due to Dutch solar developer Gigawatt Global Coöperatief having successfully ASYVclosed on $23.7 million in financing for a 8.5 megawatt solar photovoltaic (PV) power plant from an international consortium of equity investors and debt providers including Norwegian development finance institution Norfund, Norwegian-headquartered Scatec Solar, Dutch development bank FMO and the Emerging Africa Infrastructure Fund (EAIF).

The photovoltaic (PV) plant will be located 60 km from the capital of Kigali on land belonging to the Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village (ASYV) for youth orphaned during and after the 1994 Rwandan genocide. The electricity will be fed into the national grid under a 25 year power purchase agreement with the Rwanda Energy, Water and Sanitation Authority (EWSA). Construction has already started and commercial operation of the solar field is expected by summer of 2014.

“It takes a global village to raise a solar revolution,” said American-Israeli entrepreneur and human rights activist Yosef Abramowitz, President of Gigawatt Global and CEO of Energiya Global Capital, Gigawatt’s Israeli affiliate that provided seed money and strategic guidance for the project.

“There are 550 million people in Africa without electricity. Economic growth in developing markets depends on access to affordable, green power. Environmentally-friendly solar energy is far less expensive than diesel-generated power. This first-ever utility-scale solar field in Rwanda – and all of East Africa – represents the future of energy for developing countries and for island nations. It is a game-changer for humanity and the environment,” added Abramowitz.

The Rwanda Minister of State in Charge of Energy and Water, Eng. Emma Francoise Isumbingabo said, “Generation and provision of electricity to all Rwandans is important for the Government of Rwanda. This initiative to produce 8.5 megawatts is a good addition towards closing the current energy gap.”

With limited power generation capacity, the Government of Rwanda has introduced an aggressive plan to boost the nation’s generation capacity. The objective is for 50 percent of the population to have access to electricity by 2017.

Reflecting its dedication to helping heal the world, Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village fostered the development of a solar field, located on Village property, that will generate enough electricity to contribute to a roughly 8 percent increase in the country’s electricity supply. ASYV is leasing land to house the solar facility, the fees from which will help pay for a portion of the Village’s charitable expenses.

Renewable Energy Powers Asian Development Bank

Renewable Energy is now powering the Asian Development Bank (ABD). It’s Manila headquarters is now getting 100 percent of its energy from renewable energy including geothermal and solar power. ABD has signed an agreement with AdventEnergy, Inc. Geothermal energy is being delivered from plants in Tiwi in Albay province and Makiling-Banahaw in Laguna province, both of which are on the main Philippine island of Luzon.

Screen Shot 2014-03-04 at 11.35.18 AM“As an institution we are strongly committed to expanding the use of renewable energy across Asia and the Pacific, so it is only fitting that we walk the talk in our own headquarters,” said ADB Vice President Bruce Davis at a ceremony in ADB headquarters. “This agreement will allow us to cut our annual corporate carbon footprint by nearly 50%, with an emission reduction of more than 9,500 tons of CO2 equivalent.”

The supply contract with AdventEnergy will see ADB purchase an average of 1.5 million kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity a month. This will be supplemented by about 50,000 kWh generated monthly from ADB’s rooftop solar panels. These two sources will meet the entire energy requirements of the headquarters building, where more than 2,600 staff and consultants work each day.

With the switch to renewables, ADB will no longer purchase electricity directly from the Manila Electric Company (Meralco), although it will continue to use the company’s distribution network. The move follows ADB’s decision to take advantage of electricity reforms in the Philippines which allow large users to choose their power supplier.

A ceremony to mark the switchover to full renewable power was the centerpiece of ADB’s second “No Impact Week,” during which staff are encouraged to make work and personal lifestyle changes to reduce their carbon footprint and impact on the environment.

EPA Releases Tier 3 Emission Standards

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released its Tier 3 Vehicle Emission and Fuel Standard Program rules. The purpose of the program is to reduce impacts of motor vehicles on air quality and public health. In addition to lower the gasoline sulfur standard, the program is supposed to reduce both tailpipe and evaporative emissions from passenger cars, light-duty truck, medium-duty passenger vehicles and some heavy-duty vehicles. The proposed rule was released on May 31, 2013 and the final rule was signed on March 3, 2014.

EPA_LOGOIn a nutshell, what does this mean for the alternative fuel industry? It means that in some circumstances alternative fuels such as higher blends of ethanol could emerge as next generation automotive fuels. Tier 3 fuels are considered fuels that the automotive industry can “test” to meet the emission standards. The EPA’s rule finalizes an ethanol content of 10 percent (E10) for emissions test gasoline. However, the biofuels industry was lobbying for higher ethanol blends to be approved as test fuels such as E15 and E30. This did not come to pass.

So in other words, an automotive company can test “E15” and find positive emission reduction results, but since it is not considered a legal “test fuel,” the fuel can’t be considered meeting (or exceeding) the EPA’s emission standards.

“It’s not the greatest thing since sliced bread; but at least there’s dough in the machine,” said Advanced Biofuels USA’s vehicle emissions expert, Robert Kozak. “We didn’t get everything that we wanted but two items are important. 1) The new requirement that vehicles be tested and certified using E10 (10% ethanol blend that is standard fuel across the country); and 2) The opportunity for manufacturers to request approval of another new certification fuel such as high octane/high ethanol E30 (30% ethanol blend).”

The next step, says Kozak, is to begin working with the EPA immediately to approve the next round of text fuels such as E30. Others in the industry agree that E15 and E30 should be legal test fuels but some believe the next step is to sue the EPA because limiting the higher ethanol blends as test fuels will limit the automakers research and deployment of more and better optimized vehicles, such as flex fuel vehicles, designed to capitalize on ethanol fuel blends.