Informa Study Shows E85, E15 Can Achieve RFS

According to a new study by Informa Economics, “Analysis of the Potential Use of Biofuels toward the Renewable Fuel Standard in 2014, shows intended Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) 2014 blending requirements as outlined by statute can be reached through expanded consumption of E85, E15 and carryover of RIN credits (Renewable Identification Numbers). According to the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), the study “clearly demonstrates why the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal to reduce RFS blending requirements is unnecessary and imprudent”.

Using empirical data from 2013, the study finds that E85 sales volumes respond strongly to changes in RIN prices. The authors say this demonstrates the RFS program is working exactly as intended to drive expanded consumption of biofuels above the so-called E10 “blend wall.” The study finds, “It is possible for all statutory components and allocations within the Renewable Fuel Standard to be met in 2014, after adjustments have been made for a waiver of a large majority of the Cellulosic Biofuel Standard.”

The study takes a closer look at likely consumption, finding that ethanol consumption in 2014 could be at least 13.7 billion gallons, comFreedom Fuel ethanol blender pumppared to the EPA’s assumption of 13.0 billion gallons. It points toward E85 as a major contributor, “E85 accounts for most of the potential for expanded consumption….The increase could be even larger if E85 is priced at a sustained discount to gasoline (on an energy-equivalent basis), as the consumer response could be stronger than implied by historical data, since discounts have been transitory in the past.”

Bob Dinneen, RFA president and CEO said of the report, “This study is further proof that the so-called ‘blend wall’ can be easily scaled if the RFS is allowed to work as intended. As I have said time and time again, the RIN mechanism is the tool to drive innovation and infrastructure to accommodate higher ethanol blends like E85 and E15. There is absolutely no need to reduce or repeal the RFS. It is working.”

Roger Zylstra, a farmer from central Iowa and current president of the Iowa Corn Growers Association added, “We hope that this study further emphasizes that the EPA decision to lower the RVO just doesn’t make sense. As a corn grower, I know we have the science and the production to back up the current RFS. It is working and we need to move forward, not backward on our energy security.”

The Informa analysis was commissioned by RFA and the Iowa Corn Promotion Board.

BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDFPacific Ethanol has announced it will implement yield-enhancing technology at its Magic Valley, Idaho plant. The company chose ICM Inc.’s Selective Milling Technology as a component in its process to increase corn oil production and boost ethanol yields by increasing available starch for conversion.
  • International marine engineering company, SeaRoc, have been shortlisted for the 2014 renewableUK Health & Safety Awards for their innovation and delivery of a ‘minimal human intervention’ lattice tower installation methodology, recently deployed at Dogger Bank. Voting is open now.
  • NG Advantage welcomed Ken Pulido as the company’s Chief Financial Officer. Pulido comes to NG Advantage with over fifteen years of corporate finance experience focused solely on the energy and power sectors. Having worked for both financial institutions and in corporate energy firms, he has assisted companies in carrying out their strategic business plans by structuring and executing financings across the capital structure.
  • Indianapolis based Palmer Trucks has 38 used 2012 Kenworth T440 Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) tractors for sale. The tractors are one of the first CNG tractor fleets to hit the secondary market in the country. These CNG tractors mark the migration of fleets switching their fuel choice from diesel to compressed natural gas.

MIT Researchers Enhancing Solar Power

MIT researchers have developed a new approach to harvesting solar energy. The technique uses sunlight to heat high-temperature materials whose infrared radiation would be collected by a conventional photovoltaic cell. Researchers say this both improves efficiency as well as could make it easier to store the energy for later use. By adding the extra step, it makes it possible to take advantage of wavelengths of light that typically go to waste.

The process is described in a paper published in the journal Nature Nanotechnology written by graduate student Andrej Lenert, associate professor of mechanical engineering Evelyn Wang, physics professor Marin Soljačić, principal research scientist Ivan Celanović, and three others.MIT nanophotonic solar thermophotovoltaic device

A conventional silicon-based solar cell “doesn’t take advantage of all the photons,” Wang explains. That’s because converting the energy of a photon into electricity requires that the photon’s energy level match that of a characteristic of the photovoltaic (PV) material called a bandgap. Silicon’s bandgap responds to many wavelengths of light, but misses many others.

To address that limitation, the team inserted a two-layer absorber-emitter device — made of novel materials including carbon nanotubes and photonic crystals — between the sunlight and the PV cell. This intermediate material collects energy from a broad spectrum of sunlight, heating up in the process. When it heats up, as with a piece of iron that glows red hot, it emits light of a particular wavelength, which in this case is tuned to match the bandgap of the PV cell mounted nearby.

This basic concept has been explored for several years but Wang says that with TPV systems, “the efficiency would be significantly higher — it could ideally be over 80 percent.”

Lenert, Wang, and their team have already produced an initial test device with a measured efficiency of 3.2 percent, and they say with further work they expect to be able to reach 20 percent efficiency — enough, they say, for a commercially viable product.

In their experiments, the researchers used simulated sunlight, and found that its peak efficiency came when its intensity was equivalent to a focusing system that concentrates sunlight by a factor of 750. This light heated the absorber-emitter to a temperature of 962 degrees Celsius. The MIT researchers say that after further optimization, it should be possible to get the same kind of enhancement at even lower sunlight concentrations, making the systems easier to operate.

Such a system, the team says, combines the advantages of solar photovoltaic systems, which turn sunlight directly into electricity, and solar thermal systems, which can have an advantage for delayed use because heat can be more easily stored than electricity. The new solar thermophotovoltaic systems, they say, could provide efficiency because of their broadband absorption of sunlight; scalability and compactness, because they are based on existing chip-manufacturing technology; and ease of energy storage, because of their reliance on heat.

Rethinking Biofuel Yields

According to new research from Michigan State University (MSU), focusing solely on biomass yield comes at a high price. Looking at the big picture allows other biofuel crops, such as perennial grasses to score higher than corn, as viable alternatives for biofuel production. The research was published in the recent issue of Proceedings for the National Academy of Sciences.

GLBRC / KBS LTER cellulosic biofuels research experiment; Photo“We believe our findings have major implications for bioenergy research and policy,” said Doug Landis, MSU entomologist and one of the paper’s lead authors. “Biomass yield is obviously a key goal, but it appears to come at the expense of many other environmental benefits that society may desire from rural landscapes.”

Landis and a team of researchers from the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center compared three potential biofuel crops: corn, switchgrass, and mixes of native prairie grasses and flowering plants. They measured the diversity of plants, pest and beneficial insects, birds and microbes that consume methane, a greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change. Methane consumption, pest suppression, pollination and bird populations were higher in perennial grasslands.

In addition, the team found that the grass crops’ ability to harbor such increased biodiversity is strongly linked to the fields’ location relative to other habitats. For example, pest suppression, which is already higher in perennial grass crops, increased by an additional 30 percent when fields were located near other perennial grass habitats.

This suggests, says Landis, that in order to enhance pest suppression and other critical ecosystem services, coordinated land use should play a key role in agricultural policy and planning. “With supportive policies, we envision the ability to design agricultural landscapes to maximize multiple benefits.”

Landis points out that rising corn and other commodity prices tempt farmers to till and plant as much of their available land as possible. This includes farming marginal lands that produce lower yields as well as converting acreage set aside for the Conservation Reserve Program, grasslands and wetlands.

“Yes, corn prices are currently attractive to farmers, but with the exception of biomass yield, all other services were greater in the perennial grass crops,” Landis said. “If high commodity prices continue to drive conversion of these marginal lands to annual crop production, it will reduce the flexibility we have in the future to promote other critical services like pollination, pest suppression and reduction of greenhouse gasses.”

E15 Now Available in Ohio

Consumers in Ohio can now choose E15 at the pump. American Freedom Energy has become the first retailer in the state to offer the fuel blend to drivers with 2001 or newer vehicles. The station is located at S 430 St. Route 109, Liberty Center, Ohio 43532.

“Being a leader and not a follower, we believe in consumer choice,” said Glenn Badenhop, President and CEO of American Freedom Energy. “Offering higher ethanol blends like E15 fuel pumps Growth 003sets us apart from other stations, but also helps our local economies, helps the environment, and helps reduce our addiction to foreign oil. Alternative fuels are the future.”

Along with E15 for 2001 and newer vehicles American Freedom Energy will offer E85, E40, E30, and E20 for Flex Fuel vehicles (FFVs) at their Liberty Center station. In doing so, American Freedom Energy also joins more than 3,000 retailers throughout the nation who have the infrastructure available to provide motorists with a choice of various ethanol blends. There are currently 14 states that offer E15.

Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis added, “Seeing retail leaders like Freedom Energy, MAPCO Express, Murphy Oil and Minnoco offering E15 continues to validate that there is a viable market for the new fuel. When given the choice, consumers will seek the fuel that costs less, improves the performance of their vehicles and is better for our environment. The increase in E15 availability is quite impressive.”

Why Mess with Success?

On the same day as the “Hearing in the Heartland” event took place in Des Moines, Iowa to gather comments to submit to the EPA regarding their 2014 proposed Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) rules, Americans United for Change launched its next in a series of TV ads asking rural Americans to join the thousands of citizens around the country who have spoken out on the RFS.

The ad called “Why Mess With Success,” began airing yesterday in Washington DC, Cedar Rapids, IA, and the Quad Cities. The ad makes the closing argument that the RFS has been invaluable for rural economies the last decade, creating hundreds of thousands of jobs and billions in new wealth while saving consumers millions at the pump. Which is why it makes no sense to change course so drastically by gutting the RFS.

Brad Woodhouse, President, Americans United for Changes said of the ad campaign and the RFS, “It’s an open secret that Big Oil has spent millions of dollars trying to put out of business their 70 cent cheaper and cleaner renewable fuels competition. If Washington does what Big Oil wants and strips apart the Renewable Fuel Standard, it’ll be a case study in fixing what isn’t broke that would make the inventors of New Coke blush. While the U.S. economy has been on a wild ride the last decade, rural communities that seized opportunities in the renewable fuels industry have seen nothing but growth, new jobs, new wealth, and more reasons for their children to stay.”

“That’s why the choice before the EPA should be an easy one: either continue to go forward creating thousands of jobs that can’t be outsourced and revitalizing rural economies, or backward,” continued Woodhouse. “Either continue going forward weaning the nation off its addiction to overseas oil, or backwards. Continue making innovations in next generation renewable fuel sources that will build on its success of meeting 10 percent of the nation’s fuel needs, or discourage it. Continue going forward in cutting down carbon emissions harmful to the environment, or backwards and watch as already common oil-industry related disasters become even more routine. Continue giving consumers cheaper alternatives at the pump, or take them away.”

“At this 11th hour, it is critical that the millions of Americans who have benefited from the RFS — from farmers to businesses that serve ethanol industry workers, to consumers – to tell the EPA what’s at stake for them if Big Oil’s bottom line is put ahead of rural America. If you ask the taxpayers, Big Oil gets enough special treatment from Washington already – they don’t need another giveaway,” concluded Woodhouse.

Growth Energy Praises Sentate Letter to EPA

As the date quickly approaches for comments to be submitted to the EPA in response to their proposed 2014 Renewable Fuels Standard Renewable Volume Obligations (RVO), last minute comments are flooding in to the EPA. It is estimated that more than 12,000 comments have already been submitted regarding the proposed rule.

Today, a bipartisan letter, led by Senators Durbin (D-Ill.), Grassley (R-Iowa), Franken (D-Minn.) and Thune (R-S.D.) was submitted to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy calling for changes to their 2014 proposed rule.

The letter, according to Growth Energy, reiterates their associations position that this reduction in RVOs is a misguided policy.

“The leadership by these senators, and by a bipartisan group of representatives in a letter last week, again demonstrates EPA’s proposed rule is flawed and contrary to the Growth_Energy_logo-1goals of the RFS,” said Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy. “The EPA should move forward on biofuel policy, not backwards. EPA’s misguided proposal would increase our dependence on foreign oil, drive-up the cost for consumers at the pump, restrict consumer choice and threaten the nearly 400,000 jobs of those who work every day to develop a cleaner, American-made fuel.”

The letter was signed by Senators Markey (D-Mass.), Baldwin (D-Wis.), Baucus (D-Mont.), Blunt (R-Mo.), Brown (D-Ohio), Cantwell (D-Wash.), Coats (R-Ind.), Donnelly (D-Ind.), Durbin (D-Ill.), Fischer (R-Neb.), Franken (D-Minn.), Grassley (R-Iowa), Harkin (R-Iowa), Heinrich (D-N.M.), Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Hirono (D-Hawaii), Hoeven (R-N.D.), Johanns (R-Neb.), Kirk (R-Ill.), Klobuchar (D-Minn.), McCaskill (D-Mo.), Murray (D-Wash.), Reed (D-R.I.), Schatz (D-Hawaii), Shaheen (D-N.H.), Stabenow (D-Mich.), Thune (R-S.D.), Udall (D-N.M.) and Bennet (D-Colo.).

Obama, EPA Needs to Listen to Midwesterners

Hundreds of people from the Midwest turned out to submit comments today to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) at the “Hearing in the Heartland: Supporting the Renewable Fuel Standard” hosted by Iowa Governor Terry Branstad and Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds.

The EPA held only one public hearing in Washington, D.C. last year in response to their 2014 Renewable Fuel Standard – a proposed policy that lowers the use of biofuels; rather IA Gov Branstad at Hearing in the Heartland Jan 23 2013than increases the use of biofuels as intended by the policy. Branstad noted that when he was testifying in DC with the Iowa delegation, they met with EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy and requested a public hearing in the Midwest and were denied.

Not to be deterred, Branstad rallied several other Midwestern Secretaries of Agriculture to hold their own hearing and people from throughout the Midwest including Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Nebraska and South Dakota traveled on one of the coldest days of the new year to tell their stories of the benefits of biofuels.

“I’ve been a relentless supporter of biofuels dating back to the 1970s, when we called it “gasahol,” said Gov. Branstad to the audience. “It’s truly incredible to see how the industry has grown and provided diverse benefits to agriculture and created thousands of quality jobs across America.”

“With a state that has over 92,000 farmers, dozens of thriving international agri-business companies, and a large variety of bio-science leaders, it’s easy to see that the growth is a result of the hard work and innovation of our farmers and the technology advancements in the use of corn, soybeans and other biomass products.”

Branstad noted the many benefits of biofuels including: diversifying our nation’s energy portfolio and reducing our dependence on foreign oil; reducing air pollution; giving consumers choices at the pump; and helping grow family incomes in rural America. He stressed that EPA’s proposal on the RFS would have devastating effects on this growth ad on job creation and he, along with many other bi-partisan Midwest leaders have voiced opposition.

You can listen to Iowa Governor Terry Branstad’s full remarks here:Obama, EPA Needs to Listen to Midwesterners Continue reading

Cape Wind Wins Again

Cape Wind has again defeated the efforts of its opponents to block the country’s first offshore wind farm. In a historic decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit upheld the FAA’s approval of the Cape Wind project, rejecting every argument that had been advanced by the project’s opponents.

home_page_image_Eco_Tour(1)“The Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, the Town of Barnstable and their financial backer-coal billionaire Bill Koch– have failed yet again in their continuing campaign to use the courts to delay the financing of Cape Wind,” said Cape Wind Communications Director Mark Rodgers. “The court’s definitive decision is an important legal victory that brings America that much closer to launching its offshore wind industry, a keystone in America’s renewable energy future.”

This decision takes on even greater importance because this was the same court that had previously provided project opponents their sole and temporary relief, opponents have lost all 12 legal decisions in other courts.

On October 28, 2011 this Court had remanded the FAA’s third Determination of No Hazard back to the FAA to better explain the rationale for its decision. On February 9, 2012, the FAA issued a Public Notice of its reinstated project review, indicating its conclusion that “None of the turbines would have an adverse effect on the use of air navigation facilities or navigable airspace.”

On August 15, 2012 the FAA issued its 4th DNH which project opponents challenged, the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound pronounced confidence their challenge would be successful. However, this is the case decided again in favor of the FAA and Cape Wind.

GRFA: Biofuels Must Be a Priority

Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week is kicking off and this week the Global Renewable Fuels Alliance (GRFA) called on attendees to make increasing global biofuels use a top priority. During the week, global leaders will address the energy and sustainability challenges of the future. In addition, the World Future Energy Summit is also taking place.

“Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week and it’s complement of events is the ideal setting for Abu Dhabi Sustainability Weekattendees to endorse expanding biofuels strategies because they create much needed rural jobs, significantly curb green house gas emissions and reduce our reliance on crude oil,” said Bliss Baker, spokesperson for the GRFA.

Baker continued, “Attendees of the IRENA Renewable Energy Jobs Conference must endorse expanding the global biofuels industry because it is a bright spot in the world economy, contributing billions of dollars to output and creating hundreds of thousands of jobs now and in the future.”

According to the GRFA, global biofuels production today is making a significant contribution to the global economy, having contributed $277.3 billion and supported nearly 1.4 million jobs in all sectors of the global economy in 2010. By 2020 the global biofuel industry is forecasted to grow to support over 2.2 million jobs in all sectors of the global economy.

“Attendees of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week and the IRENA Meeting also need to recognize that biofuels are the only real feasible option available to reduce emissions in the transportation sector immediately,” said Baker.

In 2013, the International Energy Agency’s Tracking Clean Energy Progress report stated that biofuels will have to play an increased role in order to reduce Green House Gases (GHG) as part of their Climate Change Scenario by 2020. According to the GRFA, in 2013, an estimated 85 billion litres of ethanol were produced which is estimated to have reduced GHG emissions by over 100 million tonnes, the equivalent of removing 20 million cars off the road.

“How can we not expand the global biofuels industry? Last year’s global ethanol production alone reduced GHG emissions equal to removing all the cars registered in Portugal and the Netherlands from the road,” added Baker.

He concluded, “It’s clear, that with all the positive economic and environmental benefits of biofuels, attendees of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week’s events must commit to globally increasing biofuels use so they have a greater share of the future global energy mix,” concluded Baker.