BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDFGTM Research is hosting a free webinar on Tuesday, September 23, 2014 at 2:00 pm ET. The focus of the webinar is increasing non-residential solar project return and decreasing risk. One of the most frequent questions solar companies hear from prospective clients is “what’s my payback?” The webinar will discuss several financial metrics that businesses must analyze and understand when assessing a potential solar project and will also explore the challenges that legacy solar has in non-residential solar development and provides insight on how to overcome them.
  • Supported by aggressive renewable targets, policy backing and a shift towards a greener climate, the UK propelled itself to the head of the global offshore wind power market in 2013, boasting a cumulative installed capacity share of around 52%, according to research and consulting firm GlobalData. The company’s latest report states that the UK’s cumulative offshore wind power installed capacity increased from just over 0.3 Gigawatts (GW) in 2006 to 3.7 GW in 2013, at an impressive Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 42.9%.
  • A report released by Forecast the Facts Action and, “Disrupt Denial: How big business is funding climate change denial in the 113TH Congress and Why They Should Stop,” exposes U.S. companies, such as Google, Ford, Microsoft, UPS and eBay, for their financial support of Senators and House Representatives who deny the science of climate change. While these corporations present environmentally progressive public images, including support for national climate policies, they continue to support members of Congress who reject established science linking pollution to global warming.
  • AltCar Expo, the nation’s leading forum for alternative fuel ride and drive, industry, fleet & public education and demonstration, will take place on Friday and Saturday, September 19-20, 2014, from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. PT at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium. The City of Santa Monica’s Ninth Annual AltCar Expo is free and open to the public.

RFA: Rail Congestion Must Get Resolved

Bob Dinneen, president and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) is speaking out again on the problems of rail congestion that is slowing down the delivery of ethanol and ethanol byproducts across the country. He submitted written testimony to the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation that held a hearing yesterday to examine rail congestion and the harmful impact it has had on agriculture and other commodities.

Dinneen stressed the role that Bakken Crude rail shipments have played in increasing dwell times and decreasing train speeds and pointed toward the negative impact these delays are having on ethanol producers. “The rail system didn’t collapse last winter because of a snow drift in North Dakota,” he said. “It was because of a 400% increase in oil shipments from the Bakkens.”

RailcarsIn the written testimony Dinneen said, “The recent crisis of congestion that has seemingly overtaken the rail industry has become a huge and costly problem … This crisis is one that is causing significant harm to the economic health and well-being of our nation’s economy, as well as driving up costs for a wide array of commodities that rely on the rail for transportation…it is becoming more and more apparent that surging crude oil shipments are coming at the expense of other goods and commodities.”

Listen to Dinneen’s comments here: RFA CEO Bob Dinneen comments on rail situation

Wave Energy Research Progressing

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has announced the funding of up to $4 million for continued wave energy technological research and monitoring efforts. Northwest National Marine Renewable Energy Center (NNMREC) faculty will also share in another $3.25 million grant to iWave Energy Researchmprove “water power” technologies that convert the energy of waves, tides, rivers and ocean currents into electricity.

The project team is comprised of NNMREC with support from Oregon State University and University of Washington will be expanded to add the University of Alaska Fairbanks. The partnership will also enable researchers to learn more about the energy potential of large, flowing rivers.

“We’re extremely excited about the opportunity to add Alaska Fairbanks to our program,” said Belinda Batten, director of NNMREC and a professor in the OSU College of Engineering. “Alaska has an enormous energy resource, both in its coastal waves, tidal currents and powerful rivers. Partnering with Alaska Fairbanks will allow us to expand the scope of our energy research and tap into additional expertise, to more quickly move wave, tidal, and river energy closer to commercial use.”

The new funding will allow NNMREC to develop an improved system for real-time wave forecasting; create robotic devices to support operations and maintenance; design arrays that improve the performance of marine energy conversion devices; improve subsea power transmission systems; and standardize approaches for wildlife monitoring. Federal officials said the overall goal is to reduce the technical, economic and environmental barriers to deployment of new marine energy conversion devices.

“Oregon State University has been a world leader in developing wave energy technology and it’s great that the Department of Energy has recognized this fact in awarding this grant,” said Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden, who helped obtain the new federal support for these programs. Along with its university partners in Washington and Alaska, this funding will help ensure that the Northwest National Marine Renewable Energy Center remains an important national center for ocean energy development not just for the Northwest, but for the entire country.”

Significant progress has been made in how to process, permit and monitor wave energy technology as it emerges from the laboratory to ocean test sites, and ultimately to commercial use. Wave energy’s sustainable generating potential equates to about 10 percent of global energy needs.

Book Review: Build Your Own PHEV

This week I went techie and read “Build Your Own Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle,” by Seth Leitman. I chose this book because I drive an EV – the Ford C-Max, and when I purchased my vehicle, I opted against the plug-in component because I didn’t have a place to charge my car (I live in an apartment complex). In the back of my mind I always wondered if I shouldn’t have planned for the future and purchased the PHEV version. Well now, I’ve discovered with Leitman’s help, it didn’t matter – I can covert my EV to  PHEV.

Build Your Own PHEVLeitman is a quite an expert. He writes for several publications including Mother Earth News and Huffington Post and is a consulting editor for the McGraw-Hill Green Guru Guides. He also runs the blog Green Living Guy.

For those that may be new to the terminology, an electric vehicle consists of a battery that provides energy, an electric motor that drives the wheels and a controller that regulates energy flow to the motor. The only difference between an EV and a PHEV is that the EV battery is recharged through regenerative energy (apply the brakes) while the battery in a PHEV can also be recharged by plugging it in to an outlet.

So the goal of the book is both to educate people on converting their gasoline cars to PHEVs – this is where the real fuel efficiency gains come – as well as to show people that the country can move to PHEVs quickly.

One area that Leitman explains well is how much it costs, or doesn’t cost to drive an PHEV. When using the average U.S. electricity rate of 9 cents per kilowatt (using 2009 numbers) 30 miles of electric driving will cost 81 cents. Assuming that the average fuel economy in the United States is 25 miles per gallon, at $3.00 per gallon, this equates to 75 cents a gallon for the equivalent electricity. Other factors he accounts for: the environmental cost of electricity production.

I don’t have any mechanical skills, but this book is so well-written and easy to use I could actually figure out how to convert my hybrid (or a friend’s car). Granted, I would probably need some professional help but it is amazing how relatively simple and inexpensive this is especially when you factor in higher gas prices and more renewable energy being produced by utilities. My only suggestion is to update the book based on 2014 technologies because with the billions of gas cars on the road, this book will be valuable for years to come. You can purchase the book here.

EWEA to New Commissioner: Rein in Energy Future

Alenka Bratusek has been named Vice President- and Commissioner-designate for Energy Union and Miguel Arias Canete has been named as European Commissioner-designate for Energy and Climate Action. In response to the news, the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) is calling on the new commissioner to take the reigns of the Europe’s energy future.

ewea-logo“We look forward to working with Vice President Bratusek and Commissioner Canete on building a new treaty-busting energy union in Europe, which is underpinned by renewables,” said EWEA Chief Executive Officer Thomas Becker. “For a true single energy market to flourish in Europe, energy policy must become the domain of EU lawmakers and should not be shackled to 28 diverging ministries, regulators and agencies at national level.”

Becker said added, “The announcement of Vice President-designate Bratusek, with responsibility for energy union, shows a commitment by the Juncker presidency to make strides toward a single electricity market that places renewable energies, such as wind power, at the heart of European energy security.”

Parliamentary hearings for the new College of Commissioners are expected to commence on the week beginning Monday September 29, 2014.

Polar Bears to Warm Up Elephants at Oregon Zoo

H_slinky-infographic-3What in the world do polar bears and elephants have to do with renewable energy? Lots with a creative use of geothermal energy at the Oregon Zoo where an underground heating-cooling system will improve energy efficiency. Polar bears like it cool and elephants like it hot and with the help of “Slinky” or a geothermal loop, the two endangered species will keep each other comfy. The innovative high-tech system will be buried 12 feet underground.

“Essentially, this system works the same way as your household refrigerator,” explained Jim Mitchell, zoo construction manager. “The condenser that cools the coils in your refrigerator produces heat, which is expelled away from the coils with a fan. Our system has just added another step: capturing that heat for use elsewhere rather than blowing it all away.”

According to Mitchell, heat is created as a byproduct of cooling the polar bear swimming pools at the zoo. And rather than just expel that heat, the geothermal system will direct it through rows of Slinky-like coiled pipes buried deep in the northern section of Elephant Lands.

The ground maintains a constant temperature, insulating the pipes. Then, when it’s time to crank the thermostat, pumps connected to the system will deliver heat to Forest Hall, the 32,000-square-foot indoor portion of Elephant Lands.

The geothermal loop and other energy-efficient design systems are expected to cut Elephant Lands’ energy requirements in half, reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent and serve as the primary heat source for what will be one of the country’s largest indoor elephant facilities.

Eventually, other renewable sources of heat will be fed into the geothermal system. While it won’t be readily apparent to visitors, the roof at Forest Hall will feature a huge array of solar panels.

“Gradually, we may eliminate the need for fossil fuels at the majority of buildings and exhibits at the zoo,” Mitchell said.

Curator Bob Lee, who oversees the zoo’s elephant program said of the project, “The beauty of this system is in how it gives elephants choice. Most of the time, the elephant family will be able to move freely indoors and out, and we’ll be able to sustainably maintain a comfortable temperature for them.”

Wind Turbines Outperforming Expectations at Honda

Wind turbine energy output is exceeding expectations just six months after installation at the Honda Transmission Mfg of America plant located in Russells Point, Ohio. The two wind turbines have exceeded the projected power output figures by 6.3 percent. The turbines, standing 260 feet tall with 160-foot blades, were initially projected to produce upwards of 10,000 megawatt hours (MWH) of electricity per year, accounting for approximately 10 percent of the plant’s annual power needs. The turbines have outperformed company projections in four of the six months since operation began. At their highest output, the turbines provided 16.26 percent of the plant’s power requirements for the month of April.

“We are extremely pleased with the performance of the wind turbines’ production over their first six months,” said Gary Hand, Vice President of Honda Transmission Mfg. of America. “The turbines’ operation has exceeded the projections established during the project development.”

The wind turbines have also contributed toward reducing the CO2 emissions of power production, helping HHondaturbinesSMrevonda reach its voluntary goals to reduce the environmental impact of its products and manufacturing operations by 2020. This includes a 30 percent reduction in CO2 emissions from Honda products, and significant CO2 reductions from the company’s plants and other operations, compared with year 2000 levels.

We are pleased to observe the performance of the two on-site wind turbines are achieving results over and above what Honda had anticipated. From the outset, we were confident that the site location selected would allow the GE turbines to produce a significant amount of the facility’s’ energy requirements,” said Tyler Juhl, vice president of operations for Juhl Energy who developed and installed the turbines.

The installation of the turbines makes the plant the first major automotive facility in the United States to receive a substantial amount of its power from on-site wind turbines. The two turbines are owned by ConEdison Solutions.

Michael W. Gibson, vice president of energy services at ConEdison Solutions, added of the wind power achievement, “ConEdison Solutions takes tremendous pride in our commitment to customers, and we are proud to be helping Honda implement its innovative energy program at Russells Point. With this initiative, Honda has set an excellent example for the American manufacturing sector, and we are gratified that they have been pleased with its success.”

BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDFBroadwind Energy, Inc. has announced $14 million in new tower orders from a U.S. wind turbine manufacturer. Broadwind will produce these towers in its Manitowoc, Wisconsin and Abilene, Texas facilities.
  • The 14th Annual Renewable Energy Roundup & Sustainable Living Expo starts on Friday, September 26th with the Grand Opening & “Save The Planet? – Kids Are The Answer,” a free educational opportunity for Middle and High School age youth to participate in special environmental educational activities. The Roundup is September 26 – 28 and takes place in Belton at the Bell County Expo Center, 301 W Loop 121 (at IH-35), Belton, TX 76513.
  • Toshiba has been selected as the battery supplier for the next generation, all-electric, zero-emission bus from Proterra Inc., the leading electric vehicle (EV) transit bus manufacturer. The new fleet will use Toshiba’s Rechargeable Batteries (SCiB™), a safe rechargeable battery solution with high-rate performance and long-life capabilities that is used in a wide range of applications, from EVs to grid energy storage.
  • SunEdison, Inc. announced that Google Inc. has agreed to provide $145 million in equity financing for the Regulus solar plant. When completed, the Regulus solar project will be SunEdison’s largest developed and constructed project in North America. Located in Kern County, Calif., the Regulus plant will begin operation later this year, and will supply power to Southern California Edison through a 20-year power purchase agreement.

Introducing Cellulosic Technology Cellerate

During the cellulosic ethanol celebration event at Quad County Corn Processors ethanol plant in Galva, Iowa yesterday, Syngenta unveiled the new brand for the cellulosic ethanol technology: Cellerate™. Enhanced by Enogen® corn enzyme technology, Cellerate is a collaboration between Syngenta and Cellulosic Ethanol Technologies, LLC.

Cellerate is unique in that it is designed to increase an ethanol plant’s production by Cellerate cellulosic ethanol technologyallowing the corn kernel fiber to be converted into cellulosic ethanol. Ethanol plants can easily integrate Cellerate process technology into their existing production process. Cellerate, in conjunction with Enogen corn, will deliver notable benefits to ethanol plants beyond what can be achieved through either technology alone.

“The combination of Cellerate and Enogen represents the next leap forward in ethanol production,” said Jack Bernens, head of marketing and stakeholder relations for Enogen corn enzyme technology at Syngenta. “Ethanol is helping America reduce its dependence on foreign oil, lower prices at the pump, improve the environment with lower emissions, and grow the economy with jobs that can’t be outsourced. Together, these technologies will make ethanol more sustainable.”

In July 2014, collaboration between Syngenta and Cellulosic Ethanol Technologies, LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Quad County Corn Processors (QCCP), produced the first commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol in Iowa.

“The synergy of Cellerate and Enogen will decrease natural gas usage and increase ethanol throughput, while reducing a plant’s carbon footprint,” said Delayne Johnson, chief executive officer of QCCP. “These advantages, combined with higher protein DDGs and increased corn oil production, make the technology package appealing for ethanol plants looking to improve their bottom line.”

Symposium Examines Critical Energy Infrastructure

The Midwest Energy International Symposium will look at how the U.S. will confront a host of energy environment and infrastructure challenges over the next two years. The event will take place on Thursday, October 9, 2014 at the Quad-Cities Waterfront Convention Center located in Bettendorf, Iowa.

Speakers and panelists will provide valuable information and insights regarding energy Midwest Energy Natl Symposiumexports including ethanol, biodiesel, biojet fuels and the supply chains and logistics for fuel transport systems including the trucking, railroad and water transport industries.

The featured keynote speaker is Dr. Gong Ping Yeh, Fermilab with the United States Department of Energy (DOE). His research and interests in sustainable energy include wind, solar, biofuels, electric vehicles and improving energy efficiencies. In recent years, he has focused on Accelerator Driven System and Thorium energy as a new source of energy. Dr. Yeh has been serving internationally as an advisor for sustainable energy in many countries.

Other keynote speakers include:

  • Lt. General Wallace “Chip” Gregson, Jr. (Ret.) will address United States Department of Defense Sustainable Energy Projects.
  • The Rock Island Arsenal, United States Army, will present energy program models for hydroelectricity.
  • Mexico: Creating an Energy Self Sufficient Region in NAFTA, Mexico Energy Ministry
  • Korea: Korea’s Energy Future, Global America Business Institute
  • Germany: Germany’s Current Energy Transition and Use of Biogas as a Fuel, German American Chamber of Commerce, Chicago.

More information about the event along with registration information can be found here.