Biodiesel Leaders Push for Tax Credit Renewal

Biodiesel leaders from across the nation descended on Washington, D.C., to push lawmakers to renew the federal $1-a-gallon biodiesel tax credit. The National Biodiesel Board points out producers have been without the credit for all of 2015, and that’s the fourth time in six years Congress has allowed it to lapse.

nafb15-nbb-gregDuring the recent National Association of Farm Broadcasting meeting in Kansas City, Missouri, NBB board member Greg Anderson, a soybean producer from Nebraska, said they’d like to get the tax credit done for two years – retroactive for 2015 and for the upcoming 2016 calendar year. He said it’s important to get this passed.

“It levels the playing field,” said Anderson. “We know that oil is subsidized, and biodiesel is a young industry [in comparison]. It would give incentives and confidence to the plants out there that have the production capacity, want to make new hires, provide great jobs and energy independence. We’re lacking when [the tax credit] is not in place.”

Anderson feels confident it will get done, because he knows the NBB’s Washington office has been working legislators hard. He hopes those lawmakers will realize just how valuable the fuel is and how it fits with the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

“Biodiesel is the tip of the spear toward the RFS’ success. We’re the only advanced biofuel commercially available,” showing success from coast-to-coast, heating homes and fueling vehicles cleanly, he noted.

Anderson added the NBB is also working with the Environmental Protection Agency that could see more aggressive RFS growth for biodiesel than what the EPA is currently proposing.

Listen to interview here: NBB board member Greg Anderson

Military Jets Could Fly High on Roadside Gumweed

Glenn Miller gumweed1Researchers in Nevada are finding a way to turn a roadside weed into a high performance military jet fuel. This article from the University of Nevada, Reno, says the school’s Glenn Miller is leading the effort in a project that refines roadside gumweed into biofuel.

“The plant grindelia squarosa, known as curly top gumweed, has extractable hydrocarbons with the potential use as a biodiesel or biomaterials crop,” Miller, a professor in the College of Agriculture, Biotechnology and Natural Resources, said. “Gumweed is native in Nevada and grows on the side of freeways and, more importantly, is an arid land crop that requires less water than other substitutes like alfalfa. Alfalfa takes five feet of water to grow while gumweed uses no more than a foot of water.”

The collaborators on the project planted the gumweed at the University’s Valley Road Field Laboratory and the Main Station Field Laboratory using minimal water and fertilizer resources. After growing and harvesting the gumweed, it went through biomass processing where it was broken down to liquid that smells like tar.

The researchers say the crop and process can produce up to 122 gallons per acre on a biennial basis on the semi-arid lands of Nevada. The project received $500,000 in grant funding from the United States Department of Agriculture and has the potential to supply up to 20 percent of fuel demand for the military.

“It is estimated that if even 10 percent of sagebrush-covered lands in Nevada are used to grow gumweed for aviation biofuels, 400 to 600 million gallons per year of jet biofuels could be produced,” Hongfei Lin, a collaborator from the College of Engineering, said. “That’s definitely incredible. There’s lots of potential.”

Testing to Begin at Nebraska Biodiesel Plant

fhr-logoThe retrofitting of a Nebraska biodiesel plant is nearly complete, and officials are ready to start testing the equipment for its actual opening. This article from the Beatrice (NE) Daily Sun says the Duonix biodiesel plant is almost ready to go after originally being built in 2007 and bought in 2011 by Flint Hills Resources, which is a subsidiary of Koch Industries Inc., and Benefuel Inc.

Mayor Stan Wirth said the company will begin testing the plant before putting it into operation sometime next year.

“For the past year, they have been retrofitting the plant for the first commercial sale use of their biodiesel technology,” Wirth said. “In preparation of that startup, they will be conducting safety checks on the plant and its equipment over the next couple months.”

According to a letter sent to the company’s “neighbors,” the safety checks may result in a “blowdown,” which is the venting of high-pressure gas or water.

The routine procedure is used to check the integrity of piping work, the letter stated, that produces a sound similar to the roar of a jet engine and may last for a few minutes.

Workers will also test the flare gas recovery system, designed to minimize the need for flaring, a safety mechanism that reduces pressure and maintains balance in industrial systems.

Biodiesel Conference Builds Power from Knowledge

NBB2016The old saying “knowledge is power” certainly applies to the upcoming National Biodiesel Conference and Expo, Jan. 25-28, 2016, in Tampa. Conference organizers promise expert speakers on forecast markets, explanation of new regulations, and discussions of tax incentives. Among the spotlight sessions: “Anatomy of the RFS Rule: What the New EPA Rule Does and What it Means for Biodiesel.”

It’s still in flux today, but by conference time we will have the latest Renewable Fuel Standard volumes as well as in-depth analysis about how it may affect you and your business. Our team of experts will review what’s in the final rule and look ahead to what it means for biodiesel’s future under the program. We’ll break down the politics shaping the EPA’s decisions and the likelihood of RFS changes moving forward, whether in Congress or under a new Administration.

More information and registration is available here.

BDI – BioEnergy to Build UK Biodiesel Plant

BDIAustrian-based BDI – BioEnergy International will build a new biodiesel plant in the U.K. This news release from the company says the plant is part of of a larger project by the company also constructing an industrial-sized algae plant.

BDI – BioEnergy International AG developed a new process for the production of high valuable products from algae in its in-house research and development department. The newly founded 100 percent subsidiary “BDI – BioLife Science GmbH”, now invests in the construction of an own production plant at the location in Hartberg/Steiermark.

The implementation of the follow-up order of an existing client in the UK was successfully started. The BioDiesel project for the same client – for the treatment of commercial and industrial waste fats – which has been started beginning of the year is already in the installation phase. The BioGas plant built in Austria for the Heineken Group is currently undergoing its biological start-up. In addition, the BioGas plant in Poland is close to completion.

Joule, Red Rock Biofuels to Merge

joule logoCO2 liquid fuels pioneer Joule will merge with biofuel refinery maker Red Rock Biofuels. This news release from Joule says the merger will help them create an industry-leading carbon-neutral fuel production platform.

In association with this merger, after a year of important service at a critical transition phase for the company, Joule also announced that President and CEO, industry veteran Mr. Serge Tchuruk, will return to his previous board role. Dr. Brian Baynes, a current board member of both Joule and Red Rock and partner at Flagship Ventures, will succeed Tchuruk and will lead Joule as it enters a commercial deployment phase.

Red Rock Biofuels leverages a commercially proven Fischer-Tropsch technology to convert sustainably harvested biomass residues from forests and sawmills into jet fuel and diesel products. The company is poised to begin construction of its first refinery located in Lakeview, Oregon in early 2016. The project is supported by a $70 million grant from the U.S. departments of Agriculture, Navy and Energy, and the company has entered into substantial offtake agreements with Southwest Airlines and FedEx for the fuel that will be produced.

“By merging Red Rock Biofuels with Joule, we intend to accelerate the commercialization of carbon-neutral fuels and continue to build a world leading company,” said Tchuruk, outgoing President and CEO of Joule. He added, “Joule’s proprietary platform provides a path towards carbon-neutral mobility and Red Rock Biofuels will add an immediate commercial capability to produce renewable diesel and jet fuel, complementing our unique direct pathway through direct conversion of CO2 to drop-in fuels. I am very proud to have been part of this important transformation of Joule, which will now significantly speed up our commercialization. Red Rock’s Lakeview project will continue as planned with its current management team, beginning construction in 2016 and producing at a scale of 15 million gallons of renewable diesel and jet fuel when completed.”

“The world’s need for low carbon transportation fuels has never been greater. Having worked closely with both Joule and Red Rock, I am very pleased to be able to combine Red Rock’s near-term, commercial supply of drop-in low carbon fuels, with Joule’s novel and highly scalable low carbon fuel production platform,” said Baynes, incoming President and CEO. ”The Red Rock team also adds significant strength in project development and operations to Joule’s R&D expertise. We are seeing continued acceleration of our direct CO2 to fuel technology development, and the Red Rock platform will increase project opportunities worldwide.”

Ethanol Conference to Offer View of Future

NEC 2016aThe organizers of the 21st Annual National Ethanol Conference are offering attendees a sneak peek of what they’ll see at the gathering Feb. 15-17, 2015, at the Hyatt Regency in New Orleans… while also offering a view of the future for the ethanol industry.

NEC 2016, Fueling a High Octane Future, will highlight how ethanol’s high octane content is driving demand for the fuel both domestically and abroad. Industry experts will provide a look at the current state of the industry, as well as forecasts for the future.

Featured Session Highlights Include…

Keynote Address from John Hofmeister, former president of the Shell Oil Company
Energy Markets Outlook with Tom Kloza, Global Head of Energy Analysis at Oil Price Information Service (OPIS)
High Octane Means High Performance Addresses ethanol’s benefits as a high octane fuel source for today’s vehicles, as well as future advanced engine technologies
Government Industry Conversation About the Future of U.S. Biofuels Policy, including a discussion on how evolving fuel policies present both challenges and opportunities to industry
Why Some Marketers Choose to Sell E15 and Flex-Fuels, and Others Don’t provides first-hand insight on the regulatory and marketplace environment presented by higher ethanol blends.
Opportunities for Ethanol Export in Key Target Markets will involve experts from the target markets of the International Buyer Program (Brazil, China, India, Mexico & Philippines) to provide detailed information on export opportunities for the U.S. ethanol industry
High Octane Fuels: Economic & Environmental Benefits will present a macro picture of the economic and environmental advantages of ethanol as a high octane fuel both domestically and abroad

In addition, those who register early will get some exclusive upgrades.

Register by November 27, 2015 and receive:

An exclusive invitation to participate in a private webinar on the 2016 presidential campaign with a focus on candidates’ positions on ethanol issues (taking place on January 14, 2016)
Entry into a drawing to win a complimentary Executive Suite upgrade
Entry into a drawing to receive a complimentary registration to NEC 2017

And if that weren’t enough, the NEC Scholarship Program will see six students have their full cost of the conference registration fee – an $895 value – paid for in full. Deadline to apply for the scholarship is December 18.

Pacific Ag Harvests Record Wheat Straw Biomass

PacificAg1Crop residue harvest company Pacific Ag set a record with its most recent wheat straw biomass harvest. This news release says the company worked with more than 200 growers across seven states to harvest moree than 100,000 acres of wheat straw for use in bioenergy, among other applications.

“We’re able to aggregate more than 100,000 acres of wheat straw residue and convert it to a high quality, consistent and professionally delivered residue product,” said Bill Levy, CEO of Pacific Ag. “This builds confidence in end-markets, which helps drive consistent demand. That predictable demand, in turn, gives our growers confidence that they can rely on our program as they decide their equipment budgets and tillage resources.”

Owning and operating the single largest fleet of crop residue harvesting equipment in the U.S. gives Pacific Ag the ability to consolidate and simplify customers’ supply needs, while its decades of experience harvesting and marketing crop residues allows it to meet the product quality, specification and delivery demands of a diverse set of end-use customers across the regions in which it operates.

Pacific Ag works with growers on a field-by-field basis to leave them the right field conditions for their individual field and cropping needs. The company has been focused on residue harvests behind combines in wheat, corn, and grass seed crops for 17 years, providing a wealth of knowledge and in-field experience on which to help growers make individual, season-specific decisions about residue removal.

Additionally, the company’s proprietary PowerStock Pro™ supply chain management system provides a turnkey tool for managing every aspect of the complex feedstock supply chain from grower contracts to GIS-enabled field mapping to equipment deployment, harvest results and inventory management. This system is integral in ensuring the timely delivery of product to Pacific Ag customers.

Court Upholds Massachusetts Biomass Plant

massflagThe state Supreme Judicial Court in Massachusetts has upheld the legality of a proposed biomass plant. This article from said the decision is the third one in favor of the $150 million project in East Springfield, but opponents swear they’ll continue the fight.

Palmer Renewable Energy, which has been pursuing the wood-to-energy plant at Cadwell Drive and Page Boulevard for the past seven years amidst legal challenges, said it looks forward to “bringing the project to fruition.”

One of the plaintiffs, Michaelann Bewsee, said the court fight appears to be over, but there are additional options available to challenge the project.

“We were disappointed but not surprised,” Bewsee said. “However we still have a few other cards to play.”

The Springfield Public Health Council is considering if it should conduct a site assignment hearing for the biomass project.

Thomas A. Mackie, a Boston lawyer representing Palmer Renewable Energy did not comment on the company’s next steps. The company had two building permits issued for the project that had been on hold during the legal challenges.

“This ruling closes an important chapter in our effort to bring a $150 million green energy project to the City of Springfield,” Mackie said, “The SJC’s decision clearly and emphatically reaffirms that Palmer Renewable Energy has complied with every legal requirement and met every environmental standard needed to move forward.”

Genera Partners with Drone Company for Biomass

generaBiomass energy company Genera has teamed up with a drone company to improve the efficiency and quality of sustainable biomass crop production and distribution. This news release from the company says it is working with PrecisionHawk to develop algorithms to assess crop health and productivity using aerial farm imagery collected by satellites and drones.

“Working with PrecisionHawk to develop advanced data collection and analysis tools elevates commercial-scale biomass supply chains to the forefront of technological innovation for crop management, risk reduction, and efficiency” said Dr. Sam Jackson, Vice President of Business Development at Genera. “PrecisionHawk is the leading company in remote sensing in a variety of industries, including agriculture. Partnering our agronomic knowledge and skills with their outstanding technology platform is a win not only for us, but for the entire biomass industry.”

Since 2008, Genera Energy has grown to be the industry leader in biomass supply and supply chain services. Its expertise in dedicated energy crops allows it to provide unique services and solutions to its customers. The first group of research tools to be developed under the new partnership will focus on lignocellulosic crops, core to Genera’s expertise.

“This partnership is a great opportunity to develop decision support tools that provide a more sustainable and efficient path for energy production,” said Dr. Allison Ferguson, Director of Education and Research Partnerships at PrecisionHawk. “Genera Energy has built an impressive reputation in agriculture and energy, and we look forward to offering this suite of useful solutions for the betterment of the industry.”

The technology uses the DataMapper software platform.