Ethanol Exports Down, DDGS Exports Hit Records

A new analysis from the Renewable Fuels Association shows that while ethanol exports dropped in June, the export of dried distillers grains (DDGS), a by-product of ethanol production, set an all-time record.

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U.S. ethanol exports retreated for the third month in a row in June, according to RFA analysis of government data released today, dropping 7% from May to 60.2 million gallons (mg). Canada (22.9 mg, or 38%), the United Arab Emirates (12.7 mg, or 21%) and the Philippines (7.4 mg, or 12%) accounted for the bulk of exports in June, followed by South Korea (4.2 mg) and the Netherlands (4.2 mg). No ethanol exports were shipped to Brazil in June. Outside of Canada, Brazil has been the largest customer for U.S. ethanol exports, averaging 12.3 mg per month over the past five years. Through the first half of the year, exports stood at 437 mg, indicating an annualized rate of 874 mg.

June exports of U.S. distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS)—the animal feed co-product manufactured by dry mill ethanol plants—bounded 12% higher to 1,306,623 metric tons (mt), breaking the previous monthly record set in July 2014. Monthly exports to China reached an historic high of 967,529 mt in June—with China maintaining a 74% market share for the second month in a row. Exports to the rest of the world in June reversed a 7-month decline as monthly export volumes increased 10%. Mexico (76,784 mt, or 6% of exports), Canada (38,501 mt), Egypt (35,197 mt), Thailand (23,982 mt) and Ireland (22,700 mt) captured most of the remaining global market for U.S. DDGS in June. Year-to-date exports for 2015 are 5.8 million mt, implying an annualized total 11.6 million mt—almost one-third of projected domestic production.

Meanwhile, ethanol imports also fell again in June to just 717,320 gallons of denatured product. Almost all of that imported ethanol (99 percent) came from Spain.

Alliance Bioenergy+ to Build 56 Cell. Ethanol Plants

alliance-bioA Florida company is going to build 56 cellulosic ethanol plants. Alliance BioEnergy Plus, Inc. struck the deal with construction company Renewable Resources Development of America, LLC (“RRDA”) to build the plants both domestically and abroad using Alliance’s patented CTS technology.

It is anticipated that the first CTS plant, under the agreement, will be located in central Georgia, breaking ground this fall and will process up to one thousand metric tons a day of agriculture and forestry waste. RRDA is in advanced negotiations with local municipalities and expects to be fully operational by the second quarter of 2016.

In addition, RRDA and the Company have entered into an agreement whereas RRDA will invest $4 million into the Company in exchange for a 10% ownership stake in the Company, 2 million warrants and a license to the first commercial plant to be built by RRDA in Vidalia, Georgia.

Alliance officials say the first commercial plant is being designed and will be up and running early next year.

Syngenta, Quad County Join Biofuels Biz Council

advancedbiofuelsAg company Syngenta and ethanol producer Quad County Corn Processors have joined the Advanced Biofuels Business Council, formerly known as the Advanced Ethanol Council. The group’s mission is to help its members speak with one voice to put the advanced bio-refining industry in the best position to succeed.

Syngenta and Quad County Corn Processors (QCCP) are engaged in a collaboration to license Cellerate, a revolutionary, new enhancing technology that can help ethanol plants convert corn kernel fiber into cellulosic ethanol. The corn fiber ethanol pathway is approved by U.S. EPA as an RFS-eligible cellulosic biofuel. QCCP owns and operates an ethanol plant in Galva, Iowa, and is one of the leading developers of cellulosic ethanol production technology through its wholly-owned subsidiary Cellulosic Ethanol Technologies, LLC.

“The cellulosic biofuels industry is breaking through at commercial scale, and it is critical for the industry to remain unified when it comes to how we engage on policy and regulatory matters,” said Brooke Coleman, executive director of the ABBC. “Syngenta and QCCP are highly engaged on both the business and political fronts, and we look forward to working with them on strategies that will help the industry succeed in 2015 and beyond.”

In addition to enabling plants to increase production by up to 6 percent, Cellerate can help ethanol producers increase the protein content of dried distillers grains to as much as 40 percent and increase total yield of distillers corn oil up to 1.2 pounds per bushel. QCCP is currently on track to annually produce 2 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol via the Cellerate process.

“We are very excited about our ability to develop a cellulosic biofuel technology that increases ethanol throughput and corn oil extraction while reducing energy input and carbon emissions,” said Delayne Johnson, chief executive officer of QCCP. “It is this type of value proposition that makes the future of cellulosic ethanol so bright.”

EPA Recalculates 2014 Ethanol Export Estimates

rfalogo1The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has recalculated its ethanol export estimates for 2014. The EPA’s acknowledgement that it made an error in determining the 2014 available supply of Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs) drew praise from Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) President and CEO Bob Dinneen.

“Kudos to the EPA for recognizing this important error and reassessing the 2014 ethanol export data,” said Dinneen. “This is a critical issue because it affects the estimate of how many RINs generated in 2014 will remain available for compliance with biofuel obligations required by the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). It also has implications for estimates of RIN carryover stocks.”

The memo comes after RFA and member biofuel companies raised the issue in correspondence with the EPA in early June and again at a public hearing on June 25 on the RFS in which dozens of commenters took issue with the agency’s proposal to slash the renewable blending volume obligations (RVOs) for 2014–2016.

According to the memo, “… public commenters indicated that they believed it was an error to treat the reported amounts of undenatured ethanol as being part of the 2014 supply of RINs. Ethanol that is exported in undenatured form would not have generated RINs, and thus should not have been subtracted from the total number of RINs generated for fuel ethanol in 2014 for purposes of calculating the available supply of RINs for 2014 in the proposal. EPA intends to account for this…in the determination of the appropriate volume requirements in the final rulemaking.”

The RFA says the recalculation could increase the blending obligation for renewable fuel from a proposed level of 13.25 billion gallons to more than 13.6 billion gallons.

RFA Promotes Ethanol Safety with Illinois Seminars

rfalogo1The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) is offering some seminars on ethanol safety. This news release from the RFA says the group is partnering with the Sangamon Valley Local Emergency Planning Committee as well as the Springfield and Taylorville Fire Departments in Illinois to hold two free Ethanol Safety Seminars on Aug. 10.

The first seminar is only open to Springfield Hazmat personnel and will take place from 8 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at the Springfield Fire Department in Springfield; the second seminar is open to the public and will be held from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. at the Taylorville Fire Department in Taylorville.

The seminars, which RFA has co-sponsored since 2010, are designed to educate first responders, hazmat teams, safety managers, and local emergency planning committees on proper ethanol emergency response training techniques that they can immediately put to use in the field and pass along to other first response teams. Seminar materials are largely based on the “Training Guide to Ethanol Emergency Response,” which was created by the Ethanol Emergency Response Coalition (EERC) and has been distributed throughout the United States and to several countries worldwide.

“Ethanol is the number one fuel commodity transported by rail in our district each year,” said David Butt, chairman of Sangamon Valley LEPC. “We want to be certain that on those rare occasions that our men and women are called on to respond to ethanol emergencies, they are fully prepared to tackle the challenges that come with them. Providing this training is part of our committee’s effort to ensure they are.”

“Focusing on emergency measures in the event of an ethanol-related incident is an important part of pre-planning,” added Mike Crews, chief of the Taylorville Fire Department. “We are happy to be able to help provide this training to those responsible for the safety of our community so they can be prepared should an incident occur.”

More information is available at www.EthanolResponse.com.

REG Expands Biodiesel Giant’s Iowa Headquarters

REGIowa-based Renewable Energy Group, Inc. is expanding its Ames headquarters complex. This company news release says REG marked the ocassion with a formal ribbon-cutting ceremony.

The 12,000-square foot space at 215 Alexander Avenue is just a short walk from REG’s main headquarters building at 416 S. Bell Avenue, which the Company has occupied since moving its business operations from Ralston to Ames in 2007. REG purchased the Alexander location last December and remodeled the space, while also making upgrades to the Bell Avenue facility. The total investment for the combined project was approximately $2.5 million.

“This expansion is in support of our international and North American growth, diversification and build-out of our hub-and-spoke model where the business continues to be centered in Ames administratively and in decision-making,” said Daniel J. Oh, President and CEO. “When REG first moved to Ames we were less than 30 employees strong. If you asked anyone then about a vision that included two buildings in Ames and nearly 230 local employees, they would have had trouble seeing it. Still, our shareholders, employees, leadership and the Ames community saw it, believed in it, and here we are today.”

Ames community leaders at the ribbon cutting praised REG’s growth. “This is exactly the kind of company we want in Ames,” said Steve Goodhue, Chairman of the Ames Economic Development Commission. “REG is attracting top-notch talent.”

REG to Acquire Imperium Renewables

REGBiodiesel giant Renewable Energy Group (REG), based in Iowa, will acquire Seattle-area Imperium Renewables. REG says the deal includes a 100-million gallon nameplate capacity biomass-based diesel refinery and deepwater port terminal at the Port of Grays Harbor, Washington.

Under the terms of the agreement, REG will pay Imperium $15 million in cash and issue 1.5 million shares of REG common stock in exchange for substantially all of Imperium’s assets. In addition to these payments, REG will pay either $1.75 million in cash or 175,000 shares of REG common stock at closing as elected by REG. For two years post-closing, Imperium may receive up to a $0.05/gallon payment for biomass-based diesel produced and sold. In addition at closing, Imperium will retain its net working capital value of approximately $25 million. REG will also assume $5.2 million of Imperium’s debt from Umpqua Bank, which has agreed to provide REG Grays Harbor, LLC with an additional loan capacity of up to $5 million to fund capital expenditures and improvements at the Grays Harbor facility. Closing is subject to satisfaction of customary closing conditions.

“Bringing the Imperium assets and their team into the REG network is a tremendous addition to our business,” said REG President and CEO Daniel J. Oh. “As we combine our companies, we will expand the reach of REG along the west coast, including production and distribution. We already sell into these markets as they have responded to the call for more clean, advanced biofuels through low carbon fuel standards. This will enable REG to be more efficient and timely in our delivery and improve our supply assurance. We look forward to working with Imperium’s experienced staff and plant employees, maintaining operational activities at Grays Harbor, and becoming active members of the community working with the Port of Grays Harbor and the cities of Hoquiam and Aberdeen.”

“REG’s growth over the last eight years has made them an industry leader and our biodiesel facility in Hoquiam will greatly expand their domestic production footprint and continued success.” said John Plaza, president and CEO of Imperium Renewables. “We hope our facility will help them continue to grow and diversify biofuel production and sales both locally and around the region.”

UPS Substantially Ups Renewable Diesel Use

UPSShipping giant UPS is taking a giant leap forward in its use of renewable diesel. The company announced agreements to buy and use up to 46 million gallons of renewable fuels over the next three years, a 15-fold increase over prior contracts and making UPS one of the largest users of renewable diesel in the world.

The agreements with three leading suppliers of renewable fuels, secure access to an advanced renewable diesel fuel in order to meet the company’s objectives for alternative fuel utilization. Neste, Renewable Energy Group (REG) and Solazyme will supply renewable diesel to UPS to help facilitate the company’s shift to move more than 12% of its purchased ground fuel from conventional diesel and gasoline fuel to alternative fuels by the end of 2017. UPS has previously announced a goal of driving one billion miles with our alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicles by the end of 2017.

“Advanced alternative fuels like renewable diesel are an important part of our strategy to reduce the carbon emissions impact of our fleet,” said Mark Wallace, UPS senior vice president, global engineering and sustainability. “We have used more than three million gallons of renewable diesel to date with positive results. Renewable diesel has a huge impact significantly reducing lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions by up to 90 percent less versus conventional petroleum diesel. Renewable diesel also performs well in cold weather, does not have any blending limitations and can be easily ‘dropped in’ to our fuel supply chain without modifications to our existing diesel trucks and equipment.”

“UPS believes these agreements are especially important because they will help stimulate demand for investment in refinery technologies and sustainable feedstocks needed to produce renewable fuels at a total cost that is comparable to more carbon-intensive petroleum fuels,” said Wallace.

UPS has been running its trucks in Texas and Louisiana on renewable fuels for more than a year. These new agreements provide a path for expanded use across the U.S. and potentially in parts of Europe.

ASA Wants RFS Biodiesel Goals to be Realistic

ams15-asa-wadeGoals for biodiesel in the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) recently announced by the government could be a bit better and should be realistic, as the green fuel benefits everyone and gains some unlikely allies. Cindy caught up with Wade Cowan, Texas farmer and president of the American Soybean Association (ASA) during the Ag Media Summit and got his thoughts on biodiesel and what the Environmental Protection Agency’s goals on biodiesel in the RFS means.

“We would hope [the EPA] would raise the goals [to high but attainable levels],” he said. “It’s a product that not only helps all the consumers in the country who use diesel, but it also helps livestock producers” by keeping a steady supply of soybean meal available. “We’re not asking for the moon, but we want [the RFS goals] high enough to keep making the industry want to go forward and be more productive.”

Wade said biodiesel even has fans in the oil industry.

“They like biodiesel, because someone has to distribute it,” adding companies like Exxon are also interested in helping make the environment better and reduce the U.S.’ dependence on foreign oil. “They’re in it with us, and we expect to see more and more cooperation.”

You can hear all of Cindy’s interview with Wade (or if you’re impatient and just want to get to the biodiesel parts, fast-forward to about the 5:00 mark) here: Interview with Wade Cowan, ASA president

2015 Ag Media Summit Photo Album

Power of Biodiesel to be on Display at Farmfest

FarmfestThe power of biodiesel will be on display at the upcoming Farmfest in Minnesota. The United Pullers of Minnesota, a state organization of the National Tractor Pullers Association (NTPA), will hold the Minnesota BioDiesel Pull-Off at the Redwood County Fairgrounds on Tuesday, Aug. 4th.

[T]his fun and exciting event promises something for everyone featuring seven classes of tractors, trucks and semis! Come out and support the Redwood County Fair Board and get ready for a night of great entertainment!

You can get your tickets for the BioDiesel Pull-Off at the fairgrounds beginning at 4:00 p.m. the day of the pull. Admission is $15 for adults, $10 for children 6-12, and free for kids 5 & Under: FREE