French Biodiesel Maker Expands Output

avrilA French biodiesel maker is expanding its production capacity to help meet increased blending requirements in the European country. Reuters reports Avril, the European Union’s largest maker of biodiesel, has opened a 100,000-tonne-per-year refinery on France’s Mediterranean coast.

The facility at Sete, where Avril’s Saipol oilseed processing and refining branch already has a plant, will allow the group to raise biodiesel capacity to 1.7 million tonnes, Jean-Philippe Puig told Reuters in a phone interview.

Avril shut two plants in northern France in 2013, reducing its French capacity by 20 percent, after the government said it wanted to pause the rise in biofuel blending in fuels at 7 percent.

It raised the level by one percent for biodiesel late last year.

“The rise in capacity follows a rise in blending levels in France to 8 percent. Even if it’s not the case today in all gas stations, we should stretch towards 8 percent in the coming months,” Puig said.

Avril chose southern France over the north, where competition is high with Belgium, Germany, and the Netherlands, which are facing overcapacity.

NBB: Survey Supports Increased Biodiesel Volumes

nBBThe National Biodiesel Board (NBB) says a national survey shows that America should have more biodiesel in its fuel mix. In a news release by the group, NBB pointed out the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) enjoys 80 percent support by voters, something the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) should keep in mind as it sits one month away from releasing a final RFS rule.

“This is just more evidence that the EPA should strengthen biodiesel volumes in the final RFS proposal,” said Anne Steckel, Vice President of Federal Affairs. “There is substantial public support and mounting data behind strong renewable fuel volumes that allow for additional growth in the program. We are hopeful the administration and EPA recognize the opportunity they have to deliver meaningful policy that will reduce carbon emissions and reduce our dependence on oil.”

Moore Information conducted an online survey of registered voters nationwide on behalf of the National Biodiesel Board. The survey showed continued support for a national renewable fuel standard to support increased biodiesel use in the U.S. After hearing a description of biodiesel and its uses 80 percent of voters in the United States support a renewable fuel standard for biodiesel and just 10 percent oppose. The remaining voters are unsure. This is up from just 70 percent support two years ago.

The survey also showed that despite drops in oil and gas prices, public support for renewable fuels has not been adversely affected. On the contrary, it appears the public is increasing its support for renewables, like cleaner burning biodiesel.

“Voters clearly support biodiesel and the RFS. The policies are working,” Steckel said. “Now is the time to build on that success.”

Biodiesel Technology Makes Brewery Greener

bdiheineken1A biodiesel technology company has teamed up with one of the world’s biggest makers of beer to open the world’s first major green brewery. This news release from BDI – BioEnergy International says the company teamed up with Brau Union Österreich, part of the international Heineken family, to open the BDI spent-grain fermentation plant that will generate energy from residual brewery materials.

As part of Heineken’s sustainability initiative “Brewing a better World”, the last milestone towards carbon neutrality was laid … with the opening of brewery Göss’ spent-grain fermentation plant.

The BDI spent-grain fermentation plant in Göss/Leoben was opened only six months after the official start of construction. In the presence of Styrian VIPs, Brau Union Österreich and BDI – BioEnergy International AG celebrated the last milestone towards achieving carbon neutrality of the Göss brewery plant.

Brau Union Österreich, part of the international Heineken family, has set itself the goal of using renewable energies throughout the entire brewing process.

In future the energy generated from the brewery’s residual materials will be used in the brewery for steam generation and excess gas will be converted into green electricity. In addition, the digestate, a by-product of the spent-grain fermentation plant, will be used as high quality fertilizer.

“With the construction of this industrial spent-grain fermentation plant, we were able, due to the optimal integration of our biogas process, to supply a convincing solution to this environmental project, and thus to help Brau Union Österreich on its way to a completely carbon-neutral plant”, says Dr. Edgar Ahn, Member of the Executive Board of BDI – BioEnergy International AG.

Iowa Biodiesel Producers Push for Tax Incentive

IowaRFAlogoIowa biodiesel producers are pushing for a renewal of the federal $1-per-gallon biodiesel tax incentive. The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) sent a letter to all members of the Iowa Congressional delegation urging them to pass a multi-year biodiesel tax incentive.

“While facing more than a century of uninterrupted subsidies for petroleum, the biodiesel tax incentive has been allowed to expire four times in six years,” stated IRFA Executive Director Monte Shaw. “Now more than ever, the biodiesel community needs certainty and a level playing field in order to continue to build upon the vast energy security, economic and air quality benefits producing and using biodiesel currently provides to this country.”

The letters stated, “We urge you to do all you can to push for swift passage of a tax extenders package that includes an amendment to shift the biodiesel tax incentive to a producer’s credit, as was unanimously passed out of the Senate Finance Committee in the Tax Relief Extension Act of 2015 (S.1946) on July 21, 2015.

“The biodiesel tax incentive is a proven job creator that is critically important to the U.S. biodiesel industry, and specifically to Iowa biodiesel producers. However, the $1.00 per gallon incentive lapsed on January 1, 2015, marking the fourth time in six years that the incentive has expired—even as favorable tax incentives for petroleum have continued uninterrupted for more than a century. This has created significant disruption and uncertainty in the industry. It is imperative that Congress end this piecemeal tax policy for biodiesel by passing a long-term tax incentive that paves the way for growth.”

The entire biodiesel industry is not quite in harmony on the renewal of the tax incentive. Last week, the Advanced Biofuels Producers Association stated its opposition to an amendment by Sens. Charles Grassley and Maria Cantwell, which would extend the $1-per-gallon federal credit, but would convert the credit from one for blenders (those who make biodiesel mixtures) to one for those who produce biodiesel and renewable diesel.

Iowa is a major producer of biodiesel, with 12 biodiesel facilities able to produce nearly 315 million gallons annually.

Biodiesel Board’s Steckel Honored by Clean Cities

asteckelA leader from the National Biodiesel Board (NBB) has been recognized by a group working in public-private partnership to reduce petroleum consumption in the transportation sector. The Greater Washington Region Clean Cities Coalition on Wednesday honored National Biodiesel Board Vice President Anne Steckel with its Initiative of the Year Award for her work promoting biodiesel on the local and national level.

Steckel was presented with the award at GWRCCC’s 3rd Annual Awards Luncheon at the Crystal Gateway Marriott in Arlington, Va. The award recognizes an alternative fuels team leader who played a key role in closing a significant and complex alternative fuels challenge during the past year.

“Anne’s leadership has brought about greater sustainability to the biodiesel market as a result of her efforts in release of the new Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS),” said Ron Flowers, Executive Director for GWRCCC. “And her work with GWRCCC has gone a long way in increasing the use of biodiesel in the Washington area to over one million gallons per year.”

Steckel’s leadership and advocacy in Washington, D.C., on behalf of the biodiesel industry resulted in many important initiatives, including a comprehensive campaign demonstrating the benefits of increased biodiesel volumes under the RFS. The EPA’s latest RFS proposal would gradually raise biodiesel volumes by about 100 million gallons per year to a standard of 1.9 billion gallons in 2017. Steckel and the NBB team have vowed to continue working to strengthen biodiesel volumes in the final proposal set to be released in November…

“I want to thank Ron Flowers and the board of GWRCC for this award and for the incredible work they do to promote clean energy in the nation’s capital,” Steckel said. “We absolutely would not have made the progress we’ve made in this area without their leadership. The bottom line is we now have more fleets using biodiesel in the region and we have more mechanics trained in understanding biodiesel’s benefits. The air is cleaner as a result, and hopefully we can continue moving forward with stable federal policy that paves the way for even greater use.”

Coal-fired Plant in MO Soon to Burn Biomass

columbiawaterlightA Central Missouri coal-burning power plant that’s been around for more than 100 years will soon get new life using biomass as its fuel. This story from KOMU-TV says Columbia Water and Light’s Municipal Power Plant burned its last coal on Sept. 22 and is undergoing changes to burn the cleaner biomass.

[Columbia Water and Light spokesperson Connie] Kacprowicz said Columbia’s energy efficiency initiative is part of the reason the plant is undergoing changes. In 2004, voters passed the energy mandate before the city council increased the percentages. The ordinance says Columbia must generate 15 percent of its electric sales from renewable sources by 2018. The percentages jump to 25 percent by 2023 and 30 percent by 2029. Kacprowicz said Water and Light is experimenting with several alternatives to coal.

“Our plans at this point are to test out more biomass, which is an approved renewable resource according to Columbia’s ordinance,” Kacprowicz said. “But you can’t just all of a sudden switch from coal to biomass.”

Kacprowicz said the city must either find a biomass that mimics coal or switch out some of the equipment at the plant. The plant was burning small amounts of wood, a type of biomass source, in addition to its coal production.

Christian Johanningmeier, the power production superintendent, said the plant’s experience burning wood makes it a good candidate as an alternative energy source.

“We are looking at converting one of our boilers to 100 percent wood,” Johanningmeier said. “We have lots of years of experience burning the wood and we know that’s a good fuel, it’s readily available and it seems like it works good for us.”

Maine Biomass Plant Gets $500K USDA Grant

woodpelletsA Maine-based power plant is getting $556,520 in U.S. Department of Agriculture grants. This article from BDN Maine says Athens Energy is getting the money to build a new biomass-fueled power generator that runs on wood waste from logging and timberland thinning operations.

The USDA said the proposed Athens biomass plant would produce enough electricity to power about 5,409 homes. It would use $56,520 of the award to use waste heat from the biomass generator to dry wood chips at an adjacent pellet plant, owned by a sister company.

The agency also gave $500,000 to a subsidiary of the company Village Green Ventures, VGBLADS LLC, to build an anaerobic digester that can produce enough electricity to power 727 homes.

USDA also awarded grants to a dozen other rural Maine businesses, mostly to install roof-mounted or sun-tracking pole-mounted solar panels.

Biodiesel Making Hawaii Even Greener

pacificbiodieselHawaii is well known for its lush green countryside, but the Big Island is going to be even greener, environmentally, thanks to biodiesel. This article from the Hawaii Tribune-Herald says Hawaii County is half a year into a successful switch using B20, a 20 percent blend of the green fuel with conventional diesel.

County deputy managing director Randy Kurohara said in an email the shift first was considered in August 2013, when the county’s Research and Development Department began to look for new ways of reducing fossil-fuel dependence. Previous discussions about the matter centered on reducing dependence in electricity production as opposed to transportation fuels, Kurohara said.

The county fleet of diesel vehicles consists of the Hele-On buses in addition to highway trucks and some off-road vehicles. Converting the fleet also was a recommendation of the county’s Energy Sustainability Program, which was released in 2012.

“It puts us in a great position to lead by example, and we have a facility here that actually produces high-quality biodiesel,” Kurohara said.

The Pacific Biodiesel plant in Keaau opened in 2012 and is capable not only of refining biodiesel but distilling it. The distillation capabilities mean more types of waste products can be converted to fuel.

“Nothing has changed in how we received the fuel,” said county mass transit administrator Tiffany Kai. “We have a fueling company that comes down to the county baseyard and the tank is there.”

“In the long run, we’re going to see the benefits,” Kai said.

The county will use an estimated 1 million gallons of biodiesel during this fiscal year.

Get Set to Go to the Biodiesel Conference in Tampa!

NBB2016It’s that time of year again! Time to register for the National Biodiesel Conference & Expo, going on Jan. 25-28, 2016, in Tampa, Florida. Organizers promise networking and educational opportunities that aren’t available anywhere else.

This year, we are on the water in Tampa, and you’ll see some big differences to our format. First, we’ve expanded meeting and sitting space to make our Expo Hall an easy place for you to meet clients and do business. Second, new sessions and schedules recognize one of the most valuable assets of this event is the people you see and meet. With many restaurants in easy walking distance, the venue is perfectly positioned for evenings to host key clients, engage new contacts and interact with biodiesel leaders. We encourage you to consider a sponsorship this year; we have a host of great options to showcase your company or can build one to meet your specific needs.

This event has proven time and again your investment in time and money to make the trip will return value to you and your organization in both dollars and your role in the industry. There is no question this is the biodiesel event of the year, only a question of how you’ll capitalize on the opportunities it presents.

ABFA Opposes Biodiesel Tax Credit Restructure

ABFAlargeA move that extends the federal biodiesel and renewable diesel tax credit for two years, but changes its structure, is finding opposition from at least one biofuels group. The Advanced Biofuels Producers Association opposes an amendment by Sens. Charles Grassley and Maria Cantwell, which would extend the $1-per-gallon federal credit, but would convert the credit from one for blenders (those who make biodiesel mixtures) to one for those who produce biodiesel and renewable diesel.

Converting the tax credit to a producer’s tax credit and limiting its availability fails to capture the global market essence of fuels. It increases profits for a limited number of producers; while reducing the overall availability of fuels. Any limits in the supply chain are likely to increase costs for consumers. This amendment also places an unnecessary burden on fuel retailers who have incurred significant costs to purchase and maintain the equipment to dispense blended fuels, another cost likely to be passed on to consumers.

There is also significant concern that the provision will limit the supply of biofuel heating oil into the Northeast this winter. This change, in combination with the poorly designed excise tax system, could lead to consumers paying as much as an additional 24 cents per gallon for their biofuel heating oil this winter. Converting to a production credit will also likely result in a trade violation, a concern acknowledged by Senator Grassley.

With the potential for rising costs to consumers both at the pumps and at home, Michael McAdams, President of the Advanced Biofuels Association, released the following statement in response:

The current blenders’ credit for biofuels creates a competitive market for biodiesel and renewable diesel, which benefits the American consumer. Continuing and extending the original policy allows truckers and consumers to share in the value, it encourages consumer acceptance, and it benefits blenders and those who provide the feedstocks that make these cleaner, better fuels. This amendment destroys these positives, by syphoning the benefits to a small group of producers and punishing everyone else along the supply chain, including consumers. ABFA and its partners believe the current blenders’ credit should be extended in its longstanding form as originally intended.

You can read the group’s letter here.