Novozymes Part of Global Bioenergy Initiative

sustainableA new UN Sustainable Energy for All initiative was announced this week with the goal of “doubling the global use of renewable energy and ensuring universal energy access by 2030.”

Co-chaired by the UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) and the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials, the initiative includes Novozymes, a global technology provider for the biofuels industry, as a partner in the project to scale up the development and deployment of sustainable bioenergy solutions.

novozymes“With this initiative, we help bring together a diverse range of global frontrunners to advance the development and use of sustainable bioenergy in countries where the environmental and socio-economic benefits are greatest,” said Thomas Videbæk, Executive Vice President for Business Development with Novozymes. “It is a unique chance to involve governments, industry, financial institutions, academia, and civil society to identify opportunities where action on sustainable bioenergy can be accelerated.”

Accounting for nearly half of the global enzyme market, Novozymes has been a major player in the commercial development of cellulosic ethanol. “We produce the enzymes that help break down starch and make sugar available for first generation ethanol and we are working on a number of projects to help breakdown cellulosic material,” said Videbæk in an interview today with DomesticFuel.

Videbæk says next generation biofuels are considered “sustainable bioenergy” under the initiative’s High Impact Opportunity (HIO) goals. “I look at the biofuel area, be it first or second generation, as very sustainable forms of energy,” said Videbæk. “We certainly hope to see that continues going forward.”

Which is one of the reasons Novozymes wanted to be part of this initiative that they hope will help get some regulatory clarity regarding sustainable bioenergy around the world, including the United States. “And we can get politicians to commit to mandates and targets for this type of energy, because we believe that is for the best of the planet’s future,” Videbæk said.

In this interview, Videbæk explains much more about the new initiative and Novozymes’ role in it. Interview with Thomas Videbæk, Novozymes

BIO to EPA: Issue RFS Rule Consistent with Statute

biologoThe Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) today issued comments on the proposed consent decree to resolve oil industry lawsuits against the Environmental Protection Agency over delays in promulgating final rules for annual biofuel volume obligations.

“BIO is supportive of EPA’s commitments contained in the proposed consent decree, which would establish definitive deadlines this year for EPA to take final action on the 2014 RFS rule and proposed and final action on the 2015 RFS rule,” Brent Erickson, executive vice president of BIO’s Industrial & Environmental Section, wrote in the official comments. “EPA should withdraw its proposed 2014 RFS rule and reissue it by June 1, 2015, to include advanced and total renewable biofuel volumes that are consistent with the RFS statute.”

BIO recently released an analysis showing that instability in EPA’s administration of the RFS is responsible for chilling as much as $13.7 billion in investments that the advanced biofuel industry needed to build capacity to meet the RFS goals. The delays in rulemaking have also undercut the industry’s ability to create new employment opportunities, resulting in the loss of more than 80,000 direct jobs.

Biofuel Producers Thrive Despite Cheap Oil

According to a new report, “How Alternative Fuel Companies Will Compete with $50 Oil,image001many biofuel producers are still able to thrive despite dropping oils prices nearing $50 per barrel. Lux Research evaluated 25 alternative fuel producers to identify the ones most likely to compete with cheap oil and found that renewable diesel producers Neste Oil and Diamond Green Diesel, gasification specialist Red Rock Biofuels, and Edeniq, which makes cellulosic ethanol, were among 13 alternative producers of fuels best positioned for cheap oil.

Lux Research analysts used its database of 400 alternative fuel producers to select 25 companies – from seven technology families, four feedstock types and three stages of development – for detailed analysis.

Among their findings:

  • Neste Oil, Diamond Green are benefiting from cost cuts. Thanks to lowered production costs achieved through feedstock diversification, renewable diesel producers Neste Oil and Diamond Green Diesel were the clear leaders in Lux’s model. On the other hand, Solena Biofuels and Joule Unlimited were among the laggards on account of delayed production and commercialization.
  • Developers move to alternate markets. Amid low oil prices, high-profile companies such as Solazyme, Amyris, and Gevo have shifted decisively toward specialty chemicals and nutraceuticals this year. Sapphire Energy also has shifted away from fuels and now targets nutraceuticals, producing Omega-3 EPA from its algae.
  • Oil majors remain a pillar of support. Believing cheap oil to be a short-term phenomenon, oil majors have remained prominent supporters of alternative fuel developers across various technology platforms. For example, Total has added to its existing portfolio in biofuels and bio-based chemical companies by investing in Renmatix, a biomass-to-sugars company.

“$50 oil was never an afterthought for technology developers,” said Yuan-Sheng Yu, Lux research associate and the lead author of the report. “Many companies have technology roadmaps for cheaper alternative fuels. Not all of them will actually achieve that benchmark, but some will – while others will find alternate markets or, ironically, use support from oil majors to survive until prices rise again.”

Free Webinar on USDA Biorefinery Assistance Program

Calling those interested in producing advanced biofuels and biochemicals. An upcoming free webinar, “USDA’s 9003 Biorefinery Assistance Program,” will discuss how to take advantage of the program. The webinar will take place Wednesday, June 3, 2015 at 1:00 pm ET. The event is hosted by Stern Brothers & Co., Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, and B2BWebinars.com.

USDA’s 9003 Biorefinery Assistance Program is open and offering loan guarantees for advanced biofuel and renewable chemical production facilities. Up to $1 billion in loan guarantee authority is anticipated over the next few years, including FY14 and FY15 Farm Bill funding. The USDA is offering this source of financing to projects, but demand is expected to be high. In the webinar, panelists will discuss the upcoming opportunity and how companies can submit successful projects.

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The panel will address the following topics:

  • Past winners and lessons learned from past 9003 releases;
  • Assessment of the competitive landscape and projects that are a good fit for 9003;
  • How renewable chemicals projects fit in under 9003 program rules;
  • Application requirements, including a Feasibility Study, Environmental Report, Technical Report (including pilot data) and Business Plan;
  • How to prepare for outreach to lenders of record; and
  • Status of program interactions with Office of Management and Budge.

Click here to view the full agenda. Click here for registration information.

Abengoa to Build U.S. MSW Biorefinery

Abengoa has been selected by Fulcrum BioEnergy to build the first biorefinery using gasification technology to convert more than 200,000 tons of municipal solid waste (MSW) into syncrude that will be converted into more than 10 million gallons of jet fuel. The plant will be located in the Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center, around 20 miles east of Reno, Nevada. The contract, worth $200 million, gives Abengoa the responsibility for the execution of the plant including engineering design and construction. The will also participate in the development of the project.

Fulcrum-Abengoa logo“Abengoa is the seventh largest EPC company in the U.S. and is one of, if not, the premier engineering and construction firms in the renewables space. They have the demonstrated experience and capabilities and have stepped up and made the business commitments to get the job done for us,” said James Macias, Fulcrum’s president and CEO. “We are eager to add Abengoa to our team. Abengoa has the skill and horsepower to take our design and technology development and successfully turn it into an operating commercial plant.”

This initiative, says Abengoa, provides a sustainable alternative for the large volumes of municipal solid waste generated in the area every year, which would otherwise be disposed of in a landfill. The process of converting MSW into renewable transportation fuels will significantly reduce the number of landfills, a growing concern because of the chemical pollutants released into the air and seeping into the groundwater.

The MSW biorefinery is set to go into operation in the third quarter of 2017.

FEW Set to Break Records

The International Fuel Ethanol Workshop & Expo (FEW), is taking place June 1-4, 2015 in Minneapolis, Minnesota and is set to have the largest number of ethanol producers ever FEW14-color-web-NoYeargathered at an industry event with more than 600 producers. During the course of the event, they’ll discuss issues categorized into four tracks: Track 1: Production and Operations; Track 2: Leadership and Financial Management; Track 3: Coproducts and Product. Diversification; and Track 4: Cellulosic and Advanced Ethanol.

BBI Marketing Director John Nelson notes that the event will “create an unprecedented opportunity for industry supplier and supporters to network with ethanol producers and share their products or services.” He also said they are attendees registered from 25 countries. Registration is still open.

There are 194 operational ethanol plants in the U.S. today producing more than 15 million gallons of ethanol per year including several advanced ethanol production facilities.

energy.agwired.com will be onsite covering this event with special thanks from our sponsor Novozymes.

Biofuels Leaders Ask President for Meeting

A dozen organizations and companies representing biofuels interests this week sent a letter to President Obama asking for a meeting on proposed rules under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) due to come out next month.

fuels-americaThe letter comes on the heels of an analysis from the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) showing how EPA delays in setting volume requirements (RVOs) under the RFS have resulted in the loss of some $13.7 billion in investment in advanced biofuels like cellulosic ethanol. The letter was signed by BIO, the Renewable Fuels Association, Growth Energy, Advanced Ethanol Coalition, National Corn Growers Association, Association of Equipment Manufacturers, POET, DSM, Novozymes, and Abengoa.

“The EPA’s proposal in 2013 was an enormous disservice to you and your legacy, Mr. President,” the letter states. “Prior to the release of that proposal, we had asked to meet with the EPA, but were rebuffed. We would like to work with you to ensure that the mistake is not repeated.”

In addition to the letter and the analysis from BIO, the Fuels America coalition is running digital ads this week on Politico’s Environment & Energy section that say, “Will the next generation of biofuels be created in the United States or China? It’s up to you, Mr. President. Support the Renewable Fuel Standard.”

RFS Uncertainty Chills Advanced Biofuel Funding

biologoA new analysis from the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) finds delays in rulemaking for the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) have chilled necessary investment in advanced and cellulosic biofuels.

According to the analysis, the industry has experienced an estimated $13.7 billion shortfall in investment over the past two years as the Environmental Protection Agency has delayed setting volume obligations for biofuels under the RFS.

(EPA) was nine months late issuing the 2013 RVOs and is more than 17 months late in issuing the 2014 rule. Further, the agency has made cellulosic biofuel producers wait an average of 29 months (more than two years) for approval of production pathways. Currently, 29 companies have unresolved petitions filed with EPA and they have been waiting on average more than 32 months for resolution. A majority of an estimated $13.7 billion shortfall in investment for cellulosic and new advanced technologies should therefore be attributed to EPA’s delays in issuing timely rules.

Brent Erickson, executive vice president of BIO’s Industrial & Environmental Section, notes that the situation came about just as plants were beginning to reach the commercial stage. “The chill in investment has had the heaviest impact on cellulosic biofuel developers,” said Erickson. “The delays in rulemaking have also undercut the industry’s ability to create new employment opportunities, resulting in the loss of more than 80,000 direct jobs.”

According to BIO, the industry has invested more than $5 billion in first-of-a-kind demonstration and commercial-scale biorefineries around the world. The analysis finds that as of April 2015, there are five commercial cellulosic biorefineries with a combined capacity of more than 50 million gallons within the United States and registered to meet the goals of the RFS, along with several pilot and demonstration plants. Additional commercial biorefineries are under construction.

Students Present Wood to Biofuels Design

Students at Washington State University have developed facility site designs for a potential liquid depot to process wood from slash piles in the Pacific Northwest. The liquid sugar can be used to produce chemical products including biofuels. Designs and findings were presented in a webinar. The students work together on real-world projects while attending the Integrated Design Experience (IDX) course that includes undergraduate and Screen Shot 2015-04-28 at 3.40.17 PMgraduate students from a variety of majors at WSU and the University of Idaho.

The students are working with the Northwest Advanced Renewables Alliance (NARA), a WSU-led organization determining the feasibility and sustainability of using forest residuals to produce biojet fuel and other products. The Presenters described the process of turning forest residuals into liquid sugar, transportation logistics and how wastewater will be treated. A techno-economic analysis for the conversion process was also included.

The location for the sugar depot was identified as highly optimal based on a ranking of Northwest U.S. facility sites completed by IDX last semester.

“These students perform critical data gathering and analyses for the NARA project and for stakeholders,” said Karl Olsen, one of three IDX instructors and part of NARA’s education team. “Their work will be incorporated into a final supply chain analysis for the Idaho-Washington-Oregon-Montana region in 2016.”

EPA Sets Timeline for RFS Volume Requirements

epa-150Under a court settlement with the oil industry, the Environmental Protection Agency today announced they will propose the 2015 Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) renewable volume obligations by June 1, 2015, and issue the final 2014 and 2015 RFS blending targets by November 30, 2015. In addition, EPA will also release the proposed 2016 RFS RVOs by June 1 and the 2016 numbers will be finalized by Nov. 30.

The biofuels industry reacted immediately to the announcement. “This consent agreement is a good start,” said Renewable Fuels Association president and CEO Bob Dinneen. “We are particularly pleased that the Agency has committed to addressing the 2016 RVO in the same time frame even though that is outside the scope of the consent agreement.”

“By taking this action, they are ensuring that the RFS is back on a path to certainty for the biofuels industry, providing the necessary guidance for the industry to continue to thrive and advance alternative fuel options for American consumers,” Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis said.

“ACE has consistently said it is much more important for EPA to get the RFS done right than it is for them to get the RFS done quickly, and that bears repeating given today’s announcement that the RFS will be getting back on track for implementation,” said American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) Executive VP Brian Jennings.

National Biodiesel Board is pleased the EPA announcement said they would “re-propose volume requirements for 2014, by June 1, that reflect the volumes of renewable fuel that were actually used in 2014.”

“The volumes for Biomass-based Diesel in 2014 were approximately 1.75 billion gallons so EPA reaffirming its commitment to “actual use” appears to be a step in the right direction,” said NBB Vice President of Federal Affairs Anne Steckel.

Advanced Ethanol Council (AEC) executive director Brooke Coleman says the announcement sends a good signal to the advanced biofuels industry. “Now that we have a better idea of when it will happen, we look forward to working with EPA to make sure that the new RFS proposal supports the commercial deployment of advanced biofuels as called for by Congress.”

EPA intends to issue a Federal Register Notice allowing the public an opportunity to comment on the proposed consent decree.