Biodico Westside Bioenergy Facility Begins Production

The Biodico Westside bioenergy facility is now in production in San Joaquin Valley, California. Biodico President and Rounder Russ Teall says the 20 million gallon-per-year biodiesel facility is the first world’s first fully sustainable liquid biofuel facility.

(From Right to Left) JJ Rothgery, Chairman of the Board at Biodico; Russ Teall, President and Founder of Biodico; Janea Scott, California Energy Commissioner; John Diener, President and CEO, Red Rock Ranch; Jim Costa, U.S. Congressman; Jim Houston, Undersecretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture; Dr. Frank Gornick, Chancellor of the West Hills Community College District; and Captain Monty Ashliman, Commanding Officer, Naval Air Station Lemoore, at Biodico Westside Facility Ribbon Cutting Ceremony at Red Rock Ranch in Five Points, Calif. (Photo: Business Wire)

(From Right to Left) JJ Rothgery, Chairman of the Board at Biodico; Russ Teall, President and Founder of Biodico; Janea Scott, California Energy Commissioner; John Diener, President and CEO, Red Rock Ranch; Jim Costa, U.S. Congressman; Jim Houston, Undersecretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture; Dr. Frank Gornick, Chancellor of the West Hills Community College District; and Captain Monty Ashliman, Commanding Officer, Naval Air Station Lemoore, at Biodico Westside Facility Ribbon Cutting Ceremony at Red Rock Ranch in Five Points, Calif. (Photo: Business Wire)

“Biodico Westside Facility is a result of years of research and development to produce biofuels that make good environmental, social and business sense,” said Teall during the commissioning event. “Today, we are forging a new path in biofuel production by utilizing sustainable solutions to convert diverse feedstocks into renewable sources of fuel and energy.”

Biodico Westside is located at Red Rock Ranch in Five Points, Calif., which is in one of the world’s most productive agricultural regions. According to Biodico, the facility operates entirely on renewable heat and power and incorporates advanced real-time and remote monitoring leading to complete system automation. In addition to processing multi-feedstocks, including used cooking oil, vegetable oil, and animal fats to name a few, the facility also utilizes anaerobic digestion, gasification and an advanced utility scale solar cogeneration system.

“We developed proprietary technology to greatly enhance the economics of producing high-quality biodiesel, as well as create a modular system that is easy to deploy on a global scale,” said JJ Rothgery, Biodico’s board chair. “The facility is uniquely designed to meet the practical needs of regional transportation companies, and at the same time, provide a solution to address energy security and sustainable farming practices.”

The development of Biodico Westside was supported, in part, by grants from the California Energy Commission and in collaboration with the U.S. Navy, UC Davis, UCSB and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. In addition, many of the jobs at Biodico Westside were created in partnership with West Hills Community College, a region with high unemployment rates. Biodico developed an internship program specifically for West Hills and hires graduates of their two-year Industrial Technology Program, which gives many farm laborers higher skills and more lucrative employment says Teall. Continue reading

Oilseeds, Corn Rise on Biodiesel, Ethanol Numbers

CBOTFutures prices for oilseeds, such as soybeans, as well as the price of corn rose after the federal government’s announcement on the amount of biodiesel and ethanol to be blended into the nation’s fuel supply. This report from Nasdaq says soybean prices rose to a five-week high, while corn prices also saw some gains.

Buying in the soybean-oil market also propped up oilseeds, analysts said. Soybean oil prices rose 2.3% on Tuesday, supported in part by the release Monday of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s annual targets for how much biofuel must be mixed into the nation’s fuel supply. The federal agency raised its volume requirements, suggesting more soyoil will be needed to meet biodiesel goals.

The final EPA mandates “indicate that a lot of soybean oil will be used to make biodiesel next year, so people are all bulled up on that,” said Terry Reilly, an analyst with brokerage Futures International LLC in Chicago.

Soybean futures for January delivery rose 8 1/4 cents, or 0.9%, to $8.89 1/4 a bushel at the Chicago Board of Trade, the highest closing price since Oct. 27.

Corn prices rose to a one-week high, boosted by investor short covering, which comes after prices tumbled in November. Corn prices also were supported by EPA’s ruling, which increased blending requirements for ethanol and prompted hopes for increased corn demand, the main feedstock in the biofuel.

“Corn traders figured the EPA announcement was friendly,” said Mr. Reilly.

#Ag Industry Split on Final #RFS Rules

The #Ag industry is split on the final #RFS (Renewable Fuel Standard) rules that were released yesterday by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). While the RVOs (renewable volume obligations) were an improvement over the proposed rules released in May of this year, the #Ag industry is calling on the EPA to further strengthen the legislation and increase the amount of corn ethanol blended into America’s fuel.

USDA logoAgriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack called the final rules for 2014, 2015 and 2016 a move in the right direction. “This unprecedented commitment is part of the reason why, even in recent years when there has been some uncertainty with RFS, we have seen continued growth in biofuels production and consumption,” said Vilsack in a statement.

National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) President Chip Bowling reacted to the news with mixed feelings. “While we are pleased to see the EPA take a step forward and revise NCGA-Logo-3its original proposal, the fact remains that any reduction in the statutory amount will have a negative impact on our economy, our energy security, and the environment.”

Despite the volumes increasing over 2014 numbers, none of the four renewable fuel categories are at statutory levels. As a result, Bowling said NCGA and other organizations are evaluating their options to protect farmers and consumers and hold the EPA accountable to meet statutory requirements.

National Farmers Union logoNational Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson sharply criticized the EPA for issuing final volume targets well below their statutory level. “The administration’s decision to issue RFS volume obligations below their statutory requirements exacerbates the serious damage already done to the renewable fuels industry and America’s family farmers,” said Johnson. “Clearly the administration has accepted Big Oil’s talking points and paved the way for a weaker RFS to the detriment of economic prosperity in rural America and the administration’s own climate change goals.”

AFBF-logoThat sentiment was shared by American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman. “We need more biofuels, not less, and Farm Bureau called on EPA earlier this year to protect the RFS,” said Stallman. “We are disappointed to see the agency move forward with a decision that will stall growth and progress in renewable fuels as well as the broader agricultural economy.”

Tier 4 Regulations Could Give Propane, CNG Boost

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has published its final Tier 4 regulations that affect heavy duty vehicles, construction equipment and agriculture equipment. Past Tier 4 emission standards have decreased particulate matter and NOx levels over time and it’s is now on engine manufacturers to refine engines to further reduce Nitrogen Oxide emissions that enter into the air. Unless of course, you are already developing engines for alternative vehicles such as those fueled by propane and compressed natural gas (CNG).

CK Power Tier 4 Emission Regulations InfographicSt. Louis-based, family owned CK Power has waded through the EPA’s guidelines and packed everything into an easily digestible infographic. The CK Power team says the new standards are a big deal for engine manufactures since they will need to produce engines that meet the standards. However, the new emission standards don’t necessarily affect engine manufacturers who pursue alternative technologies since these emissions standards are for off-road equipment only – including ag equipment. CK Power is a source of engine and generator power and has published a brief guide on how their customers can be in compliance with the EPA’s final Tier 4 emission standards.

“The EPA has regulated on-road diesel engine applications for even longer than it has regulated non-road applications,” explains the CK Power team. “These are, however, separate from final Tier 4 regulations, which apply specifically to non-road applications. That’s not to say that no vehicles are affected. Farm tractors, excavators and other types of construction earth movers are affected by final Tier 4 standards since these are classified as non-road engines.

“That is unless those vehicles make use of propane or CNG as their main fuel source. Final Tier 4 emission standards apply only to diesel engines.”

Growth Supports Next Energy Generation

The next generation of renewable energy, and by extension agricultural experts, are in college and now have an opportunity for some financial support. Growth Energy is providing $90,000 in scholarships over the next three years to students majoring in agricultural education.  The “Upper Division” scholarships will be awarded by the National Association of Agricultural Education and given to students during their student teaching appointments.

NAAE logo“Student teaching can be a financial strain on agricultural education majors,” said Dr. Wm. Jay Jackman, NAAE executive director. “They spend every day teaching, so they are essentially working a full-time job with no pay. There is a national shortage of agriculture teachers, so anything we can do to help students finish their degree and get into the classroom is critical.”

Previously, NAAE’s Upper Division Scholarships were $750 each, and approximately 15 were given each year. Growth Energy’s gift means that the scholarship amounts will be doubled, and beginning in 2016, more of these larger scholarships will be awarded.

Tom Buis, co-chair of Growth Energy added, “There is nothing more important to the future of agriculture than those who wish to enter a career that will help further the innovation, promise and bounty of America’s farmers. American agriculture and those invested in it are the backbone of this nation and Growth Energy is thrilled to help support the future leaders of this industry. We are thrilled to help support those who will write the next great chapter of American excellence by providing food, feed and fuel to move our nation forward.”

Growth Energy’s gift is a special project of the National FFA Foundation.

New Holland Hero Growing for Energy

This year during the Expo Milano New Holland announced its “heros” as part of its “Seeds of Life Series“. One such hero was Brazilian Victor Campenelli, who grows 37,000 acres of corn and sugarcane and also has a cattle operation in Southern Brazil. Looking in to the future, Victor is looking forward to building a power plant utilizing cane straw.

brazil-victorHe works as part of his family business dating back to 1982. Since 2002 their main crops are sugarcane, cattle and corn. He was proud to be a winner because he feels that it helps farmers in his country gain more respect for the work they do to feed, fuel and power the country.

Victor also noted that one thing Brazil hasn’t really capitalized is producing power from biomass. They have completed a project where the plant is able to produce 30 MW per hour and about 240,000 MW per year just using cane straw, a material he said is like trash, its just left behind on the field. He added that it’s good for the land because they only take a portion of the biomass from the field and the remaining cane straw puts organic matter back in the soil and protects from erosion.

There are plans to develop additional power plants using cane straw.

Listen to Cindy interview with Victor Campenelli here: New Holland Hero Victor Campanelli from Brazil

2015 New Holland Heroes & Bloggers Days

NFU Fly-In Focuses on RFS

The National Farmers Union (NFU) 2015 Fall Legislative Fly-In took place this week in Washington, D.C. and the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) was on the top of the list when growers from around the country met with White House official, Congressional staffers and members along with Senators and Representatives.

NFU members meet with MN Rep. Collin Peters during the fall Fly-In.

NFU members meet with MN Rep. Collin Peters during the fall Fly-In.

Farmers Union members expressed concerned about a stalling of the RFS by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which has prevented the RFS from meeting the targets set forth in the law’s statute.

“The RFS has already made significant gains for family farmers, rural communities, consumers and the environment, and the EPA needs to stick to statutory levels for the RFS to continue these successes,” said NFU President Roger Johnson who noted that family farmers and ranchers have enormous credibility with the public and as such, are the most effective to deliver messages of importance in rural America to legislators.

NFU has been holding Fly-Ins for generations; with the only real change being the mode of transportation used by family farmers to come to Washington. This year, roughly 275 Farmers Union members gathered in Washington for the annual event. In addition to meeting with legislators, participants were also briefed by various elected and administration officials.

Illinois Corn Working to Support #Ethanol, E15

Ken Hartman-2I stopped by the Illinois Corn booth during the Farm Progress Show and had the opportunity to speak with Kenneth Hartman, an Illinois corn, soybean and wheat grower. He gave me an update on the their efforts to increase mid-level ethanol blends across the state. One such initiative is working with key players in Chicago to get 150 E15 stations up and running in the city. A piece of legislation is sitting with the Alderman and the mayor and Hartman hopes Mayor Rahm Emanuel will sign on the line for the E15 roll out yet this year.

Speaking of E15, Harmann said they are working with retailers across the state to build the infrastructure. They have been working with the American Lung Association and the Illinois Corn Marketing Board has allocated money to help with infrastructure through the Prime The Pump program. This program, he noted, provides matching funds for USDA’s BIP program. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack recently announced the allocation of $100 million in program funds.

Other initiatives include working with pump manufacturers to get equipment standardized and approved for E15 as well as consumer education.

To learn more about Illinois Corn’s ethanol initiatives, listen to my interview with Ken Hartman: Ken Hartman, Illinois Corn Interview

Check out the Farm Progress Show photo album.

NCGA: We Will Not Stand for RFS Attacks

Rob Elliot NCGAThe National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) is continuing to fight back said NCGA president Chip Bowling of Maryland during a press conference at the Farm Progess Show. “It’s about the many people who attack us [farmers] in DC like the DC bureaucrats, radio talk loudmouths and fearmongers on social media.”

Among other issues, Bowling was referring to the attack on ethanol through the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). He noted that growers must find a way to stay in business when market prices drop below the price of production. “That is why we’re not standing by while government regulators ignore the law when it comes to ethanol and the Renewable Fuel Standard,” said Bowling.

In addition to defending the RFS, Bowling said NCGA is working to help build infrastructure for higher ethanol blends such as E15 and E85 while working with their allies at the U.S. Grains Council to increase ethanol and by-products exports such as dried distillers grains DDGs.

To learn more about NCGA’s biofuel and bioproducts intiatives, listen to their Farm Progress Show press conference here: NCGA #FarmProgressShow Press Conference

Check out the Farm Progress Show photo album.

ARF Reacts to Hillary Clinton’s Ag, Energy Plan

Presidential candidate Sec. Hillary Clinton (D) made another visit to Iowa this week where she unveiled her agriculture and rural policy plan. She called for strengthening the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) so that it continues to drive the development of advanced cellulosic and other advanced biofuels. Clinton called for more consumer choice at the pump with better access to ethanol blends such as E15 and E85 as well as biodiesel. She also called for more renewable energy to be phased into the electricity sector.

Sec Hillary ClintonAmerica’s Renewable Future (ARF), who is meeting with candidates to discuss the benefits of biofuels, released the following statement in response to the plan.

“We thank Sec. Clinton for her commitment to Iowa’s farmers, consumers, and investors with her call of a strengthened RFS. We enthusiastically echo that call, especially in light of President Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) disastrous Renewable Volume Obligation (RVO) proposal. The EPA’s proposal is another example of conceding to the oil industry’s demands at the expense of clean, domestic renewable fuels and American jobs.

Billions of dollars were invested by famers and local investors to produce biofuels with the promise of a strong RFS. Reducing the RVO will strand capitol and punish the pioneers who invested in clean, homegrown renewable energy. The RFS has created 73,000 jobs here in Iowa and hundreds of thousands more around the country that cannot be outsourced, reduced our dependence on foreign oil, helped clean our air, and provided consumers savings at the pump.

Iowa’s rural communities and economy depend on the RFS for stability and growth and the EPA must get it back on track and focus on protecting the jobs and economic progress it has yielded.”