Minnesota high school students throughout the state are continuing to learn about ethanol. Recently, 70 students from Pipestone Area High School visited Highwater Ethanol to learn more about ethanol production, the benefits of the renewable fuel, and ethanol career opportunities.
“By hosting students at our facility for tours, it is our goal to have them learn about the agriculture industry, ethanol industry and how important these two industries are in everyone’s life,” said Brian Kletscher, CEO of Highwater Ethanol. “The students were also briefed on the skills required to work at an ethanol facility. They were able to watch and learn from our employees. Our goal was to leave the students with a positive impression of the ethanol industry and the use of ethanol in our transportation fuels.”
The tour was organized by the Minnesota Bio-Fuels Association. During their time at the biorefinery, the students, from grades 11 to 12, toured Highwater Ethanol’s administrative office, water treatment process, incoming grain grading and handling, ethanol loadout, ethanol process facility and energy center.
“We organize these tours to show students how a homegrown renewable ingredient is converted into a clean fuel that continues to reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions,” said Tim Rudnicki, executive director of the Minnesota Bio-Fuels Association.
Highwater Ethanol began operations in Lamberton in August 2009. It produced 59.42 million gallons of ethanol in 2015 and currently has 41 full-time employees. Kletscher said ethanol plants employ a wide variety of professionals. For the business operations side, professionals with skills in business administration, finance, accounting, human resources and agriculture economics are required. Continue reading →
A new report from Lux Research has found that using low-carbon fuels and vehicle efficiency will cut road transport CO2 emissions 29 percent by 2030. Biofuels and natural gas combined will account for 45 percent of petroleum displacement. Today, global road transportation accounts for a sixth of all global CO2 emissions.
The sharp cut – exceeding the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC) target of 24 percent set by 188 nations at the Paris Conference of the Parties (COP21) in 2015 – can be achieved from a combination of low-carbon fuels, alternative fuel vehicles, and improved fuel efficiencies.
“Global warming remains at center stage, and significant strides need to be made in road transportation technologies to achieve the goal set for 2030,” said Yuan-Sheng Yu, Lux Research analyst and lead author of the report titled, “Driving Down Emissions: Achieving CO2 Emissions Reduction Goals through Biofuels and Alternative Fuel Vehicles“. Low-carbon biofuels like cellulosic ethanol, renewable diesel, and biomethane have lower well-to-wheel carbon intensities compared to their first-generation counterparts and play a pivotal role in cutting emissions, as does renewable electricity.”
The report evaluated measures needed to meet emission targets set at COP21. Some key findings included:
Biofuels are key. First-generation biofuels, low-carbon fuels, and natural gas vehicles will together account for at least 45.4% of the potential fossil fuel displacement in road transportation in 2030, when global road transportation demand is projected to reach 911 billion gallons.
Carbon intensity matters. First-generation biofuels have made incremental reductions in road transportation emissions over the years. But low-carbon biofuels will be the key driver in achieving 2030 emissions reduction goals with an average three to four times lower well-to-wheel carbon intensity profile.
Fuel efficiency counts. Without improved fuel efficiencies, emissions reduction falls short of the INDC target in 2030 by nearly 5%. Automobile makers will have a range of lightweight materials available as multinationals and start-ups develop the next-generations of steel, aluminum and composite technologies.
In addition, RFA is highlighting what they believe are key items retailers should consider before ordering equipment:
What are the equipment options to legally offer E15 to 2001 and newer vehicles?
What are the various dispenser hose configurations allowed?
What are the retail fuel dispenser labeling requirements for each configuration?
“Four years and 23 states later, confusion still remains in the fuel equipment and retailing communities when it comes to E15,” said Renewable Fuels Association Vice President of Industry Relations Robert White. “With this document, we hope we can eliminate the misinformation and ensure retailers get the appropriate equipment needed to safely and legally offer this relatively new fuel. With proper labeling and education, we look forward to seeing many more retailers, consumers and states embrace E15 in the near future.”
Iowa will see another year of funding for retailers to add blender pumps. The Iowa Legislature voted unanimously to allocate funding for the biodiesel and ethanol blender pump program known as the Renewable Fuels Infrastructure Program (RFIP). The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) recently reported that interest in blender pumps is at an all time high and the last round of funding, totaling $3.2 million funded 68 projects. This marks the last year of funding for the program that kicks off the FY2017 fiscal year.
Biodiesel and ethanol pump in Des Moines, Iowa on April 24, 2016. Photo Credit: Joanna Schroeder
“While we were hopeful for a long-term funding solution for the state’s renewable fuels infrastructure program, we’re very pleased today that the Iowa legislature was able to keep this vital initiative going for another year,” said IRFA Policy Director Grant Menke. “The USDA’s Biofuels Infrastructure Partnership re-energized many Iowa retailers, leading to record participation in the blender pump program over the past year. This one-year funding extension allows us to build upon this momentum and ensure Iowans have greater access to cleaner-burning, lower-cost renewable fuels.”
The Iowa Renewable Fuels Infrastructure Program (RFIP) offers cost-share grants to Iowa retailers wishing to upgrade fueling infrastructure to offer E15, E85 and/or biodiesel blends. Reimbursement can be up to 70 percent of the installation costs, up to a maximum of $50,000 per project, with a five-year commitment to sell E15, E85 or biodiesel blends.
“This legislation does permanently end the current source of RFIP funding, so finding a long-term funding solution will be a high priority for the biofuels and renewable retailers community next legislative session. Bottom line, this program provides immense benefits to Iowans in the form of cleaner air, competition at the pump, lower fuel prices, and a stronger Iowa economy,” added Menke.
Indiana fuel retailer Family Express has been awarded more than $789,000 through an Indiana blender pump program. The retailer will be using the monies to install 45 dispensers at 37 stations. Of the stations, 34 already sell E85 and E15 will be added to the fuel choice lineup. Family Express is also building three new stations and these will carry both E85 and E15. The grant dollars were awarded by the Indiana Corn Marketing Council through its Hoosier Homegrown Fuels Blender Pump Program.
“We are glad to be able to help Family Express offer more ethanol blender pumps through the Hoosier Homegrown Fuels Blender Pump Program,” said Ken Parrent, ethanol director for the Indiana Corn Marketing Council. “Indiana currently has more than 185 dedicated ethanol refueling stations for blends above 10 percent and thanks to this program, there will soon be more.”
Fiftenn of the stations are in EPA-designated ozone non-attainment areas and will be able to offer E15 year-round. The ethanol industry is working with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to allow E15 to be sold year round in all 50 states.
Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Bob Dinneen said of the news, “We are pleased that Family Express has been able to take advantage of the Hoosier Homegrown Fuels Blender Pump Program and grow its offerings of higher ethanol blends. More blender pumps mean greater consumer access for ethanol blends, bringing about higher octane fuels and lower gasoline prices. We look forward to more stations offering fuels such as E15 in the near future.”
California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) is reaching its halfway point and a new analysis from the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) find that grain-based ethanol has provided nearly half of the greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions achieved under the first five years of the program. Seven years ago, on April 23rd, California Air Resources Board (CARB) formally adopted the LCFS, and it officially kicked off in 2009. The program requires fuel suppliers to reduce carbon intensity (CI) of gas and diesel fuels by at least 10 percent between 2011 and 2020.
RFA says that when the legislation was adopted there was concern that corn-based ethanol would not succeed under the program. However, RFS says that according to data released by CARB recently, consumption of grain ethanol has increased under the LCFS and the biofuel has been responsible for 46 percent of the total carbon credits and nearly 75 percent of the credits generated by fuels that replace gas. (One credit is equivalent to 1 metric ton of GHG reduction). CARB reports that of the 16.55 million credits generated since enforcement began in 2011, grain ethanol is responsible for 7.58 million metric tons (MMT). To date, grain ethanol has provided substantially more credits than any other fuel used under the LCFS.
However, as shown in new RFA report, fuels that CARB initially expected to generate large amounts of credit — such as imported sugarcane ethanol, electricity, hydrogen — have accounted for only a small share of total credit generation.
RFA says corn-ethanol has provided significantly more carbon reductions that anticipated because, as CARB reports, “the volume of lower-CI corn ethanol will far exceed the 2009 estimates” and ethanol plants “have made efficiency improvements” that CARB had initially overlooked. Meanwhile, as part of CARB’s LCFS “re-adoption” process in 2015, the agency also made revisions to its ILUC penalty for corn ethanol, reducing it by roughly one-third. While CARB’s ILUC penalty remains grossly exaggerated, says RFA, the result of these changes is that most Midwest corn ethanol reduces GHG emissions by 25–35 percent compared to gasoline under the LCFS.
“California regulators are finally recognizing what we in the industry have known for decades — that ethanol is a high octane, low-cost alternative fuel that is readily available and offers meaningful GHG savings compared to gasoline,” said RFA President and CEO Bob Dinneen. Continue reading →
According to NASCAR in an ethanol feature piece, this partnership that includes NCGA and Growth Energy, along with several others are reducing the sport’s environmental impact, validating green technologies and educating fans. NASCAR notes that collaborative efforts between the groups have allowed the partners to expand awareness of E15’s benefits and availability at the pump.
The NASCAR article concludes, “Upwards of 75 million NASCAR fans each weekend in a season that stretches from February to November are exposed to American Ethanol. These fans are the most loyal of any professional sport. They are three times more likely to try or purchase a sponsor’s products and services because they know it keeps their favorite driver on the track. If NASCAR fans who support using ethanol in their vehicles would switch from E10 to E15, they have the potential to eliminate greenhouse gases created from more than 3.5 billon miles of driving.”
History was made this week with the signing of the Paris Agreement climate accord by 130 countries at the UN Headquarters in New York. The governments now have one year to ratify the accord. The Paris Agreement will enter into force on the 30th day after the date on which at least 55 Parties to the Convention accounting in total for at least an estimated 55 percent of total global greenhouse gas emissions have finalized their adoption of the accord. In response, the global biofuels community is calling on these countries to include biofuels as part of their greenhouse gas reduction goals.
Nearly a third of global GHGs come from the transportation sector making it a key area of focus in efforts to reduce emissions. Studies have shown that biofuels, like ethanol, are proven to reduce harmful GHGs from 40 percent to 90 percent compared to fossil fuels according to the Global Renewable Fuels Alliance (GRFA).
“It is clear that the biofuels industry generally, and ethanol specifically, will continue to have a significant role to play in international efforts to transition away from carbon-intensive fossil fuels in the transport sector,” said Bliss Baker, GRFA spokesperson. “As countries look to take policy steps to reduce GHG emissions in their transport sectors, the GRFA will continue to provide technical support for the adoption of ethanol-supportive policies that will maximize the advantages of biofuel technologies.”
At the end of March, U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to historic reductions in GHG emissions. President Obama pledged that the U.S. would cut its emissions by 26 percent by 2025 compared with 2005 levels. In turn, President Jinping promised that China’s emissions would peak by 2030 and fall after that, the first time China has agreed to any emission reduction targets.
However, as the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) points out, the U.S. did not include the roll biofuels would play in its Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDCs), a plan submitted by each country outlining how it would meet emission reductions. So far 37 countries have included biofuels in these plans. Continue reading →
The Iowa Senate has passed a bipartisan resolution in support of the federal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) through 2022. The resolution calls on Congress, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), President Obama, and the next president to support the policy as passed by Congress in 2005.
Senate Resolution 118 names the RFS as one of the single most successful energy policies in our nation’s history and goes on to say, “Under the RFS, renewable fuels have access to a retail market in the face of a vertically integrated petroleum market; and whereas, the RFS represents a congressional promise to American biofuels producers, farmers, communities, and investors that the blend levels of the RFS will increase each year; and whereas, this congressional policy support the RFS will continue to build on the long-term capacity of the renewable fuels industry and will encourage the development of new types of clean fuels…”
The resolution serves as a reminder of the benefits of the RFS to the state of Iowa in terms of economic output and the preservation of Iowa’s agricultural way of life. “The RFS has been a tremendously successful bipartisan policy that’s worked to reduce our dependence on foreign oil by producing our own clean American fuel and in leading the innovation of 21st century solutions to our energy needs. We need to keep this momentum going and I commend the Iowa Senate for passing this resolution,” said Tom Buis, co-chair of Growth Energy.
The Joint Committee on Taxation recently estimated that elimination of certain “fossil fuel preferences” (i.e., subsidies) would save U.S. taxpayers at least $24.5 billion — or roughly $210 per U.S. household — between 2015 and 2020.
“Big Oil needing any government assistance is preposterous,” said Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Bob Dinneen. “Why would an incumbent industry that has a virtual monopoly at the pump need taxpayer dollars to compete?”
“On this tax day, Congress should seriously consider repealing this absurd and costly corporate welfare,” continued Dinneen. “Consumers will benefit when there is a truly free market in motor fuel, when alternatives like ethanol have access to the pump, when a variety of biofuel blends (E15, E25, E85) are accessible to consumers and when taxpayers no longer have to subsidize the most profitable industry on the planet. Until then, programs like the Renewable Fuel Standard are all we have to compel some level of competition and cost-control on an otherwise broken and unfair market.”