Michigan State IDs Water Usage by Biomass Crops

Researchers at Michigan State University have identified the amount of water used by some key biomass crops. This article from the school says the study, titled, “Comparative water use by maize, perennial crops, restored prairie and poplar trees in the U.S. Midwest,” recently published by Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center (GLBRC), lead authored by Michigan State University professor Steve Hamilton, provides a new perspective on how planting different biomass crop species might impact terrestrial water balances.
WaterUseGraph
There were six biofuel species in this study including corn, switchgrass, miscanthus, a five species grass mix, an 18 species restored prairie mix and hybrid poplar. Four years of data are reported, which include a drought year (2012) and three years of near normal rainfall.

The climate and soils of rain-fed systems in the upper Midwest may limit crop productivity based on water availability. Two key questions were answered with this study:

How much water does each crop use?
Which crops are most efficient in converting water to biomass?

Water use

Average [evapotranspiration] (ET) over the four-year period showed the perennial cropping systems were not much different from the annual crop of corn. Mean growing-season ET increased in the following order: miscanthus < poplar < corn < prairie < switchgrass < native grass (Table 1), although the range of values was only about 4.5 inches. Notice that miscanthus and poplar trees had the lowest ET during the drought year of 2012. Previously, it was expected that perennial crops would require significantly more water, which could have deleterious effects at the watershed scale. This data disputes that theory and shows that planting perennial crops in the landscape with our climate and soils would not have significant adverse impacts.

#ACE15 Success, Jennings Highlights What’s Next

The 28th Annual American Coalition for Ethanol’s (ACE) Ethanol Conference was a huge success. At times the room was stand-up only and the content was engaging and informational for attendees. I had a chance to sit down with Executive Vice President Brian Jennings who kicked off the conference and closed the conference and he said that there were a few presentations that really stood out.

The first was the retailer panel that featured Kum & Go and what they are doing to promote the use of E15 and other ethanol blends to consumers in the Midwest, along with Protec and what they are doing in a totally different way and different part of the country (South/Southwest) to bring ethanol to consumers.

Brian Jennings EVP of ACE“There are a lot of smart, progressive companies out there that see the advantage, that see the price advantage, see the other advantages that E15 and higher blends bring to the table,” said Jennings. “I know it’s frustrating for some in our industry because the progress of E15 is going as quickly as any of us like but progress indeed is being made and it’s a testament to the work that ACE and others are doing with the Kum & Gos in the world and the Protecs of the world.”

Another panel that was very informative, noted Jennings, was the panel of ethanol producers who are adopting new technologies and becoming pioneers of emerging technologies. These plants, he said, are leading the way in production improvements, in new product developments, bring in new revenues and help them diversify. Jennings hopes that other ethanol producers both at their conference and not, will look to these plants as examples and also embrace these new technologies and co-products.

The conference really focused on emerging technologies and wins in the industry but none the less talk of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) was common among attendees. I asked Jennings what the next step was for ACE, on behalf of the industry, to keep the fight for the RFS front and center. He said that the industry has until November 30th to continue engaging with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and they will continue to do just that. “They have mountains of comments they have to sift through and we’re proud of ACE and the ethanol industry on how many comments were submitted.”

“I am enormously frustrated with the EPA,” said Jennings. “I have to be honest. We try to be constructive, we try to be helpful, and they just really want to continue to base this thing on the blend wall. So we have our work cut out for us.”

ACE hopes to engage in a Power to the People campaign this fall in the beltway and around the country to educate consumers about the benefits of ethanol.

To learn more about the Ethanol Conference and what’s next for ACE, listen to my interview with Brian Jennings here: ACE's Brian Jennings Conference Review

2015 ACE Annual Meeting Photos

Protec Takes Unique E15, E85 Approach

Todd Garner, CEO of Protec Fuel, has more than 30 years in the fuel business. As such, he has been able to launch an interesting model in how they bring more choice at the pump by helping retail stations offer E15 and E85. The company started offering E85 in 2006 and has made incredible strides in getting more ethanol into the marketplace. But they do more than just distribute biofuels. They are also a large fuel logistics provider, basically, they do all of the aspects that any oil company might do but work primarily with small to midsize retailers and companies. Attendees were able to learn about their business model during the ACE Ethanol Conference last week in Omaha, Nebraska.

Todd Garner ProtecProtec is the largest supplier of ethanol to the military in the U.S. and has E85 stations on nearly every naval base in the country. And for the first time, they have begun to supply the rental car companies at the Nashville, TN and Charlotte, North Carolina airports. Garner said rental car companies used to buy their own fuel. Today it’s all done together and outsourced. So Protec has convinced these rental car operations to change to E15 because nearly all cars on the road can use this ethanol blend. Gardner said that they will continue to push this program with other rental car agencies located at airports across the country.

To learn more about how Protec is promoting/selling E15 and E15 listen to Todd Garner’s remarks here: Todd Garner, Protec

2015 ACE Annual Meeting Photos

Fuels America Ad Targets President Obama

Screen Shot 2015-08-26 at 8.04.06 AMIn conjunction with the National Clean Energy Summit that took place in Las Vegas, Fuels America published a full-page ad in the Las Vegas Review-Journal aimed at President Obama. The theme of the ad is the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and a call to action to uphold the law as signed in 2007 by then President Bush. Obama was a keynote speaker at the event and the ad was accompanied by a Review Journal homepage takeover, as well as banner ads geotargeted at the conference.

The ad touts the progress under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) – passed 10 years ago this month by Senator Reid and a bipartisan coalition – including the creation of more than 850,000 American jobs and the reduction of America’s oil imports by nearly two-thirds.

The ad describes how the EPA caved to pressure from the oil industry and changed the law midstream with its latest proposal that would let oil companies continue to ignore their obligations under the law and block market access to renewable fuel for American consumers.

Fuels America notes in the ad that American biofuel innovators have invested billions of dollars in the next generation of biofuels – fuels that is cleaner and helps curb climate change, cutting carbon emissions by 88-108% compared to petroleum – under the promise of the RFS that it would end the oil industry’s chokehold on fuel distribution and market access, create American jobs, and give consumers a choice at the pump.

Kum & Go, E15 Leader #ACE Award Honoree

Jim Pirolli Kum and GoKum & Go is well known in the Midwest, especially in states like Iowa and Nebraska where this year’s #ACE annual Ethanol Conference took place (Omaha). During the event, Jim Pirolli, Vice President of Fuels for Kum & Go talked about his company’s commitment to rolling out E15 stations as well as their efforts to continue to sell more E85. The retailer opened their first E15 station in Des Moines, Iowa recently with 6 more planned over the coming months.

How are they successful? Well, for starters they are price competitive at the pump. Pirolli said that Kum & Go recognizes that alternative fuels such as ethanol support local economies, better for the environment and help them deliver more to the customer than they might expect via an expanded product portfolio and also offering the economic and performance benefits. This summer they have done a very aggressive promotion campaign for E85 in Omaha and also for E15 in Des Moines. He did ask for help in helping to educate consumers about E15.

Listen to Jim Pirolli’s presentation here: Jim Pirolli, Kum & Go

Paul Dana Marketing Vision Award

American Coalition for Ethanol’s (ACE) Ron Lamberty (left) awards Jim Pirolli with Kum & Go the Paul Dana Marketing Vision Award.

Also during the event, Kum & Go was awarded the Paul Dana Marketing Vision Award, to honor a retailer who is supportive of ethanol. Ron Lamberty with ACE noted that the retailer has been an ongoing leader in ethanol selling E10 back in 1979, today as 170 E85 stations in 11 states. He praised them for stepping up for ethanol and for marketing the fuel aggressively and for being a leader in offering E15 to consumers.

Listen to Ron Lamberty’s remarks about Kum and Go here: Kum & Go Honored with Paul Dana Marketing Vision Award

2015 ACE Annual Meeting Photos

NREL Studies E15 Infrastructure

Kristi Moriarty NRELThe National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has been studying current gas retailer’s infrastructure to determine if the equipment is already certified for E15 and flex fuels such as mid-level ethanol blends (E30, E40, E85). If so, the cost to a retailer adding E15 and other ethanol blends will be much less than a retailer who has to upgrade all his/her equipment – a definite cost barrier to more stations adopting emerging ethanol blends.

During the American Coalition for Ethanol’s (ACE) annual Ethanol Conference, held in Omaha, Nebraska, NREL Senior Analyst Kristi Moriarty, discussed the study and demonstrated how retailers can identify opportunities with their current fueling equipment and begin the process of adding E15 as one of their fuel choices.

Listen to Kristi Moriarty’s presentation here: Kristy Moriarty, NREL

2015 ACE Annual Meeting Photos

Biomass to Grow in Biofuels & Other Sectors

taiyouresearchRight now, most producers of power from biomass are struggling to become cost competitive compared to non-renewable resources including coal and natural gas. But that could soon change. A new analysis by Taiyou Research says biomass energy production, as well as bioproduct production, will grow, thanks to benefits from national level programs, energy efficiency incentives, and financial incentives targeting the expansion of the renewables market that will create demand for additional biomass power capacity globally between 2013 and 2035.

The markets of biomass for energy are developing rapidly and becoming more international. A remarkable increase in the use of biomass for energy needs parallel and positive development in several areas and there will be plenty of challenges to overcome. Currently, only a limited number of modern bioenergy technologies are viable at market prices, which include Brazilian sugar-based ethanol and wood based heating in Northern Europe, and industrial applications such as cogeneration technology based on residues from production processes, including those in sugar factories and timber mills.

As biomass power projects are largely very capital-intensive, this remains a significant challenge for a number of utilities in entering countries with abundant feedstock availability. Going forward, the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) program and availability of carbon credits for renewable energy projects will drive the growth of the biomass power market.

You can read the complete report here.

Study Shows Biofuel Use Saves Carbon Emissions

bio-logoA new study from the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) shows that use of biofuels over the past decade has saved nearly 590 million tons of carbon emissions.

According to the study, the requirement under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) over the past 10 years to substitute biofuels for fossil fuels has displaced nearly 1.9 billion barrels of foreign oil and reduced U.S. transportation-related carbon emissions by 589.33 million metric tons.

“The Renewable Fuel Standard was signed into law ten years ago this month by President George W. Bush. The law’s purpose was to end America’s addiction to oil, reduce reliance on foreign oil and lower carbon emissions from the transportation sector,” said Brent Erickson, executive vice president of BIO’s Industrial & Environmental Section. “The RFS program has demonstrably achieved those goals. The total reduction in carbon emissions achieved under the program is equal to removing more than 124 million cars from the road over the decade.”

The study also finds that EPA’s recent proposed rules for the RFS would cut short achievable future carbon emission reductions. In 2015 alone, the proposal would add 19.6 million tons of CO2e for the year, equal to putting 7.3 million cars back on the road, compared with achievable levels of biofuel use.

“It is unfortunate that the Environmental Protection Agency has delayed issuing new rules for the program and is now proposing to halt growth in the biofuel market,” said Erikson. “The agency’s delay will continue to allow fossil fuels to be used when cleaner, lower carbon biofuels are available, reversing some of the progress made in the past ten years.”
Read the study here.

NEB’s Todd Sneller Awarded #ACE Merle Anderson Award

Todd Sneller was honored with the Merle Anderson award during the American Coalition for Ethanol’s (ACE) 28th annual Ethanol Conference in Omaha, Nebraska. Well-deserved, Todd Sneller, executive director of the Nebraska Ethanol Board, has had a long and prosperous career in the ethanol industry. He became the first person to run the state organization (the one and only of its kind) back in the late 70s when he was 25 years old. At the time ethanol was still known as gasohol and had no idea how far ethanol would go.

Doug Durante presents Todd Sneller, with the Nebraska Ethanol Board (NEB) the Merle Anderson Award during the 28th Annual ACE Ethanol Conference in Omaha, Nebraska. (Todd Sneller on left and Doug Durante on right.)

Doug Durante presents Todd Sneller, with the Nebraska Ethanol Board (NEB) the Merle Anderson Award during the 28th Annual ACE Ethanol Conference in Omaha, Nebraska. (Todd Sneller on left and Doug Durante on right.)

Sneller has traveled the country working with committees, testifying and working with younger ethanol organizations to help ethanol take off. Back in the 70s there were no ethanol plants in Nebraska. Today Nebraska has the second largest ethanol nameplate capacity and is the second largest ethanol producing state in the country with 25 ethanol plants producing more than 2 billion gallons of ethanol.

When asked how it felt to win such a prestigious award, Sneller replied, “Well I think anytime one is in a room with one’s peers, that’s really that special moment to be acknowledged for something to be around the people you have enjoyed working with and respect.”

Going forward, Sneller is mentoring the younger generation – young men and women who are just entering the industry. He is also excited to see how the ethanol plant will evolve to become a biotech campus, producing fuel, feed, fiber, chemicals, and more and plans to be involved in this process.

Todd, on behalf of the entire ethanol industry, here’s to another 30 years in the ethanol industry!

Listen to Todd Sneller’s interview here: Todd Sneller on Winning Merle Anderson Award

2015 ACE Annual Meeting Photos

RFA to AMA: Stop Propagating E15 Untruths

As the biofuels industry celebrates the 10th anniversary of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) is calling on consumers to support legislation to stop the use and sales of E15 (15 percent ethanol/85 percent gasoline). In a press release AMA states, “The first 10 years under the Renewable Fuel Standard, established in 2005, represent a decade of misinformation from the ethanol lobby concerning safe fuel for your motorcycle.”

sturgis-15-1The Association is calling on motorcyclists to contact their representative and ask him/her to cosponsor the RFS Reform Act of 2015 (H.R. 704) sponsored by U.S Reps. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and Peter Welch (D-VT). The bill would amend the RFS and prohibit the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from allowing any station to sell gasoline containing more than 10 percent ethanol (E10) and require those selling E15 to stop.

In response to AMA, the Renewable Fuels Association’s (RFA) Vice President of Industry Relations Robert White said, “Once again, the AMA is engaging in scare tactics and spreading misinformation about E15. It’s nothing we haven’t heard before. AMA’s claims that E15 will suddenly become available at every fuel station in the country and replace E10, so that there will no longer be any legal fuel for motorcycles to use, are patently false. E15 has been on the market for three years and no motorcycle has misfueled using the higher ethanol blend or has been denied a warranty claim. Plus, the AMA ignores the fact that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires that the fuel dispenser label clearly identify what vehicles can and cannot use E15. Does the AMA believe that motorcyclists can’t read?”

White said that the availability for motorcycles to use E10, which is approved for use in motorcycle engines, increased last year, and that more E10 than E0 was sold last year than in the previous year. Earlier this month, RFA was at the 75th Anniversary of Sturgis where they spoke with bikers about ethanol.

“The AMA has gone to great lengths to confuse what the RFS means for consumers,” White continued. “The law states that gasoline refiners and importers must purchase and blend renewable fuels with gasoline and diesel, or purchase credits. Most producers choose to blend renewable fuels because ethanol is cheaper than gasoline and has an octane rating of 113, but the availability of credits assures no marketer will ever have to offer higher level ethanol blends if they don’t want to.” Continue reading