“May Day, May Day” Video Released

Americans United for Change has released a new video in response to the recent oil spill in Santa Barbara, California as well as several other recent oil spills. ‘May Day, May Day‘ is a roundup of news coverage showing why May was another messy oil spill month. The nonprofit notes the images of beach-goers trudging through tar to rescue oil soaked birds serve as a vivid reminder of the consequences of America’s dependence on oil.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that there will be 14,000 oil spills this year. This, cites American United for Change, is why people should be asking the EPA ‘what they were thinking’ when they cut back the Renewable Volume Obligations (RVOs) as part of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). The RVOs are significantly under what was mandated by Congress when the legislation was passed. The organization said this decision continues to limit consumer choice at the pump and encourages the oil industry to keep drilling and spilling.

The move would also discourage investment in infrastructure, said Americans United for Change, that would “bust through the so-called ‘blend wall'” and discourage innovation towards cleaner and cheaper fuels.

The new video is as part of the organization’s ongoing project RareIncidents.com, inspired by American Petroleum Institute President Jack Gerard who in 2011 attempted to dismiss the BP spill disaster in the Gulf Coast as “clearly a rare incident”.

CHS Acquires Patriot Renewable Fuels

chs-logoCHS Inc. has acquired the Patriot Renewable Fuels ethanol plant from Patriot Holdings, LLC, Annawan, Ill. The Annawan, Illinoise facility produces 125 million gallons of ethanol annually, and is the second ethanol plant that CHS has purchased. In June 2014, CHS acquired the former Illinois River Energy plant at Rochelle, Ill. The facility will be rebranded as CHS and it’s 68 employees will become CHS employees.

“CHS will pursue ethanol manufacturing ownership in strategic current and new geographies that allow us to add value for our owners across our ag business and energy enterprise from inputs to value-added fuel and feed ingredients to the marketplace,” said Gary Anderson, CHS senior vice president, North America grain marketing and renewable fuels.

Gene Griffith, Patriot Holdings, LLC, chairman, president and CEO said CHS was a marketer of the plant’s DDGS (distillers dried grains with solubles) and ethanol products. “CHS is the right fit to take this business to the next level,” Griffith said. “The Patriot board of directors is confident that CHS is committed to continuing to grow the business, which bodes well for all suppliers delivering grain to the plant.”

ACE Launches E15 Retailer Website

The American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) has launched a new website for retailers focused on E15: www.FlexFuelForward.com. The site is designed to answer retailer-focused questions about E15, E85 and mid-level ethanol blends.

“When convenience store owners consider a new product, the information they trust most comes from people like them – other retailers who have already done what they’re thinking about doing,” said ACE’s Senior Vice President, Ron Lamberty. “Fuel marketers thinking about new fuels want to hear from another retailer that adding those choices increased gallons, and led to better customer counts and higher profits – and that’s what we’re hearing from retailers who added E15 and flex fuels.”

Flex Forward“Unfortunately, most station owners don’t know anyone who sells E15 or flex fuels, and what they think they know about higher ethanol blends is warped by fictional ethanol horror stories, written by people who have never sold a drop of either product,” Lamberty continued. “That’s why the centerpiece of the FlexFuelForward.com site is a short documentary that introduces three fuel marketers who saw through the anti-ethanol ghost stories and added E15 and flex fuels to their product mix. Their real-world results show the doom and gloom predictions have not come true, and the rewards have been higher volume, more customers, better margins, and higher profits.”

FlexFuelForward.com provides additional fuel marketer-focused information to help station owners decide to add E15 and/or flex fuels, including links to fuel, equipment and government websites that have even more detailed information. “This site is aimed at capturing the attention and answering the main questions of marketers who have not responded to the ethanol industry’s other campaigns,” explained Lamberty. “We want to address the top concerns that are keeping station owners from considering E15 or flex fuels, and from there, point them to the people or information they need to get another E15 or flex fuel location built.”

Lamberty concluded, “We can’t bring experienced E15 and flex fuel marketers with us to every trade show or retailer workshop ACE attends. So we’ve done the next best thing – we’ve brought their stories to a place where they will be available 24/7, for marketers who live and work in the 24/7 convenience store world.”

Candidate Clinton Clean Energy Commentary

Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton came out in favor of domestic, renewable energy in an op-ed for the Cedar Rapids Gazette this week.

hillary-2016“I believe the United States can and must be the clean energy super power for the 21st century,” writes Mrs. Clinton. “We can’t afford to cede our leadership in developing and deploying the advanced, clean fuels of the future that will grow our economy, lower our energy bills, reduce pollution, and protect the health of our families and communities. And America’s farmers and rural communities have to be at the heart of this effort.”

Clinton gave a strong endorsement of the Renewable Fuel Standard:

The Renewable Fuel Standard can continue to be a powerful tool to spur the development of advanced biofuels and expand the overall contribution that renewable fuels make to our national fuel supply. But we also can’t ignore significant changes to the energy landscape since the RFS was expanded in 2007. We have to get the RFS back on track in a way that provides investors with the certainty they need, protects consumers, improves access to E15, E85, and biodiesel blends, and effectively drives the development of cellulosic and other advanced biofuels.

Read the entire editorial here.

EPA Announces Volume Obligations Under RFS

epa-150Beating the announced deadline of June 1, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today proposed the volume requirements under the RFS program for 2014, 2015, and 2016 for cellulosic biofuel, biomass-based diesel, advanced biofuel, and total renewable fuel. EPA is also proposing the volume requirement for biomass-based diesel for 2017.

EPA is proposing to set the renewable fuel standards for 2014 at the levels that were actually produced and used as transportation fuel, heating oil or jet fuel in the contiguous U.S. and Hawaii. For 2015 and 2016, EPA is proposing ambitious increases in both advanced biofuel and total renewable fuel in comparison to 2014 levels. This proposed rulemaking also provides an evaluation of the expected volumes of cellulosic biofuel for 2015 and 2016, and proposes annual increases in the required volume of biomass-based diesel for 2015, 2016, and 2017.

Announcing the proposal today was Janet McCabe, EPA Acting Assistant Administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation. EPA Announces RFS RVO proposal

McCabe took a number of questions from the media on the proposal. EPA RVO proposal media question and answer

NREL Releases E15 & Infrastructure Report

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has released a paper addressing the compatibility of E15 with gas station equipment. “E15 and Infrastructure” looks at compatibility of E15 through a literature review of published works by refueling equipment manufacturers, industry groups and federal agencies. The paper also includes a summary of applicable codes and standards, review of equipment manufacturer products, and verification with manufacturers regarding which ethanol blends work
with their products.

NREL logoThe report also addresses several misperceptions about E15 including that it is safe to store the ethanol blend in tanks. The paper states that for many decades, underground storage tank manufacturers have approved their tanks for blends up to E100, more specifically, all steal tanks and double-walled fiberglass tanks since the year 1990.

As part of the study all fuel and vapor handling equipment was reviewed to determine if it was certified by a third-party (such as UL) and if it was listed for specific ethanol blends. The aggregated list confirms there are UL testing standards available now for all gasoline–ethanol blends from 0% to 85% ethanol. The appendices includes a full list of E15 and E15+ compatible equipment. The literature review also finds that there were no incidents of E10 causing releases from UST systems were identified.

The study concludes, “There are future opportunities for retailers to remove or replace their current equipment not necessarily related to continuous changes in motor fuel composition. Credit card companies are requiring retail fueling stations to update their dispensers to accept new chip and PIN secure credit cards by October 2017, at which time fraud liability would switch to station owners if they have not updated their equipment. This presents an opportunity to increase E25 UL-listed equipment through a retrofit kit if electronics are being upgraded to accommodate the new credit cards, or if a station owner must purchase a new dispenser, it could pay a minimal amount more for an E25 dispenser. If a new dispenser is purchased, this may also present an opportunity to
upgrade to an E85 dispenser, but at significant additional cost.”

USDA Turning Wildfire Fuel into Biofuels

usda-logoThe fuel for wildfires is being converted to biofuels. This posting on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) blog says the agency is tackling the issue of what to do with the trees killed by bark beetles, a source of fuel for forest fires. While the huge bioenergy resource (projected to be 46 million acres) has potential, it faces some real challenges, including access to industrial centers able to process it into biofuel. Several USDA programs look to overcome that issue.

One such program, the Sustainable Bioenergy Alliance Network of the Rockies (BANR), is led by Colorado State University. BANR brings together scientists, educators, and extension specialists from universities and government agencies to work with industry partners to address the major challenges that impact economical and sustainable utilization of insect-killed trees for the production of biofuels and biochar.

Because collecting beetle-killed trees is more of a salvage operation than a harvest, BANR has created teams to address the various challenges. The first order of business is locating the feedstock, which BANR does through various sensing approaches. They will also develop models to predict future beetle infestations. Another team is tackling the logistical problems of harvesting, collecting, transporting, and storing the raw biomass without negatively impacting natural forest regeneration and water resources. Specifically, goals for this aspect of the operation include benchmarking the performance of equipment used to harvest, process, and deliver beetle-killed trees, and then optimize the logistics for site conditions, specific end uses, and facility locations.

USDA also wants to educate youth by developing middle and high school science units that focus on bioenergy; professional development for K-12 teachers; research opportunities for K-12 teachers and undergraduate students; and online coursework for undergrads, graduate students, and K-12 teachers.

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

Ethanol Producers Manage Growth, Change

The 10th annual Biofuels Financial Conference is right around the corner. This year’s theme is “Managing Expectations” and will focus on ways the successful biofuels facilities are watching for ways to manage capital, reinvest profits and help their plants evolve says John Christianson, CPA and Partner at Christianson & Associates, PLLP, based in Willmar, MN. The Biofuels Financial Conference is taking place June 24-25, 2015 in Minneapolis, MN at the Bloomington Embassy Suites.

Christianson and A logoSpeakers will discuss various aspects of creating a well-managed plan for growth and change, and ways to help investors understand the essential components of future success. Christianson says that his company, which is both a CPA firm and a consulting firm that has worked in the biofuels industry for 20 years, understands the importance of providing services and products that can help ensure financial success for a biofuels plant. This year’s Biofuels Financial Conference will focus on creating a financial plan that maximizes profitability while ensuring future stability and meeting the expectations of all stakeholders.

“It’s important for board members and financial decision-makers to understand the opportunities in the current liquid fuels marketplace,” Christianson added. “What is the impact of the latest legislation changes, what are the marketplace opportunities, what are the technology investments that will bring a plant successfully into the next generation?”

Registration is still open but space is limited. Learn more about the Biofuels Financial Conference and register by clicking here.

Biofuels, Nat Gas Boost Nonpetroleum Usage Levels

Petroleum is still tops in transportation fuels, but biodiesel, ethanol and natural gas have taken the biggest bite out of its share since 1954. This report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) says the numbers harken back to when coal-fired steam locomotives were declining and automobile use was growing rapidly.
nonpetroleumconsumption
After nearly 50 years of relative stability at about 4%, the nonpetroleum share started increasing steadily in the mid-2000s, reaching 8.5% in 2014. Of the nonpetroleum fuels used for transportation, fuel ethanol has grown most rapidly in recent years, increasing by nearly one quadrillion British thermal units (Btu) between 2000 and 2014. Nearly all of the ethanol consumed was blended into gasoline in blends of 10% or less, but a small amount was used in vehicles capable of running on higher blends as the availability of those flexible-fuel vehicles grew. Consumption of biodiesel, most of it blended into diesel fuel for use in trucks and buses, grew to more than 180 trillion Btu by 2014.

In 2014, transportation use of natural gas reached a historic high of 946 trillion Btu, 3.5% of all natural gas used in the United States. Transportation natural gas is mostly used in the operation of pipelines, primarily to run compressor stations and to deliver natural gas to consumers. Natural gas used to fuel vehicles, although a much smaller amount, has more than doubled since 2000.