Ecuador Rolls Out Ethanol Program

Gasolina EcopaisPresident Rafael Correa of Ecuador has issued a decree that orders the gradual national roll out of a 10pc ethanol blend in gasoline, using a price index published by Argus Americas Biofuels. The country is branding the ethanol-blend “Ecopais” and the goal is aimed at reducing the country’s growing high-octane gas imports that are blended with locally produced low-octane gas to make 87 octane and 92 octane.

“We are delighted that Ecuador has chosen to base its new ethanol mandate on Argus price assessments, in recognition of our clear methodology and benchmark status in global biofuels markets,” Argus Media Chairman and Chief Executive Adrian Binks said.

A number of Latin American countries have adopted Argus-related pricing in oil and energy markets. The Ecopais announcement follows last year’s decision by state-owned oil company PetroEcuador to price its crude exports against the ASCI benchmark — Argus’ volume-weighted average of US deepwater sour crude deals.

Pricing will be calculated based on the Argus ethanol price plus delivery costs from the U.S. Gulf coast to Ecuador plus a K factor of 18 cents per liter.

Wash. State Researchers Make Biofuels from Fungus

Researchers at Washington State University are making a biofuel for jets from a common black fungus found in decaying leaves, soil and rotting fruit. This news release from the school says they hope to have a viable aviation biofuel in the next five years.

washstfungusbiofuel1The researchers used Aspergillus carbonarius ITEM 5010 to create hydrocarbons, the chief component of petroleum, similar to those in aviation fuels.

Led by Birgitte Ahring, director and Battelle distinguished professor of the Bioproducts, Sciences and Engineering Laboratory at WSU Tri-cities, the researchers published their work in the April edition of Fungal Biology.

The fungus produced the most hydrocarbons on a diet of oatmeal but also created them by eating wheat straw or the non-edible leftovers from corn production.

Fungi have been of interest for about a decade within biofuels production as the key producer of enzymes necessary for converting biomass to sugars. Some researchers further showed that fungi could create hydrocarbons, but the research was limited to a specific fungus living within a specific tree in the rainforest, and the actual hydrocarbon concentrations were not reported.

Ahring’s group has previously been successful in using standard Aspergillus fungi to produce enzymes and other useful products, which have been patented and are under commercialization, so they decided to look into A. carbonarius ITEM 5010’s potential for biofuels.

The researchers got help from Kenneth Bruno, a researcher at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, who developed a method essential for the genetic manipulation of A. carbonarius. The research received funding from the Danish Council for Strategic Research under the program for Energy and Environment.

MN Ethanol Industry Contributed $2.3B in 2014

According to a new study, “Contribution of the Ethanol Industry to the Economy of Minnesota,” found that Minnesota’s ethanol industry accounted for $2.34 billion of the state’s gross domestic product (GDP) during 2014. The report was published by ABF Economics and found that the industry generated $7 billion in gross sales for state businesses and supported 18,630 full-time jobs. This in turn, cites the report, generated $1.74 billion in household income in Minnesota in 2014 as well as $132 million to state and local government tax rolls.

“This study by ABF Economics clearly shows how significant the ethanol industry is to Minnesota’s economy, especially in rural areas where it supports other industries,” said Tim Rudnicki, executive director of the Minnesota Bio-Fuels Association who commissioned the study.

Screen Shot 2015-05-07 at 4.19.05 PMFor the study, ABF Economics estimated the impact of the ethanol industry on Minnesota’s economy by applying expenditures by the relevant supplying industry to the final demand multipliers for value added output, earnings and employment.

“In this study, ABF used the IMPLAN (Impact Analysis for Planning) economic model to construct a model of the Minnesota economy including the sectors that support the ethanol industry, the links between them, and the level of economic activity,” noted John Urbanchuk, managing partner for ABF Economics, in the study.

The IMPLAN model evaluated the gross output, value added (GDP), household earnings and employment generated by the ethanol industry in 2014.

In 2014, the study notes, Minnesota’s ethanol industry spent $2.7 billion to produce 1.1 billion gallons of ethanol, 3.3 million tons of dried distiller’s grains (DDGs) and 184 million pounds of corn oil.The ethanol industry’s expenditure included corn, industrial chemicals, electricity, natural gas, water, labor and services such as maintenance, insurance and general overheads. Spending for these goods and services represented the purchase of output of other industries that operate in Minnesota, ABF Economics said. Continue reading

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.

Poll Says Americans Support RFS

More than six in 10 Americans support the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) according to a new national poll conducted by Morning Consult on behalf of the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA). The RFS mandates the amount of renewable fuels to be used in the U.S. transportation fuel supply.

The poll finds that the RFS garners broad, bipartisan support from Democrats (65%), Independents (61%) and Republicans (57%) alike. Nearly two in three registered voters overall (62%) support the RFS. Less than two in 10 voters (18%) oppose the standard and two in 10 have no opinion (20%).

Screen Shot 2015-04-27 at 10.34.07 AMOther key findings include that two-thirds of voters (65%) support Federal tax incentives on cellulosic ethanol expansion. Fifty-one percent Fifty-one percent of voters oppose tax incentives given by the federal government to oil companies in order to help pay for such things as equipment depreciation, oil depletion allowances, and foreign investment tax credits for taxes they pay in foreign countries. Only about one-third of voters (34%) support such government assistance to oil companies and 15 percent have no opinion.

In terms of mandating automakers to produce alternative vehicles, 69 percent of registered voters support requiring automakers to build cars that use “fuel” other than oil including electric vehicles, natural gas and biofuels.

“This poll clearly shows that the oil industry’s misinformation, hyperbole, and manufactured angst against the RFS is not resonating with an American public that wants competition for the pump, relief for their wallet, and lower carbon fuels for the planet,” said RFA President and CEO Bob Dinneen. “More than six in ten Americans understand the economic, environmental, and national security benefits of the RFS. Congress and the Environmental Protection Agency should take note of the high level of support for the program and allow the RFS to work at the levels Congress envisioned in 2007. Failure to do so only rewards the recalcitrant incumbent industry, jeopardizes investment in new innovative technologies, and ignores an American public intent upon moving our nation’s energy future forward.”

USDA Presents Climate Change Initiative

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and presidential advisor Brian Deese visited Michigan State University Thursday to announce a comprehensive national strategy to partner with farmers, ranchers and forest land owners to address the threat of climate change. The new initiative, “Building Blocks for Climate Smart Agriculture & Forestry”, will utilize voluntary, incentive-based conservation, forestry, and energy programs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, increase carbon sequestration and expand renewable energy production in the agricultural and forestry sectors.

climate-vilsack“American farmers and ranchers are leaders when it comes to reducing carbon emissions and improving efficiency in their operations. That’s why U.S. agricultural emissions are lower than the global average,” said Vilsack. “Through incentive-based initiatives, we can partner with producers to significantly reduce carbon emissions while improving yields, increasing farm operation’s energy efficiency, and helping farmers and ranchers earn revenue from clean energy production.”

Vilsack outlined details of the ten USDA Building Blocks for Climate Action, which includes promoting renewable energy technologies and improving energy efficiency. “We’ve incentivized the shift from fossil-based energy to renewable sources of energy in rural communities,” said Vilsack. “According to the 2012 Census of Agriculture, 57,299 farms reported using a renewable energy producing system in 2012. That’s more than double the 23,451 operations that reported the same in 2007.”

The Secretary also talked about the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) and the funding of anaerobic digesters to help farm operations produce electricity from captured methane.

Vilsack announcement on climate change initiative

Farmers Live #EarthDay Every Day

earth-day-2015This year marks the 45th anniversary of Earth Day but farmers have been living the spirit of stewardship for natural resources for generations and have been leaders in the generation of renewable energy sources like biofuels, wind and solar.

“For hundreds of years, America’s farmers have been working our land and providing the country and the world with high quality food, feed, fiber and fuel,” said Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis. “Today, on Earth Day, we are proud that our industry will keep getting cleaner, keep farming more efficiently and keep discovering new ways to fuel America with biomass and waste products that represent a smarter, cleaner, homegrown alternative to foreign oil.”

TV Ad Marks 5th BP Spill Anniversary

americans-changeMarking the fifth anniversary of the BP oil spill, Americans United for Change is running a television ad in Des Moines and Chicago calling it “no rare incident.”

While BP airs their own ads congratulating themselves for their cleanup efforts despite the lingering economic and environmental fallout in the Gulf region, AUFC is kicking off Earth Day week with a message that the Deepwater Horizon disaster was only a drop in the bucket for an industry responsible for 14,000 oil spills every year. The message to lawmakers: Don’t help make a bigger mess by repealing the Renewable Fuel Standard or denying consumers the choice of cleaner alternatives like ethanol at the pump.

The spot called “Rare Incidents” features American Petroleum Institute President Jack Gerard’s outrageous 2011 comments downplaying the BP disaster as “clearly a rare incident”. The Iowa version is targeted to presidential candidates and concludes: “If Washington guts the Renewable Fuel Standard, expect plenty more ‘rare incidents.’ The version in Chicago is aimed at local leaders who are considering a “E15 Clean Air Ordinance.”

The six-figure effort kicks off an aggressive and ongoing campaign around a new website, www.RareIncidents.com.

New Report Highlights Bioenergy’s Sustainability

SCOPEA new report shows the positive relationship between bioenergy and sustainability. The research from the São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP) and developed under the aegis of the Scientific Committee on Problems of the Environment (SCOPE) is based on more than 2,000 references and major studies taking a comprehensive look at the current bioenergy landscape, technologies and practices.

Considering an extensive evaluation of current bioenergy resources status, systems and markets, potential sustainable expansion and wider adoption of this renewable resource the authors highlight recommendations for policy and deployment of bioenergy options: liquid biofuels, bioelectricity, biogas, heat, bio-based chemicals.

This assessment is a collective effort with contributions from more than 130 experts from 24 countries, encompassing scientific studies ranging from land use and feedstocks, to technologies, impacts, benefits and policy.

The authors considered how bioenergy expansion and its impacts perform on energy, food, environmental and climate security, sustainable development and the innovation nexus in both developed and developing regions. The report also highlights numbers, solutions, gaps in knowledge and suggests the science needed to maximize bioenergy benefits.

The panel discussion with the release of the report included experts from academia, industry and NGOs presenting and discussing the current status and trends in biomass production and its possible implications for policy, communication and innovation strategies for a sustainable future.

Iowa Gov Branstad to Address BIO World Congress

biologoLongtime advocate for biobased fuels Iowa Governor Terry Branstad will speak at this summer’s Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) World Congress in Montreal, Canada. This news release from BIO says Branstad is slated to speak during the July 20 plenary session titled, “State and Regional Approaches to Developing the Biobased Economy.”

“Governor Terry Branstad is a true champion of our industry and the creation of a national biobased economy. He has voiced support for the federal Renewable Fuel Standard, advanced policies at the state level for a stronger rural bioeconomy and supported more research to advance second-generation biofuels,” said Jim Greenwood, President and CEO of the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO). “BIO could not imagine a better person than Governor Branstad to kick off the world’s largest conference on industrial biotechnology.”

“Governor Branstad has regularly provided leadership in articulating the importance of the biotechnology industry to our state,” said Joe Hrdlicka, executive director, Iowa Biotech Association. “We’re thrilled he will have the opportunity to share Iowa’s vision at such a critical industry event with an international audience.”

“Iowa is the nation’s premier leader in the renewable fuels industry and is capitalizing on its success in agriculture and its research capabilities in plant, animal and human biosciences to build a thriving biosciences industry within the state,” said Debi Durham, director of the Iowa Economic Development Authority. “Iowa’s bioscience enterprises are discovering the innovations that will spur future economic growth and create jobs, improving the quality of life for people on a global scale — Governor Branstad is poised to tell our story.”

More information on the conference is available at www.bio.org/worldcongress.