Ethanol Industry Pleased with NREL Study

The ethanol industry is pleased with a new study released this week by the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) showing existing service station equipment is compatible with E15, a 15 percent blend of the green fuel. The study also looked at vapor control equipment and found “an extensive list of E15 and E15+ compatible equipment available.”

lamberty“Rumors of E15’s impossibility and high equipment cost have been greatly exaggerated,” said American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) Senior Vice President Ron Lamberty. “NREL’s analysis confirms what we have been telling station owners since E15 was approved – most underground storage tanks (USTs), piping, and other fueling equipment are already compatible with E15.”

Lamberty said the ethanol industry has been criticized and called “dangerous” and “dishonest’ for suggesting marketers could simply put E15 in tanks they previously used for premium or midgrade gasoline. “Even after highlighting real-world fuel marketers selling E15 from existing equipment, the myth of high priced E15 infrastructure remains,” said Lamberty. “This study effectively busts that myth.”

Lamberty went on to say that “in stations where Big Oil couldn’t contractually ban E15, they had to scare the owners out of offering the less-expensive, higher-octane fuel.”

dinneen-capitolBob Dinneen, president and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association, also commented on the study:

“This comprehensive analysis is both timely and relevant to the current debate about the so-called ‘blend wall’ that some would like to use to limit the growth opportunities for ethanol under the RFS. Clearly, the constraints to the increased use of E15 have more to do with the recalcitrance of refiners and marketers than they do any real infrastructure barriers. Today’s comprehensive study should once and for all belie the misplaced conclusion that infrastructure and ethanol demand limitations should justify a reduction in the RFS as it found most equipment at a retail fuel station today, including underground storage tanks, are compatible with E15. This study demonstrates that most retailers will not be required to break concrete and spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to offer E15.”

The study was funded by the Blend Your Own Ethanol campaign, a joint effort of ACE and RFA to provide information for fuel retailers considering ethanol blends beyond E10. A full copy of the report can be found at BYOethanol.com, and interested parties can also register on the BYO website for an NREL webinar on the report which will be offered June 11, 2015 at 1:00 PM CDT.

Ethanol Gears Up for Friday’s RVOs Announcement

epa-150Ethanol advocates are gearing up for Friday’s announcement by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of the levels of renewable fuel to be mixed into the nation’s conventional fuel supplies. The Renewable Volume Obligations (RVOs) are mandated in the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), but the EPA has been tinkering with the amounts, which could put the biofuels industry in jeopardy.

Fuels America continued its campaign leading up to the proposed rules with a full page ad in the New York Times today and a week-long sponsorship of Politico’s Morning Energy. The ads both present the choice before the EPA: rural economies and American innovation, or oil industry profits.

America’s Renewable Future (ARF) also announced that Iowa’s entire federal delegation – including Sens. Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst, Reps. Dave Loebsack, Steve King, David Young, and Rod Blum – is joining ARF in urging the EPA to set strong Renewable Fuel Standard volume requirements consistent with Congress’s intent when the law was passed.

“Farmers and biofuels producers have done their part. The EPA needs to do its part,” Grassley said. “The levels ought to reflect the reality of what can be accomplished in an unbiased way. That’s what the law requires, and that’s what consumers who want fuel choices deserve.”

Brent Erickson, the executive vice president of BIO, published this blog on Medium about the EPA’s choice and how the agency should follow the law:

Back when Congress was considering the RFS, oil companies fought tooth and nail against a part of the bill that I call the “Consumer Choice Provision” (CCP). This provision directs the EPA to set annual [RVO] levels based on the renewable fuel industry’s ability to produce and supply biofuels. The oil lobby instead wanted a law that would have allowed the EPA to set RVO levels below those in the statute if the oil industry simply refused to invest in renewable fuel infrastructure…

Instead, Congress designed the RFS to increase America’s energy security, lessen our dependence on foreign oil (which often comes from hostile regions), extend its commitment to America’s rural communities and green energy investors and innovators, and encourage infrastructure development. The RFS now supports more than 852,000 jobs across America. And thanks to the promise of the RFS, green energy investors have brought three commercial scale cellulosic ethanol facilities online, producing the world’s cleanest motor fuels from agricultural residue.

Iowans Continue to Speak For RFS

With indication that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) may finally announce the 2014, 2015 and 2016 Renewable Volume Obligations (RVO) for the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) by June 1st, Iowa legislators are once again calling for forward momentum of the RFS. Iowa Sens. Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst, Reps. Dave Loebsack, Steve King, David Young, and Rod Blum—Iowa’s entire federal delegation—urged the EPA to keep the RVO levels consistent with Congress’s intent when the RFS became law.

ARF-Logo-Retina-AltThe RVO rules, which are one key element of the RFS, determine how much renewable fuels such as ethanol and biodiesel will be blended into the U.S. fuel supply. Long-term and ongoing uncertainty surrounding the rule has frozen investment in the advanced biofuels industry of estimates close to $13.7 billion, and put numerous jobs at risk.

“Farmers and biofuels producers have done their part. The EPA needs to do its part,” said Grassley. “The levels ought to reflect the reality of what can be accomplished in an unbiased way. That’s what the law requires, and that’s what consumers who want fuel choices deserve.”

Loebsack said of the pending RFS announcement, “The blending volumes are long overdue and need to be strong to not only ensure stability in the renewable energy sector, but also for the high quality jobs the industry has created, enabling cheaper, cleaner choices for consumers. I encourage the EPA to not lose sight of the overall goal of this program, that is to take us into a new age of fuel and energy.”

“The RFS is the only tool that provides market access so that ethanol and other renewable fuels are sold in competition with petroleum,” added King. “The Consumer Choice Provision was enacted by Congress and sets the framework for RFS targets in law. The EPA, in another example of executive overreach, rolled back the RFS targets, presumably because of short grain supplies and high grain prices. We have since harvested the largest corn crop ever and seen prices cut in half. The EPA needs to follow the law and restore the RFS targets according to the directive of Congress.”

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.”

Novozymes Talks Flexibility for Ethanol at FEW

Novozymes_logo_leftNovozymes, our sponsor for coverage at the upcoming Fuel Ethanol Workshop (FEW), June 1 – 4 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, will be talking about the company’s flexible solutions to increase ethanol plant profitability and achieve operational goals during FEW. Novozymes invites everyone to stop by its booth #1021 and chat with its knowledgeable team.

Get a sneak peek at Novozymes Bioenergy University – an online training platform to help you boost your operators’ competencies
Play Ethanol Challenge – our fun, interactive new game that explores ethanol production (each day’s top scorer wins an iPad, and everybody who plays gets a prize!)
Fuel your own engine at the Common Ground Cafe – our coffee bar

We also encourage you to join Novozymes in the following FEW sessions:

Yield maximization: propagation and fermentation optimization
Presenter: Derek Payne, Research Associate

Tues., June 2, 1:30-3 p.m.
Track 1: Production and operations
Exploring best practices for yield maximization Continue reading

Ethanol Report as Summer Begins

ethanol-report-adThe kickoff of summer this Memorial Day weekend finds beaches in Santa Barbara California closed as oil spreads off shore and workers try to clear up the mess left by the spill. Elsewhere, the oil industry continues to spread misinformation about ethanol, keeping RFA busy working to clear up misconceptions as fast as they happen.

In this Ethanol Report, Renewable Fuels Association president and CEO Bob Dinneen talks about a new report showing RIN credits have no impact on the price of gas, how E10 is safe for boaters, and when he expects to see the long overdue EPA proposal for volume obligations under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). Ethanol Report as Summer Begins

Ethanol Trade Missions to Expand Markets

Representatives of the U.S. Grains Council (USGC), Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), and Growth Energy were in Tokyo this week for an industry market assessment of the potential to export U.S. ethanol to Japan.

growth-exports“The United States exported 900 million gallons of ethanol in 2014, supporting both U.S. farmers and the ethanol industry. We know that, going forward, ethanol exports have the potential to grow and become equally beneficial for our customers overseas,” said USGC president and CEO Tom Sleight. “USGC, Growth and RFA are committed to launching initiatives in 2015 and 2016 to build demand for U.S. ethanol and address barriers to ongoing imports.”

Over the next two years, the government of Japan will be undertaking a full review of its national energy policies, including biofuels, potentially opening up opportunities for additional ethanol exports there.

“The team came away with a much greater understanding of the current Japanese requirements and market conditions pertaining to ethanol and began the implementation of a strategy to help ensure that U.S. ethanol receives fair market access under the future energy policy that will be adopted when the current policy expires in 2017,” said Jim Miller, chief economist and vice president of Growth Energy.

“The team will continue examining the requirements of the Japanese sustainability standards, looking for ways to overcome infrastructure concerns, and compiling data responding to some of the misinformation government officials still hold regarding renewable fuels,” added RFA’s director of regulatory affairs, Kelly Davis.

Last week, the organizations were part of a mission with USDA’s Foreign Agriculture Service in Mexico to explore potential in that market. One mission member, Greg Krissek, CEO of Kansas Corn, reflected on the trip in this video from the USGC.


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.

Making More Sustainable Ethanol at FEW

celleratesyngentaAttendees of the upcoming Fuel Ethanol Workshop (FEW), June 1 – 4, will have the chance to learn about the next leap forward for ethanol production, as Syngenta presents: Cellerate – a revolutionary ethanol process technology that converts corn kernel fiber into cellulosic ethanol.

Quad County Corn Processors CEO Delayne Johnson will discuss Cellerate as part of, “Grabbing that Next Rung: Advanced Ethanol Production for Existing Starch Producers.” Don’t miss his presentation:

When: Tuesday June 2, 1:30pm – 3:00pm
Where: Room 101 DEFG

Syngenta also invites you to stop by booth 701 at FEW to learn how Syngenta is making ethanol more sustainable by integrating Cellerate process technology and Enogen corn enzyme technology.