Ethanol Exports Bounce Back in September

growth-exportsU.S. ethanol exports rebounded in September after a drop in August, with shipments expanding 20% to 60.3 million gallons (mg), according to Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) analysis of government data released this week.

RFA Research Analyst Ann Lewis reports that Canada remained the top market for U.S. ethanol, with 44% of expors. “Meanwhile, India imported 14.3 mg (24%), its highest level of imports since February,” said Lewis. Other top importers included South Korea (8.5 mg), Peru (4.3 mg), Mexico (2.7 mg) and the Philippines (2.7 mg). Tunisia backed away from purchases in September after accounting for a quarter of the market last month, while exports to Brazil were close to zero. Total year-to-date U.S. ethanol exports are almost 625 million gallons – which is up six percent from this time last year and already greater than total exports in 2013.

The California LCFS “ethanol shuffle” reappeared in September, as U.S. imports hit a 16-month high. The United States imported 24.9 mg of ethanol, almost 60% higher than August and the largest volume imported since May 2014. All of the 24.2 mg of undenatured ethanol imports originated from Brazil. The U.S. also imported 689,365 gallons of denatured ethanol in September, with 96% shipped from Spain and the remainder coming from South Africa and Canada. Year-to-date U.S. imports of ethanol now total 57.7 mg–quickly catching up to last year’s cumulative volume at this point. In September, the United States realized its 25th straight month as a net exporter, albeit at a significantly reduced margin.

Meanwhile, exports of U.S. distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS) were lower in September with decreasing shipments to China, which still remains by far the number one destination for DDGS exports. Four countries account for most of the 1,108,582 metric tons of U.S. DDGS exports: China (484,535 mt), Mexico (140,338 mt), Viet Nam (101,335 mt) and South Korea (96,503 mt). China had been importing about 750,000 mt per month and making up about 64% of our DDGS export market. However, DDGS exports to China dropped 30% in August and another 26% in September, settling at a volume equal to just half of the June record high.

All Auto Owners Can Choose Premium E30

Back in September I brought you a story about Orrie Swayze, an active ethanol advocate, who wants all drivers to use E30 in their cars. At the time, there was a special order in front of the South Dakota Farmers Union and this has since passed in a resolution meeting and Swayze believes the resolution will unanimously pass at their December 10, 2015 meeting. The special order declares that all 14,000 members pledge to use premium E30 in all their non-flex fuel autos and other standard engines.

Watertown, South Dakota-based Glacial Lakes Energy is publicly promoting the use of E30 with a full-page newspaper ad and Swayze is calling on other ethanol plants to tear down the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) “Illegal Ethanol Lie” that holds such power over the ethanol industry and built the E10 blend wall that has cost the industry billions.

Swayze has penned an opinion piece about E30 and it is below.

All Auto Owners Can Choose Premium E30

ShatterOrrie Swayzeing EPA’s biggest illegal lie: “Its illegal to fuel non-flex fuel vehicles with lower cost, more power ethanol’s premium blend E30.”  Even though for manufacturing efficiencies both flex and non-flex fuel vehicles have basically the same engines, fuel, and emissions systems:  And the clean air act’s memorandum 1a, now amended to include persons, or the law protects consumers from EPA’s zealous, unreasonable enforcement of  clean air act’s tampering provisions.  Plus thousands of standard auto owners daily fueling with premium E30 obviously have the clean air act’s memorandum 1a defined “reasonable basis for knowing”: Knowing they are not tampering or illegally degrading emissions, engines, or emission systems and Magnuson-Moss warranty act protects them from unreasonable warranty denials. Continue reading

Biofuels Groups Blast House Hearing on RFS

uscapitolBiofuels backers say a U.S. House Science Committee had very little to do with science in regards to the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). The Congressional committee met on the 10th anniversary of the RFS, and Tom Buis, co-chair of Growth Energy, said the committee has a history of misrepresenting biofuels, relying on misinformation and outright lies to cast a negative light on an American success story.

“Today’s hearing was nothing more than a coordinated attack against biofuels. Minus a few open-minded individuals who examined this issue based on facts, not pre-determined bias, this hearing did nothing to reflect the overwhelming contributions of the RFS…

“With regards to the environmental benefits of ethanol, the facts are clear. According to Argonne National Laboratory, – an objective national laboratory – ethanol reduces greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by an average of 34 percent compared to gasoline, even when the highly controversial and disputed theory on Indirect Land Use Change (ILUC) is factored into the modeling. Furthermore, Argonne has found that without ILUC included, ethanol reduces GHG emissions by 57 percent compared to gasoline.

“It is unfortunate that the Science Committee missed an opportunity to provide an unbiased examination of the RFS. Instead, the Committee – which has no jurisdiction over this policy – continued to present a misguided agenda to smear biofuels, hosting several witnesses that fabricated information on the impact biofuels have on food prices, the environment and the American economy. This treatment of homegrown American fuels is insulting to the hardworking Americans across our country who are helping fuel our energy independence.”

Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) President and CEO Bob Dinneen said “Big Oil’s narrative opposing the RFS no longer has any currency.” Continue reading

Cellulosic Biofuels Celebrated at DuPont Plant Opening

DuPont cellulosic grand openingNevada, Iowa is officially home to the world’s largest cellulosic ethanol biorefinery with the official plant commissioning. When the DuPont facility is at full production, in about a year, it will produce 30 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol from agricultural residues such as corn stover.

The celebration was kicked off with the National Anthem sung by music legend Simon Estes followed by nearly a dozen speakers. The first to take the stage was William Freehery, president, DuPont Industrial Sciences who discussed the theme of DuPont’s advanced biofuels production: “RE. FORM. ENERGY”. Freehery focused his remarks on how the company is changing the way the world thinks about biofuels. He explained how their technology is “reforming” how energy is produced and in the future and how they will “reform” ways to create new materials, “reform” new ways to use them and “reform” new ways to produce them.

“What is significant about today is that we’ve reinvented manufacturing itself,” said Feehery. “Feeding renewable biomass into a commercial scale industrial facility. We’ve also reinvented how we think of and supply energy, and our next act will be reinventing how we turn those same agricultural feedstocks into to new types of materials that people use everyday.”

Also speaking was an individual who came to Nevada to turn the dream of cellulosic ethanol production into reality: Terraun Jones, operations manager. He was lured to Iowa on the platform of his fascination of turning agricultural waste, something Iowa has too much of, into biofuel and bioproducts. When he arrived, his first task was to create the foundation for the plant -the pouring of concrete and adding steel. “It was not just the foundation of our facility, but it was the foundation of an entirely new industry and renewable energy,” said Jones.

Photo: Joanna Schroeder

Photo: Joanna Schroeder

Event speakers included: Host: Jan Koninckx, Global Business Director, DuPont Biofuels; Simon Estes; William Feehery, President, DuPont Industrial Biosciences; Honorable Terry Branstad, Governor, State of Iowa; Honorable Kim Reynolds, Lieutenant Governor, State of Iowa; Honorable Chuck Grassley, U.S. Senator, State of Iowa; Honorable Steve King, U.S. Representative, State of Iowa; Honorable Bill Northey, Secretary of Agriculture, State of Iowa; Terraun Jones, DuPont Employee Representative; Honorable Lynn Lathrop, Mayor, City of Nevada; Dr. Johnathan Male, U.S. Department of Energy;  and Brian Sampson, Grower Harvest Program.

Listen to the full program here: DuPont Cellulosic Biorefinery Welcome Program

EPA Submits Final RFS Rules to OMB for Review

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has transmitted its Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) rules to the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review as one of the final steps before publishing the final 2014, 2015 and 2016 final RFS rules for renewable volume obligations (RVOs). While the details are not public, the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) is calling on the EPA to correct its course and stop undermining the goals and requirements of the statute. The uncertainty, the organization said, is undercutting much needed investments in advanced and cellulosic biofuels as well as raising greenhouse gas emissions in the transportation fuel sector.

bio-logoMany cellulosic and advanced biofuel companies are members of the organization including several companies who have brought commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol biorefineries online in the past year including Abengoa Bioenergies in Hugoton, Kansas; DuPont in Nevada, Iowa; and POET-DSM in Emmetsburg, Iowa. In addition, several leading advanced biofuels companies focused on waste feedstocks have also seen commercial scale success including INEOS Bio in Vero Beach, Florida; Enerkem in Alberta, Canada; GranBio in Alagoas, Brazil; and ZeaChem in Boardman, Oregon. All of these companies, along with those companies still in development stages, have a significant vested interest in achieving increased mandated volumes for second generation biofuels.

According to BIO, its members are improving conventional biofuel processes, commercializing advanced and cellulosic biofuel production technologies and speeding the development of new bioenergy dedicated crops.

Brent Erickson, executive vice president of BIO’s Industrial & Environmental Section, said after hearing the news that the final rules were sent to OMB for review, “The RFS has been a critical piece of our nation’s energy and climate policy. It has driven the investment of billions of dollars in the development and commercial deployment of ultra-low-carbon biofuels. It has spurred innovation beyond biofuels to the development of greener technologies and manufacturing processes while curbing our dependence on foreign oil.”

“Unfortunately, Erickson continued, “as we explained in our official comments on the proposed rule, EPA’s new interpretation of its statutory authority to waive the requirements of the RFS statute has already chilled investment for advanced biofuels and has increased U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. If EPA issues a final rule that adopts the approach set forth in the proposed rule, the result will be continued market uncertainty and market constraints that will further undermine sustained investment in advanced biofuels.”

The deadline for the release of the final RFS rules in November 30, 2015. Should the RVO’s not be returned to at minimum, mandated levels, the biofuels industry has voiced intent to sue the EPA.

Vertimass Gets US Gov’t OK for Biofuel Tech

vertimass1A California company received U.S. government approval for its technology that will be able to blend more biofuels with gasoline, diesel and jet fuels. This news release from Vertimass says the technology validation allows the company to get a new award of $2 million by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Bioenergy Technology Office.

Vertimass technology was originated at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, where scientists invented novel catalysts that convert a wide range of alcohols including ethanol and butanol into hydrocarbon blend stocks that can be used in existing gasoline, diesel and jet engines without modifications. Additionally, this process can produce renewable chemicals including benzene, toluene, and xylenes (BTX). Thus, Vertimass technology offers a new pathway that can enhance use of biomass-derived renewable fuels that lower greenhouse gas emissions and decrease U.S. reliance on foreign sources of oil. Co-production of BTX and other chemicals can enhance profitability.

“We are excited to clear this critical milestone with the Department of Energy and can now take the next step toward scaling up this novel technology,” said Dr. Charles Wyman, Vertimass president and chief executive officer. “This technology validation further proves the effectiveness and novelty of this technology, and through this DOE award, we intend to work with Technip to ready the technology for introduction into existing and emerging ethanol facilities within two years, thereby significantly expanding the market for renewable transportation fuels.”

“We are very pleased to receive third-party validation of this technology as part of the DOE award so we can now rapidly move to commercialization,” said Bill Shopoff, Vertimass chairman. “We believe this technology will have significant impacts in the renewable plastics and fuels spaces, especially in contributing to attaining Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS2) targets for advanced fuels and Federal Aviation Administration goals of one billion gallons of renewable jet fuel by 2018.”

Vertimass officials point out their simple, one-step process can be easily bolted onto existing ethanol production facilities, resulting in low capital costs.

Ethanol Producer Green Plains to Buy Texas Refinery

greenplainsNebraska-based ethanol producer Green Plains says it will buy an ethanol refinery in Texas owned by fuel retailer Murphy USA. This news release from Green Plains says it will pay Hereford Renewable Energy, LLC approximately $93.8 million, including $78.5 million for the ethanol production facility with the balance for working capital.

The facility is a Lurgi-designed, ICM-modified ethanol plant with approximately 100 million gallons per year of production capacity, a corn oil extraction system and other related assets.

“The Hereford facility has many strategic and financial advantages over other destination plants because of its location, leading to both export and domestic market opportunities for ethanol and distillers grains,” commented Todd Becker, president and chief executive officer of Green Plains. “Because it is located near the largest concentration of cattle in the world, with over a million head of cattle fed within a 50-mile radius, the plant can produce a low carbon intensity fuel which is typically sold for a premium to ethanol produced at most other plants.”

Andrew Clyde, president and CEO of Murphy USA, added, “The Hereford facility has become a high-performing facility and we want to recognize the commitment of the Hereford employees who executed the two-year turnaround plan and established a track record of consistent, strong performance. Their commitment created the opportunity for us to attract a prominent, long-term focused buyer such as Green Plains who can build on the progress demonstrated to date at Hereford. This transaction reinforces Murphy USA’s strategic intent of selling our non-core assets in a manner that captures the most value for our shareholders.”

The facility uses a shuttle unload technique that can unload 40,000 bushels of corn per hour, a double-loop track that holds two unit trains at a time and a grain handling system with more than 4.8 million bushels of storage. The plant also has 4.5 million gallons of ethanol storage capacity.

CBC to EPA: Commit to the RFS

Congressional Black Caucus LogoSixteen members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) have sent a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today calling on the agency to get back on track with the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) and strengthen the biofuels volume requirements. The rules are due to be finalized on November 30, 2015 and the biofuels industry is calling on the EPA to uphold the law and bring the RFS back into compliance with renewable volume obligations (RVOs).

The CBC members point out in the letter the benefits of the RFS to the environment and economy, as well as how renewable fuel including cellulosic and advanced biofuels are reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

As Politico points out, there is dissension among the Congressional Black Caucus ranks. Last year the Caucus sent a letter urging the EPA to lower the amount of corn-based ethanol. Today, 16 members have broken from their group and are now calling on more renewable fuel to be blended under the RFS. The members include: Rep. Payne; Rep. Clarke; Rep. Holmes Norton; Rep. Hastings; Rep. Bishop; Rep. Lee; Rep. Brown; Rep. Davis; Rep. Cleaver; Rep. Rangel; Rep. Johnson; Rep. Adams; Rep. Kelly; Rep. Butterfield; Rep. Carson; and Rep. Clyburn.

Click here to read the letter.

Santorum Visits Quad County Cellulosic Ethanol Plant

qccp-santorumRepublican presidential candidate and former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum visited the site of the first commercial cellulosic ethanol production in the state of Iowa at Quad County Corn Processors (QCCP) Friday.

“One of the things that’s helped rural small towns and farmers, particularly in Iowa, is the Renewable Fuel Standard,” said Santorum, who met with met with plant representatives, including QCCP CEO Delayne Johnson, who share how they recently passed the two-million gallon milestone for cellulosic ethanol production using Syngenta’s Cellerate™ process technology.

“We are excited to have achieved our goal of producing 2 million gallons per year of cellulosic ethanol, and are on target to continue, or increase, this production level going forward,” Johnson said. “We’re now focusing on growing alliances and relationships within the industry.”

During 2014, QCCP achieved EPA certification to generate D3 Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs) for cellulosic ethanol. According to Johnson, the generation of D3 RINs helps fulfill advanced and cellulosic requirements set forth by the RFS. QCCP is among the first companies to issue D3 RINs, which has also enabled the company to expand sales into racing and advanced biofuels markets.

Santorum met with Johnson and others at the plant to discuss renewable fuels policy and see first-hand the innovative process technology that has enabled QCCP to become a leader in cellulosic ethanol production. Sen. Santorum also called for investment in flex fuel infrastructure to increase access to biofuels – which he believes would provide consumers with increased access to the fuel marketplace and allow greater market competition.

American Ethanol Helps Celebrate Higher Blends

protec-usda-citgoThe American Ethanol No. 3 NASCAR display provided the perfect backdrop last week in Florida for the Biofuel Infrastructure Partnership announcement that means 5,000 new higher blend ethanol pumps in 21 states.

Growth Energy co-chairman Tom Buis says the American Ethanol NASCAR racing sponsorship has proven the performance of 15 percent ethanol blends over the past five years. “Almost eight million miles have been put on the NASCAR race cars in that five year time frame and not a single problem,” said Buis as the race car revved up to be loaded back on the trailer.

Buis congratulated Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack for his vision in helping to coordinate public-private partnerships to increase higher ethanol blends in the market place. “That creates competition,” said Buis. “Let the consumer make the choice. No one’s forced to buy higher blends.”

Interview with Tom Buis, Growth Energy

USDA-Protec Fuel Biofuel Pump Funding Announcement photos