Gevo, Porta Building Isobutanol Plants in Argentina

Gevo logoRenewable energy technology company Gevo, Inc. has inked a deal with South American alcohol maker Porta Hnos S.A. to build several isobutanol plants in Argentina. This Gevo news release says they plan to use corn as a feedstock.

The first plant is to be wholly owned by Porta and is anticipated to begin producing isobutanol in 2017. The plant is expected to have a production capacity of up to five million gallons of isobutanol per year. Based on projected isobutanol pricing, Gevo estimates that it could generate approximately $1 million in annual revenues once the plant is operational, through royalties, sales and marketing fees, and other revenue streams such as yeast sales.

The agreements also contemplate Porta constructing at least three additional isobutanol plants for certain of their existing ethanol plant customers. For these projects, Gevo would be the direct licensor of its technology and the marketer for any isobutanol produced, and would expect to receive all royalties and sales and marketing fees generated from these projects. As one of the leading engineering, procurement and construction (“EPC”) service providers to the ethanol industry in Argentina, Porta would provide the EPC services for the projects. The production capacity of these additional plants is still to be determined.

“Porta is a unique partner for Gevo, as they are expected to be both a direct isobutanol licensee, as well as a partner in building out isobutanol plants for other plant owners. We are excited to leverage their EPC expertise and their local Argentinian presence to accelerate the adoption of our isobutanol technology throughout Argentina, and potentially elsewhere in South America. By partnering with Porta, this will dramatically decrease the investment in engineering and business development resources that Gevo would otherwise have to deploy to roll out our technology in the region. As a result, we anticipate any revenue derived from the Porta relationship to be high margin in nature,” said Dr. Patrick Gruber, Gevo’s Chief Executive Officer.

“We appreciate Porta’s desire to be the first direct licensee of Gevo’s isobutanol technology, as well as their agreement to be our EPC partner in Argentina. Consequently, we have agreed to waive an up-front license fee for the first plant that is to be wholly-owned by Porta,” added Gruber.

New Zealand to Get First Major Biodiesel Plant

z energyNew Zealand will soon get its first industrial-scale biodiesel plant. This article from Radio New Zealand says the Z Energy plant will produce the green fuel from animal fat and is expected to make about 5 million gallons of biodiesel per year when it opens in June.

While the planned 20 million litre production will be just a fraction of the company’s total diesel sales of 860 million litres, Z Energy views it as a start in reducing greenhouse gas emissions from transport.

Even getting this far was a problem, according to Z Energy chief executive Mike Bennetts.

He said the globally low prices for crude oil make it harder for biofuels to compete.

The cost imposed under the Emissions Trading Scheme for burning fossil fuels was also low, which discouraged the use of clean alternatives such as biofuel and this affected the economics of the plant.

“They are marginal, and (as a listed company) we’ve always been very honest about that,” Mr Bennetts said.

But Z was pressing on, aiming to add 5 percent biofuel to its conventional diesel by June, and signing up companies such as Fonterra to commit to its product.

“We’ve been well supported by Fonterra, Fulton Hogan, Downers and New Zealand Post, to pay us a small premium to actually take the product.

“And then we are looking for the rest of New Zealand to follow through on some of the statements they make to use around ‘why don’t you guys do something about a less carbon intensive future?'”

Company officials say they made the project a reality by cutting start-up costs to a minimum.

Construction Well Underway at UK Biomass Plant

glennmont gb1They broke ground last month, and now construction is well underway at a new biomass plant in the UK. This news release from Glennmont Partners says its Port Clarence Renewable Energy Plant is a $227 million power station expected to enter commercial operation in 2018.

The 40MW plant is being built on land which has lain empty for many years and which is situated on the north bank of the River Tees, close to the Transporter Bridge. Fuelled by waste wood, the power station will generate electricity for the equivalent of 75,000 homes across the Tees Valley and elsewhere in the North East.

The construction of the plant is being carried out by Babcock Wilcox Lagan in partnership with Eco2, the company that originated and secured planning for the Port Clarence Energy plant in 2014. There are currently 40 people employed on the site and this is expected to rise to 300 people at the peak of the construction period. Once operational in 2018, the scheme will directly employ 30 people.

Leader of Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council, Councillor Bob Cook, said:

“Glennmont’s investment in our Borough is certainly welcomed as through the introduction of technologies such as biomass they can help grow our economy and create jobs for local people.

“I am delighted to see the Port Clarence Energy project begin to come to fruition and I’m looking forward to residents and businesses benefiting from the energy it will produce.”

“The Council is committed to working with the private sector to help them explore opportunities to develop renewable energy products like this which will help to reduce carbon emissions.”

Murray Paterson, UK Biomass Manager at Glennmont Partners said:

“The existing road and electrical infrastructure makes the Port Clarence area an ideal location for our renewable energy facility. We greatly appreciate the support that Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council has given to the project so far and we will work closely with the Council through the project’s construction and eventual operation. The Port Clarence Energy scheme will mean new jobs being created but equally important, it will be generating renewable energy from waste wood that would otherwise have gone to landfill. Port Clarence Energy is good for the local economy and the local environment.”

Waste Fat Biodiesel to Power London Buses

londonbus1About one-third of London’s buses will soon be running on biodiesel made from animal fat waste. This article from the Guardian says two bus operators, Stagecoach and Metroline, will get the green fuel from Argent Energy at a 20 percent biodiesel (B20) blend.

By March next year, almost 3,000 of the capital’s 8,900 buses will be powered by the B20 fuel blend.

It is estimated that buses running on waste-based B20 produce 10 per cent less carbon emissions than a bus using ordinary diesel.

Transport for London (TfL) said it is resulting in a huge reduction in CO2 emissions of 21,000 tonnes each year.

Mike Weston, TfL’s Director of Buses, said: “Our bus fleet is now making a major contribution to improving air quality and bringing down CO2 emissions.

“This improvement, which will reduce CO2 emissions by 21,000 tonnes each year, is being introduced now with no extra spend needed and no long delay for the fitting of new kit.

“It’s just one of a number of measures we are taking to make London’s environment better for everyone.”

Tafila Wind Farm Helps to Power Jordan

The Tafila Wind farm is now online and helping to power Jordan and the Middle East. This 117 MW wind farm is the first and largest utility wind power plant in the country, and is directly connected to the national grid. Estimates find that the farm should produce 400 gigawatt-hours of electricity each year.

His Majesty King Abdullah II inaugurates the Tafila Wind Farm (seen with Samer Judeh Chairman of Jordan Wind Project Company) (PRNewsFoto/Advvise)

His Majesty King Abdullah II inaugurates the Tafila Wind Farm (seen with Samer Judeh Chairman of Jordan Wind Project Company) (PRNewsFoto/Advvise)

The project is in line with a royal vision to diversify energy sources and promote greater reliance on renewable energy. The Tafila Wind Farm was developed in response to the 2010 renewable energy law, calling for around 10 percent of electricity to come from renewable sources by 2020. Jordan imports around 96 percent of its energy needs at a cost equivalent to 20 percent of the country’s GDP.

His Majesty King Abdullah II announced the official launch of the wind farm before taking a tour of the plant, which is owned and managed by the Jordan Wind Project Company. At JD85 per megawatt-hour, the wind turbines will produce electricity at less than half the cost of generation for conventional power sources. According to sources, the project will save the government around $50 million every year, and will supply approximately 3.5 percent of the country’s annual electricity consumption.

In his speech at the event, Chairman of the Jordan Wind Project Company, Samer Judeh, said the wind farm’s 38 massive turbines draped with the proud Jordanian flag would not be here had it not been for His Majesty King Abdullah’s vision and great leadership. Judeh added that His Majesty “spares no effort locally and internationally to promote investment in Jordan. This oasis of stability in an otherwise very rough neighborhood.”

“The Tafila Wind Farm will contribute towards achieving energy security. The project is a quantum leap not only for Jordan but the Arab world as a whole, as it is the first to implement an effective solution for Jordan’s energy challenges through a partnership between the public and private sectors,” added Judeh. “We believe the project will stimulate the investment climate for similar renewable energy projects in Jordan to take place and will make Jordan a new and important destination for renewable energy investments in the region.”

Shell Uses Football + Solar to Create Energy

Shell has been working on some creative ways to create renewable energy and one of their latest projects has been unveiled in Africa using human energy and solar power to create electricity. Music star Akon helped to bring attention to the project at the Federal College of Education in Akoka, Lagos. The new pitch is part of Shell’s #makethefuture program.

Shell and Akon unveil Africa's first player and solar powered football pitch in Lagos (PRNewsFoto/Royal Dutch Shell plc)

Shell and Akon unveil Africa’s first player and solar powered football pitch in Lagos (PRNewsFoto/Royal Dutch Shell plc)

The football pitch was refurbished by Shell using more than 90 underground tiles that capture kinetic energy created by the movement of the players. The kinetic energy is then stored and combined with power generated by solar panels to operate the new floodlights. This allows the students to play at night and provides a safer and more secure space at the heart of the community.

Osagie Okunbor, Country Chair, Shell Companies in Nigeria & Managing Director of The Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Ltd (SPDC) said, “Shell makes a significant contribution to energy solutions for Nigeria, and we are committed to supporting the Nigerian economy and its people. We need bright energy ideas. Some of these will come from Shell but naturally, others will come from outside our business. So it’s crucial that Shell supports energy entrepreneurs, and we hope that this pitch will inspire more entrepreneurs and young people to help us make a smarter energy future.”

The tiles are the invention of a young British entrepreneur and founder of Pavegen, Laurence Kemball-Cook, whose idea is being brought to fruition through the Shell LiveWire program. The LiveWIRE programme was launched in Nigeria in 2003, and since then it has trained more than 6,000 youths in enterprise development and management, of whom more than 3,000 have been provided with business start-up assistance.

Akon, also a solar entrepreneur, joined Shell to open the pitch as part of his commitment to teaching young Africans the importance of harnessing the power of Africa’s renewable energy. The singer is spearheading, through Akon Lighting Africa, a large scale effort to develop solar-powered solutions that will provide African communities with access to clean and affordable sources of electricity. As part of the celebration at the Federal College of Education, Akon and DJ artist Philip “Hardwork” Constable debuted their new song “Tell Me We’re OK” in an exclusive performance on the pitch before its release in 2016. The innovative football pitch will be featured in the upcoming music video.

Akon added, “New, reliable and smarter energy solutions play a major role in driving human progress in Africa. Projects like this innovative football pitch draw attention to the major opportunity that Nigeria as well as the whole of Africa have if we look to better harness new technologies and the continent’s abundant renewable energy resources. That is why Hardwork and I will feature this pitch in our upcoming video for “Tell Me We’re OK” because I want young people, whether they are in Lagos, Los Angeles or London to think about how they too can help us make the future.”

U.S. & Britain Partner to Power Up Africa

Bringing reliable, renewable power to Africans has been an ongoing conversation around the climate talks in Paris this month. Both the U.S. and the UK have programs with goals to do just this. Going forward, however, the programs will be power amplified with the new collaboration between the two countries. The partnership was announced during COP21 by UK International Development Minister Nick Hurd and Associate Administrator of USAID Eric Postel.

The goal of the new partnership between the UK’s Energy Africa campaign and the America’s Power Africa initiative is to leverage much-needed private investment, develop networks to share power across borders and harness geothermal resources to boost access to electricity across the continent.

ID 40753251 © Meshmerize | Dreamstime.com

ID 40753251 © Meshmerize | Dreamstime.com

“It is shocking that 600 million Africans still live without power at home. This is not just holding back individuals; it is holding back an entire continent,” said Hurd during the announcement. “No one can tackle Africa’s energy challenge alone. We will only make progress if we work together. That is why this new partnership is so important.

Hurd added, “The US has led the way over the past few years with its Power Africa campaign. Together with our Energy Africa campaign we can boost access to reliable, clean and affordable household energy, helping millions of people to lift themselves out of poverty.”

A Memorandum of Understanding between the two countries was signed at COP21 during the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and New Climate Economy event “Climate change in Africa: Financing low-carbon pathways for Development”. The new deal will harness the skills, expertise and investment power of the private sector to help improve energy access, boost economic growth and reduce poverty.

“The United States Government is thrilled to work closely with DFID on the Energy Africa campaign, to accelerate the household solar market,” added Postel. “In partnership with DFID, development agencies, African governments, the private sector, and civil society, we can help accelerate Africa’s energy path toward economic and environmental sustainability and ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all.”

Global Geothermal Alliance Launched at #COP21

As a means to increase geothermal energy globally, this week during the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris, (COP21) a coalition of 38 countries along with 20 development and industry partners have launched the Global Geothermal Alliance (GGA). The nonprofit was organized by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and was founded with the goal of achieving a 500 percent increase in global installed geothermal capacity by 2030 as well as a 200 percent increase in geothermal heating.

From left to right: Minister Ségolène Royal, France; President Olafur Ragnar Grimsson, Iceland; Director-General Adnan Z. Amin, IRENA. Photo by IISD/ENB

From left to right: Minister Ségolène Royal, France; President Olafur Ragnar Grimsson, Iceland; Director-General Adnan Z. Amin, IRENA. Photo by IISD/ENB

“Geothermal has proven its potential to be part of both the global climate and energy action agenda,” said IRENA Director-General Adnan Z. Amin. “While geothermal can provide baseload power at some of the lowest costs for any power source, it remains under-developed. The Global Geothermal Alliance will provide a platform for partners to share best practices, further reduce costs and get the most benefit out of this sustainable energy resource.”

IRENA cites that nearly 90 countries have potential for geothermal energy resource development; however, just 13 gigawatts of installed capacity exists worldwide. The agency says the main obstacle for geothermal power investment and development has been the high upfront costs of surface geophysical studies and drilling to explore for geothermal resources. However, the agency explains, once a geothermal project is in operation, it can generate electricity at a low cost. The GGA will aim to overcome these barriers by mitigating risks, promoting technological cooperation, coordinating regional and national initiatives and facilitating geothermal energy investments into energy markets.

The launch took place in the context of the Energy Action Day at COP21, co-organised by IRENA along with several members. In two years of preliminary consultations, IRENA says the GGA has gathered substantial support from governments, leading industry players, development partners, regional and national institutions and non-governmental organizations. The initiative was initiated in September 2014 at the Climate Summit organized by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

Global Groups Call on COP21 to Support Biofuels

Biofuels organizations representing multiple nations may have their differences but they have come together in a call for world leaders attending the COP21 in Paris to set a goal for increasing use of biofuels for transportation.

climate-summitThe call for a global commitment to replace at least 15 percent of the world’s total oil use in transport with sustainable biofuels by 2030 was issued by five biofuel and biotech organizations in conjunction with a joint industry event held at the World Climate Summit on Sunday in Paris during COP21. The event was organized by five biofuel and biotech organizations that collectively represent over 330 companies responsible for 90 percent of the world’s biofuels production.

At the Summit, the Global Renewable Fuels Alliance (GRFA) released a new report showing the significant contribution that biofuels have made to greenhouse gas reduction worldwide and could make in the future. According to the report, total GHG emission reductions from biofuels for 2014 was estimated at 169 million tonnes CO2 equivalent. Projecting a conservative annual growth rate of 2.8 percent in biofuel production and use through the year 2030, the report forecasts that emission savings could increase to 264 million tonnes CO2 equivalent, a 56 percent increase.

“This report sends a clear message to policy makers around the world that while the GHG emission reductions currently being delivered by biofuels are substantial, the sector can deliver much more,” said GRFA president Bliss Baker.

The COP21 United Nations climate change conference concludes December 11.

Novozymes CEO at COP21: Biofuels Only Alternative

Novozymes_logoBiofuels are the only alternatives to fossil fuels… that was the message the head of Novozymes told attendees at COP21 in Paris.

“Solutions exist for many of the problems we face – it’s about the political courage and long-term vision to implement them,” says CEO Peder Holk Nielsen, who is leading Novozymes’ delegation at COP21, in Paris.
“We urgently need a meaningful cost on carbon emissions, designed to effectively alter our behavior, guide our decisions and incentivize solutions.”

Driving down emissions in the transport sector

One of the areas with much room for improvement is the transport sector. There are one billion cars on the planet today and transport accounts for 25% of energy-related CO2 equivalent. By 2050, it is estimated that there will be almost three billion cars on the roads.

Biofuel is the only existing liquid alternative to fossil fuels available at scale today, and holds the potential to provide 30% of all transportation fuels by 2050 – with cellulosic biofuels from waste and agricultural residues reducing emissions by 80-90% compared to gasoline.

“Stable, long-term policies such as biofuel blending mandates are critical to the successful deployment of these low-carbon fuel technologies that should be a core component of each country’s climate strategy,” says Peder Holk Nielsen. “It is critical to reduce emissions significantly within this sector to remain below the 2°C global temperature rise.”

Nielsen added that fossil fuels enjoy global subsidies to the tune of $436 billion every year. Ending those subsidies is one obvious step to cut global carbon emissions.