Catholic Church Becomes Vocal on Climate Change

The United Nations Conference on Climate Change (COP21) is still 200 days away but organizations are not waiting until the event gets closer to encourage countries to step up their climate change actions and policies. One such organization is the Catholic Church, representing 1.1 billion globally practicing the faith. Recently Pope Francis endorsed a Catholic petition calling for bold climate action after meeting with the newly created Global Catholic Climate Movement (GCCM). The Pope’s move was a visual sign that the he intends to lead Catholics into an active response to climate change. He is planning on publishing his encyclical on ecology this June.

Pope Francis is informed about the Catholic Climate Petition by GCCM representatives (Tomás Insua from Argentina and Allen Ottaro from Kenya). Credit: Fotografia Felici

Pope Francis is informed about the Catholic Climate Petition by GCCM representatives (Tomás Insua from Argentina and Allen Ottaro from Kenya). Credit: Fotografia Felici

“Pope Francis was very supportive of the work we are doing to engage Catholics around the world in a coordinated response to climate change,” said Tomás Insua, co-founder of the GCCM from Argentina. “The Pope even joked that we were competing against his encyclical. His endorsement of our work is extremely important to raise awareness within Catholic circles globally, and to collect more signatures.”

The idea for the petition came as a response to Pope Francis’ call last December: “On climate change there is a clear, definitive and ineluctable ethical imperative to act.” The signatures will be presented to world leaders in December 2015, when they meet at COP21 in Paris. The Pope has presented GCCM with the book “The Sun’s Energy in the Vatican” as a gift to emphasize the Holy See’s commitment to renewable energy as a means to address the climate change crisis.

“The support of Pope Francis to the petition is very important as climate change is a great and urgent moral issue,” said Allen Ottaro, director of CYNESA based in Kenya and co-founder of GCCM. “Climate change hits the poorest first and hardest, and will leave an unnecessarily dire legacy for future generations. We Catholics need to step up against climate change and raise a strong voice asking political leaders to take action urgently. I encourage all to sign the petition on our website: www.CatholicClimateMovement.global.”

The Catholic Church is becoming increasingly vocal on climate change. Two weeks ago, the Vatican hosted a high-level summit about climate change and released a declaration that stated: “Human-induced climate change is a scientific reality, and its decisive mitigation is a moral and religious imperative for humanity.”

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.

Expansion Complete on BDI Biodiesel Plant

BDIGermany-based BDI – BioEnergy International AG has completed the expansion of a biodiesel plant in Spain. This company news release says the refinery will turn oils and animal fats with very high FFA-content into the green fuel.

ecoMotion Biodiesel S.A. (a company of the international SARIA Group) commissioned BDI with the installation of a “High-FFA esterification” unit in its plant in Barcelona. This technological in-house development from BDI allows BioDiesel producers to use the most challenging oils and fats available on the market – without a limit on free fatty acids (FFA) – whilst retaining the highest BioDiesel quality. BDI therefore sets again a technological milestone in the future market of the BioDiesel production based on oils and animal fats.

“Biodiesel producers are currently facing major challenges as a result of uncertainties with regard to the future European biofuel policy. However, the use of waste and residual materials is safeguarded due to the positive environmental aspects. With the BDI RetroFit-program, we can already integrate the necessary, well-developed solutions in plants for the requirements of tomorrow. We also managed at ecoMotion Spain to prove again our lead regarding technologies for the BioDiesel production from the most challenging animal by-products available on the market”, says Dr. Edgar Ahn – Member of the Board (CSO).

BDI had already been commissioned with the construction of a multi-feedstock biodiesel plant in Barcelona in 2002. This new capability to accept more raw materials is expected to increase the efficiency and flexibility of the refinery.

US Ethanol Getting Exported to More Markets

A few years ago, almost all of U.S. ethanol went to Brazil, Canada and the European Union. But this article from the National Corn Growers Association says new information from the U.S. Grains Council shows just how wide the market has grown.
Ethanol-Exports
Exports to the United Arab Emirates, the Philippines and India experienced the strongest growth in 2014. While the UAE is largely importing U.S. ethanol to blend with its gasoline that is later re-exported, and India is importing for industrial purpose, the Philippines has a blend mandate in place. Domestic production in the Philippines has been unable to meet its 10 percent blend mandate making imports necessary.

Currently, the United States has a 55 percent market share in the Philippines and the Council is hopeful there is room to capture more. To help nurture this market, the Council and its partners, Renewable Fuels Association, Growth Energy and USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service, have planned a busy summer with missions heading to the Philippines and other growing markets like China, Indonesia, India and Japan.

SheerWind Licenses Wind Tech in Denmark

SheerWind Inc. has signed a licensing agreement that will allow its technology to be marketed and deployed in Denmark. The agreement will allow wind-power developer E-Venturi to introduce SheerWind’s INVELOX wind delivery system. The first pilot project is expected to be built in Denmark before the end of the year.

INVELOX the New Face of Wind Power (PRNewsFoto/SheerWind)

INVELOX the New Face of Wind Power (PRNewsFoto/SheerWind)

E-Venturi, based in Slagelse, Denmark, will be the first company to market SheerWind’s technology in Europe. Denmark leads the world in wind energy penetration, with 39.1 percent of its electrical consumption coming from wind power. The Danish government plans to quadruple wind power production by 2050 and is pursuing a goal of complete independence from fossil fuels.

“We are thrilled to have the world’s wind leader distributing our technology. This is incredible validation of our technology and we look forward to a prosperous relationship that benefits both our countries for years to come,” said George Manos, the president of SheerWind.

According to SheerWind, the INVELOX technology is a cost-effective, high-performance alternative to conventional wind technology. The system uses no above-ground propellers. Rather, it employs a funnel-driven system that captures the wind and brings it to ground-level power turbines and rotors for safer, easier and cheaper operation and maintenance. The technology is safe for humans and wildlife, requires less maintenance than conventional wind systems, and produces more electricity per dollar invested than conventional systems, adds SheerWind.

“Denmark has a long history of introducing ground-breaking wind technology, and we are pleased to continue that tradition by making available within our company SheerWind’s better way to harvest wind energy,” added Lars Lindebjerg Peterson, the CEO of E-Venturi. “We plan to market this innovative solution to some of the world’s leaders in renewable and environmental advancements, and expect it to aid Denmark in reaching its renewable energy goals.”

Powerhive Begins Operating MicroGrids in Kenya

Powerhive East Africa has achieved something no other private company has done – been given permission to generate, distribute and sell electricity to the Kenyan public beginning in Kisii and Nymaira counties in Western Kenya. Using microgrids, the company, a subsidiary of Powerhive, Inc., will directly deliver electricity to hundreds of rural communities that are beyond the reach of the national grid.

For more than two years, Powerhive has been operating microgrid pilot projects utilizing 100 percent renewable energy in four villages in Kisii, Kenya. The pilot projects serve approximately 1,500 people and have played a critical role in creating new businesses, enabling the use of productive appliances, powering schools, and displacing kerosene and diesel, which emit toxic pollutants.

According to Powerfhive, the Kenya Energy Regulatory Commission’s (ERC) decision to provide a concession to an off-grid utility company reflects the beginning of a global transformation in the energy sector. “The Powerhive permit was granted in recognition of the fact that grid expansion is not always the most economical choice to expand energy access; off-grid alternatives have a role to play,” wrote Dr. Frederick Nyang, director of economic regulation for the Kenya ERC, in a letter. “[Powerhive has demonstrated] that its microgrids are capable of operating in compliance with the prescribed standards for residential and commercial electricity service provision.”

Powerhive microgrid in KenyaHistorically, explains Powerhive, governments have pursued rural electrification almost exclusively through major public investments in grid expansion. Through its distributed energy delivery solutions, Powerhive aims to complement such government and utility efforts by focusing on areas that are too costly for grid extension. Powerhive East Africa’s concession, and the resulting deployment of microgrid projects, will set the stage for rapid global expansion and support Kenya’s goal of electrifying 100 percent of the population by 2030.

“The government of Kenya recognizes that the fastest and least expensive approach to reach 100% electricity access is to allow private investment in distributed generation infrastructure,” said Powerhive East Africa’s Managing Director Zachary Ayieko. “Other national governments aggressively pursuing rural electrification targets can also benefit greatly by using Powerhive’s energy access solution.”

Vattenfall’s DanTysk Offshore Wind Project Online

Vattenfall has officially begun operations of its DanTysk offshore wind farm. Located 70 kilometers west of Sylt Island, the project is the first infrastructure project jointly implemented by Vattenfall and SWM. DanTysk is comprised of 80 Siemens wind turbines with a total installed capacity of 288 MW.

globalassets-cision-images-20150430-en-1881382-1The event was celebrated by several key energy players in Europe including: German Federal Minister for Economic Affairs Sigmar Gabriel; Swedish Minister for Enterprise and Innovation Mikael Damberg; Hamburg Mayor Olaf Scholz and Torsten Albig; Prime Minister of the State of Schleswig-Holstein; Magnus Hall, President and CEO of Vattenfall; and Dr Florian Bieberbach, CEO of SWM.

Sigmar Gabriel, German Federal Minister for Economic Affairs said during the event, “Last year we created the necessary investment security with EEC 2014, which led to a real breakthrough in the development of offshore wind power. By 2030 there should be 15 gigawatts of installed capacity, amounting to a capital investment of several billion Euros in wind farms and infrastructure, with high added value for Germany. Together with the DanTysk wind farm, by the end of this year Germany will generate green power from more than 3,000 megawatts of installed offshore capacity. That is a real boost for the energy transition.” Continue reading

Kyocera Dedicates Floating Mega Solar Plants

1.7MW floating solar power plant at Nishihira Pond 1Kyocera Corporation and Century Tokyo Leasing Corporation’s joint venture Kyocera TCL Solar has completed construction of two floating mega-solar power plants at Nishihira Pond and Higashihira Pond in Kato City, Hyogo Prefecture, Japan. The plants will generate an estimated 3,300 megawatt hours (MWh) per year.

The solar modules are 255-watt Kyocera modules with 11,256 used in total for the project that began in September 2014 and was officially completed in March 2015. The electricity generated will be sold to the local utility, The Kansai Electric Power Company through Japan’s feed-in tariff system.

1.7MW floating solar power plant at Nishihira Pond 2According to Kyocera TCL Solar, there are several benefits of the floating mega solar power plants:

  1. Floating solar power generating systems typically generate more electricity than ground-mount and rooftop systems due to the cooling effect of the water.
  2. They reduce reservoir water evaporation and algae growth by shading the water.
  3. Floating platforms are 100% recyclable, utilizing high-density polyethylene, which can withstand ultraviolet rays and resists corrosion.
  4. The floating platforms are designed and engineered to withstand extreme physical stress, including typhoon conditions.

Aemetis Starts India Biodiesel Manufacturers Assoc.

aemetislogo1India is getting a biodiesel makers association. With a little help from California-based Aemetis (which also runs a biodiesel plant on the east coast of India), the Biodiesel Manufacturers Association (BEMA) has been launched with Sanjeev Gupta, President of Aemetis International, as the new group’s chairman and president.

The BEMA group was launched as an eight-member association with a focus on expanding the biodiesel market in India, decreasing air pollution and reducing India’s dependence on foreign oil. The organization will serve to further the interests of biodiesel manufacturers by removing regulatory hurdles while educating India corporate and retail consumers about the environmental and cost benefits of biodiesel.

“With the deregulation of the diesel market in India and ending of diesel subsidies last October, India is a new frontier for Aemetis to grow in a large 25 billion gallon diesel market,” said Sanjeev Gupta, President of Aemetis International. “With the recent approval of direct sales to bulk customers, we have launched direct delivery of biodiesel to customers and are moving rapidly to expand production at our 50 million gallon per year capacity East Coast plant in Kakinada to supply the domestic India market,” added Gupta.

“Sanjeev’s chairmanship of the newly formed organization for biodiesel producers in India recognizes the leadership position held by our Univeral Biofuels subsidiary in one of the fastest growing biofuels markets in the world,” said Eric McAfee, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Aemetis. “Biodiesel is now a less expensive fuel than diesel in India, with the removal of the large diesel subsidy that had blocked sales of biodiesel in India until recently. The formation of BEMA is an important milestone expanding the biodiesel market in India to replace diesel with a healthier and lower cost alternative,” added McAfee.

Canadian Canola Growers Want More Biodiesel

ward-tomaCanola growers in Canada want politicians to prove they are truly dedicated to addressing climate change – by voting for biodiesel. This article from the Alberta Farmer Express says Ward Toma, the general manager of Alberta Canola Producers Commission, wants them to start by hiking Alberta’s biodiesel mandate.

“In their election platforms, almost all political parties talk about climate change and greenhouse gas reduction,” said Ward Toma. “Biodiesel is a low-carbon fuel, compared with some of the other ones, so it does help with greenhouse gas and carbon emissions.”

And Toma is quite specific about what government should do: Hike the percentage of biodiesel blended with regular diesel to five per cent (up from the current two per cent) by 2020; set tougher greenhouse gas reduction and biomass production targets; and extend the bioenergy producer credit program (set to expire in March 2016).

Those changes would be a win-win for both the province and growers, he said.

“One of the things biodiesels can do is create another demand stream for the crop sector, but we can also help with greenhouse gas target reductions and have a sustainable biomass,” said Toma.

Toma says that they’ll have to see where the politicians truly stand on biodiesel… after the elections are over.