Cali #Biofuel Industry Calls for More Funding

As California continues down the highway of low carbon fuels, the state’s biofuel industry is calling for more funding to ensure the highway doesn’t end in the ocean. The biofuel industry, including the ethanol, biodiesel and biomethane trade associations, is calling on Governor Brown to allocate $210 million from the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund to help spur in-state production of low carbon biofuels. The biofuel supporters are hoping to see the Biofuel Initiative passed as part of this year’s budget.

© Megapixel1 | Dreamstime Stock Photos

© Megapixel1 | Dreamstime Stock Photos

To help meet California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard, fuel retailers are importing biofuels into the state from places such as the Midwest. However, according to the biofuel industry,with proper funding, California biofuel production could increase from 250 million per year in 2014 to 966 million gallons per year in 2019. This would also spur employment in the state in the biofuel industry.

“California has adopted some of the most forward-thinking policies in the nation to combat climate change – including AB 32, SB 535, the Low Carbon Fuel Standard, and SB 350 – and it is up to state legislators to encourage and promote in-state biofuel production to achieve the Governor’s goals,” said Russ Teall, president of the California Biodiesel Alliance. “Investing in this initiative helps improve the environment, while creating jobs and providing energy security.”

According to the biofuel industry, a $210-million allocation of AB 32 cap and trade auction proceeds from the state budget’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund, administered by the California Air Resources Board (ARB), would:

  • Create 24,750 direct and indirect jobs;
  • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 6,000,000 metric tons;
  • Spur economic development of $11.5 billion;
  • Displace 714 mgy of petroleum;
  • Generate fuel tax revenues of $230 million; and
  • Bring in other state and local tax revenues of $408 million.

“The biofuels we produce lower the carbon content and give consumers more choices,” added Neil Koehler, chief executive officer of Pacific Ethanol. “State investment needs to be prioritized for in-state production of biofuels that will pay back with local jobs, tax revenue and community growth.”

Legislators will determine how much money to allocate toward in-state biofuel production by June 15, 2016, at which point the allocation will be included in the state’s budget for Governor Brown’s approval or veto.

Report: Clean Energy Techs Cut Road CO2 Emissions

A new report from Lux Research has found that using low-carbon fuels and vehicle efficiency will cut road transport CO2 emissions 29 percent by 2030. Biofuels and natural gas combined will account for 45 percent of petroleum displacement. Today, global road transportation accounts for a sixth of all global CO2 emissions.

Lux CO2 reportThe sharp cut – exceeding the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC) target of 24 percent set by 188 nations at the Paris Conference of the Parties (COP21) in 2015 – can be achieved from a combination of low-carbon fuels, alternative fuel vehicles, and improved fuel efficiencies.

“Global warming remains at center stage, and significant strides need to be made in road transportation technologies to achieve the goal set for 2030,” said Yuan-Sheng Yu, Lux Research analyst and lead author of the report titled, “Driving Down Emissions: Achieving CO2 Emissions Reduction Goals through Biofuels and Alternative Fuel Vehicles“. Low-carbon biofuels like cellulosic ethanol, renewable diesel, and biomethane have lower well-to-wheel carbon intensities compared to their first-generation counterparts and play a pivotal role in cutting emissions, as does renewable electricity.”

The report evaluated measures needed to meet emission targets set at COP21. Some key findings included:

  • Biofuels are key. First-generation biofuels, low-carbon fuels, and natural gas vehicles will together account for at least 45.4% of the potential fossil fuel displacement in road transportation in 2030, when global road transportation demand is projected to reach 911 billion gallons.
  • Carbon intensity matters. First-generation biofuels have made incremental reductions in road transportation emissions over the years. But low-carbon biofuels will be the key driver in achieving 2030 emissions reduction goals with an average three to four times lower well-to-wheel carbon intensity profile.
  • Fuel efficiency counts. Without improved fuel efficiencies, emissions reduction falls short of the INDC target in 2030 by nearly 5%. Automobile makers will have a range of lightweight materials available as multinationals and start-ups develop the next-generations of steel, aluminum and composite technologies.

Intrexon’s Pilot Isobutanol Plant Online

Intrexon Corporation has announced that its pilot plant for the production of natural gas-to-liquids is online. Located in San Fransisco, the facility will be producing isobutanol, a drop-in fuel. Intrexon says that isobutanol has several advantages over other biofuels including cleaner burning combustion, less corrosion, more energy content and compatibility with existing pipelines.

INTREXON logo“Reaching operational status with our pilot plant is one of several important milestones we expect to reach this year as we continue to move closer to commercialization of our ground-breaking bioconversion platform for the production of isobutanol,” said Robert F. Walsh, Senior Vice President, Head of Intrexon’s Energy Sector and Industrial Products Division. “Data from the pilot plant will be utilized to further refine our commercial scale facility design.”

The company reports that it has been refining its process and improving the output of isobutanol from its engineered microbes including greater than 50 percent increase since its investor day last November. Intrexon also reports that with the pilot plant operational, they are closer to achieving the yields needed to move to commercial scale later this year and anticipate its first commercial plant will be online in 2018.

OPIS’ Tom Kloza Discusses Energy Markets

nec16-klozaDuring the 21st Annual National Ethanol Conference (#RFANEC) this week, one of the hot topics was the energy and ethanol market outlooks especially with the low oil prices the globe is currently experiencing. Tom Kloza with the Oil Price Information Service (OPIS) offered attendees the outlook for ethanol, oil and natural gas markets in his presentation, “Wronger for Longer – sideways look at North American Energy Supply.”

“What would you have imagined would be more unlikely 3 or 4 years ago?” Kloza asked in his introduction. “That a hip-hop version of Alexander Hamilton would win the Tonys on Broadway? That America’s Dad Bill Cosby would be America’s serial rapist? Or that the person who was the greatest athlete in the world in 1976 Bruce Jenner was now a woman? Or that oil prices were a $110 a few years ago and now are struggling to get out of the 20s?”

Your answer may change after you listen to Kloza’s remarks here: Tom Kloza, OPIS, Energy Markets Outlook Remarks
View Power Point presentation.

2016 National Ethanol Conference Photo Album

Primus Green Produces 100-Octane Gas

Primus Green Energy has achieved a milestone by producing 100-octane gas and methanol from methane and other hydrocarbon gases at its commercial demonstration plant in New Jersey. According to the company, the feat was achieved due to a “breakthrough” improvement to its STG+ technology that enables its plant to produce high-octane gasoline in addition to RBOB gasoline and methanol.

Zero sulfur, zero benzene gasoline in front of New Jersey commercial demonstration plant. Photo Credit: Hal Brown.

Zero sulfur, zero benzene gasoline in front of New Jersey commercial demonstration plant. Photo Credit: Hal Brown.

The resultant fuel contains zero sulfur, zero benzene, zero lead gasoline. Primus says as such, their fuel could qualify for European Union (EU) and Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) requirements. I addition, the gas has the potential to meet U.S. fuel needs including 100LL aviation gasoline (avgas) market totaling 150-200 million gpa in the the U.S. alone.

“This breakthrough in our proprietary technology directly addresses the demand from our customers in Europe and the CIS – markets that require high-octane gasoline,” said Sam Golan, CEO of Primus Green Energy. “This accomplishment demonstrates the advantages of Primus’ technology team and business model, which focus on the continual improvement of our technology and the development of new products to meet customers’ needs.”

Primus’ STG+™ technology can transform a number of natural gas feedstocks including wellhead and pipeline gas, dry or wet associated gas, “stranded” ethane, excess syngas from underutilized reformers or mixed natural gas liquids. The company says with its technology, it can save gas from being stranded or flared due to lack of traditional natural gas pipeline infrastructure. Their modular system can be trucked and assembled onsite.

New Forest Waste-to-Energy Tech Debuts

G4 Insights has debuted a new technology to convert forest waste into renewable natural gas in Auburn, California. The process converts scraps and small trees from forest thinning projects into biomethane.  In it first demonstration, G4 used gas produced onsite to fuel an unmodified Placer County truck.

G4 ForesttoFuel Technology“G4 is pleased to have the opportunity to partner with Placer County, California Energy Commission, Southern California Gas Company, and U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities to make this project a great success,” said G4 Principal Matt Babicki. “This project demonstrates the potential for G4 PyroCatalytic Hydrogenation technology to transform forestry waste into high value, low carbon fuel, and support forestry communities with long term jobs to collect biomass and operate G4 renewable natural gas plants.”

Typically, forestry waste is burned where trees are felled to reduce wildfire hazards, increasing local air pollution. Converting the forestry residues it into natural gas instead would reduce air pollution and increase the supply renewable energy.  In the Foresthill area of Placer County alone, there are an estimated 20,640 tons of forestry waste produced each year – enough to fuel 4,926 cars for a year. A single ton of forestry waste could produce enough natural gas to drive from Lake Tahoe to Anchorage, Alaska. In the United States, there is enough current available and sustainable tree thinning and forestry industry waste to fuel more than 40,000 natural gas fleets the size of Placer County’s.

“Forest waste is one of the largest sources of potential waste resources for biofuels and bioenergy in California,” said California Energy Commissioner Janea A. Scott. “Bringing more technologies like the G-4 Insight technology, which can sustainably convert waste materials from forest restoration activities into low carbon transportation fuels online, would be a significant achievement.”

The G4 technology uses raw, untreated forestry waste that otherwise has no commercial use. Competing technologies require clean wood chips, stripped of bark, from harvested trees that could be used for other purposes. The gas it produces is of the same quality as conventional gas, and can be used for any of its purposes. G4 says the natural gas gthey produce using this technology reduces fossil emissions by 86 percent compared to standard gasoline.

Santa Monica Converts Buses to Natural Gas

bigbluebus1The City of Santa Monica, California, is the one of the first municipal transit systems to convert its fleet to renewable natural gas (RNG). This news release from Clean Energy says it is supplying the Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) to the Big Blue Bus fleet.

Big Blue Bus has been fueling its LNG and Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) fleet of motor coaches with fuel supplied by Clean Energy since 2012. The process of harvesting and processing Redeem™ provides a product that has fewer impurities than conventional natural gas and is a cleaner burning fuel source.

“City Council has voiced its support for non-fracked, sustainable sources of fuel, and Redeem™ delivers a fuel made entirely of waste; a more sustainable product at an equal cost. This makes BBB’s partnership with Clean Energy to use the Redeem™ fuel a win-win solution,” said BBB’s Transit Director, Ed King.

“Big Blue Bus is a leader in sustainability and our ability to partner with it and provide a completely recyclable natural gas fueling option helps reduce emissions locally and shows other cities the power in using Redeem™ renewable fuel,” said Peter Grace, Clean Energy’s senior vice president for sales and finance.

Renewables “Rock” U.S. Energy Growth

The SUN Day Campaign’s Ken Bossong, has noted once again that renewable energy sources are dominating the new energy landscape according to the latest “Energy Infrastructure Update” report from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) Office of Energy Projects. The reports shows wind and solar accounted for all new generating capacity placed in-service in April. For the month, two “units” of wind (the 300 MW Hereford-2 Wind Farm Project in Deaf Smith County, TX and the 211 MW Mesquite Creek Wind Project in Dawson County, TX) came on line in addition to six new units – totaling 50 MW – of solar.

In addition, wind, solar, geothermal, and hydropower together have provided over 84 percent (84.1%) of the 1,900 MW of new U.S. electrical generating capacity placed into service during the first third of 2015. This includes 1,170 MW of wind (61.5%), 362 MW of solar (19.1%), 45 MW of geothermal steam (2.4%), and 21 MW of hydropower (1.1%). The balance (302 MW) was provided by five units of natural gas.

Hereford Wind ProjectFERC has reported no new capacity for the year-to-date from biomass sources nor any from coal, oil, or nuclear power.

The reports finds the total contribution of geothermal, hydropower, solar, and wind for the first four months of 2015 (1,598 MW) is similar to that for the same period in 2014 (1,611 MW – in addition to 116 MW of biomass). However, for the same period in 2014, natural gas added 1,518 MW of new capacity while coal and nuclear again provided none and oil just 1 MW. Renewable energy sources accounted for half of all new generating capacity added in 2014.

“Members of Congress and state legislators proposing to curb support for renewable energy, such as Renewable Portfolio/Electricity Standards and the federal Production Tax Credit and Investment Tax Credit, are swimming against the tide,” noted Bossong, executive director of the SUN DAY Campaign. “With renewable energy’s clear track record of success and the ever-worsening threat of climate change, now is not the time to pull back from these technologies but rather to greatly expand investments in them.”

Today renewable energy sources now account for 17.05 percent of total installed operating generating capacity in the country: water – 8.55 percent, wind – 5.74 percent, biomass – 1.38 percent, solar – 1.05 percent, and geothermal steam – 0.33 percent (for comparison, renewables were 13.71 percent of capacity in December 2010 – the first month for which FERC issued an “Energy Infrastructure Update”).

For renewable energy supporters, what may be the best news: renewable energy capacity is now greater than that of nuclear (9.14%) and oil (3.92%) combined. In fact, the installed capacity of wind power alone has now surpassed that of oil. In addition, total installed operating generating capacity from solar has now reached and surpassed the one-percent threshold – a ten-fold increase since December 2010.

Biofuels, Nat Gas Boost Nonpetroleum Usage Levels

Petroleum is still tops in transportation fuels, but biodiesel, ethanol and natural gas have taken the biggest bite out of its share since 1954. This report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) says the numbers harken back to when coal-fired steam locomotives were declining and automobile use was growing rapidly.
nonpetroleumconsumption
After nearly 50 years of relative stability at about 4%, the nonpetroleum share started increasing steadily in the mid-2000s, reaching 8.5% in 2014. Of the nonpetroleum fuels used for transportation, fuel ethanol has grown most rapidly in recent years, increasing by nearly one quadrillion British thermal units (Btu) between 2000 and 2014. Nearly all of the ethanol consumed was blended into gasoline in blends of 10% or less, but a small amount was used in vehicles capable of running on higher blends as the availability of those flexible-fuel vehicles grew. Consumption of biodiesel, most of it blended into diesel fuel for use in trucks and buses, grew to more than 180 trillion Btu by 2014.

In 2014, transportation use of natural gas reached a historic high of 946 trillion Btu, 3.5% of all natural gas used in the United States. Transportation natural gas is mostly used in the operation of pipelines, primarily to run compressor stations and to deliver natural gas to consumers. Natural gas used to fuel vehicles, although a much smaller amount, has more than doubled since 2000.

Black & Veatch Commission Microgrid

Black & Veatch has commissioned its new microgrid system that provides power to the Rodman Innovation Pavilion located at the company’s Kansas World Headquarters. The microgrid uses a combination of natural gas, solar energy, geothermal and battery storage, and is the first of its kind in the state. It can operate as an independent power source or in support of the utility electric grid adding resiliency to the building and lowering energy costs. The microgrid provides enough clean energy to run the entire Innovation Pavilion.

“We are excited to launch this new technology that highlights the broad range of expertise we have within Black & Veatch,” said Steve Edwards, president and CEO. “It also demonstrates the strong level of support and interest in the design from our professionals who are working on sustainable solutions around the world.”

Black & Veatch’s system includes two natural gas-fired microturbines that deliver onsite electrical power generation. During winter months, heat is recovered from the microturbines to support heating. A geothermal heat pump system with 15 wells drilled 500 feet deep helps heat and cool the Pavilion. The microgrid system also uses battery energy storage to capture energy from generation resources and deliver electricity to the World Headquarters during times of high electric demand, such as in the summer months.

To learn more about the complex interactions of the different energy technologies, Black & Veatch guests can interact with a large screen display that shows the microgrid operations in real time. The microgrid is continually monitored by Black & Veatch’s cloud based analytics platform, ASSET360. It collects data from the system and monitors the performance of each component based on factors like solar radiation, cloud cover, outside temperature and more. It calculates how much energy is being generated and used in the building, providing the company’s energy experts with insights on ways to improve system operations.