#Biodiesel Industry Calls 2018 RVO Shortsighted

The biodiesel industry is calling the required volumes of the advanced biofuels category under the Renewable Fuel Standard shortsighted in reaction to the EPA’s release of the 2018 RVO proposal. The amount of increase in biodiesel from 2017 to 2018 was a mere 100 million gallons. The Iowa Biodiesel Board is calling on the EPA to set volumes that more closely match the biodiesel industry’s potential.

IBB“We commend EPA for releasing their proposed biomass-based diesel volumes in a timely manner. But as the top biodiesel-producing state, those of us in Iowa know that the biodiesel industry can achieve much more significant growth in 2018 than what EPA currently calls for in this proposal,” stated IBB Executive Director Grant Kimberley. “Nationally, our industry already has the feedstock and the production capacity to reach 2.5 billion gallons in a sustainable manner, and we’re disappointed this proposal is quite far from that industry recommendation. The proposed number, 2.1 billion gallons, is still too low, especially since we are facing biodiesel imports, some of which have the benefit of foreign subsidies.

Kimberly noted that biodiesel offers a tremendous opportunity to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and assist the U.S. as well as other countries, in meeting climate goals. “In fact, under the RFS law, Advanced Biofuels must reduce lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50 percent compared to petroleum fuels, and according to the EPA, biodiesel reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 57 percent to 86 percent.”

REGThe country’s largest biodiesel producer, Renewable Energy Group (REG) put a positive spin on the proposal that calls for 2.1 billion gallons of biomass-based diesel for 2018. “We are pleased that EPA has again proposed continued growth of biomass-based diesel and overall advanced biofuel volumes. This proposal provides greater certainty in the marketplace, reflects the expanding usage and blend levels consumers want, and points towards continuing growth for the cleaner, lower carbon intensity fuel we produce,” stated REG President and CEO Daniel J. Oh.

“We are very appreciative of the advanced biofuel advocates within the Administration and on Capitol Hill for their consistent support.” Oh added, “We will continue to work alongside our industry partners to provide the EPA, OMB and other federal agencies additional market data that will support additional growth in the D4 (biomass-based diesel) and D5 (general advanced biofuel) categories, as we believe that there is a compelling basis for further increases over time.”

American Soybean Association (ASA) President Richard Wilkins took the opportunity to highlight the success of the biodiesel industry in not only meeting, but exceeding, RFS biodiesel targets, and calls on the EPA to reflect these achievements. He notes that the biodiesel industry provides a market outlet for surplus soybean oil as well as animal fats and other renewable ag feedstocks. Continue reading

REG Begins Ames Lab Expansion

Renewable Energy Group has begun its expansion of its laboratory at its Ames, Iowa headquarters. The upgraded lab will enable the company to further enhance renewable chemical related biotechnology research, development and commercialization including the installation of fermentation equipment and significant analytical capabilities. Once complete, full-time positions will be added to focus on commercialization and integration of products to be developed by REG in South San Francisco into production and delivery platforms.

REG“This expansion is simply one of many examples of REG’s commitment to innovation and economic development in Iowa and in particular Ames which is a cornerstone of Iowa’s Cultivation Corridor,” said REG President and CEO Daniel Oh. “These upgrades will allow us to increase our midwestern focus on product development for renewable chemicals.”

Oh said renewable chemicals legislation is expected to be signed soon by Governor Terry Branstad, a bill that will provide tax credits for the renewable chemical industry. Oh believes these credits will provide extra momentum for REG’s investments. “The state’s efforts to promote and grow renewable chemicals are a natural extension of the state’s support of agriculture and renewable fuels. This bill shows commitment and purpose and demonstrates that the investment is desired here in Iowa, and we are thankful for the support of our elected officials in getting it done. ”

REG Buys Sanimax Biodiesel Plant

REGBiodiesel giant Renewable Energy Group got a little bit bigger. This company news release says REG bought Sanimax Energy, LLC’s 20 million gallon nameplate capacity biodiesel refinery located in DeForest, Wisconsin.

Under the asset purchase agreement, REG will pay Sanimax approximately $11 million in cash and will issue 500,000 shares of REG common stock in exchange for the biorefinery and related assets. REG will also pay Sanimax up to an additional $5 million in cash over a period of up to seven years after closing based on the volume of biodiesel produced at the plant, which will be re-named REG Madison, LLC. Sanimax operates a grease processing facility at the same location, although that facility is not part of the acquisition. Closing of the transaction is subject to customary closing conditions.

“With growing biomass-based diesel volumes in the U.S., REG is continuing its growth as well,” said Daniel J. Oh, REG President and CEO. “This plant will add to our network of lower-cost, lower-carbon intensity, multi-feedstock biorefineries. Having a dependable feedstock supplier co-located next door should provide an opportunity for additional cost savings and logistical advantages. We have done business with Sanimax and the Couture family for many years and look forward to a continuing prosperous relationship.”

“This agreement is in line with our business plan to improve focus on our core businesses,” said Martin Couture, Sanimax’s President and CEO. “We are pleased that our biodiesel employees will have an opportunity to pursue their career with an industry leader. This is a reflection of the excellent work they have achieved over the past several years. Sanimax looks forward to continuing its excellent business relationship with REG as a shareholder and a reliable feedstock supplier.”

REG says this latest acquisition brings its capacity at its 11 biodiesel refineries to 452 million gallons per year.

ExxonMobil, REG to Study Biodiesel from Cellulose

REGBig oil is partnering up with a giant in biodiesel production to explore the potential of biodiesel made from cellulosic sugars. This news release from Renewable Energy Group (REG) says the green fuel company is partnering with ExxonMobil to make the biodiesel by fermenting renewable cellulosic sugars from sources such as agricultural waste.

REG has developed a patented technology that uses microbes to convert sugars to biodiesel in a one-step fermentation process similar to ethanol manufacturing. The ExxonMobil and REG Life Sciences research will focus on using sugars from non-food sources.

“This research is just one way ExxonMobil is working to identify potential breakthrough technologies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, increase energy supplies and realize other environmental benefits,” said Vijay Swarup, vice president of research and development at ExxonMobil Research and Engineering Company. “The science is extremely complex, but we hope to identify new affordable and reliable supplies of energy for the world that do not have a major impact on food supplies.”

”REG has a long history of innovation in the production of advanced biofuels from lower carbon, waste feedstocks,” said Eric Bowen, REG Vice President and head of REG Life Sciences. “We look forward to this collaboration with ExxonMobil to advance our proprietary cellulosic sugar fermentation technology and capitalize on the combined power of cellulosic sugars and microbial fermentation to revolutionize the production of ultra-low carbon, cleaner burning advanced biofuels.”

Through the research, the two companies will be addressing the challenge of how to ferment real-world renewable cellulosic sugars, which contain multiple types of sugars, including glucose and xylose, but also impurities that can inhibit fermentation.

“As we research renewable energy supplies, we are exploring future energy options with a reduced environmental impact,” Swarup said. “Our first challenge is to determine technical feasibility and potential environmental benefits during the initial research. If the results are positive, we can then take the next step and explore the potential to expand our efforts and explore scalability.”

Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Biodiesel Giant REG Says ‘No’ to Crude Oil at Port

REGBiodiesel giant Renewable Energy Group (REG) doesn’t want to ship crude oil through its new port and plant in Washington state. This article from the Seattle Times says the Iowa-based company is leaving crude oil out of its plans for the mammoth Grays Harbor biodiesel plant REG bought last summer from Imperium Renewables.

The document was filed in late November, as comment on a draft environmental impact statement. A REG spokesman on Wednesday confirmed the decision.

Imperium’s original bid to ship crude came amidst a tough market for the renewable fuels that had originally inspired the facility’s construction in 2007. The biofuel frenzy was soon overwhelmed by the financial crisis, and later sidelined by growing production of domestic oil in the U.S. interior.

A significant amount of that crude, produced in North Dakota, has been finding its way to the Pacific Northwest, carried by train.

It’s used by refineries here, but Pacific Northwest ports are also an ideal spot to ship the crude to refineries in Alaska and California — or even abroad, now that the U.S. has reauthorized domestic crude exports for the first time since the 1970s.Imperium sought to jump on that bandwagon before it was sold.

“We are pleased that REG has listened to the people and made this decision. Now we need to continue our fight to convince the other proponents that it is time to follow this lead and abandon their risky projects to bring crude oil to Grays Harbor,” said R.D. Grunbaum, a member of the Stand Up To Oil campaign and Citizens for Clean Harbor, in a press statement.

REG Celebrates Opening of Washington Refinery

REGgrays1Biodiesel giant Renewable Energy Group (REG) has cut the ribbon on its latest refinery. This company news release says REG formally opened the 100-million gallon capacity Grays Harbor, Washington, biorefinery, formerly owned by Imperium.

“REG Grays Harbor’s addition to REG is a significant milestone for our company,” said Daniel J. Oh, President and CEO, noting that the plant is the Company’s 11th, and now largest, biorefinery and its first west coast production facility. “The transition has been seamless thanks to the dedicated employees here and to other teams within our company.”

Oh also thanked local government leaders in Hoquiam and Aberdeen for working with the Company during the transition and praised the work of Washington’s congressional delegation and Governor Jay Inslee for being champions of advanced biofuels.

Gary Haer, Vice President, Sales and Marketing, told the crowd that production at the Grays Harbor biorefinery will aid REG’s efforts to grow biodiesel sales along the west coast region. “We can now serve customers and expand sales of high quality REG 900™ fuel in Washington, Oregon, western Canada as well as increase sales throughout California to meet LCFS demand,” Haer said. “And with the multi-modal capabilities at the terminal and port, we increase our flexibility to fulfill orders via the use of truckload, rail car, or Panamax class tanker shipments.”

Local leaders welcomed REG to the area business community. “Today marks the beginning of an exciting new chapter for biodiesel production in Grays Harbor,” said Dru Garson, CEO of Greater Grays Harbor, Inc. “We’re excited by the prospects of having REG as a community partner, as their track record of operating plants and re-investing in the community is impressive.”

REG Grays Harbor also boasts 18 million gallons of on-site storage and a terminal that can accommodate feedstock intake and fuel shipments by truck, rail and deep-water vessel.

REG’s Geismar, LA Plant Has 2nd 2015 Fire

Renewable Energy Group’s (REG) hydrocarbon diesel (RHD) refinery, located in Geismar, Louisiana, has had its second fire this year.

REGAccording to REG, on Friday, September 4th, at approximately 12 a.m. central, a fire occurred at their Geismar biorefinery. In a statement, REG said emergency crews quickly responded to contain the fire and it was declared completely extinguished at 4:20 a.m. All employees on site were accounted for. Four people-one REG employee and three contractors-were injured and are being treated at Baton Rouge General Hospital. “Our thoughts and prayers are with them and their families,” the REG statement said.

Back in April, the same biorefinery has a fire injuring two people. The refinery was brought online in November 2014.

REG Expands Biodiesel Giant’s Iowa Headquarters

REGIowa-based Renewable Energy Group, Inc. is expanding its Ames headquarters complex. This company news release says REG marked the ocassion with a formal ribbon-cutting ceremony.

The 12,000-square foot space at 215 Alexander Avenue is just a short walk from REG’s main headquarters building at 416 S. Bell Avenue, which the Company has occupied since moving its business operations from Ralston to Ames in 2007. REG purchased the Alexander location last December and remodeled the space, while also making upgrades to the Bell Avenue facility. The total investment for the combined project was approximately $2.5 million.

“This expansion is in support of our international and North American growth, diversification and build-out of our hub-and-spoke model where the business continues to be centered in Ames administratively and in decision-making,” said Daniel J. Oh, President and CEO. “When REG first moved to Ames we were less than 30 employees strong. If you asked anyone then about a vision that included two buildings in Ames and nearly 230 local employees, they would have had trouble seeing it. Still, our shareholders, employees, leadership and the Ames community saw it, believed in it, and here we are today.”

Ames community leaders at the ribbon cutting praised REG’s growth. “This is exactly the kind of company we want in Ames,” said Steve Goodhue, Chairman of the Ames Economic Development Commission. “REG is attracting top-notch talent.”

REG to Acquire Imperium Renewables

REGBiodiesel giant Renewable Energy Group (REG), based in Iowa, will acquire Seattle-area Imperium Renewables. REG says the deal includes a 100-million gallon nameplate capacity biomass-based diesel refinery and deepwater port terminal at the Port of Grays Harbor, Washington.

Under the terms of the agreement, REG will pay Imperium $15 million in cash and issue 1.5 million shares of REG common stock in exchange for substantially all of Imperium’s assets. In addition to these payments, REG will pay either $1.75 million in cash or 175,000 shares of REG common stock at closing as elected by REG. For two years post-closing, Imperium may receive up to a $0.05/gallon payment for biomass-based diesel produced and sold. In addition at closing, Imperium will retain its net working capital value of approximately $25 million. REG will also assume $5.2 million of Imperium’s debt from Umpqua Bank, which has agreed to provide REG Grays Harbor, LLC with an additional loan capacity of up to $5 million to fund capital expenditures and improvements at the Grays Harbor facility. Closing is subject to satisfaction of customary closing conditions.

“Bringing the Imperium assets and their team into the REG network is a tremendous addition to our business,” said REG President and CEO Daniel J. Oh. “As we combine our companies, we will expand the reach of REG along the west coast, including production and distribution. We already sell into these markets as they have responded to the call for more clean, advanced biofuels through low carbon fuel standards. This will enable REG to be more efficient and timely in our delivery and improve our supply assurance. We look forward to working with Imperium’s experienced staff and plant employees, maintaining operational activities at Grays Harbor, and becoming active members of the community working with the Port of Grays Harbor and the cities of Hoquiam and Aberdeen.”

“REG’s growth over the last eight years has made them an industry leader and our biodiesel facility in Hoquiam will greatly expand their domestic production footprint and continued success.” said John Plaza, president and CEO of Imperium Renewables. “We hope our facility will help them continue to grow and diversify biofuel production and sales both locally and around the region.”

UPS Substantially Ups Renewable Diesel Use

UPSShipping giant UPS is taking a giant leap forward in its use of renewable diesel. The company announced agreements to buy and use up to 46 million gallons of renewable fuels over the next three years, a 15-fold increase over prior contracts and making UPS one of the largest users of renewable diesel in the world.

The agreements with three leading suppliers of renewable fuels, secure access to an advanced renewable diesel fuel in order to meet the company’s objectives for alternative fuel utilization. Neste, Renewable Energy Group (REG) and Solazyme will supply renewable diesel to UPS to help facilitate the company’s shift to move more than 12% of its purchased ground fuel from conventional diesel and gasoline fuel to alternative fuels by the end of 2017. UPS has previously announced a goal of driving one billion miles with our alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicles by the end of 2017.

“Advanced alternative fuels like renewable diesel are an important part of our strategy to reduce the carbon emissions impact of our fleet,” said Mark Wallace, UPS senior vice president, global engineering and sustainability. “We have used more than three million gallons of renewable diesel to date with positive results. Renewable diesel has a huge impact significantly reducing lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions by up to 90 percent less versus conventional petroleum diesel. Renewable diesel also performs well in cold weather, does not have any blending limitations and can be easily ‘dropped in’ to our fuel supply chain without modifications to our existing diesel trucks and equipment.”

“UPS believes these agreements are especially important because they will help stimulate demand for investment in refinery technologies and sustainable feedstocks needed to produce renewable fuels at a total cost that is comparable to more carbon-intensive petroleum fuels,” said Wallace.

UPS has been running its trucks in Texas and Louisiana on renewable fuels for more than a year. These new agreements provide a path for expanded use across the U.S. and potentially in parts of Europe.