Koolbridge’s Smart Load Tech Heads to NCCETC

The North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center (NCCETC) at North Carolina State University has signed a five-year Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with North Carolina-based Koolbridge Solar, Inc. NCCETC will work with Koolbridge to test their Smart Load Center technology, a smart circuit breaker panel for integrating a photovoltaic and energy storage system with a home’s or commercial building’s loads and the electric grid. In other words, when the sun is shining, the technology transfers the loads from the grid to the off-grid solar and battery system for use when the sun goes down. Koolbridge Solar’s technology was invented by Paul W. Dent, who according to Wikipedia is the co-inventor of Bluetooth wireless technology.

“Koolbridge Solar, Inc. has a new advanced inverter, Smart Load Center, and other patented and patent-pending energy management technology designed to lower the costs of distributed photovoltaic systems and increase value by allowing for easy integration of energy storage and by allowing continued operation in case of electrical outage with the local power company,” said Stephen Burnett, chairman & CEO of Koolbridge Solar. Burnett also stated his company values the support of the NCCETC and will actively seek funding to allow for more significant input from the Center.

As part of the collaboration, The Center will provide high-level policy, market, and technical guidance to Koolbridge on their products and strategies. The Center will also support Koolbridge’s pursuit of federal and state grants and other funding opportunities wherever possible and appropriate. NCCETC is known for their work in solar policy, markets, and technology as well as related codes and standards and has received two U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) SunShot grants.

Professional Engineer and Renewable Energy Program Coordinator of the NCCETC, Tommy Cleveland, added,”The Center is pleased to have entered into the first MOA with Koolbridge Solar in accordance with its mission to improve North Carolina and citizens’ access to affordable and reliable solar energy.”

GEA Good Source for Clean Power Plan

During the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency EXPO and Policy Forum that took place in Washington, D.C. on July 9, 2015, Karl Gawell, executive director for the Geothermal Energy Association (GEA), called on bipartisan action. “In the world market, policymakers are working to address the upfront risk of geothermal projects and shortening lead times. Congress needs to take action on pending legislation to make similar progress in the U.S.,” Gawell said.

He added that geothermal projects are subject to extensive bureaucratic delays. “Geothermal development projects can go through as many as six NEPA analyses,” explained Gawell. As a result, geothermal projects cannot effectively take advantage of short-term tax incentives. We need longer term incentives.

There are currently several pieces of legislation pending in the U.S. House and Senate that seek support for renewable energy including geothermal energy development (S.562, S.822, S.1057, S.1155 and S. 1407, in the Senate). Gaswell called out to legislators: “We urge the sponsors of the individual pieces — Senators Heller, Wyden, Tester, Risch, Crapo, Merkley, Murkowski and others (as well as Representatives Simpson, DeFazio and Gosar) – to work together on a bipartisan basis if an energy bill moves forward.” Continue reading

DOE Invest $18M in Algae

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has awarded $18 million to six projects aimed at reducing the costs of algae-based biofuels to less than $5.00 per gallon equivalent by 2019.

The funds are being used to help meet the DOE’s goal of $3 per gallon for advanced algal biofuels by 2030. These biofuels can be used as replacements for petroleum-based diesel and jet fuels as well as products derived from algae can be used as petroleum replacements for products such as chemicals, beauty products, plastics and more. In the near future, algae-based technologies can achieve higher yields of oils. However,  to achieve the goals set forth by the DOE, barriers that still remain in place such as efficient cultivation, harvesting and conversion to bioproducts must be deconstructed.

The projects selected include:

  • Producing Algae and Co-Products for Energy (PACE), Colorado School of Mines, Golden, CO – Colorado School of Mines, in collaboration with Los Alamos National Laboratory, Reliance Industries Ltd., and others, will receive up to $9 million to enhance overall algal biofuels sustainability by maximizing carbon dioxide, nutrient, and water recovery and recycling, as well as bio-power co-generation.
  • Marine Algae Industrialization Consortium (MAGIC), Duke University, Durham, NC – Duke University will receive up to $5.2 million to lead a consortium including University of Hawaii, Cornell University, Cellana and others to produce protein-based human and poultry nutritional products along with hydrotreated algal oil extract.
  • Global Algae Innovations, Inc., El Cajon, CA – Global Algae Innovations will receive up to $1 million to increase algal biomass yield by deploying an innovative system to absorb carbon dioxide from the flue gas of a nearby power plant.
  • Arizona State University, Mesa, AZ – Arizona State University will receive up to $1 million for atmospheric carbon dioxide capture, enrichment, and delivery to increase biomass productivity.
  • University of California, San Diego, San Diego, CA – The University of California, San Diego will receive up to $760,000 to develop an automated  early detection system that can identify and characterize infestation or infection of an algae production pond in order to ensure crop health.
  • Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Livermore, CA – Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory will receive up to $1 million to protect algal crops by developing “probiotic” bacteria to combat pond infestation and increase ecosystem functioning and resilience.

Urban Air Initiative: Ethanol Reduces Engine Wear

The Urban Air Initiative (UAI) has released a study that finds ethanol free gasoline blends actually increase the wear and tear on engines including hoses, seals and fuel tanks. In other words, the data supports ethanol blends lead to cleaner engines. The findings were presented at the semi-annual meeting of ASTM by Steve Vander Griend, technical director for UAI who also works for ICM.

The report demonstrated that high aromatic content of gasoline, including toxic aromatics like benzene and toluene, negatively impact engine parts. Vander Griend explained in his presentation that the toxic aromatics create a significant increase in the escape of harmful emissions that can have a devastating impact on public health as these are considered by the Environmental Protection Agency has known and suspected carcinogens.

“What we are seeing is that benzene and toluene are increasing permeation, which means increasing the amount of fuel vapors that seep from a vehicle. For anyone who has a garage at home and smells gasoline, vapors are escaping through the vehicles fuel system or small engine gas tank,” said Vander Griend.

Also during his presentation Vander Griend explained that extensive testing was conducted on fuel lines, gas containers, and plastic components. The materials were each soaked in straight gasoline (E0) and a 10 percent ethanol blend (E10) for extended periods of time. In every case, said Vander Griend, the ethanol free gasoline increased the damage to fuel lines, gas containers, and plastic components, while the materials soaked in E10 were impacted less. Continue reading

“May Day, May Day” Video Released

Americans United for Change has released a new video in response to the recent oil spill in Santa Barbara, California as well as several other recent oil spills. ‘May Day, May Day‘ is a roundup of news coverage showing why May was another messy oil spill month. The nonprofit notes the images of beach-goers trudging through tar to rescue oil soaked birds serve as a vivid reminder of the consequences of America’s dependence on oil.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that there will be 14,000 oil spills this year. This, cites American United for Change, is why people should be asking the EPA ‘what they were thinking’ when they cut back the Renewable Volume Obligations (RVOs) as part of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). The RVOs are significantly under what was mandated by Congress when the legislation was passed. The organization said this decision continues to limit consumer choice at the pump and encourages the oil industry to keep drilling and spilling.

The move would also discourage investment in infrastructure, said Americans United for Change, that would “bust through the so-called ‘blend wall'” and discourage innovation towards cleaner and cheaper fuels.

The new video is as part of the organization’s ongoing project RareIncidents.com, inspired by American Petroleum Institute President Jack Gerard who in 2011 attempted to dismiss the BP spill disaster in the Gulf Coast as “clearly a rare incident”.

RFA CEO Outlines Wrong Moves by EPA at #FEW15

few15-dinneenFor Renewable Fuels Association president and CEO Bob Dinneen, the newest proposal for volume obligations under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) is just the latest in a series of wrong moves by the Environmental Protection Agency.

“There’s something desperately wrong with the EPA,” said Dinneen after outlining more than a dozen ways the agency has worked to undermine the ethanol industry and the RFS, from the use of Indirect Land Use Change (ILUC) to judge the carbon footprint of biofuels, to not allowing E15 to be sold in the summer months.

Dinneen says there is a lot of talk in Washington about EPA’s “war on coal” but after the agency released both a final rule on the Waters of the United States last week and the lower volume obligations under the RFS, “they now seem to have a war on farmers.”

Listen to Dinneen’s speech here: RFA CEO Bob Dinneen comments at FEW

2015 Fuel Ethanol Workshop Photo Album

Coverage of the Fuel Ethanol Conference is sponsored by
Coverage of the Fuel Ethanol Conference is sponsored by Novozymes

2015 FEW is Officially Underway

few15-ribbonThe 31st annual Fuel Ethanol Workshop officially kicked off Monday with the ribbon cutting for the trade show after a beautiful day for the annual FEW golf outing.

Helping BBI International Vice President for Content Tim Portz with the ceremonial opening was Ron Beemiller of WB Services, sponsor for the trade show opening reception, and Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis was recruited to make some opening remarks. Naturally, those remarks centered around EPA’s proposed volume obligations under the RFS announced last Friday. “They got the first one wrong a year and a half ago, they got this one wrong,” said Buis. “We stopped the last one, we’re going to change this one.”

Watch below:

The photo album is started and we will have lots to share from FEW this week, thanks to our sponsor Novozymes.

2015 Fuel Ethanol Workshop Photo Album

Coverage of the Fuel Ethanol Conference is sponsored by
Coverage of the Fuel Ethanol Conference is sponsored by Novozymes

Ethanol Trade Missions to Expand Markets

Representatives of the U.S. Grains Council (USGC), Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), and Growth Energy were in Tokyo this week for an industry market assessment of the potential to export U.S. ethanol to Japan.

growth-exports“The United States exported 900 million gallons of ethanol in 2014, supporting both U.S. farmers and the ethanol industry. We know that, going forward, ethanol exports have the potential to grow and become equally beneficial for our customers overseas,” said USGC president and CEO Tom Sleight. “USGC, Growth and RFA are committed to launching initiatives in 2015 and 2016 to build demand for U.S. ethanol and address barriers to ongoing imports.”

Over the next two years, the government of Japan will be undertaking a full review of its national energy policies, including biofuels, potentially opening up opportunities for additional ethanol exports there.

“The team came away with a much greater understanding of the current Japanese requirements and market conditions pertaining to ethanol and began the implementation of a strategy to help ensure that U.S. ethanol receives fair market access under the future energy policy that will be adopted when the current policy expires in 2017,” said Jim Miller, chief economist and vice president of Growth Energy.

“The team will continue examining the requirements of the Japanese sustainability standards, looking for ways to overcome infrastructure concerns, and compiling data responding to some of the misinformation government officials still hold regarding renewable fuels,” added RFA’s director of regulatory affairs, Kelly Davis.

Last week, the organizations were part of a mission with USDA’s Foreign Agriculture Service in Mexico to explore potential in that market. One mission member, Greg Krissek, CEO of Kansas Corn, reflected on the trip in this video from the USGC.

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.”

Retailers Tout E15 in New Video

A new video has retailers extolling the virtues of E15. Clear the Air Chicago, a coalition advocating to make the higher blend of ethanol available citywide, is behind the video in which the retailers credit E15 with boosting business, improving customer satisfaction, and providing reliable service, while saving drivers 5 to 15 cents per gallon.

“It’s been a windfall for us,” said Roger Green, Station Owner from South St. Paul, Minnesota. “It’s been a huge increase in our inside store sales and our volume sales.”

The City of Chicago is considering a proposal that will bring E15 to Chicago gas stations.