The ethanol industry has been exonerated of charges that it is too highly concentrated in the hands of too few companies. Under the Energy Policy Act of 2005, the Federal Trade Commission was required to “perform a market concentration analysis of the ethanol production industry using the Herfindahl-Hirschman Index to determine whether there is sufficient competition among industry participants to avoid price-setting and other anticompetitive behavior.” I guess that’s because the energy bill provides incentives for increasing ethanol production and they don’t want to give all that money to a small handful of companies. Maybe there were fears by some in Congress that the ethanol industry was just like Big Oil? Anyway, the bottom line of the FTC’s pretty straightforward 17-page report is that “The level of concentration in ethanol production would be unlikely to provide the opportunity or incentive for one or more firms to act anticompetitively.” (Link to full report)
Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns today announced a strategy to help farmers and ranchers deal with higher energy costs and increase production of domestic fuels. As part of the plan – USDA is intensifying efforts to support the development, production and use of renewable fuels, such as ethanol and biodiesel, through an array of research, loan and grant programs. The Secretary has directed Rural Development to maximize the use of approximately $1.4 billion available this year in various business and electric loan and loan guarantee authorities. More specifically, Johanns directed these funds be used to help farmers, ranchers and rural communities efficiently create renewable energy systems and businesses. Since 2001, USDA Rural Development has awarded nearly $290 million in renewable energy funding. These funds support renewable energy projects such as ethanol plants, wind and solar power units that create jobs and spur growth in rural communities. The Forest Service and other USDA agencies will intensify their support of renewable fuels research, development and use. Click here to listen to Johanns’ comments about ethanol and biodiesel made during Wednesday’s tele-conference from Washington DC.
Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns will hold a tele-news conference on Wednesday, December 7th at 2:30 p.m. EST. Secretary Johanns will discuss a comprehensive energy strategy to help farmers and ranchers mitigate the impact of high energy costs, create long-term resiliency, and promote renewable fuels. The press conference will be available live via webcast from the USDA website www.usda.gov.
The Minnesota Corn Growers Association and Minnesota Corn Research and Promotion Council have climbed aboard the EPIC bandwagon to present a unified front for the promotion of ethanol nationwide. “This is a significant milestone for ethanol promotion, to have all these different ethanol producers come together in a common cause,” said Jerry Ploehn, chair of MCR&PC. “We finally have the individual horses hooked to the same wagon and they are all pulling together. The more that join in, the more strength we can harness to achieve a name for ethanol.” EPIC’s Tom Sluneka made a presentation to the group last month.
This company is into some innovative technology for “green fuels.” Last week, GreenShift – which is a publicly traded company – announced new technology that converts agricultural waste into biofuels. Basically what it can do is take the concentrated sludge created from livestock processing, which has a high concentration of protein and fat, and make biodiesel out of it. The sludge is created as a by-product of wastewater treatment at processing facilities. Read the full story here.
GreenShift also has a subsidiary with a great name – Mean Green BioFuels Corporation – which has announced its plans to build a 30 million gallon per year biodiesel production facility in western Tennessee. The new Tennessee facility will be one of five such facilities that Mean Green intends to build, own and operate commencing in 2006. (Link to press release)
On-track testing of the IRL Indy Car new ethanol-blended fuel begins next week in Florida at the Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Bryan Herta of Andretti Green Racing and Buddy Rice of Rahal Letterman Racing will use the fuel as part of a one-day test with manufacturers Honda and Firestone. In March, the Indy Racing League announced it had partnered with the ethanol industry to become the fuel supplier beginning with the 2006 season. Teams will use a 90 percent methanol and 10 percent ethanol for the test and during the 2006 season. In 2007, the fuel will be 100 percent fuel-grade ethanol in IndyCar Series cars.
Ethanol is the only proven commercial scale renewable transportation fuel currently available in the marketplace. The 2006 season will not be the first time ethanol fuel has powered a car in the famed Indianapolis 500. At the 1927 race, a car driven by Leon Duray was fueled by ethyl (grain) alcohols.
The testing will be done December 7.
I really don’t like posting stories about companies with no website that I can find. These days a website is just such a given for a company that I am surprised when I can’t find one. It’s important not only because it provides legitimacy, but also information.
ANYway, website or not, Advanced Bioenergy, LLC is breaking ground December 2 for a 100 million gallon ethanol plant in Fairmont, Nebraska. When complete, the plant will be a leading ethanol producer in the state of Nebraska. It will also produce 320,000 tons of dried distillers grains for use in livestock feed and use 36 million bushels of corn a year. The plant is being built by Fagen, Inc. of Granite Falls, MN on a 260-acre site located a mile south of Fairmont and will employ up to 50 people when completed.
Here’s a link – to the Renewable Fuels Association website where they have the release they sent out on the groundbreaking.
Hey all you 18 wheeler drivers. Now there’s an earth friendly website for you. It’s the United Soybean Board funded BioTrucker.com which I guess is produced by the National Biodiesel Board.
This holiday season, thousands of gifts ship over the road in big rigs running on biodiesel. Recently, the American Trucking Associations (ATA) announced endorsement of a 5 percent blend of biodiesel known commonly as B5 as part of the trucking industry’s move toward cleaner, renewable fuel. The soybean checkoff-funded National Biodiesel Board (NBB) launched www.biotrucker.com to provide access to encourage further biodiesel use in the trucking industry. Additional support for the increased use of B5 biodiesel is evident because most major diesel engine manufacturers including Detroit Diesel, Caterpillar and Cummins, have stated that B5 can be used in their diesel engines as long as the B5 blend meets the American Society for Testing and Materials D-6751 biodiesel standard. NBB estimates biodiesel production for 2005 to reach 75 million gallons, 50 million gallons more than last year.
This is an interesting site. There’s links to other sites that truckers should be interested in and “user forums.” I think the user forum idea is a good one and kind of wish they were on more websites. Sometimes they’re the only place I can find stuff I want on a website where the company doesn’t readily provide the information I’m looking for.
Delegates to the Iowa Farm Bureau annual meeting this week made some media waves when they rejected language in a resolution that would require an ethanol “mandate” in the state. The delegates reportedly approved “increasing the use of ethanol” in the state, rather than “mandating” it. The policy will not be final until Thursday when delegates meet again, but Radio Iowa quotes Iowa Farm Bureau President Craig Lang as saying, “Our membership said choice is best,” and would rather provide incentives to increase use than require it. The state legislature has failed to pass an ethanol mandate yet, but it is likely to be considered again in the next session. Meanwhile, in the nation’s capitol, Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley is said to be “mystified” by the Farm Bureau action. And Congressman Jim Nussle, who would like to be Governor of Iowa, is in favor of a state mandate to promote American energy – grown in Iowa.
Shitake mushrooms are tasty delicacies that are known for their smoky, rich flavor – but they also have another attribute that could help increase the efficiency of ethanol refining. Scientists with USDA’s Ag Research Service are studying the Shitake mushroom’s natural ability to dissolve wood into sugar and they have identified and copied the gene in the mushroom that performs that task.
Called Xyn11A, the gene carries the instructions that the mushroom uses to make an enzyme known as xylanase which the researchers believe could speed up the fermenting process at biorefineries.
The full press release on the subject can be read here.