Colorado-based Biofuel Solutions and Cargill are together on a deal to build a 110-million-gallon per year ethanol plant in Wood River, NE. The plant is expected to use about 41 million bushels of corn annually from the Cargill elevator adjacent to the plant, and Cargill will also market and distribute the ethanol, in addition to 375,000 tons of dry distiller grains a year for animal feed. Construction on the facility is expected to begin early next year. Biofuels Solutions recently announced plans for a similar plant in Fairmont, MN that would utilize the same type of deal with Cargill. Thanks to Mark Simone of A.B. Bellingham Commodity Trade Analysis, Inc. for passing that story on to us. We appreciate it!
Farm Foundation and USDA’s Office of Energy Policy and New Uses kicked off their Energy from Agriculture conference today in St. Louis. I was not able to attend and I have not seen any coverage of the event yet anywhere – even on USDA’s newsline. Seems that the WTO talks in Hong Kong is the bigger news story this week – that and the opening of the Japanese beef market. But, several of the top USDA head honchos were scheduled to be at the event today, including NRCS Chief Bruce Knight. I was supposed to interview the chief about USDA’s energy initiatives tomorrow (Thursday), but he had to reschedule so that will have to wait until next week. I will post that interview on Tuesday. Of course, the Secretary himself is in Hong Kong for the talks.
The agenda for the conference today included an assessment of current technologies, market impacts, energy production from non-traditional feedstocks and a review of the USDA energy program. The conference will conclude on Thursday at noon after a look at some energy from agriculture success stories and energy legislation.
While Googling around today, I came across this story from British Columbia, Canada – the New Society Publishers. This group has a website called RenewableEnergyAccess.com and they have this cute little kids book called “Have Fries Will Travel – the Adventures of a Veggie-Powered Car and an Eco-Rap Star.” They call it “The Perfect Holiday Gift: A book of exciting green adventures on the road with a biodiesel car.”
So, the car is named Tiny “his exhaust smelling like yummy French fries” and the “eco-rap star” is named Rock. The two set off on a road trip to encourage others to use biodiesel in their cars and to meet Senator Slade Twist in Washington, D.C.
* They visit farmers growing soybeans especially for making biodiesel;
* They pick up a colorful assortment of biodiesel converts, including the one and only Ms. Liza Merriweather;
* Rock performs rap songs about the need to stop global warming – with biodiesel cars being a good idea since biodiesel is a very clean fuel.
* A parade of vehicles, including a biodiesel-fueled farm tractor and a big rig follow Tiny into D.C. where a surprise ending awaits.
Hmmmmm….. Anyway, the book is 12.95 in USD and is available at the above link, if you want to check it out.
The mission of the New Society Publishers, according to their website, is to publish books that contribute in fundamental ways to building an ecologically sustainable and just society, and to do so with the least possible impact on the environment, in a manner that models this vision.
In the latest Long Term Energy Outlook report issued by the Energy Information Administration, higher oil prices are expected to increase demand for “unconventional sources of transportation fuel, such as ethanol and biodiesel.” The report revises projections for world oil prices upward based on the “volatility” of world oil markets. They are now calling for oil to be $54 a barrell in 2025, $21 more than the previous forecast, and be up to $57 a barrell by 2030. Production of “renewable energy” is projected to increase 1.8 percent by 2030 – but that category includes “grid-connected electricity from conventional hydroelectric; wood and wood waste; landfill gas; municipal solid waste; other biomass; wind; photovoltaic and solar thermal sources; non-electric energy from renewable sources, such as active and passive solar systems, and wood; and both the ethanol and gasoline components of E85, but not the ethanol components of blends less than 85 percent.” Consumption of “renewable products” is expected to increase the same amount during that time period, while consumption of “petroleum products”, which includes ethanol blended with gasoline at lower levels than 85 percent is expected to increase just over one percent. (Link to full report)
More corn from the Cornhusker State will be going into ethanol production. In the past week, at least three ethanol plants have been announced in Nebraska, prompting Renewable Fuels Association president Bob Dineen to comment, “It seems not a week goes by that the state of Nebraska is not adding a new ethanol plant to its growing roster.” Today, Abengoa Bioenergy Corporation will celebrate the official groundbreaking of its ethanol facility in Ravenna, Neb., Abengoa Bioenergy of Ravenna. Last Friday it was Advanced Bioenergy, LLC near Fairmont, Nebraska. And earlier this week, Val-E Ethanol began construction on its new plant near Ord, Nebraska. All together, the three plants would produce 233 million gallons of ethanol a year using 84 million bushels of corn!
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)