Okay, show of hands out there. How many of you already knew that Hawaii is one of only two states in the nation currently with an ethanol mandate on the books? The other one is Minnesota – which makes sense since it is one of the nation’s largest ethanol-producing states. But, Hawaii is apparently going to have a problem meeting the requirement approved in September of 2004 that a majority of the state’s gasoline contain ten percent ethanol by April 2, 2006 … none of the six ethanol plants currently being built there are finished yet. I guess it seemed doable at the time, but a story in today’s Honolulu Star Bulletin says the state’s ethanol producers now expect it will be another year before they are fully operational to meet the demand. Hawaii will have to produce about 38 million gallons of ethanol a year to meet the requirement that 85 percent of the gasoline sold in the state be blended with ten percent ethanol – which it will be able to do once the plants are on-line. Until then, officials say they will be importing ethanol from the mainland to meet the requirement. Of course, the Hawaiian produced ethanol will not be made from corn – it will be made from sugar cane or it’s by-product bagasse. Meanwhile, the state has been getting prepared for the mandate by educating the public about ethanol.
Ethanol is moving up in the racing world. Paul Dana, driver for Team Ethanol, will be jumping into a Rahal Letterman IndyCar® Series car this year. Dana announced the switch today during an Indy Racing League (IRL) press conference. “This is a huge step up for us from a competitive standpoint because Rahal Letterman has such an excellent track record,” Dana said. “My teammates will be Buddy Rice, who won the Indy 500 in 2004, and, of course, Danica Patrick, who was Rookie of the Year last year.”
Rahal Letterman Racing (RLR) is co-owned by 1986 Indianapolis 500 winner Bobby Rahal and television talk show host and comedian David Letterman. Team Ethanol is sponsored by the Ethanol Promotion and Information Council (EPIC). Executive Director Tom Slunecka said they could not be more thrilled with the switch to one of the best and well-known IRL teams.
“The Rahal Letterman team, having produced Indy car winners and having the sensation in race car and sports media Danica Patrick, is just a fabulous way for ethanol to get its name out to that many more people.”
Click here to listen to the full Rahal Letterman/Team Ethanol announcement with Bobby Rahal, Paul Dana and Tom Slunecka.
Here’s a couple of national feature stories about ethanol and flex-fuel vehicles (FFVs) that have come out in the last couple of days:
This Knight-Ridder article, dateline Maryland, has the headline “Ethanol gets a push, but road ahead fraught with challenge.” It starts off talking about how E85 is not selling well outside of the midwest unless it is lower in price, but also brings up the fact that there some five million FFV’s on the road, that ethanol production is increasing and that oil companies are the major obstacle to increased ethanol use. This story, which includes quotes from Bob Dinneen at the Renewable Fuels Association and Phil Lampert at the National Ethanol Vehicle Coalition, got some very good distribution nationwide. The link is to the long version of the story, which also includes some international bio-fuels facts at the end of the piece.
This Associated Press article just came out today, dateline Los Angeles. In typical mainstream media fashion, it starts out with the charge that automakers are making more FFVs to “skirt mileage standards.” Not a real positive tone in the story for the industry, but it does point out the number of FFVs on the road, that E85 is often cheaper than gasoline and that car companies are starting to promote their FFVs. It also points people to e85fuel.com to find out if their car will run on 85 percent ethanol fuel.
The great thing about a blog is that it allows interactive commentary – and this is a great way for the domestic fuel industry to address some of its critics in a public forum.
So, you might notice negative comments about domestic fuels from time to time in the comments section of some posts. I will try to address them myself, but I would also encourage others in the industry to make comments in response as well. There are lots of people out there who are experts in this field, and it’s important that we address critical and false statements about biofuels. Making comments is easy – just click on the comments/trackbacks link under the post you want to make a comment on and follow the directions.
I would also note that comments are screened before being allowed on the site – so please be nice.
A new book is being unveiled at the National Biodiesel Conference in San Diego next month. “Biodiesel America” was written by Josh Tickell, author of “From the Fryer to the Fuel Tank: The Complete Guide to Using Vegetable Oils as an Alternative Fuel.” According to a release about the book, Tickell shatters the myth that America must remain dependent on Middle East oil. Tickell shows how biodiesel, a cleaner-burning fuel made from vegetable oil and other natural fats and oils, could bring over one million jobs back to America, invigorate our economy and create a stable domestic fuel supply, while leaving our lifestyle and food supply completely untouched.
I thought it was interesting that one of the quotes about the book was from Luke Perry “actor & farmer” who says “Biodiesel America gives me hope for the future of our great country. Thanks to Josh’s book, we can grow our fuel, bring money into our communities and stop our dependence on foreign energy.” You should remember Luke Perry from Beverly Hills 90210, “in which he portrayed the brooding but sensitive Dylan McKay.” That little teen cutie is now 40 years old and, I guess, a farmer. I could not find any info on line to confirm that, although I did discover he was ranked #6 in TV Guide’s list of “TV’s 25 Greatest Teen Idols” in January 2005. I would be very interested to know what he farms and where.
“Biodiesel America” will be launched on February 6, 2006 at 10:30 a.m. during the general session of the National Biodiesel Board Conference and Expo at the San Diego Convention Center. The Biodiesel America.org website, which was started by Josh (a little cutie himself who looks kind of like Ron Howard when he was Opie and had hair), has all kinds of good stuff on it. Check it out.
Fire up your I-Pod and tune in to the latest in Indy racing news from Indycar.com. There’s the Indy Racing Weekly Podcast, IMS Radio Network Podcast, and Indy Racing League Teleconference Podcast.
If you wonder what that has to do with domestic fuels, then you don’t know that IRL is embracing ethanol in a big way – starting this year on a 10 percent blend for all cars and going to 100 percent ethanol next year, replacing methanol.
By the way – be sure to tune in Monday for a big ethanol-related Indy announcement.
Here are links to some stories this week about ethanol plants in the news.
Nebraska – ASAlliances Biofuels breaks ground on 100 million gallon ethanol plant in Albion – link to story in Columbus Telegram
Indiana – Same company as above breaks ground on plant in Montgomery County. Link to story from INside Indiana Business
Iowa – Iowa BioFuels plant near Blairstown increases production, plans expansion – link to Sioux City Journal story
Nebraska again – Wisconsin-based E Energy intends to build a corn-processing ethanol plant in Custer county – this story from North Platte Telegraph
It’s not just that it’s Saturday afternoon and I don’t feel like doing posts on all of these stories. Usually I link to the press release from the company site and when I started out with the stories on the ASAlliances plants in NE and IN, I couldn’t find releases on their site – or the partners Cargill, United Bio Energy and Fagen who make up the development company. So, I decided just to link to the stories I found on them.
Ok – and it is a sleepy, kinda dreary Saturday – so, it works for me.
New ethanol plant technology will be tested in Iowa. Renessen, LLC – the biotechnology company offspring produced from a mating between Cargill and Monsanto – has announced plans for a pilot plant in Eddyville that “has the potential to increase the profitability of corn growers, ethanol producers, and swine and poultry producers.” According to a company release, the plant will test a unique technology system in which new biotech corn hybrids with increased energy and nutrient levels will be combined with a novel dry corn separation technique designed for ethanol facilities.
By applying a novel processing technology with a high-nutrient corn specially adapted for the process, the system would allow a standard dry-grind ethanol plant to produce several products on site, including: corn oil for food and biodiesel; a nutrient-rich feed ingredient for use in swine and poultry production; a more easily fermentable ethanol medium; an enhanced form of distiller dried grains with solubles (DDGS), the standard cattle feed co-product of today’s ethanol dry milling process.
The new production process is expected to be more profitable because the nutrient-rich feed ingredient, the corn oil, and the enhanced DDGS produced in this new process all have potentially greater value than today’s traditional dry-grind ethanol co-products.
Link to the full release.
France wants to be the number one ethanol producer in Europe, according to this article from Reuters posted on Planet Ark today. Currently, Spain is Europe’s biggest ethanol producer with annual output of 200,000 tonnes. France occupies the number two spot with output of 100,000 tonnes a year, according to the article. The French ethanol industry coordinator believes that France can beat that by 2008 because they have more agricultural output than Spain. Alain Jeanroy told Reuters he expects France to produce 880,000 tonnes of ethanol by 2008 and two million tonnes by 2015. Currently, most of the ethanol production in France is from sugar beets, but they expect wheat to be most used in the future “due to it’s high availability.” The European Commission set a non-binding goal to have 5.75 percent of their energy supplied by bio-fuels by 2010, but France wants to beat that goal. I found this map of biofuels plants in France that shows where the production is located. The blue dots are biodiesel and the red squares are ethanol. About 40 percent of the biofuels production in France is ethanol, 60 percent biodiesel. The main crop used for biodiesel production is rapeseed.
The Missouri Soybean Association and the Missouri Corn Growers Association showed their support for their biggest customers this week by opposing biofuel expansion in counties that restrict livestock production. Fact is, no matter how many new uses we might find for corn and soybeans, most of them are still going to be fed to cattle, hogs and poultry. In fact, over half of the soybeans produced in the U.S. are fed to livestock in the form of soybean meal and over 60 percent of the corn goes to livestock feed. So, according to MSA and MCGA leadership, soybean and corn farmers cannot afford to invest millions of dollars in biodiesel and ethanol production facilities in counties that refuse to support animal agriculture. In addition to limiting livestock and poultry production, county health ordinances also eliminate marketing potential for the high protein co-products that are created while processing corn and soybeans into biodiesel and ethanol. Without animal agriculture in close proximity to biodiesel and ethanol plants, the ability to utilize these co-products is diminished and the plants themselves become less viable.
Link to full release.