Interior to Auction 344,000 Offshore Acres

The U.S. Department of Interior has announced the auction of 344,000 offshore acres off the coast of New Jersey for development of offshore wind projects. The lease sale will take place on November 9, 2015. Should the area be fully capitalized, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory estimates at least 3,400 MW of wind power could be developed.

NJ-offshore wind energy MAP“On the heels of this summer’s historic ‘steel-in-the-water’ milestone for the nation’s first commercial offshore wind farm, today’s announcement marks another major step in standing up a sustainable offshore wind program for Atlantic coast communities,” said U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell. “This effort took significant engagement and cooperation with New Jersey and other stakeholders to advance clean energy development and reduce potential use conflicts, which moves us closer to harnessing the enormous potential of wind energy along the Atlantic coast.”

To date, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has awarded nine commercial offshore wind leases, including seven through the competitive lease sale process (two in an area offshore Rhode Island-Massachusetts, another two offshore Massachusetts, two offshore Maryland and one offshore Virginia). These lease sales have generated about $14.5 million in winning bids for more than 700,000 acres in federal waters.

BOEM Director Abigail Ross Hopper said of the efforts to expand offshore wind in the U.S., “We are pleased to see sustained commercial interest in offshore wind development. We will continue to work closely with members of the New Jersey Renewable Energy Task Force to ensure that our intergovernmental partners remain informed on the next steps proposed by the winners of this auction.”

The New Jersey Wind Energy Area starts about seven nautical miles from shore. Click here to view a map of the Wind Energy Area.

New Seattle Ferry Running on Biodiesel

doc-maynardThe newest ferry for the Seattle area is running on biodiesel. This article from Marine Log says the M/V Doc Maynard, started service at the end of September, replacing her sister ship, the M/V Sally Fox, which is undergoing some scheduled warranty work.

Both the Sally Fox and Doc Maynard were built by All American Marine, Inc. (AAM), Bellingham, WA. The 105 ft x 33 ft aluminum catamaran ferries are the first U.S. Coast Guard Sub-chapter “K” inspected passenger vessels built and delivered under new guidelines that make it possible for boat builders to design and implement suitable structural fire protection in very low fire load spaces in the construction of weight-sensitive high speed passenger vessels.

Each ferry is powered by two Cummins QSK-50 Tier 3 diesel engines, rated at 1,800 bhp at 1,900 rev/min and driving twin propellers to provide a service speed of 28 knots. The ferries also burn a 10 percent biodiesel blend and have LED lighting onboard.

All American Marine is sponsoring a tour of the Doc Maynard at MARINE LOG’S FERRIES 2015 Conference & Expo, set for November 5-6, 2015 at the Hyatt Olive 8 in Seattle.

US Ethanol Exports Lowest in 2 Years, DDGS Down

rfalogo1American ethanol exports to the world are down to their lowest levels in more than two years. This analysis from the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) says at just 50.1 million gallons (mg), total ethanol shipments in August were 35 percent lower than in July, falling by 27.1 mg. In addition, the ethanol by-product, distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS) used for animal feed, was also down, but just slightly from record levels of this summer.

Ninety percent of exports were destined for only 10 countries, with the majority of shipments split between Canada (21.4 mg, or 43% of total exports) and Tunisia (12.6 mg, or 25% of total). China (3.3 mg), the Philippines (3.0 mg), South Korea (2.8 mg) and Mexico (2.0 mg) account for much of the remaining balance. Once again, Brazil remained a minor player in the U.S. ethanol export market, taking in just 1.7 mg (compared to 25.1 mg only 5 months ago). Total U.S. ethanol exports for the first eight months of 2015 stood at 564.5 mg, indicating an annualized rate of 847 mg.

August exports of undenatured ethanol for fuel use fell 44% from July to 26.2 mg. Nearly half of those exports moved to Tunisia (12.6 mg), with China (3.3 mg), the Philippines (3.0 mg) and South Korea (2.7 mg) also pulling in notable volumes. Exports of denatured ethanol fuel decreased by 24% from July, down to 20.1 mg. This is the lowest denatured volume since August 2010. Canada took the lion’s share of denatured product at 18.1 mg (90% of exports), with Jamaica, Singapore and Turkey receiving much smaller volumes. The United States exported 356,211 gallons of undenatured ethanol for non-fuel, non-beverage use, a decrease of 39% over July. Denatured ethanol for non-fuel, non-beverage purposes was the only product to see any upward movement over the prior month, with nearly all of the 3.4 mg crossing the border to Canada.

After months of virtually nonexistent fuel ethanol imports, the United States saw 15.7 mg enter the country in August—greater than the combined imports from the past 5 months. All but 3% of total imports originated in Brazil (11.8 mg undenatured, 3.8 mg denatured), with Spain and Sweden responsible for the remainder. At 65.8 mg, year-to-date imports are just half of last year’s total at this point. In August, the United States boasted a net exporter status for two years straight.

DDGS exports were off by 6 percent from the record high logged in July to a still-sizable 1,279,396 metric tons (mt), with China still receiving about half of that number – down from the 65-74 percent market share seen in recent months.

Renewable Energy Future Postcard

Hawaii at the Energy CrossroadsThe Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR) has released a new paper, “Hawai’i at the Energy Crossroads“. The report highlights the fight in Hawai’i to control and harness it’s vast renewable energy resources including solar energy. The paper demonstrates the choice between utility-promoted strategies and the distributed energy resources that are gaining ground on their own. The report also provides a “postcard” from the future for how other states can plan for a 100 renewable energy future.

Hawai’i pasted legislation early this year requiring all energy to be produced from renewable resources by 2045.

“More and more customers have easy tools to manage their own energy,” said John Farrell, director of Democratic Energy at ILSR. “Hawai’ians are demanding more opportunities to harvest and store the power of the sun on their own rooftops. Now, mainland leaders are looking toward the island state to decide whether to unlock the same opportunity.”

Ultimately, Hawai’i at the Energy Crossroads shows how outdated utility business plans and corporate takeovers can affect a state’s energy market for years to come.

John Hofmeister to Headline #RFANEC

John Hofmeister will be headlining the 21st Annual National Ethanol Conference (NEC) next February 15-17, 2016 in New Orleans. Hosted by the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), Hofmeister is the founder and CEO of Citizens for Affordable Energy, former president of Shell Oil Company and author of “Why We Hate the Oil Companies: Straight Talk from an Energy Insider. The NEC conference theme is “Fueling a High Octane Future”.

John hofmeisterHofmeister founded Citizens for Affordable Energy in 2008, a public policy education firm that promotes sound energy security solutions for the U.S., including a range of affordable energy supplies, efficiency improvements, essential infrastructure, sustainable environmental policies, and public education on energy issues.

During his tenure as President of Shell he launched a groundbreaking outreach program designed to discuss critical global energy challenges. The program included an 18-month, 50-city cross-country tour during which Hofmeister, along with 250 other Shell executives, met with more than 15,000 business, community and civic leaders, policymakers, and academics to discuss what must be done to ensure affordable, available energy for the future. Hofmeister serves on the boards of Fuel Freedom Foundation; the National Energy Security Council; the Foreign Policy Association; Strategic Partners, LLC; and the Gas Technology Institute.

Bob Dinneen, RFA President and CEO, said he was delighted to have John Hofmeister headlining next year’s NEC and praised him for his extensive work in pursuing policy solutions that ensure energy is not only affordable, but is also clean and secure.

“John Hofmeister is an innovative and energetic leader on issues surrounding energy security,” said Dinneen. “As a former oil company executive, he not only possesses an insider’s understanding about how the oil industry actually operates but, because of his background, when he speaks he does so with a very credible and authentic voice. Mr. Hofmeister is the perfect choice for next year’s NEC because he wholeheartedly believes that the key to providing consumers with clean, affordable, and secure sources of energy is to implement policies that promote diversity in our energy supply.”

In addition to announcing Mr. Hofmeister as the headliner for next year’s NEC, RFA also announced that it has launched an official Twitter handle @EthanolConf and hashtag #RFANEC for the event. Registration is now open.

BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDF1SolarCity and Temecula Valley Unified School District are together installing a six megawatt solar and energy storage project across 19 schools and the district’s administrative office. The project, which includes energy storage systems at five sites, required no upfront investment and is expected to save the district more than $520,000 within the first year of operation alone, and $35 million over 25 years by providing affordable power at a discount to utility rates.
  • Farmland Partners Inc. has announced that two of its farms in North Carolina will be home to a portion of the 208 MW Amazon Wind Farm US East that Iberdrola Renewables is building and will own and operate. The wind farm will deliver power to the electrical grid that supplies both current and future Amazon Web Services, Inc. (AWS) Cloud data centers. The company will lease the 28 acres to Iberdrola Renewables for approximately $2,600 per acre over a 25-year lease term.
  • SkyPower has announced its plans to build 500 MW of utility-scale solar energy over the next five years in Panama, representing an investment of US $1 billion. In addition to building 500 MW of solar projects in Panama, SkyPower will also construct a US $50 million world-class solar and environmental research centre in Panama dedicated to the advancement of solar PV innovation as well as advanced research and innovation in environmental sciences.
  • Blymyer Engineers has announced the company has been chosen by Swinterton Builders as the engineering firm of record on the Springbok 2 Solar Farm in California. The full three phase project involves developing a 350 MW AC PV solar generating facility covering approximately 2000 acres of formerly underdeveloped grazing and ag lands over multiple project sites in an unincorporated portion of eastern Kern county.

Ethanol Production with Enogen Tops 1B Gallons

There are now 16 ethanol plants using Enogen corn according to Syngenta. When combined, the plants have a production capacity of more than 1 billion gallons of ethanol per year. In addition, Syngenta says there are also in talks with a number of other plants to begin using the only biotech corn designed specifically to improve ethanol production.

Enogen logoLast year, Enogen was grown on nearly 225,000 acres while in 2016 that number is expected to exceed 400,000 acres. According to Jack Bernens, head of Enogen for Syngenta, the robust alpha amylase enzyme found in Enogen corn hybrids helps an ethanol plant dramatically reduce the viscosity of its corn mash and eliminate the need to add a liquid form of the enzyme.

“This breakthrough viscosity reduction can lead to unprecedented levels of solids loading, which directly contributes to increased throughput and yield, as well as critical cost savings from reduced natural gas, energy, water and chemical usage in ethanol plants,” Bernens said. “Growers who plant Enogen corn benefit as well – they earn an average premium of 40 cents per bushel.”

Syngenta says Enogen is growing in popularity because of the value it delivers and the opportunity it provides corn growers to be enzyme suppliers for their local ethanol plants. Assuming an average yield of 165 bushels an acre, Enogen corn is expected to generate approximately $26 million of additional revenue for local growers in 2016 through per-bushel premiums. Numerous trials have shown that Enogen hybrids perform equal to or better than other high-performing corn hybrids.

“The agreements we have in place with a steadily increasing number of plants will enable them to source alpha amylase directly from growers and keep enzyme dollars in those local communities,” added Bernens. “This is what truly sets Enogen corn apart from other technologies designed to enhance ethanol production. It adds significant incremental value at the local level for communities that rely on their ethanol plant’s success.”

Virginia School Reviving Algae-to-Biodiesel Operation

hatcher1A Virginia farm that grew algae for biodiesel has been shut down, but researchers at a nearby university are helping the operation produce the green fuel from the green slime again. This article from the Richmond Times-Dispatch says Old Dominion University is working on the issue and hoping to make it commercially viable.

Patrick G. Hatcher, an Old Dominion University geochemist who was a major force behind the project, is trying to keep the dream alive.

“We are still actively pursuing the technology and trying to go commercial,” Hatcher said. “Right now is not the best time because the price of gas is cheap, the price of oil is low, and nobody gives a darn about biodiesel anymore.”

He said he hopes to find investors willing to put up $75 million to $100 million to produce biodiesel on a commercial scale.

“To make money, you need to do this on a large scale — thousands of acres,” Hatcher said.

ODU and the Virginia Coastal Energy Research Consortium, a group created by the state legislature, started the project back in 2006, but it failed to take off. A new patented process could make this newest iteration of the project more successful.

Alliance BioEnergy Converts Coastal Hay to Sugar

Ek Laboratories, located in Longwood, Florida, has achieved a 63 percent conversion of Coastal Hay, at commercial scale, into fermentable sugars in less than 30 minutes. The Alliance BioEnergy Plus subsidiary used it licensed and patented mechanical/chemical CTS (Cellulose to Sugar) process.

Coastal HayAccording to Ek Laboratories, unlike most cellulose to sugar technologies, their CTS process does not use liquid acids, applied heat or pressure, enzymes, super critical waters, expensive precious metal lined with equipment or any hazardous materials. The company also says that also unlike other CTS processes, their technology can covert virtually any cellulose material into fermentable sugars in one step in just minutes.

As such, says Ek Laboratories, for the first time, biofuel producers will be able profitably produce cellulosic ethanol, diesel and other biofuels without subsidies.

“We have completely redesigned and custom manufactured the mill and went from 1g in the lab to a mill capable of processing 2,500kg (2.5mt) a day, in a single leap, while seeing the efficiency and conversion rates increase and energy consumption decrease,” explains Dr. Peter Cohen, Director of Analytics at Ek Labs. Unlike traditional chemical processes or industrial scaling, this is a mechanical process where the chemistry happens thousands of times at a micro scale by a kinetic process therefore aided by size and increased impact pressure.

Cohen noted that they should see 70 to 80 percent conversion rates by the time they are finished with the first commercial plant for sub-license RRDA in early 2016. The plant is in construction in Georgia and will convert 1,000mt a day of yellow pine waste and Vidalia onion waste. He added that existing plants can easily be converted to the CTS process.

Gravity Renewables + St. Lawrence U Ink Hydro Deal

Gravity Renewables is going to connect St. Lawrence University, located in Canton, New York, to around 4.3 kilowatt hours (kWh) of clean hydropower per year with a new agreement. The renewable, clean energy source will provide St. Lawrence University with reliably prices clean power that will help them get nearly 100 percent of their electricity from renewable sources.

“Several years ago, the University made a commitment to strengthening its environmental stewardship,” said President William L. Fox ’75. “The hydro power we have committed to is one more step by St. Lawrence on that important journey.”

Gravity Renewables' Dog River Hydroelectric Facility, also known as Nantanna Mill hydro, is located in Northfield, VT. The plant was originally commissioned in 1983 and now generates approximately 650,000 kilowatt-hours of clean energy each year — enough to power nearly 100 average Vermont homes.

Gravity Renewables’ Dog River Hydroelectric Facility, also known as Nantanna Mill hydro, is located in Northfield, VT. The plant was originally commissioned in 1983 and now generates approximately 650,000 kilowatt-hours of clean energy each year — enough to power nearly 100 average Vermont homes.

The power will come from the King Falls small hydro facility in Lewis County. The dam and its power generation unit were damaged during Hurricane Irene and have been offline since 2011. This agreement will allow for the refurbishment and repair of the dam.

“St. Lawrence University is moving towards the clean energy future and utilizing one of upstate New York’s great natural resources,” said Ted Rose, CEO of Gravity Renewables. “New York is rich in sustainable small and micro hydro facilities—and agreements like this support their continued health. Hydropower’s reliability makes it a perfect fit for institutions looking to move to full carbon neutrality. ”

St. Lawrence University is fast becoming a national leader in clean energy and sustainability. In addition to clean hydropower, the university is using solar and wind energy, and implementing conservation, green building and energy efficiency in an effort to have all 100 percent of its power needs met by renewable sources.