Retailers Counter EPA Blend Wall Beliefs

Many fuel retailers were on hand at the EPA public hearing last week on volume obligations under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) to tell their stories about selling higher ethanol blends.

epa-hearing-retailerAmong those who testified at the hearing and also spoke at the #RFSWorks rally was Cheryl Near, who owns Jump Start gas station in Wichita, Kansas with her husband Phil. The couple is featured in the movie PUMP, a documentary about America’s addiction to oil and the monopoly of the oil companies that works to prevent consumer choice at the pump.

“We need to be supporting homegrown renewables, we need be blending more ethanol into our fuel supply, not less,” said Near at the rally, who added that oil companies are controlling the price of higher ethanol blends. “We need blender pumps, we need to buy direct from the ethanol plants, and then we can pass our savings on to the consumers.”

Listen to Near’s rally comments here: Fuel retailer Cheryl Near at RFS Rally

Other retailers who testified at the hearing included Scott Zaremba, owner of Zarco USA, and Charlie Good, owner of Good and Quick convenience store in Nevada, Iowa. “We have seen our ethanol sales numbers increase as we educate the public on the higher ethanol blends,” said Zaremba, who was the first retailer to offer E15 in the United States. “Renewable blends make up 98% of my gasoline sales mix, and almost 30% of the fuel I sell is in renewable blends above ten percent,” added Good.

Dave Sovereign, owner and operator of the Cresco Fast Stop, summarized the thoughts of many retailers, telling EPA, “When consumers have a choice, there is no blend wall.”

Other stories of higher blend fuel retailers can be found on the American Coalition for Ethanol website Flexfuelforward.com.

EPA RFS Public Hearing photo album

Coverage of EPA RFS Hearing is sponsored by
Coverage of EPA RFS Hearing sponsored by RFA

Neste Races Across America on One Tank

History was made over the past two weeks as X-Games and Rallycross champion Tanner Foust crossed the finish line in Santa Monica, California after traveling 2,507 miles at an average speed of 68 miles per gallon using only 37.6 gallons, or one tank, of NEXBTL renewable diesel fuel. The event was sponsored by Neste, the producer of the NEXBTL renewable fuel along with CLP Motorsports. Foust drove across the U.s. in a CLP Motorsports’ Superlite Coupe.

Tanner Foust and Pat O'Keefe bring the CLP Motorsports' SLC race car across the finish line next to the beach in Santa Monica, CA, after completing a 2,507-mile cross-country drive on one tank of Neste NEXBTL renewable diesel. (PRNewsFoto/Neste)

Tanner Foust and Pat O’Keefe bring the CLP Motorsports’ SLC race car across the finish line next to the beach in Santa Monica, CA, after completing a 2,507-mile cross-country drive on one tank of Neste NEXBTL renewable diesel. (PRNewsFoto/Neste)

This first of a kind event was conceived by Pat O’Keefe, CEO and president of CLP Motor sports, vice president at Golden Gate Petroleum and a keen racing car driver and enthusiast. Golden Gate started selling NEXBTL renewable diesel to its fleet customers the San Francisco area in 2013.

“What a great opportunity to be able to partner with Neste on this project so that we can help bring awareness to the public about this amazing fuel – NEXBTL renewable diesel,” said O’Keefe. “We will continue to promote this great fuel through our fleet-servicing and retail stations and of course through our racing.”

Foust was also impressed with the fuel. “When it comes to low emissions in racing or driving on the street, good quality fuel is the key. With renewable diesel you will get more power, cleaner burning and it’s renewable. Those things typically don’t mix. That’s why I think Neste’s NEXBTL renewable diesel is a very special product.” Continue reading

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

BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDF1Minnesota Bio-Fuels Association has launched a “Minnesota Biofuels Locator” app that enables iPhone users to find stations throughout the state that offer E15, E85 and blender pumps. In April, the Minnesota Bio-Fuels Association launched the app for Android users.
  • Talen Energy has announced an agreement to sell Talen Renewable Energy, LLC to funds managed by California-based Energy Power Partners. The sale will include 25 projects in four states with a total of 65 megawatts of nameplate generating capacity. The portfolio includes landfill gas-to-energy, solar, wind and cogeneration projects. Subject to regulatory approvals, the agreement is expected to close by the end of the year.
  • The Edison Foundation’s Institute for Electric Innovation (IEI) has released a new book, Thought Leaders Speak Out: The Evolving Electric Power Industry, that features more than 20 essays by electric utility and technology company leaders, policymakers, and other stakeholders focused on three distinct and interrelated areas driving the transformation of the electric power industry today—the evolving grid, the evolving customer, and evolving regulation.
  • Telefonix Inc., a developer of cord reel technology and manufacturer of PowerPost commercial electric vehicle charging stations (EVSEs), has announced the installation of six Level 2 PowerPost commercial electric vehicle charging stations at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. MD Anderson is now working to help improve the environment by offering workplace electric vehicle (EV) charging to employees at their Texas facility.

Corn Growers Testify and Rally for RFS

Corn growers from across the nation were in Kansas City, Kansas last week to testify and rally in support of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

rfs-hearing-ncgaLeaders of the National Corn Growers Association were among over 200 stakeholders to provide comments on the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal to reduce the volume of ethanol required to be used in the nation’s fuel supply under the RFS.

NCGA President Chip Bowling of Maryland, NCGA Ethanol Committee chairman Jeff Sandbourn, and NCGA Chairman Martin Barbre of Illinois testified that EPA’s proposal would cut nearly 4 billion gallons of ethanol from the RFS through 2016, representing nearly a billion and a half bushels in lost corn demand.

rfs-rally-chip“We simply cannot afford – and will not tolerate – efforts to cut the demand for corn, and that’s exactly what your proposal will do,” Bowling told the EPA. “We cannot let this stand. We’ve done our part, and our allies in the ethanol industry have done their part. It’s time the EPA sided with those of us supporting a domestic, renewable fuel that’s better for the environment.”

Corn growers also led a rally near the hearing in support of the RFS. “We have never before seen so much grassroots interest in a particular issue,” said Bowling. “The many who came here today had to set aside important work back home, with delayed planting or other important field work. They are here because they know what’s at stake.”

Listen to the corn growers testimony here:
NCGA testimony at RFS hearing

Listen to the rally speakers here:
RFS Works Rally

EPA RFS Public Hearing photo album

Coverage of EPA RFS Hearing is sponsored by
Coverage of EPA RFS Hearing sponsored by RFA

FFA Helps ‘Prime the Pump’ for Ethanol & Students

syngenta-enogen-nascar-15-ffaMaker of Enogen corn, Syngenta, recently announced it had raised money for ethanol infrastructure through the “Prime the Pump” campaign, an industry initiative to help early retail adopters of high-level ethanol blends through grants to reduce their initial investment in infrastructure. By donating a dollar for every acre of corn planted with the Enogen variety, Syngenta will put approximately $600,000 into the fund. In addition, the company teamed up with local FFA members at the American Ethanol 200 NASCAR truck race in Iowa and matched dollars the group raised through donations at the race, a percentage of that the FFA groups get to keep.

Dan Lopez is the high school guidance counselor at South Tama. He said his students were able to get out and talk with a lot of the tailgaters at the race.

“One hundred percent of the folks have been behind [ethanol],” he told Chuck during an interview, adding the people have been appreciative of Syngenta’s efforts to get more ethanol out to consumers and how the company supports the FFA.

Miranda Johnson who teaches at Twin Cedars Community School District said the folks at the race understand ethanol. “They understand the importance of using ethanol. It’s been great!”

While Johnson said her FFA hasn’t decided yet what to do with the money raised, Lopez’s FFA plans to use its share to send students to the national FFA convention.

Listen to Chuck’s interviews with both FFA groups here: South Tama FFA Twin Cedars FFA

2015 American Ethanol 200 Presented by Enogen Photo Album

Coverage of the American Ethanol 200 sponsored by Enogen
Coverage of the American Ethanol 200 is sponsored by Enogen

Martifer Solar Opens PV Plant in Belgium

Martifer Solar has completed the construction and connection of a 738.45 kWp PV system on the rooftop of the Decathlon building in Evere, Belgium for the company Orka NV. The company handled all aspects of the plant development and construction.

According to Martifer, The building hosts the largest Decathlon store in Europe and currently stands as one of their largest stores in the world. With an area of 10,600 m2, the 738.45kWp PV plant installed on the building’s rooftop, was built using 2,735 monocrystalline solar panels installed on fixed structures. The rooftop PV plant will produce an estimated 632.3 MWh/year.

DCIM103GOPRO

“This PV plant installed by Martifer Solar in the Benelux region represents the reliability, safety and bankability of the projects and work that we have been doing in this region. The achievement of more than 150 projects built on over 300 rooftops in Belgium, together with our global expertise allows us to consolidate and expand our strategy for the EPC and O&M business in the Benelux region,” said Luis Pinho, operations manager in Belgium for Martifer Solar.

Jan Heyse, managing director of Orka, investor and asset manager for the project, added, “This project was more complex and had a longer development lead time due to the close integration with the construction of the building itself. We have enjoyed working with Martifer Solar to realize this project to the satisfaction of all stakeholders. With this realization Orka’s capacity in rooftop PV in the Brussels region totals 7Mwp, divided over 6 rooftops.”

With the completion of this project, Martifer Solar has installed approximately 35 MW of total PV capacity installed in Belgium.

DOE Invests in Sorghum

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has committed to investing up to $30 million in sorghum research through the Transportation Energy Resources from Renewable Agriculture (TERRA) program. The TERRA program seeks to develop technologies that can increase the precision, accuracy and throughput of energy crops breeding. Doing so, said DOE, will enable more detailed measurements of phenotyping, plant physiology and more sophisticated bioinformatics for gene discovery and trait association.

Photo Credit: Mississippi Crop Situation

Photo Credit: Mississippi Crop Situation

“This investment is critical for the sorghum industry’s future,” said J.B. Stewart, National Sorghum Producers board chairman. “Producer investments alone cannot move the industry forward. We must have government and private industry investment. We applaud DOE for making such a vital commitment to our rapidly growing industry.”

This is one of the largest investments the sorghum industry has seen to date and will have a significant impact on the future of sorghum. A total of six projects were funded through the DOE at universities and research institutions across the nation. The project locations are Clemson University, Purdue University, Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension, University of Illinois, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center.

“This underscore’s something we strongly believe in,” added Clayton Short, renewables committee chair for the United Sorghum Checkoff Program. “Sorghum is a genetically diverse crop ripe for improvement. The DOE realizes this and we are excited to see what additional opportunities this leads too.”

NSP and the Sorghum Checkoff continue to invest in relationships with DOE, private industry and researching universities and will keep members updated as research progresses and results are published.

BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDF1Finavera Wind Energy Inc. has closed the previously announced acquisition of Solar Alliance of America. Under the terms of the Share Purchase Agreement, Finavera has acquired 100% of the equity in Solar Alliance for 11,915,238 shares of the Company and contingent payments of up to $4 million USD in cash comprised of up to four installments of $1 million USD. The cash payments are staged and contingent upon Solar Alliance meeting quarterly EBITDA targets.
  • DTE Energy will install smart, solar-powered trash compactor and recycling units in its downtown Detroit neighborhood to help make the city cleaner and greener. The Bigbelly units, the first solar-generated compactors in the city of Detroit, are expected to arrive this summer. DTE will install seven of the units which collect and compact trash on site and also gather aluminum and plastic containers for recycling. The pilot program supports the company’s Energize Detroit neighborhood revitalization initiative while helping to protect the environment.
  • Sunrun has announced that it has publicly filed a registration statement on Form S-1 with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) relating to a proposed initial public offering of its common stock. The number of shares to be offered and the price range for the offering have not been determined. Sunrun has applied to list its common stock on the NASDAQ Stock Market under the ticker symbol “RUN”.
  • SunPower Corp. has announced a major new philanthropic initiative in partnership with GRID Alternatives. The Solar Futures program will expand on GRID Alternatives’ work in high schools, providing both classroom and hands-on solar training to K-14 students, with a focus on high school juniors and seniors. SunPower is donating 1 megawatt of high efficiency solar panels and inverters.

RFA Chairman to EPA: Tear Down the Blend Wall

rfs-rally-doyleTestifying at a public hearing on the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and rally in Kansas City, Kansas Thursday, Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) board chairman Randy Doyal urged EPA to “tear down the blend wall” and implement the statute as Congress intended.

In his testimony at the hearing, the CEO of Minnesota-based Al-Corn Clean Fuel said that even though gasoline consumption might be slightly lower today than Congress anticipated when it adopted the RFS, it was always the intent of the program to push beyond the blend wall and increase the share of renewable fuels in our nation’s fuel supply.

“…the Clean Air Act statute does not permit EPA to take into account ‘factors that affect consumption,’ such as purported infrastructure constraints or the so-called ‘blend wall,’ in determining whether to grant a general waiver of the RFS,” Doyal noted. “By embracing the ‘blend wall’ concept, the EPA proposal not only violates the law, but also undermines the incentive to expand biofuel production and distribution capacity, and allows oil companies to only blend as much renewable fuel as they are comfortable using.”

Doyal also made remarks at the #RFSWorks rally. RFA chair Randy Doyal at RFS rally

EPA RFS Public Hearing photo album

Coverage of EPA RFS Hearing is sponsored by
Coverage of EPA RFS Hearing sponsored by RFA