NCGA’s Role in Increasing #Ethanol Market Access

Joanna Schroeder Leave a Comment

Wesley Spurlock, National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) incoming president, farms on the Texas panhandle – in a state better known for oil than ethanol. While ethanol has gained considerable market share the last decade and the majority of gas sold in the U.S. has a 10 percent blend of ethanol (E10) Spurlock says that ethanol can, and should, continue to play a growing role in America’s fuel supply. And this is where market access becomes so important.

fps-ncga-spurlockDuring an interview at the recent Farm Progress Show, Spurlock noted that one key to increasing market access is through infrastructure that can pump higher blends of ethanol such as E15, E30 and E85. Prime the Pump is one dedicated program that NCGA supports to assist retailers with installing this infrastructure. But the real focus, says Spurlock, is ensuring customers have the ability to purchase these higher blends and getting these higher blends in the market and available for purchase. He says that Prime the Pump helps retailers get blender pumps installed and the program has done a tremendous job of getting infrastructure built.

Spurlock noted that last year the USDA announced funds for ethanol infrastructure and when combined with Prime the Pump, in the last year or so there has been $210 million or so available specifically for ethanol infrastructure.

Another big boost for ethanol according to Spurlock? Wayne Fueling Systems has released fueling technology that is approved to blend up to E25. Spurlock said in the past, their pumps, like many other companies, were only approved to blend E10 – a barrier to E15.

“So if everything has the ability to pump at higher levels means that the auto industry and the fueling industry can use the E15, which is legal now, you’ll be able to find it rather than wondering why it’s legal and no one can buy it,” Spurlock explains. He adds that having infrastructure in place now for the future will give the auto industry, which is looking at higher ethanol blends to meet increasing octane and fuel economy standards, the confidence they need to move forward. “Ethanol is a great octane booster. So if we can have E25, we can push octanes higher.”

Learn more about market access the future of ethanol fuels in my interview with Wesley Spurlock: Interview with Wesley Spurlock, NCGA

2016 Farm Progress Show Photos

E15, Ethanol, Farm Progress Show, NCGA

USDA Grant to Explore Waste-to-Energy

Joanna Schroeder Leave a Comment

wenck-associates-squarelogo-1461066493949The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has awarded a Rural Business Development Grant to fund a feasibility study to evaluate converting a coal-fired power plant into a waste-to-energy transportation fuel production facility. Partners in the project include the City of Becker, Minnesota, where the power plant resides, Wenck and VONCO. The idea was created after Xcel Energy announced plans to phase out two of its three coal-fired power generating units at the Sherburne County Generating Station (SHERCO) sometime after 2023.

Rural small businesses have a significant influence on the economic success of rural America,” said Minnesota State Director for USDA Rural Development Colleen Landkamer. “This funding is just one of the many steps USDA has taken to promote economic development, encourage job creation, and support infrastructure in rural communities.”

SHERCO currently employees 350 people and provides 70 percent of the city’s tax levy. As part of future of the power plant, Xcel has announced plans to replace existing generating capacity with a new natural-gas combined cycle unit and solar installation. Once completed the facility will only require only a fraction of the labor to operate. It is anticipated approximately 150 full-time jobs at the plant may be lost as a result of the unit shut-down. Therefore, one of the areas the feasibility study will evaluate is new employment opportunities along with financial augmentation for existing community businesses and industry diversification.

Becker City Administrator Greg Pruszinske said the city is committed to creating a prosperous local and regional economy by encouraging sustainable ventures that would result in job growth.

Erin L Heitkamp, Global Sustainability Practice Leader for Wenck, underscored the economic opportunity that the biofuels project represents. “There is a community and regional need for economic growth and diversity, and this project represents a perfect opportunity to capture the full value inherent in waste organic materials through the creation of jobs, economic growth, and environmental benefits.

advance biofuels, Waste-to-Energy

Borregaard Invests in Bioethanol Upgrade, Biogas

Joanna Schroeder Leave a Comment

borregaard-logoNorway company Borregaard has announced a bioethanol upgrade project. The company is committing NOK 63 million to the project that includes a new facility to capture and store biogas. Norwegian government agency Enova has awarded Borregaard a NOK 18.9 million grant. The funds are given to projects that promote environmentally friendly restructuring of energy end-use renewable energy production and new energy and climate technology.

As part of the plant improvements, the company will be installing more advanced production technology that will significantly reduce energy requirements during the bioethanol production process. In addition, Borregaard is adding technology that will enable the biofuel to be produced without the use of water.

The ethanol biorefinery upgrade will also include a biogas plant to capture process residues. The resulting energy will then be used to power the plant.

The project work is expected to begin during the second half of 2016. The bioethanol rebuild will be completed in 2017, and the biogas installation will be finished in 2018.

advance biofuels, biogas, Ethanol

Rep Black Intros Biodiesel Tax Credit Extension Bill

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Another federal bill has been introduced to extend the biodiesel tax credit. Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.) has introduced the “Biodiesel and Renewable Diesel Incentive Extension Act of 2016” (H.R. 5994). The bill extends the tax credit through 2018 and according to Black, would help fuel retailers continue to sell biodiesel blends at a cost competitive price as compared to traditional diesel. Unless the biodiesel tax credit is extended, it is set to expire at the end of this year.

repblack_officialphoto_condensed2The National Association of Truck Stop Owners (NATSO) applauded the introduction of the bill, VP of Government Affairs David Fialkov said of Black’s support of biodiesel, “Renewing the biodiesel blenders’ tax credit is the right decision for both fuel retailers and the American people. Without a blenders’ credit, fuel prices across the country will inevitably increase, which in turn would increase the costs of shipping while driving customers away from cleaner burning fuels. By extending the biodiesel tax credit, fuel marketers will be able to increase the volume of cleaner-burning fuels in the United States while simultaneously offering customers a lower price. It’s a win-win for everybody.

The Advanced Biofuels Association (ABFA) joined NATSO in commending Rep. Black, stressing this legislation would continue to protect those who are investing in the blending equipment and are selling all the fuel in the U.S., specifically the small producers, users of biodiesel and renewable diesel and the distributors. Both organizations say the bill also advances consumer consumption. The $1.00 per gallon biodiesel blenders’ tax credit enables fuel retailers to price the biofuel competitively at the pump.

NATSO also says that Congressional failure to renew the tax credit, or convert the tax credit from a blenders’ credit to a producers’ credit, would drive up biodiesel prices to a degree that would diminish consumer interest in the product, ultimately hindering U.S. efforts to advance the utilization of cleaner burning fuels.

advance biofuels, Biodiesel, Legislation

New Study Provides Insight on Fuel Water-Uptake

Cindy Zimmerman 1 Comment

NRELA new study by the Department of Energy (DOE) is providing fresh insight into a decades-old debate about the impacts of ethanol-blended gasoline on water uptake and “phase separation” in small and off-road engines.

The study, conducted by DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), found that the petroleum components of ethanol-blended gasoline become degraded and unfit for use in an engine long before the ethanol portion takes up enough water to cause phase separation in the fuel tank. “Phase separation” occurs when an excessive amount of water is introduced into the fuel tank leading the ethanol and water to mix and sink to the bottom of the tank. In other words, gasoline becomes “stale” and unusable before water uptake by the ethanol component becomes a concern.

“Significant gasoline weathering (evaporation of the most volatile components) can occur over one month of storage in a high-temperature, high-humidity environment, with total mass losses as high as 30-70% for certain tanks,” according to the study, which was commissioned by the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA). “This means gasoline weathering, which can have a negative effect on fuel quality, generally occurs well in advance of any issues related to phase separation. The fuel vapor pressure may drop to levels where the fuel is not fit for purpose (engine will be difficult or impossible to start) and there may also be gum formation.”

As part of the study, NREL scientists stored gasoline-ethanol blends ranging from E0 (0% ethanol) to E85 (83% ethanol) in actual lawn mower fuel tanks over several months in a climate-controlled chamber meant to replicate hot, humid environments like Houston and Orlando. The samples were tested at regular intervals for evidence of gasoline weathering and water uptake.

Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) President and CEO Bob Dinneen says the study shows critics who continue to suggest E10 is a problem for small engines and boat motors are “all wet.”

“This research from NREL clearly demonstrates once and for all that ethanol actually helps these engines run more efficiently,” said Dinneen. “It also shows that gasoline goes bad long before the ethanol in the tank could cause any problems due to moisture uptake. This research effectively disproves the half-baked anecdotes and horror stories about E10 and small engines that have been pushed for decades by ill-informed biofuel opponents and snake-oil additive salesmen.”

Read the summary of the NREL study.

Ethanol, Ethanol News, RFA

RFA Ad Says “Don’t Fall for Blend Wall”

Cindy Zimmerman Leave a Comment

rfalogo1The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) ran an ad this week in political publications hitting back at House-sponsored legislation that would keep renewable fuels at less than 10 percent of the market.

The ad in The Hill, Politico and Morning Consult said the 10 percent so-called “blend wall” is a myth and a bill sponsored by Reps. Bill Flores (R-TX) and Peter Welch (D-VT) would place a very specific 9.7 percent cap on biofuels in the nation’s fuel supply under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), which is what RFA president and CEO Bob Dinneen says is exactly what the oil companies want. “We’ll continue to fight the oil companies’ misleading narrative regarding the blend wall,” said Dinneen. “We’ll be looking for other opportunities to run this ad, but will also be working with our allies on Capitol Hill to make sure that Congress understands the facts on this issue and the importance of maintaining the RFS.”

The bill is called the “Food and Fuel Consumer Protection Act” (H.R. 5180), and was introduced earlier this year with the additional support of Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and Jim Costa (D-CA).

Ethanol, Ethanol News, RFA, RFS

BioEnergy Bytes

Joanna Schroeder Leave a Comment

  • BioEnergyBytesDF1Enerkem Inc. has announced that Vincent Chornet has been named in the prestigious 2017 Clean16 awards. Delta Management Group and the Clean50 organization announced Canada’s Clean50 Awards, which recognize 50 individuals, from 16 different categories (including Clean Tech), who have done the most to advance the cause of sustainability and clean capitalism in Canada over the past two years.
  • On September 15, 2016, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana issued an Order finding problems with certain of GS CleanTech patents subject to multiple lawsuits filed by GS CleanTech against many ethanol plants and technology providers, specifically, GS CleanTech’s corn oil separation patents. In a separate Order also issued on September 15, 2016, Judge Larry J. McKinney also dismissed with prejudice all cases against all ethanol plants and other defendants filed by GS CleanTech, including ICM.
  • The Missouri Times has reported that Governor Nixon has vetoed the state legislature’s approval to pay, in full, the $9.6 million debt of the state’s Qualified Biodiesel Producer Incentive Fund. Administered by the Missouri Department of Agriculture, the Missouri Qualified Biodiesel Producer Incentive Fund was established in 2002 to provide limited funding to Missouri-owned plants using soybeans and other products grown in Missouri to produce the fuel. Funds were available for a maximum of 60 months.
  • Two Finnish energy solution suppliers are joining forces through a merger in which KPA Unicon Group Oy is purchasing the entire share capital of Renewa Oy. The transaction will give the Finnish and European Cleantech sector a stronger, renewed player whose solutions will enable increasingly more responsible, more sustainable and more profitable energy production in the energy, forest and raw material industries.
Bioenergy Bytes

Virent Spearheads Strategic Biobased Group

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In an effort to complete the development and ultimately bring to commercial production its BioForming technology, Virent has spearheaded a strategic consortium. Members include: Tesoro, Toray, Johnson Matthey and The Coca-Cola Company- companies who would all benefit from biobased products. The group will work together to finalize technical developments and commercial arrangements, with the goal of getting a commercial scale biorefinery online to produce cost competitive biofuels and bio-paraxylene, a key raw material for the production of 100 percent bio-polyester.

virent-logoEach member will provide to the project technical and engineering assistance, infrastructure, supply chain support and/or product off-take commitments. The Consortium will work jointly to develop the scale up strategy, including the size and location of the first plant, which will be strengthened by fuel and chemical offtake commitments. In addition, Johnson Matthey (JM) and Virent will create a technical team to conclude catalyst and process development, as well as the subsequent marketing and licensing of the resulting low carbon fuels and chemicals technology platform.

“This is a critical and innovative approach to address scale-up challenges inherent in the deployment of renewable technologies,” said Lee Edwards, Virent CEO. “We are delighted to share a common vision with a global group of respected industry leaders, recognized for their innovation and commitment to meet the changing needs of their customers who seek more sustainable products and services.”

Earlier this month, Tesoro announced plans to acquire Virent. Tesoro Executive Vice President of Operations CJ Warner says the Consortium will be a key to developing a commercial scale deployment plan for Virent’s technology. Warner added, “We are focused on fostering the development of high-quality, lower-carbon, renewable feedstocks and blendstocks that can either be co-processed in existing refineries or blended seamlessly with traditional fuels.

The combined capabilities and resources of the consortium members will provide significant advantages as the Consortium progresses the technology and commercial deployment. Other parties may join the Consortium over time to complement the current members and provide further support to the effort.

advance biofuels, biomaterials, bioproducts

JetBlue Embraces Biojet Fuel

Joanna Schroeder Leave a Comment

JB_Sustainability_Chart_5.5x8.5_V3JetBlue has contracted with SG Preston to purchase renewable jet fuel for the next 10 years. According to JetBlue, this is one of the largest renewable biojet fuel purchase agreements to date and the largest, long-term, binding commitment by any global airline for HEFA (hydro-processed esters and fatty acids) based renewable jet fuel.

The future of aviation relies in part on renewable energy sources. We’re taking a leadership role in technology and other advancements including renewable jet fuels,” said Robin Hayes, president and chief executive officer, JetBlue. “JetBlue is preparing for a world where we must reduce our production of greenhouse gases. With this in mind, we have executed one of the largest renewable jet fuel purchase agreements. This is just one step of many in our work towards a lower carbon future.

As part of the partnership, SG Preston will produce the aviation biofuel from various plant oils with the goal of the final product achieving a 50 percent or higher reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. JetBlue will purchase more than 33 million gallons of this biojet fuel each year consisting of a blend of 30 percent renewable jet fuel and 70 percent traditional jet fuel. This will equate to approximately 20 percent of its annual fuel consumption at New York John F. Kennedy International Airport.

This strategic relationship with JetBlue is a continuation of SG Preston’s commitment to develop reliable products from renewable resources at commercial scale and volume for stakeholders who recognize renewable has transcended buzzword status and is a critical component of responsible growth,” said Randy Delbert LeTang, SG Preston founder, chief executive officer and president. “Our strategy is to address the demand versus supply gaps in the industry and align development and delivery mechanisms to meet our customers’ demand in the least disruptive way.

The biojet fuel is expected to meet the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) qualification for renewable fuel standards, as well as the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials certification standard for sustainable production of biofuels.

advance biofuels, aviation biofuels, biojet fuel

Growth Energy Honors Tom Buis

Cindy Zimmerman Leave a Comment

growth-buis-awardDuring the Growth Energy Advocacy Conference this week in Washington DC, former Growth Energy CEO and current co-chairman of the board, Tom Buis, was presented with the America’s Fuel award. The award is the highest honor given by Growth Energy, and is presented to an individual who has made significant contributions to the growth and well-being of the ethanol industry.

Buis served as Growth Energy’s CEO for seven years, and was an instrumental figure in advancing the ethanol industry to where it is today. His many achievements include: advocating for the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS); submitting and receiving approval on the Green Jobs Waiver to allow E15 into 21st century engines; the launch of Prime the Pump and Growth Energy’s work with the USDA Biofuels Infrastructure Program to bring blender pumps into the marketplace; foreign market development initiatives and trade missions to expand ethanol globally; organizing the collection of tens of thousands of comments to the U.S. EPA for the 2014-16 proposed Renewable Volume Obligation rule that eventually led to the breaking of the so-called “blend wall” and many more.

Growth Energy CEO, Emily Skor, said of Buis, “It is because of Tom’s hard work and dedication that Growth Energy is the leading voice of the ethanol industry. He laid the foundation for a dynamic organization that began as a startup and is now the largest association of ethanol producers and supporters. His passion and dedication are an asset to this industry, and we are thankful that he will serve as co-chairman of the board of directors.”

The organization also honored several lawmakers for their support of renewable fuels during the event this week.

Ethanol, Growth Energy