DOE Offers Bioenergy Funding Opportunities

The Bioenergy Technologies Office has announced a new Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) entitled, “Project Definition for Pilot and Demonstration Scale Manufacturing of Biofuels, Bioproducts, and Biopower (PD2B3).” The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) says the FOA will be officially issued in May 2016 on the EERE Exchange website. The funding opportunity is for technology DOE logodevelopment for the manufacture of drop-in hydrocarbon biofuels, bioproducts, or intermediates in a pilot- or demonstration-scale integrated biorefinery. EERE says scale-up and validation of these process technologies is essential to enable the industry to build future pioneer- and commercial-scale manufacturing facilities. Plans for facilities that use lignocellulosic biomass, algal biomass, or biosolids feedstocks will be considered under this funding opportunity.

Under this FOA, Applicants must address one comprehensive topic area with three main priority areas. These priority areas are:

  • Pilot scale production of Biofuels from high impact lignocellulosic, algal, or bio-gas feedstocks.
  • Demonstration scale production of Biofuels from high impact lignocellulosic, algal, or bio-gas algal feedstocks.
  • Production of bio-power, bio-products, and Biofuels from biosolids and other waste streams.

If applicants wish to receive official notifications and information from EERE regarding this FOA, they should register in EERE Exchange. When the FOA is released, applications will be accepted only through EERE Exchange.

Indiana’s Family Express Awarded Blender Grant

fe-logoIndiana fuel retailer Family Express has been awarded more than $789,000 through an Indiana blender pump program. The retailer will be using the monies to install 45 dispensers at 37 stations. Of the stations, 34 already sell E85 and E15 will be added to the fuel choice lineup. Family Express is also building three new stations and these will carry both E85 and E15. The grant dollars were awarded by the Indiana Corn Marketing Council through its Hoosier Homegrown Fuels Blender Pump Program.

“We are glad to be able to help Family Express offer more ethanol blender pumps through the Hoosier Homegrown Fuels Blender Pump Program,” said Ken Parrent, ethanol director for the Indiana Corn Marketing Council. “Indiana currently has more than 185 dedicated ethanol refueling stations for blends above 10 percent and thanks to this program, there will soon be more.”

Fiftenn of the stations are in EPA-designated ozone non-attainment areas and will be able to offer E15 year-round. The ethanol industry is working with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to allow E15 to be sold year round in all 50 states.

Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Bob Dinneen said of the news, “We are pleased that Family Express has been able to take advantage of the Hoosier Homegrown Fuels Blender Pump Program and grow its offerings of higher ethanol blends. More blender pumps mean greater consumer access for ethanol blends, bringing about higher octane fuels and lower gasoline prices. We look forward to more stations offering fuels such as E15 in the near future.”

Cellerate + Enogen = More Ethanol Production

According to Syngenta, the combination of Cellerate process technology with Enogen can increase ethanol production by 20 percent. The 18 day trial was conducted at the Quad County Corn Processors (QCCP) plant. Since going online, the ethanol plant has produced more than 3 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol via the Cellerate process. The resulting ethanol is sold as a D3 Rin under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and the pathway will be submitted to the California Air Resources Board for approval.

Enogen logoQCCP CEO Delayne Johnson says this dramatic increase was achieved by realizing an additional 6 percent yield per bushel from converting corn kernel fiber into ethanol, plus a 14 percent throughput increase by combining Cellerate with Enogen. Developed at QCCP in Galva, Iowa, Cellerate is a collaboration between Syngenta and Cellulosic Ethanol Technologies (CET), LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of QCCP.

“Without changes to the conventional starch ethanol process, Cellerate offers advantages to ethanol plants including pre-treatment in the fiber that allows whole stillage processing without the requirement to separate all the fiber and starch,” Johnson said. “Pre-treatment breaks down fiber, allowing mild whole stillage fiber treatment with pH low enough to prevent starch degradation. This reduces the time, chemicals and energy required. It also allows a plant to load significantly more solids and capture residual starch, sugars and cellulosic component in a second fermentation process.”

Johnson continued, “With Cellerate, the biofuels industry now has the technology available to create 2 billion gallons of cellulosic ethanol – all from the same kernel of corn.”

“Cellerate can help ethanol producers improve the protein content of dried distillers grains to as much as 40 percent (DM) and boost total yield of distillers corn oil up to a potential 1.6 pounds per bushel (QCCP is currently achieving 1.1 pounds per bushel),” added Jack Bernens, head of Enogen at Syngenta. “We believe that not only will Cellerate process technology help make advanced and cellulosic ethanol a reality, but the combination of Cellerate and Enogen could represent the next step forward for ethanol production.”

Pacific Biodiesel Receives Sustainable Biodiesel Cert

Pacific Biodiesel has received a sustainable biodiesel production and distribution certification from the Sustainable Biodiesel Alliance (SBA). The Hawaii-based biodiesel producer is the first in the state to receive the designation for its Big Island Biodiesel Plant as well as the first plant in the U.S. to earn the certification.

Sustainable Biodiesel Alliance Certifies Pacific Biodiesel Plant - First Certification of Its Kind in the U_S_ LogoThe certification process evaluates a variety of production and distribution practices including: control of air emissions; reduced water consumption; continuous improvement toward zero-waste production; lower energy consumption; development of sustainable purchasing policies; and creation of diverse community benefits.

The certification is two fold:

  • Big Island Biodiesel earned “Gold Certified” status as a Biodiesel Producer with a score of 78 of 100.
  • Pacific Biodiesel/Big Island Biodiesel earned “Platinum Certified” status as a Biodiesel Distributor with a score of 92 of 100.

“The SBA is very pleased with the results of the certification audit, and applauds Pacific Biodiesel for being a leader in sustainably produced biodiesel,” said Jeff Plowman, Vice-Chair of the SBA.

“We are thrilled to hear today’s announcement from SBA’s Certification Committee,” said Jenna Long, director of operations, Pacific Biodiesel. “This gives our entire team a great sense of pride and reinforces our company’s mission to make clean, renewable fuels in the most sustainable and community-focused manner possible. We also received valuable input during the certification process so that we can continue to improve the sustainability practices of our facility.”

Movie Review – Thirsty Land Debuts at #Water4Food

As a hush came over the theater last night and the lights went down for the opening scene of the documentary Thirsty Land, the sound of rain pounding on the roof served as background noise. A bit ironic. Especially in light of meeting a community in California that has run out of water.

DSC_0077Thirsty Land, directed and produced by Conrad Weaver, focuses on the multi-year drought facing California, Washington and other southwestern states. The documentary debuted as part of the Water for Food Global Conference taking place April 24-26 in Lincoln Nebraska at the Nebraska Innovation Campus.

Maybe the biggest impact the drought has had is not to consumers, but to hundreds of farmers in California who were given no water allocation for the 2015 growing season. This has led to hundreds of thousands of acres of fallow agricultural land, much of which used to produce much of America’s produce, fruits and nuts. Yes, consumers, no water = no food. No water = no life. For anyone.

Why must I make this obvious statement? Because as water shortages become more common, there has been a call for agriculture to reduce its use of water. Approximately 70 percent of all water used globally is for agriculture. Farmers are feeling the pressure of lack of water while trying to grow safe, healthy food and more of it. A resonating message in the film from the farmers is “Stop vilifying us. Stop vilifying agriculture. We need to work together to solve water problems, not play the blame game”.

A truer statement was not uttered. Farmers intrinsically understand the value of water and have been some of the first in the country to begin integrating water sustainability and conservation programs. Thirsty Land follows the journey of growers who share their stories of how water shortages have affected operations from dairy farmers to fruit producers to sheep producers. The film follows the farmers as they try to find solutions to get through the drier years; yet still produce enough food to keep the farm in operation all while putting conversation programs in place for future drier years.

DSC_0085There are some very touching stories in the film – especially around the town in California with no water while the documentary was being filmed. Weaver said they did get access to water again earlier this year but it’s still spoty, at best. The cinematography is stunning in places and there is even a horrific beauty in the shots of deep cracked earth and the dying environment.

While the documentary is about the unbreakable connection of water and food, it is really a film not for the agriculture industry, says Weaver, but for consumers. Weaver stresses there is a need for consumers to better understand the dynamics of water and food and thus, become more supportive of water programs that put agriculture first.

Thirsty Land will be playing in cities across the country and on college campuses this fall. Please go see this film when it comes to your community or campus. If it is not scheduled, then consider hosting a screening. And consider donating funds to get this film in front of as many consumers across the country as possible.

To learn more about the film, the experiences of the filmmaker and why he feels Thirsty Land is so important, listen to my interview with Conrad Weaver here: Conrad Weaver, Thirsty Land Producer & Director

Ethanol Provides Significant GHG Reductions

California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) is reaching its halfway point and a new analysis from the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) find that grain-based ethanol has provided nearly half of the greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions achieved under the first five years of the program. Seven years ago, on April 23rd, California Air Resources Board (CARB) formally adopted the LCFS, and it officially kicked off in 2009. The program requires fuel suppliers to reduce carbon intensity (CI) of gas and diesel fuels by at least 10 percent between 2011 and 2020.

rfalogo1RFA says that when the legislation was adopted there was concern that corn-based ethanol would not succeed under the program. However, RFS says that according to data released by CARB recently, consumption of grain ethanol has increased under the LCFS and the biofuel has been responsible for 46 percent of the total carbon credits and nearly 75 percent of the credits generated by fuels that replace gas. (One credit is equivalent to 1 metric ton of GHG reduction). CARB reports that of the 16.55 million credits generated since enforcement began in 2011, grain ethanol is responsible for 7.58 million metric tons (MMT). To date, grain ethanol has provided substantially more credits than any other fuel used under the LCFS.

However, as shown in new RFA report, fuels that CARB initially expected to generate large amounts of credit — such as imported sugarcane ethanol, electricity, hydrogen — have accounted for only a small share of total credit generation.

RFA says corn-ethanol has provided significantly more carbon reductions that anticipated because, as CARB reports, “the volume of lower-CI corn ethanol will far exceed the 2009 estimates” and ethanol plants “have made efficiency improvements” that CARB had initially overlooked. Meanwhile, as part of CARB’s LCFS “re-adoption” process in 2015, the agency also made revisions to its ILUC penalty for corn ethanol, reducing it by roughly one-third. While CARB’s ILUC penalty remains grossly exaggerated, says RFA, the result of these changes is that most Midwest corn ethanol reduces GHG emissions by 25–35 percent compared to gasoline under the LCFS.

“California regulators are finally recognizing what we in the industry have known for decades — that ethanol is a high octane, low-cost alternative fuel that is readily available and offers meaningful GHG savings compared to gasoline,” said RFA President and CEO Bob Dinneen. Continue reading

NASCAR Green Features Ethanol

Last week was NASCAR Green week in celebration of Earth Day. According to the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA), it was also the perfect time to promote the benefits of American Ethanol. Since 2008, NASCAR drivers have been racing with E15 and to promote the green benefits, NASCAR released a video.

According to NASCAR in an ethanol feature piece, this partnership that includes NCGA and Growth Energy, along with several others are reducing the sport’s environmental impact, validating green technologies and educating fans. NASCAR notes that collaborative efforts between the groups have allowed the partners to expand awareness of E15’s benefits and availability at the pump.

The NASCAR article concludes, “Upwards of 75 million NASCAR fans each weekend in a season that stretches from February to November are exposed to American Ethanol. These fans are the most loyal of any professional sport. They are three times more likely to try or purchase a sponsor’s products and services because they know it keeps their favorite driver on the track. If NASCAR fans who support using ethanol in their vehicles would switch from E10 to E15, they have the potential to eliminate greenhouse gases created from more than 3.5 billon miles of driving.”

Make Biofuels Part of Paris Agreement Implementation

History was made this week with the signing of the Paris Agreement climate accord by 130 countries at the UN Headquarters in New York. The governments now have one year to ratify the accord. The Paris Agreement will enter into force on the 30th day after the Paris-Agreement_Logo_EN_sizedate on which at least 55 Parties to the Convention accounting in total for at least an estimated 55 percent of total global greenhouse gas emissions have finalized their adoption of the accord. In response, the global biofuels community is calling on these countries to include biofuels as part of their greenhouse gas reduction goals.

Nearly a third of global GHGs come from the transportation sector making it a key area of focus in efforts to reduce emissions. Studies have shown that biofuels, like ethanol, are proven to reduce harmful GHGs from 40 percent to 90 percent compared to fossil fuels according to the Global Renewable Fuels Alliance (GRFA).

GRFA logo“It is clear that the biofuels industry generally, and ethanol specifically, will continue to have a significant role to play in international efforts to transition away from carbon-intensive fossil fuels in the transport sector,” said Bliss Baker, GRFA spokesperson. “As countries look to take policy steps to reduce GHG emissions in their transport sectors, the GRFA will continue to provide technical support for the adoption of ethanol-supportive policies that will maximize the advantages of biofuel technologies.”

At the end of March, U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to historic reductions in GHG emissions. President Obama pledged that the U.S. would cut its emissions by 26 percent by 2025 compared with 2005 levels. In turn, President Jinping promised that China’s emissions would peak by 2030 and fall after that, the first time China has agreed to any emission reduction targets.

However, as the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) points out, the U.S. did not include the roll biofuels would play in its Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDCs), a plan submitted by each country outlining how it would meet emission reductions. So far 37 countries have included biofuels in these plans. Continue reading

Iowa Extends State Biodiesel Incentives

BiodieselpumpKumGo1_0EFFDCA366A05Iowa lawmakers have spent some time this week voting on renewable energy programs in the state. Earlier this week a resolution was passed in support of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) staying on track and now the Iowa House passed legislation that extends tax credits to biodiesel producers. One enables biodiesel facilities to remain competitive on a national scale and the other credit assists retailers who choose to offer consumers biodiesel blends at the pump.

The legislation, SF 2309:

  • Extends the Biodiesel Production Credit through 2024, originally set to expire at the end of next year. The credit is 2 cents per gallon on the first 25 million gallons of production per biodiesel plant, and helps keep biodiesel production and economic activity in Iowa.
  • Extends and expands the Biodiesel Promotion Retail Tax Credit. The incentive will continue to provide petroleum retailers 4.5 cents a gallon on blends of at least 5 percent biodiesel (B5) through 2017. From 2018 – 2024, the B5 incentive will drop to 3.5 cents per gallon, but an additional incentive of 5.5 cents per gallon will take effect for gallons of B11 and higher.

“These policies help keep biodiesel production in Iowa, reinforcing our state’s leadership position in the drive for renewable energy,” said Grant Kimberley, Iowa Biodiesel Board executive director. “With the addition of the retail incentive for blends of B11 and higher, we should see biodiesel begin to make up a more substantial portion of our state’s motor fuel supply, too. We can and should use our own fuel product to displace foreign oil.”

Renewable Energy Group (REG) President and CEO Daniel J. Oh responded to the passage by noting, “We at REG are very pleased and even more grateful for the overwhelming support from Iowa lawmakers to extend and improve these worthwhile incentives. The proven benefits of higher biodiesel blends are becoming more well-known and this legislation is further recognition that expanded biodiesel production and consumption works for Iowa’s economy.”

The legislation now goes to Governor Terry Branstad for consideration.

How Many Gen Has Your Family Been Involved in Ag?

New Holland ZimmPollOur latest ZimmPoll asked the question, “ What do you do about statistics?”

Media statistics used to be simple to calculate. Then social media came along and it’s not simple anymore. Companies and agencies still want to know if their advertising and messages are being seen and heard, but with the myriad of different ways that information is shared across the various social media platforms the task is daunting. This impacts us all – media, agri-marketers, companies and agencies. Our poll results tell us the majority of people are using a number of different tools. We are currently using Sprout Social and are excited to expand our stat capabilities. More to come on that in the near future.

Here are the poll results:

  • Nothing – only results matter – 0%
  • Spend big $ for reports – 7%
  • Use Sprout Social – 16%
  • Use combination of tools – 54%
  • Only care about traditional media – 0%
  • Can’t figure it out – 0%
  • Other – please comment – 23%

Our new ZimmPoll is now live and asks the question, How many generations has your family been involved in agriculture?

Agriculture is one of the broadest industries. Just because you don’t live directly on the farm doesn’t mean you are not involved in agriculture. We would love to know how many generations your family has been involved in the all encompassing agricultural community.