Fuels America Launches RFS Climate Ad Campaign

Leading up to COP21 in Paris in a couple of weeks Fuels America has launched a climate campaign targeted at President Obama. The campaign encourages him to tout the success of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) during the climate talks. Fuels America is calling on the administration to get the RFS back on track. During the call biofuel industry representatives discussed how the decision on the RFS will be critical in determining if the U.S. will lead by example on climate action. The campaign includes full page ad in the New York Times and digital ads in the Beltway.

Screen Shot 2015-11-20 at 9.57.22 AM“If the President doesn’t reverse course on the disastrous proposal, he will effectively be letting the oil industry and climate deniers in Congress dictate our climate policy,” said Roger Johnson, president of the National Farmers Union, during the press call. “It will upend America’s most successful policy cutting greenhouse gas emissions and combatting climate change, and stifle investment in advanced biofuels in America.”

Speakers noted the threat to the advanced biofuels industry is significant with $13.7 billion in investment in advanced biofuels currently frozen according to a report from BIO. Chris Standlee, executive vice president of global affairs at Abengoa Bioenergy, noted during the call that Abengoa is looking to deploy its cellulosic ethanol technology overseas due to the uncertainty caused by the current state of the RFS. The company’s first cellulosic ethanol plant went online last October in Hugoton, Kansas.

“This Administration’s proposal inserts a loophole into the RFS—our country’s most aggressive climate policy in force today—and allows oil companies to continue ignoring their obligations under the law,” explained Standlee. “Our industry has fought and won this battle before—this waiver was sought for years by the oil industry and would allow them to control the RFS and restrict the deployment of the lowest carbon fuels in the world.”

Listen to the presser here: Fuels America Launches Biofuel Climate Ad Campaign Presser Continue reading

Pacific Ethanol CEO on Bobby Likis Car Clinic

likis-koehlerPacific Ethanol CEO Neil Koehler will be a guest on “Bobby Likis Car Clinic” tomorrow, November 21, at 11:40 am Eastern time.

Koehler will brief Car Clinic listeners and viewers on the actions required to make strides in energy independence, including the importance of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalizing the rule for the renewable volume obligations of the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS), set for November 30.

“It’s my job as consumers’ go-to source for truth-based automotive information to deliver the facts to you, so you can make best-of-decisions,” said Likis. “Neil Koehler will tell it like it is regarding the RFS.”

Pacific Ethanol is the leading producer and marketer of low-carbon renewable fuels in the Western United States. With the addition of four Midwestern ethanol plants in July 2015, Pacific Ethanol more than doubled the scale of its operations, entered new markets, and expanded its mission to be the industry leader in the production and marketing of low carbon renewable fuels.

To view Koehler’s interview in its entirety, visit WatchBobbyLive.com on Saturday, November 21, at 11:41a ET.

API Push Poll Proved False by Real Poll

A push poll was recently released by the American Petroleum Institute (API) that found a majority of votes are concerned about using ethanol in their engines. The poll also found voters are opposed to the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), contrary to what many other surveys have found. In response, Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), President and CEO Bob Dinneen called the poll “utterly dishonest” and said the questions are so “biased with prejudicial lead in text” that that the results cannot be considered even remotely credible.

Commenting specifically on the wording of the poll questions, Dinneen said that framing their misplaced narrative about food versus fuel, engine damage, and gasoline price impacts as questions, while blatantly ignoring all the facts to the contrary, assures a predetermined result that adds nothing to the public discourse.

API-RFS Poll Question-1Dinneen noted the RFA has been conducting its own monthly surveys throughout the year to ask respondents their opinions about ethanol and the RFS. He said the RFA surveys, which have been conducted by Morning Consult, have consistently shown strong support among the public for the RFS. November’s survey asked 2,001 (twice the number surveyed by API) registered voters for their opinions on biofuels and the RFS. Dinneen pointed out that RFA’s questions were straightforward and balanced, as opposed to those posed by API. When asked in the RFA survey whether they supported the RFS, 62 percent of respondents indicated that they supported the RFS, while 16 percent of respondents indicated they opposed the program. In addition the RFA poll found that a majority of voters (52 percent) think the RFS should be expanded.

API-RFS Poll Question -2“I would like to say that I am shocked API has stooped to such measures as trying to promote an obvious push poll, containing extremely biased questions, as a credible indication of public sentiment about the RFS and ethanol, but I am not,” said Dinneen. “API will do anything and everything in its power to ensure that its monopoly on the marketplace continues. Our data shows when you ask the public fair and balanced questions about the RFS, you see that it clearly supports the ethanol industry. The public wants safe, affordable fuel, and that’s what the RFS allows them to have each and every time they head to a fueling station to fill up their engines.”

Here are examples of questions asked by the API poll and the RFA survey. Dinneen is calling on readers to judge for themselves:

API poll question: “Over 40% of U.S. corn production is currently used to produce ethanol for gasoline. This significantly diverts corn away from the global food supply. Given that, how concerned are you that using even more corn for ethanol production could increase food prices here in the U.S. and increase hunger among the world’s poor?”

RFA survey question: “As you may know there is currently a renewable fuel standard that requires a certain amount of fuel produced each year to come from ethanol, bio-diesel and other renewable resources that aren’t fossil fuels. Do you support or oppose this requirement?”

Other credible polls conducted by third party polling organizations have also found broad support for the RFS including polls from National Farmers Union and America’s Renewable Future.

BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDF1University of California (UC), Davis Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi and SunPower representatives have dedicated the university’s newly constructed 16.3-megawatt (AC) solar power plant. The new plant, which is estimated by UC Davis to generate 14 percent of the campus’ total electricity needs, is the largest solar installation in the UC system and the largest “behind the meter” solar plant on a U.S. college campus off-setting electricity demand.
  • Tri Global Energy LLC, has announced the close of a transaction with TERNA ENERGY, S.A., a member of GEK TERNA Group of Companies, for the acquisition, construction and operation of the Fluvanna Wind Energy Project, a 380 MW wind project located in Fluvanna, Texas.
  • Côte-de-Beaupré Regional County Municipality and Boralex Inc. have announced the commercial commissioning of the Côte-de-Beaupré community wind farm project. This 23.5 MW capacity project is located on the private lands of the Seigneurie de Beaupré, in the Côte-de-Beaupré region, Québec.
  • SemaConnect electric vehicle (EV) stations have been installed in the City of Keene, New Hampshire at the Commercial Street Parking Lot in Keene’s downtown location. The EV charging stations will highlight the city’s focus on sustainability through their “Green Up Keene” program. Green Up Keene is a city-wide program developed to raise awareness for the city’s efforts to become more sustainable.

Camelina Serves Biodiesel and Bees

Camelina is pulling double duty as a biodiesel source and a cover crop. And this article from the U.S. Department of Agriculture says it is also keeping bees well fed.

usda-ars-camelina[S]cientists with USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) have found that its flowering period can provide honey bees and other insects with a critical, early-spring source of nectar and pollen that’s usually unavailable then. This is especially true in Minnesota, South Dakota and North Dakota, where about one-third of the nation’s managed bee colonies are kept from May through October.

The researchers observed that fields of winter camelina and winter canola (another alternate oilseed crop) produced about 100 pounds per acre of nectar sugar over the course of a two- to three-week flowering season. That quantity, produced in such a short time, is enough to support the annual energy requirements of a typical bee hive, which is 100-200 pounds of sugar per year, according to Frank Forcella, an agronomist with ARS’ Soil Management Research Unit in Morris, Minnesota. He participated on a team of ARS and university scientists which evaluated the attractiveness of camelina, canola and a third oilseed crop—pennycress—during two years of outdoor field trials.

Highlights of the team’s findings—reported in the June 2015 issue of Industrial Crops and Products—are: Continue reading

Propane Expands Production, Use Options

nafb-15-percPropane is expanding in production and the options for its use. During the recent National Association of Farm Broadcasting (NAFB) convention in Kansas City, Missouri, Cindy caught up with Cinch Morgan from the Propane Education and Research Council (PERC) who said that there are 102.4 million barrels of propane in storage right now – a nearly 30 percent increase from a year ago. He credited strong production and a mild grain-drying season for the big inventories right now.

“We’re most of the way through harvest, and most of the grain that has come in is pretty dry,” he said, adding a possibly warm winter ahead could make the situation even better for consumers. “Propane prices right now are very good. So it’s a really good time for rural homeowners and ag operation owners to consider what they should do about this.”

Morgan said new propane engines offer lots of advantages, especially in the ag markets. He added the positive supply outlook for propane and its domestic, environmentally friendly profile, as well as more machinery running on the fuel, make propane a great choice. Morgan said consumers should talk to their local dealers or go to PERC’s website for more information.

“You really owe it to yourself to look at what’s out there.”

Cinch Morgan, Propane Education and Research Council

#Ethanol Leaders Discuss RFS with OMB

rfalogo1Ethanol organization representatives met Wednesday with with the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to discuss the forthcoming rule from the Environmental Protection Agency regarding volume obligations under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) president Bob Dinneen and Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis delivered the message that the RFS is working and that there is no reason for EPA to set the Renewable Volume Obligations (RVOs) for undifferentiated renewable fuel (primarily corn ethanol) below the levels specified in the statute.

growth-energy-logo1Dinneen said data show the U.S. ethanol industry would have no problem meeting the 15 billion gallon blending level specified by the statute. “The latest data from the Energy Information Administration show that gasoline consumption projections for 2016 have increased. In fact, EIA expects 2016 gasoline demand to achieve a nine-year high,” said Dinneen. “Our calculations show that because of the uptick in gasoline demand alone, EPA must increase the 2016 RVO by 270 million gallons.”

Dinneen added that the EPA significantly understated the use of E85 and non-ethanol conventional renewable fuels, including non-advanced renewable diesel and biodiesel, in its proposal. “We provided OMB with data showing that EPA has understated the likely market for E85 and non-ethanol conventional biofuels in 2016 by at least 440 million gallons,” said Dinneen. “All of this suggests there will be at least 14.7 billion gallons of undifferentiated renewable fuel blended next year.”

“This meeting was really our closing argument before the administration makes its final decision. We impressed upon OMB that the oil industry’s ‘blend wall’ narrative is simply not true,” Buis added. “The data is there to prove the value of the program and it shows the RFS is doing exactly what it was intended to do. The president needs to uphold the statute.”

EPA is expected to issue the final RFS rule for 2014-2016 on or before November 30.

TASC Poll: Public Unhappy with Hawaii Solar Direction

According to a new poll from the The Alliance for Solar Choice (TASC), in Hawaii, a majority of respondents support political candidates that support solar development as well as rooftop solar. In addition, a majority said they oppose the Public Utilities Commission’s (PUC) recent decision to eliminate solar net metering, the fundamental policy for rooftop solar growth according to TASC.

Solar supporters rally in front of the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission (PRNewsFoto/The Alliance for Solar Choice)

Solar supporters rally in front of the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission (PRNewsFoto/The Alliance for Solar Choice)

Three out of four respondents oppose the Commission’s October decision, which was made without holding a hearing or conducting an analysis of the costs and benefits of solar net metering, and without providing notice to customers. In response, dozens of people gathered at a “Rally To Be Heard” in front of the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission.

Solar supporters erected a large megaphone to demonstrate the desire for public participation. “I support greater solar growth,” said Charlie Jeffries who attended the rally. “I’m disturbed that the PUC made a rash decision without giving the public an opportunity to make our voices heard.”

“The Hawaii Public Utility Commission failed to do a study of the costs and benefits of solar,” said Roy Skaggs, also a rally attendee. “How do you make sweeping decisions that impacts thousands of families and jobs without at least knowing the data?”

Those speaking at the rally share the public’s sentiment. A nearly-universal 97% of poll respondents support more rooftop solar in Hawaii.

“The public overwhelmingly supports rooftop solar and believes that Hawaii is moving in the wrong direction on energy policy, but policy makers are not listening,” said Bryan Miller, President of TASC. “This poll shows that Governor Ige and the Commission are ignoring the voices of their constituents.” Continue reading

PHG Energy Kicks of Waste-to-Energy Project

Construction of a new gasification plant at Lebanon, Tennessee’s waste water treatment facility is underway following a groundbreaking ceremony held last week. Tens of thousands of tons of sewer sludge, used tires and industrial wood waste will be processed to produce electricity to help power the plant.  PHG Energy of Nashville is designing and building the new facility, which will include utilization of the world’s largest downdraft gasification unit with a full capacity of 64 tons per day through the system.

Lebanon Groundbreaking 11-12-15 smaller size

From left to Right: Chris Koczaja (vice president of implementation and engineering at PHG Energy); Tom Doherty (environmental specialist with Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation); Lebanon Mayor Philip Craighead; Lebanon Councilman Fred Burton, Ward 2; Lebanon Councilman Rob Cesternino, Ward 3, and Jeff Baines (public works commissioner for the city of Lebanon)

“This facility is going to be a model for waste-to-energy partnerships,” Lebanon Mayor Philip Craighead said of the project, “as well as the first stage in moving our city completely away from dumping waste into landfills.”

Gasification is a clean thermo-chemical process that breaks down biomass-based material in a high-heat and low-oxygen environment. According to a PHG Energy press release, there is no incineration or burning involved in the process. The only residue after production of synthetic fuel gas is a carbon biochar that has multiple agricultural, industrial and direct fuel uses.

Tom Doherty, Environmental Specialist with the Tennessee, Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC), said the new facility is an important step forward in efforts Tennessee and his department are fostering across the state. “When we look at the thousands of tons of wood waste and sludge this plant will cleanly process, that is a tremendous step forward. One of the most exciting parts of deploying this technology in Lebanon is that hundreds or tons of scrap tires will be put to beneficial use while saving Wilson County a considerable portion of their previous disposal expense.”

TDEC has awarded the project funding of $250,000 through the Clean Tennessee Energy Grant program, and facilitated a subsidy of 70% of the $3.5 million financing’s interest cost through the Federal Qualified Energy Conservation Bonds program.

BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDF1The Advanced Biofuels Association (ABFA) has sent a letter to Senate Finance Committee leadership that expressed concern about changes to the biodiesel and renewable diesel blenders tax credit. ABFA President Michael McAdams noted, “At this time common sense dictates that Congress should not be looking to revise an effective, long-term policy with changes to the biodiesel and renewable diesel blenders tax credit as part of legislation to extend various expired tax benefits.”
  • Brazil’s non-hydro renewable power sector is expected to account for more than 25% of Brazil’s total capacity by 2025, with non-hydro renewables’ cumulative installed capacity more than tripling from 17.1 Gigawatts (GW) in 2014 to an estimated 57.8 GW by 2025, according to a new report from GlobalData.
  • The Renault-Nissan Alliance is installing 90 new charge spots for electric vehicles in and around Paris for the COP21 global summit on climate change. The installation is being done in partnership with French energy provider EDF, Schneider Electric, Aéroports de Paris, Paris City Council and SNCF, France’s national railway company. The charging stations, several of which will be donated by Schneider Electric, will refuel 200 EVs serving as VIP shuttles for negotiators, delegates and media attending the conference.
  • Transparency Market Research has released of a new research report titled “Geothermal Power Generation Market – Global Industry Analysis, Size, Share, Growth, Trends and Forecast 2013 – 2019“. According to the report, the global geothermal power generation market is forecast to register a remarkable CAGR of 23.58% from 2013 to 2019, expanding from a value of US$2.5 bn in 2013 to US$8.9 bn by 2019.