Energy Policy Modernization Act Intro’d

U.S. Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-Alas) and Maria Cantwell (D-Wash) have introduced legislation entitled “The Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2015,” a bipartisan bill designed to increase the use of renewable energy in the U.S. Karl Gladwell, executive director of the Geothermal Energy Association (GEA) noted that the legislation would help America achieve its geothermal potential, “by addressing some of the most important barriers to geothermal development in the U.S.”

Photo Credit: Geothermal Technologies Office

Photo Credit: Geothermal Technologies Office

The legislation features five titles reflecting common ground on energy efficiency, infrastructure, supply, accountability, and land conservation. In the supply title, it includes several provisions supporting geothermal energy. It would:

  • set a 50,000-MW National Geothermal Goal;
  • direct federal agencies to identify priority areas for development;
    •allow federal oil and gas lease holders to obtain a non-competitive geothermal lease to facilitate coproduction of geothermal power — today 25 billion barrels of hot water are produced annually from oil and gas wells within the United States;
  • facilitate new discoveries by allowing the limited non-competitive leasing of adjacent lands where a new discovery has been made; and
  • provide geothermal exploration test projects a limited categorical exclusion provided the lands involved present no extraordinary circumstances.

“Our energy renaissance has taken us from a position of energy scarcity to one of energy abundance, but current law rarely reflects that fact. After months of working together, the bipartisan legislation we introduced today marks a critical step toward the modernization of our federal energy policies. By focusing on areas where agreement was possible, we have assembled a robust bill with priorities from many senators that will promote our economic growth, national security, and global competitiveness,” Chairman Murkowski said in a press statement.

The Senators cite that the end result will be more affordable energy, more abundant energy, and more functional energy systems that will strengthen and sustain our energy nation’s renaissance. The bipartisan Energy Policy Modernization Act will also achieve these goals in a fiscally-responsible manner.

Earlier this week the Senate Finance Committee voted 23-3 in support of legislation sponsored by Sens. Hatch, R-Utah, and Wyden, D-Ore., to extend the expired Production Tax Credit for geothermal power plants that start construction by December 31, 2016.  The Murkowski-Cantwell legislation builds upon legislative proposals introduced previously by Sens. Heller, R-Nev., Wyden, D-Ore., and Tester, D-Mont., along with several co-sponsors. The bill now awaits the Committee’s markup, expected next Tuesday.

BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDF1Solar3D, Inc. has announced that its MD Energy subsidiary has been awarded a $10 million, 2- megawatt solar project with the Fresno/Clovis Wastewater Reclamation Facility, subject to approval by the city council. A city council meeting to approve the award is set for next Thursday, July 30, 2015.
  • Suntech has recently supplied 9.3 MW to a solar power plant in India that is expected to generate 13,000 MWh of electricity per year and power approximately 32,000 households in Mundra, Gujarat, India. Suntech supplied a total of 36,470 modules to the power plant that has been developed by Adani Power Ltd., one of the largest private power producers in India. The project is completed and fully connected to the grid.
  • Solar Power, Inc. has announced that its wholly-owned subsidiary, SPI China (HK) Limited, has closed a transaction to sell the entire issued share capital of Solar Park Developments 4 Ltd (“Gelliwern Farm”), which holds a solar project in the United Kingdom with a rated capacity of approximately MW to a fund managed by BlackRock, Inc.
  • If Alabama Power’s recent proposal to install up to 500 MW of renewable generation, including solar, is approved by the Alabama Public Service Commission (PSC) the state would finally get to enjoy the economic and environmental benefits so much of the country is already reaping. “Approving this proposal is a no-brainer,” said Rhone Resch, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) in support of passage of the proposal.

Comment Deadline for RFS Proposal is Monday

The deadline for submitting comments to the Environmental Protection Agency on the proposed Renewable Fuel Standards for 2014, 2015, and 2016 is Monday, July 27.

EPA administrator Gina McCarthy encouraged members of the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) meeting in Washington DC last week to make their voices heard during the comment period. “Keep talking, keep communicating, take advantage of the public comment process,” she said. “This was a proposal, this was not a final rule, so tell us what you think. That way we’ll be able to produce a final standard that is based on all of the best information and data available.” EPA administrator encourages comments

rfs-mess-2NCGA has made it a priority to get growers involved in commenting on the EPA proposal, sponsoring rallies at the EPA’s public hearing last month in Kansas City, Kansas and on Capitol Hill last week. NCGA president Chip Bowling says they are doing everything possible to help their farmers make their voices heard. “Anyone out there in the countryside can send their comments to EPA,” said Bowling, who notes that they can also send your comments to the EPA through the corn growers website ncga.com/rfs. “We don’t have a whole lot of time to get your comments in but we could really use them.” NCGA president urges farmers to comment

Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) president and CEO Bob Dinneen says everyone who has a stake in the ethanol industry should send in comments on the proposal. “EPA needs to be hearing from farmers, from consumers, from renewable energy advocates across the country,” said Dinneen. “We made a difference before when we got EPA to not finalize a flawed program. We need to make a difference again.” RFA CEO on EPA comment deadline

Comments can be submitted directly to the EPA by going to the Federal eRulemaking Portal.

Biodiesel Helps Dutch Terminal Hit 1/2 Million Tons

btt_logoA Dutch tank terminal has handled half a million tons of oil by rail, thanks in part to biodiesel. This TankTerminal.com story say the Botlek Tank Terminal (BTT) in the Netherlands is part of the company’s vision to provide all modes of transport and is a response to growing customer demand for rail transport.

The rack will initially be used to handle block trains with biodiesel but also palm and soybean oil have already been loaded from BTT’s tanks. The facility can also be used for other vegetable oils like sunflower and rapeseed oil. In future the facility can also be expanded to handle other oil products such as aviation fuels, gasoline and diesel.

The train loading/unloading station has two rail tracks with a length of 340 metres. A block train of 24 wagons can be handled with expansion possibilities up to 30 wagons. With a capacity of 400 tonnes per hour, six wagons can simultaneously be loaded or discharged. BTT offers a 24 hours a day, seven days a week service to their customers and accordingly two block trains per day can be handled.

BTT has 34 storage tanks, with a total storage capacity of 200.000 cubic metre (cbm). Of this capacity 130.000 cbm is suitable for the storage of clean fuels and 70.000 for biodiesel and vegetable oils. The current occupancy of the storage capacity is high. BTT can expand the storage capacity to 750.000 cbm on the new reclaimed land that has been completed last year.

Utah Company Offers New Biodiesel Processor

argofuelslogoA Utah-based company is offering a better biodiesel processor. Argo Fuels has developed the NanoCatalyst fuel processor, which that improves air quality while reducing the economic and environmental costs of petroleum.

Unlike traditional refineries, this process is scalable and portable with an ultra-low carbon footprint. An entire processor with an eight million gallon-per-year output capacity can be packed into a single forty-foot shipping container.

Cutting energy costs in half, this processor can reach full reaction in four minutes, a significant reduction compared to existing processes (which take up to two hours). As one of only a few companies able to rely wholly upon second generation feedstocks, Argo Fuels can efficiently create fuel from otherwise unusable wastes. Synthetic diesel produced in this way burns ninety percent cleaner than petroleum diesel; even a twenty percent blend with petroleum diesel reduces C02 emissions alone by fifteen percent.

Ray Dellinger, inventor of the NanoCatalyst™ Processor, is the founder and CEO of Argo Fuels. He is confident that these innovations can improve air quality along the Wasatch Front.

“The potential benefits from the NanoCatalyst™ are incredible,” Dellinger explains. “If consumers want a safe, high-quality alternative to petroleum-based diesel, this project paves the way for clean fuel, cleaner air, and sustainable energy that doesn’t break the bank.”

Green Charge Networks & ChargePoint Partner

Green Charge Networks and ChargePoint have forged a partnership in the electric vehicle (EV) space. The two companies will combine EV charging with EV charging stations. The companies cite combining energy storage with EV charging will eliminate the high cost of demand charges caused by spikes in power usage. This challenge is oftentimes a barrier for EV charging installation.

Photo Credit: CarStations.com

Photo Credit: CarStations.com

“We are proud to partner with ChargePoint, whose mission is to bring convenient charging to every EV driver,” said Vic Shao, CEO at Green Charge Networks. “Having EV charging readily available at public locations, especially along highly traveled corridors, will enable further electrification and accelerate adoption of electric vehicles. The combination of energy storage with EV charging is important and necessary, especially in California where demand charges are some of the highest in the nation.”

The first customer of the combined technology is Redwood City, California. The city is focused on reduced its environmental footprint (they have their own Climate Action Plan) and electric vehicle use is one their solutions. Today, Redwood City has five EV charging stations combined with energy storage including two DC Fast Charging Stations that were installed in 2014.

Redwood City said these EV charging stations, located at the public library and in a public parking garage, are heavily used with an average of 8-10 sessions per day. Green Charge Networks’ said their intelligent energy storage is shaving multiple peaks per day (80 in May, 2015) caused by the EV charging stations. The energy storage is expected to save nearly $7,000 annually in demand charges at the five Redwood City locations alone. The Redwood City energy storage equipment and installation came at no cost to the City; rather, Green Charge’s financing model provides a zero down cost solution. Green Charge Networks installs, owns and maintains all of the energy storage equipment.

“By combining EV charging and energy storage to reduce consumption during peak hours, businesses can save money,” added Pasquale Romano, ChargePoint CEO. “This can significantly reduce the cost for a business to offer EV charging thereby increasing EV adoption while promoting grid stability.”

PG&E Donates Solar to Habitat Homes

Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) has donated $1 million to support the installation of rooftop solar on 79 homes with 18 different Habitat for Humanity local affiliates throughout Northern and Central California. The company said its Solar Habitat Program, in partnership with Habitat for Humanity, is making affordable housing and solar energy a reality for deserving families, particularly in neighborhoods that have been historically underserved and overlooked.

PG&E is proud to support Habitat for Humanity’s mission of making homeownership a reality for deserving families. Our sustained collaboration on the Solar Habitat Program allows these homes to be both financially and environmentally sustainable. Together, we’re building a cleaner, brighter future for the people of California,” said PG&E Corporation Chairman, CEO and President Tony Earley.

PG&E employee volunteers help to put in landscaping on a Habitat home equipped with solar panels in San Luis Obispo, Calif.

PG&E employee volunteers help to put in landscaping on a Habitat home equipped with solar panels in San Luis Obispo, Calif.

The company has been supporting the housing program for more than 10 years. Today, they are the exclusive solar partner for Habitat for Humanity and to date, more than 660 new homes have been built with solar energy.

“Thanks to our partnership with PG&E and the Solar Habitat program, Habitat homeowners spend less on electricity and that helps us keep the overall cost of homeownership low. This is a critical piece of the overall affordability of Habitat homes,” said Phillip Kilbridge, CEO of Habitat for Humanity Greater San Francisco.

The PG&E’s said their Solar Habitat program lowers the electricity bill of an average household by $500 per year. Each solar panel generates nearly 300 kilowatt-hours of clean, renewable energy from sunlight per month, avoiding the release of more than 132,000 pounds of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere over the 30-year life of the system. In total, Habitat families have saved $9 million in energy costs through this partnership.

Earlier this year, the company and the non-profit celebrated their decade-long solar partnership by hosting the Brown Bag Build at Justin Herman Plaza in San Francisco. Community members contributed over 200 volunteer hours to Habitat for Humanity to safely construct 60 doors and window frames in 30-minute shifts during their lunch breaks for the Habitat Terrace development in San Francisco’s Ocean View neighborhood.

Geothermal Industry Calls for Tax Extender Credits

The geothermal industry is happy with the news that the Senate Finance Committee voted for a package of tax extenders proposed by Chairman Orin Hatch (R-UT) and Ranking Democrat Ron Wyden (D-OR). The package includes provisions extending the Production Tax Credit (PTC) for new geothermal power facilities that “start construction” by the end of 2016. Developers retain the option of converting the PTC to a 30 percent investment tax GEA logocredit. The PTC expired at the end of 2014, although it was extended in December 2015 for a two-week period that was far too short to benefit geothermal projects according to Karl Gawell, executive director of the Geothermal Energy Association (GEA).

“This is important news for geothermal developers,” said Gawell. “It will help spur the market for new geothermal power plants which has been suffering due to slack demand and uneven tax treatment,” he said.

The Committee voted 23-3 in support of the package, with strong majorities of both Republican and Democratic Members supporting the bill. The tax extenders bill, entitled “An Original Bill to Extend Certain Expired Tax Provisions,” now moves to the Senate floor.

“The strong bi-partisan support in Committee is a good sign for the future of the Senate Tax Extenders Bill,” Gawell noted.

BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDF1Rapidly increasing solid wastes and the acute shortage of landfills are pushing countries in Southeast Asia to adopt sound waste management practices. Governments are also looking to leverage indigenous resources in order to meet renewable energy targets and become energy independent. As a result, investments in the Southeast Asian biomass and waste to power market are on the rise. New analysis from Frost & Sullivan, “Strategic Analysis of Biomass and Waste to Power Market in Southeast Asia,” finds that the market earned revenues of US$1.12 billion in 2014 and estimates this to reach US$1.85 billion in 2019. The study focuses on wood chips, empty fruit bunch, bagasse, municipal solid waste, and rice husk.
  • SunEdison, Inc. has announced that Pashupathy Gopalan, SunEdison’s president of Asia-Pacific and Sub-Saharan Africa, was awarded the Solar Power Person of the Year during the Renewable World International Convention in Delhi, India. The award recognizes Mr. Gopalan and SunEdison’s work in setting the pace and scale of the solar industry in India over the last year.
  • Ravi Kailas, Chairman & CEO, Mytrah Energy, has been awarded the ‘Wind Power Person of the year 2015′ at the 3rd World Renewable Energy Conference, which was held in New Delhi. This award was conferred on him by the Renewable Energy Expert Committee, which is headed by Dr. Praveen Saxena, Former Advisor, Ministry of New & Renewable Energy, Government of India.
  • NorthWestern Corporation d/b/a NorthWestern Energy has entered into an agreement to purchase the recently constructed 80-megawatt Beethoven wind qualifying facility (QF) project located near Tripp, South Dakota. The $143 million purchase of the facility from BayWa r.e. Wind LLC includes 43 turbines and the rights to a 50MW expansion site adjacent to the existing facility. The project was completed in May 2015.

Cadmus Releases EV Research, Policy Report

The growing number of electric vehicles (EV) on the road may present challenges for the country’s infrastructure (roads) that according to Cadmus, can be addressed through smart planning and thoughtful policy.

ev charging

Photo Credit: Joanna Schroeder

A report released in June 2015 by the Federal Highway Research Association (FHWA) based on Cadmus research, Feasibility and Implications of Electric Vehicle (EV) Deployment and Infrastructure Development, is the first comprehensive examination of EVs undertaken by FHWA. Cadmus’Damon Fordham directed the research team, and John Norris of Ricardo-AEA led the technical analysis, with support from Good Company, Eastern Research Group (ERG), and independent consultants Mark Stout and Doug Tindall.

The project kicked off with an extensive literature review, a series of expert interviews and a forum that included more than 50 EV, transportation and auto industry experts. The team conducted an analysis of the potential deployment of EVs in the United States and the potential impact on the mission of FHWA. The results of the research will be used to aid transportation agencies at the national, state, and local level in understanding how to prepare for the future financial implications, safety planning, and infrastructure development needs associated with EVs.

“The analysis was eye-opening,” said Fordham. “For example, one key finding was that—even at the highest deployment levels we considered—the future impact of EVs on gas tax revenues is a small fraction of the impact of existing federal fuel efficiency regulations.”

Cadmus has found that many states have already begun implementing policies to support the increasing use of EVs. For example, In Washington state, a financial modeling tool developed by Cadmus will soon be helping facilitate expansion of the state’s EV charging infrastructure. A recently passed state law establishing funding for public-private EV infrastructure partnerships directs potential EV charging infrastructure developers to the tool, which Cadmus created to inform policy recommendations made by the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES). The tool allows users to easily evaluate the business case for a proposed EV charging installation from both public and private sector perspectives.