Perry Urges Return to “Constitutional Country”

Former Texas Governor Rick Perry’s main message on the soapbox yesterday at the Iowa State Fair was to get America back to a constitutional country. Citing the 10th amendment, he stressed that power and decision making needs to go back to the state and to the people, as intended by our founding fathers. Power needs to be taken away from a corrupt Washington, D.C.

Rick Perry“I’m mad as hell and I’m going to do something to change it,” said Perry if he is elected.

He also believes that educational curriculum, health insurance and transportation infrastructure should be brought back to the state and not dictated by the government. He wants to secure the border and strengthen the military. “People have belly full of decisions made 1,500 miles away instead of right here in this state,” he said. “I think it was Dwight D. Eisenhower who said It’s pretty easy to farm when your plow is a pencil and you’re 1,500 miles away from the farm. And that’s what we’re seeing today as we see this continual consolidation of power in Washington, D.C.,” added Perry.

Throughout his speech he said continually said he would bring the constitution back as a guide for the country – a place we got away from and need to go back to in order to bring back strength, prosperity and the American dream to the people. The former state agriculture commissioner for Texas did not take questions nor did he address energy or ag in any detail while on stage.

Listen to why former Texas Governor Rick Perry wants to be president: Rick Perry at the Iowa State Fair

Click here to read our coverage of the Des Moines Register Presidential Soapbox series at the Iowa State Fair.

Biodiesel & Bioheat Forum

Biodiesel & Bioheat ForumThe Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council is conducting a first ever event today in Mankato, MN. The event, “Biodiesel 2015 & Beyond: A Biodiesel/Bioheat Forum,” brings together biodiesel industry market developers, researchers and a number of representatives of east coast oil heat and fuel companies. The open forum is providing an educational look at what’s going on in the biodiesel industry and the work being done to develop bioheat as a good heating fuel option for the northeast.

The program was divided into two sessions moderated by Tom DiBacco, broadhead. In the first session we heard from Paul Nazzaro, Nazzaro Group, NBB Petroleum Liaison, providing an overview of biodiesel markets. He is followed by John Wenzel, FC Stone, who talked on emerging markets. Next up was John Huber, National Oilheat Research Alliance and Michael Trunzo, New England Fuel Institute who spoke about Bioheat and the evolution of Oil Heat.

Although I plan to share personal interviews with each of these presenters I thought I’d go ahead and let you listen to the first session which ends with a question and answer session.

You can listen to the session here: Biodiesel/Bioheat Forum Session 1

You can find a lot of photos from the forum her: Biodiesel/Bioheat Forum Photo Album

Prez Candidates Tell ‘Bootstraps’ Stories

I’ve hit on a few common themes in recent posts after hearing more than a dozen soapbox speeches at the Iowa State Fair. Another one: how the presidential candidates’ parents succeeded with nothing to make life better for their children and the children pulling themselves up by their “bootstraps” to become successful.

Marco RubioThese stories were no different when Florida Senator Marcus Rubio and Ohio Governor John Kasich took the stage. Rubio’s parents immigrated from Cuba. He noted that America doesn’t owe him, he owes America. He also said that he wants to continue living in a country where what his parents did for him he can do for his children. But that dream, he said, is slipping away. How can the country bring back the American dream? He said the first step is addressing the economy. “We’re not just facing an economic downturn, we’re facing an economic revolution….We need to modernize economic policies so we can compete with the rest of the world.”

He also stressed the need to keep our people safe and noted that America is not fully utilizing its energy resources. Like many before him, other than a passing comment, he did not address energy, environment and agriculture.

Listen to why Florida Senator Marcus Rubio wants to be president:Marcus Rubio at the Iowa State Fair

John KasichOhio Governor John Kasich also shared his “bootstrap” story and shared other antidotes rather than really hitting hard on any particular issue. However, during the question portion he was asked his position on agriculture. He answered, “I’m for agriculture. You listen to Terry Branstad [Iowa Governor] and you think about traditional agriculture but what we really have to do is begin to think about how agriculture is going to look like in the next 20 or 25 years. I believe there are so many products that can come from traditional agriculture that can improve the lives of all Americans. And I keep pushing our people to think about that, to use our universities to do the research and to make sure that agriculture and business is closely linked together so that we can spawn new industries out of agriculture.”

“We’re lucky in Ohio,” Kasich continued. “We found natural gas and one of the great things about that is it’s allowing us to become energy independent. So we don’t have to kowtow to the Saudies anymore when it comes down to conducting our foreign policy. We need to look into the future on all of these things, on agriculture, on energy.”

Listen to why Ohio Governor John Kasich wants to be president: John Kasich at the Iowa State Fair

Click here to read our coverage of the Des Moines Register Presidential Soapbox series at the Iowa State Fair.

Ethanol Industry Asks Walker to Clarify RFS Stance

America’s Renewable Future (ARF) is asking Governor Walker to clarify his position on the Renewable Fuel Standard after his remarks at the Iowa State Fair on the Des Moines Register Soapbox. Walker called for ethanol mandates to be phased out; yet acknowledge that the industry created around the RFS must stay in place. Click here to read about his speech.

Listen to why Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker said about ethanol and the RFS:Scott Walker on the RFS

Scott Walker-1In response, ARF responded in a statement, “Gov. Walker’s intention to phase out the RFS over the next couple of years needs clarification. It is unclear whether the governor’s time frame would mean an immediate repeal upon entering office, if elected president, whether it might mean two years from the current date, or two years from achieving full market access.

Anything short of full market access being achieved would be a catastrophic blow to America’s farmers and rural economies. It is also a blow to those who have invested into the renewable fuel industry. Billions of dollars were invested by famers and local investors to produce biofuels with the promise of an RFS that lasts at least until 2022. Ending the RFS prematurely will only strand capitol and punish the pioneers who invested in clean, home grown renewable energy. The RFS has created jobs here in Iowa and around the country that cannot be outsourced, reduced our dependence on foreign oil, helped clean our air, and provided consumers savings at the pump.

America's Renewable Future logoIf we are to take Gov. Walker’s comments to mean a two year phase out upon entering the White House, then he is opening the door to an immediate repeal and that means putting an end to over 73,000 Iowa jobs. Keeping in mind what’s already happened just this year due to the uncertainty surrounding the RFS—from over 800 layoffs at John Deere, to $13.8 billion in investment shortfalls, to lower corn prices and farmland values—such a position would be devastating.

While the governor’s position is murky, it is absolutely clear that a phase out anytime before full market access is realized would be disastrous for farmers and rural communities in Iowa and all over the United States, which were hit hardest during the recession and are finally starting to get back on their feet.

We urge Gov. Walker to clarify his position regarding the RFS and stand with our nation’s farmers for a strong RFS until full market access is a reality.”

Click here to read our coverage of the Des Moines Register Presidential Soapbox series at the Iowa State Fair.

BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDF1Solexel, a leading US-based producer of high-performance solar PV technology, has successfully finalised a round of financing that included Riyadh Valley Company, the venture capital investment arm of King Saud University of Saudi Arabia. Through investor introduction services provided by naseba, the investment will be used to help transition Solexel into revenue. Solexel’s innovative high performance, lightweight solar PV panels deliver low cost energy.
  • The annual Postcode Lottery Green Challenge, hosted by the Dutch Postcode Lottery, announced five green start-ups still in the running to win the grand prize of approximately US $535,000 for their sustainability business plans. Among the five are two U.S. based start-ups, Muufri and Evrnu. Other start-ups include Ooho! from the United Kingdom and two start-ups from the Netherlands, Land Life Company and Fleet Cleaner. On September 10, 2015 the five finalists will present their green business plans in front of an international panel of experts in Amsterdam.
  • Infocast is proud to announce the debut of Renewable Energy Asset Management 2015, which will take place in Carlsbad, CA, on October 6-7, 2015. The event will focus on the exploration of strategies to optimize the performance, financial returns, and valuation of renewable energy assets portfolios.
  • amp Trillium has announced the opening of a new public-access compressed natural gas station in Newport, TN. The station is conveniently located on Highway 2570 near I-40, making it an ideal place for CNG-powered trucks and cars to refuel as they travel through eastern Tennessee. This location will serve all CNG vehicles 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It can also fuel multiple Class-8 trucks simultaneously with Trillium CNG’s proprietary fast-fill hydraulic intensifier compressors, which efficiently pump 7-12 gallons of CNG fuel per minute, similar to diesel fueling rates.

Louis Dreyfus Adding Glycerin to Biodiesel Plant

dreyfus-biodiesel-indLouis Dreyfus Commodities plans to add a glycerin refinery to its soybean crushing and biodiesel plant in Claypool, Indiana, with construction expected to be complete by the end of the year.

The new refinery will be the second largest in the nation producing USP-grade Kosher refined glycerin, with a capacity of 80 million pounds per year. “The refinery in Claypool is being built with the best technology available,” said Tommy Malone, Louis Dreyfus Commodities’ head of North America. “We expect our plant to produce the highest-quality refined glycerin, meeting the needs of our growing customer network.”

Louis Dreyfus Commodities has been marketing crude glycerin, a co-product of the biodiesel process at Claypool, since the facility began operations in 2007. The addition of the refinery should allow the plant to process up to 100% of its crude glycerin production into USP-grade Kosher refined glycerin, which is used in a variety of industries including personal care, pharmaceuticals, food manufacturing, healthcare, automotive, chemical and textiles.

ICM Completes Cellulose Ethanol Performance Runs

icm-20ICM Inc. has successfully completed two 1,000-hour performance runs of its patent-pending Generation 2.0 Co-Located Cellulose Ethanol process at the company’s pilot plant in St. Joseph, Missouri.

The runs were designed to prove performance of the co-located technology design for the conversion of cellulosic biomass feedstocks, including energy crops such as switchgrass and energy sorghum, agricultural crop residues, and forestry residues, to cellulosic ethanol and co-products.

The first performance run, which ran from March to late April, focused on switchgrass while the second run from early June to late July, focused on energy sorghum. Both runs were similar in nature, but with a few minor operational modifications included to allow for smoother operation between the two runs. The 1,000+ hours of continuous production in each run are a significant achievement, as it qualifies these data sets for federal loan guarantee programs.

“This achievement is important because it provides operational confidence at a commercially relevant scale. We used all commercial-type equipment for these performance runs that processed 10 dry tons of feedstock per day. At that scale, we were able to achieve continuous operations throughout both performance runs to generate key data required to move forward to commercialization as the market provides demand for Gen. 2.0 Cellulosic Ethanol and co-products.” said Dr. Doug Rivers, ICM’s Director of Research and Development.

ICM believes that the success with each of these three 1,000-hour runs comes from the dedicated individuals and extensive testing of various feedstocks at the pilot scale for next generation conversion technology to produce renewable fuels that meet low carbon fuel standards.

Republican Candidates: ‘We Can Fix America’

The battle cry of the presidential Republican candidates is to fix America through debt elimination, military strength and cooperation. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina and Senator from South Carolina Lindsey Graham took the stage during the Des Moines Register’s Soapbox and spoke to thousands of people at the Iowa State Fair. While the crowd is supposed to be polite, manners took a back stage during Walker’s remarks especially when he said, “If we can fix a state like Wisconsin we can fix America.”

The candidates want to take the power out of Washington, D.C. and bring it back to the state houses and to the hard working people. Walker, somewhat in jest, said Washington is 68 square miles surrounded by reality. Let’s take a look at what the candidates believe is reality.

Scott WalkerScott Walker is calling for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to be reigned in. He said they are killing the farmers (he was referring to WOTUS, or the Waters of the U.S.) and is pushing for an all above energy strategy. He approved the Keystone Pipeline on the first vote and continues to do so. In terms of climate change he said that there needs to be a balance between sustainable environment and a sustainable economy. He does not support the “ethanol mandate” or the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) but because it is in place and there is an industry based on the legislation the country needs to support the bill. However, he is pushing for consumer choice at the pump through market access and availability at the pump for higher blends of ethanol. His state has offered grants for retail stations, especially those independently owned, to be able to put flex fuel pumps and offer additional ethanol blends.

Listen to why Wisconsin Governor wants to be president here:Scott Walker at the Iowa State Fair

Lindsey GrahamLindsey Graham spent the majority of his time discussing his military strategy. He said there are, “Too many terrorists. Too much debt. Too few jobs.” He has been in the Air Force for 33 years and spent time in Iraq and Afghanistan while he was in the reserves. He stressed that he is the first candidate to push to go back to war not end war. “If I’m elected we going to go back and pound them into the sand,” he said of Iraq. He did not address energy, environment or agriculture so we’ll have to continue to follow his campaign to see if and what his stance is on these issues.

Listen to why Senator Lindsey Graham wants to be president here:Lindsey Graham at the Iowa State Fair

Carly FiorinaWhile some candidates didn’t use any of their time to take questions, Carly Fiorina dedicated the majority of her time in answering questions. Like others, she believes the minimum wage should be increased but not uniformly; rather, the pay should be comparable to the cost of living which is different not only from state to state but from city to city. She too took aim at the EPA and stressed innovation rather than regulation will be more effective. And like Walker, she too doesn’t support ethanol mandates and believes they should be phased out. Needless to say, this position is not too popular in country’s largest ethanol producing state. Similar to Graham, she did not directly address agriculture or the environment.

Listen to why Carly Fiorina wants to be president here:Carly Fiorina at the Iowa State Fair

Click here to read our coverage of the Des Moines Register Presidential Soapbox series at the Iowa State Fair.

Portland Int’l Airport Adds EV Charging

Portland International Airport (PDX) has become the airport with the largest number of electric vehicle (EV) chargers in the country. PDX installed 42 L1 PowerPost EV charging stations that are designed and manufactured by Telefonix. EV drivers are able to recover about 5 miles of range for every hour they are plugged in. The range lost in a typical commute of twenty miles is recovered in about 4 hours at a cost to the facility of less than 75 cents. The PowerPost EV charging stations will be free to use for employees and visitors.

“This installation makes a huge statement,” said Bill Williams, business development manager for Telefonix, EVSE Division. “The electric vehicle movement is gaining steam and will continue to do so. Facilities like PDX are acknowledging this growing community and sending a signal that they support those who are embracing electric vehicles by installing stations for both airport employees and travelers.”

Telefonix Inc. (PRNewsFoto/Telefonix Inc.)

Telefonix Inc. (PRNewsFoto/Telefonix Inc.)

According to Telefonix, Portland International Airport chose PowerPost level 1 electric vehicle charging stations for their integrated, retractable cord reel, which keeps cables off the ground, reducing maintenance and tripping hazards. They were also selected because they are level 1 units, which have low current requirements and allow for an efficient use of energy. Level 1 charging is well suited for long-dwell parking that is typical at airports and workplaces. In addition, the low-current requirements of level 1 also allowed the airport to install more charging stations as compared to more powerful chargers that often require costly upgrades to the electrical supply.

“We are excited to support our travelers and employees with these new EV charging stations,” said Vince Granato, Port of Portland chief operations officer. “Voted America’s Best Airport in 2013, 2014 and 2015 in Travel + Leisure’s Reader Survey, we take pride in delivering a memorable and positive experience to those who use our facilities. The installation of EV charging stations is one of our many environmental initiatives, which are central to how we do business and serve as good community stewards.”

Williams added, “Airports are really taking an aggressive approach to delivering on the need for electric vehicle charging infrastructure,” “Given that customers parking for 4 hours or more represent over 85% of all occupied spaces at an airport and the fact that airports often have sustainability initiatives in place, it’s a perfect fit.”

Geothermal May be Africa’s Energy Solution

Representatives from 12 African countries gathered in Nairobi recently to discuss the feasibility of establishing the Africa Geothermal Centre of Excellence (AGCE). The center would work to improve the continent’s institutional and infrastructural capacities including bringing and training geothermal scientists an engineers.

Oklaria Geothermal Plant in Kenya.

Oklaria Geothermal Plant in Kenya.

Around 600 million people in Africa lack access to grid electricity, with the number expected to rise to 700 million by 2030. As a result, the continent is increasingly looking to alternative energy sources to bridge that gap especially geothermal opportunities. With an estimated potential of 20,000 MW, geothermal energy could provide an answer to the continent’s energy shortage.

The majority of the potential energy source remains largely untapped in part due to a lack of skilled workforce. AGCE would address this issue and become the vehicle to training a talented geothermal energy workforce and thus open the doors to sustainable geothermal development.

During the workshop, the attendees reviewed a feasibility study that catalgoues the region’s needs and potential for geothermal. In addition, the group also created AGCE’s vision and developed its long-term sustainability.

The meeting was organized by the United Nation Environment Programme’s (UNEP) African Rift Geothermal Development Facility (ARGeo) and brought together country representatives, African governments, development partners, donors, civil society, private developers, technical institutions and academia. AGCE is expected to be established in Kenya, which is the main hub for geothermal technology on the continent, with a natural laboratory and a major geothermal agency.