Biofuel Producers Thrive Despite Cheap Oil

According to a new report, “How Alternative Fuel Companies Will Compete with $50 Oil,image001many biofuel producers are still able to thrive despite dropping oils prices nearing $50 per barrel. Lux Research evaluated 25 alternative fuel producers to identify the ones most likely to compete with cheap oil and found that renewable diesel producers Neste Oil and Diamond Green Diesel, gasification specialist Red Rock Biofuels, and Edeniq, which makes cellulosic ethanol, were among 13 alternative producers of fuels best positioned for cheap oil.

Lux Research analysts used its database of 400 alternative fuel producers to select 25 companies – from seven technology families, four feedstock types and three stages of development – for detailed analysis.

Among their findings:

  • Neste Oil, Diamond Green are benefiting from cost cuts. Thanks to lowered production costs achieved through feedstock diversification, renewable diesel producers Neste Oil and Diamond Green Diesel were the clear leaders in Lux’s model. On the other hand, Solena Biofuels and Joule Unlimited were among the laggards on account of delayed production and commercialization.
  • Developers move to alternate markets. Amid low oil prices, high-profile companies such as Solazyme, Amyris, and Gevo have shifted decisively toward specialty chemicals and nutraceuticals this year. Sapphire Energy also has shifted away from fuels and now targets nutraceuticals, producing Omega-3 EPA from its algae.
  • Oil majors remain a pillar of support. Believing cheap oil to be a short-term phenomenon, oil majors have remained prominent supporters of alternative fuel developers across various technology platforms. For example, Total has added to its existing portfolio in biofuels and bio-based chemical companies by investing in Renmatix, a biomass-to-sugars company.

“$50 oil was never an afterthought for technology developers,” said Yuan-Sheng Yu, Lux research associate and the lead author of the report. “Many companies have technology roadmaps for cheaper alternative fuels. Not all of them will actually achieve that benchmark, but some will – while others will find alternate markets or, ironically, use support from oil majors to survive until prices rise again.”

BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDF1 Azure Power, an independent power producer in the Indian solar power sector, has announced the commissioning of its largest (100 MW) solar plant under India’s National Solar Mission (NSM) policy in Jodhpur, Rajasthan. Azure Power had won this project under the NSM Phase-2 Batch I to supply power to Solar Energy Corporation of India, for 25 years. With the commissioning of this project, Azure Power is now the single largest owner and operator of solar PV projects under the NSM with a cumulative operational capacity of 142MWs under this policy.
  • Atlantic Wind & Solar, Inc. subsidiary Atlantic Solar has announced that its new 130 KW AC/137.25 KW DC fixed solar array featuring 450 multi-crystalline modules, located in Ontario Canada, is now powering the grid. With the formal receipt of a notice of Commercial Operation (COD) from the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) this marks the final step in the construction and connection of this solar plant. The power will be sold to the Ontario Power Authority at a rate of 71.3 cents per Kwh for 20 years.
  • CenturyLink, Inc. has announced the opening of a new data center in central Washington, adding hydro-electric-powered data center services to CenturyLink’s hybrid IT services portfolio. The facility offers global enterprises low power costs, and its high resiliency and geographic location make it ideal for cloud and disaster recovery solutions. The data center, located in Moses Lake, Washington, will ultimately support up to 30 megawatts of IT load on the site, with an initial ramp to 8 megawatts.
  • The Board of Directors of the African Development Bank (AfDB) approved on Wednesday, April 29, 2015, a USD 50 million investment in CEC Africa Investments Limited, a multinational power company headquartered in Nigeria and Zambia. CEC Africa (CECA) seeks to acquire and develop distribution and transmission assets and complementary greenfield generation projects throughout Sub-Saharan Africa. By investing across the energy value chain (generation, transmission, and distribution), CECA aims to reduce electricity losses while improving the overall economics in Africa’s power sector.

Auto Steer/GPS Attributed to #Plant15 Progress

New Holland ZimmPollOur latest ZimmPoll asked the question, “What technology is most responsible for rapid planting progress?”

#Plant15 is in full swing and many attribute the rapid progress to auto steering and GPS capabilities. Others commented saying larger equipment, lots of hard work and long hours come into play. I know all are true. Where would we be without technology?

Here are the poll results:

  • Automatic section control (ASC) – 5%
  • Variable-rate seeding – 6%
  • Precision seed metering – 21%
  • Auto steer/GPS – 31%
  • Faster planters – 16%
  • Other – 21%

Our new ZimmPoll is now live and asks the question, What is your favorite type of craft beer?

The Alltech’s Rebelation is right around the corner and no Alltech event is complete without craft beer. This year Alltech will kick off the educational festivities with the 2nd Annual Craft Brews & Food Fest slated for Saturday, May 16. In honor of that, we want to know what craft beer tops your list. Do your taste buds lean towards an IPA, wheat, stout or do you love them all?

Blossman Gas Ups Vehicles Running on Propane

ROUSH Propane Bobtail1One of the country’s biggest propane dealers is practicing what it preaches. Blossman Gas is increasing the number of vehicles in its fleet that run on propane with the purchase of three new autogas bobtails, purchased from ROUSCH CleanTech.

“Propane autogas provides numerous benefits for our nation’s fleet vehicles,” notes Stuart Weidie, President and CEO of Blossman Gas and President of Alliance AutoGas. “Blossman Gas has made the commitment to run our own fleet on autogas and therefore has the ability to share real data and experiences, which enhances our ability to convince prospective customers that it is a cost effective, clean and domestic fuel that is available right here, right now” adds Weidie.

Currently, ninety-five percent of the Blossman fleet running on gaseous fuels has been converted to propane autogas within the last two years, netting a cost savings to the company of over $976,000. Additionally, their fleet has reduced greenhouse gas emissions by over 96 tons since converting to autogas.

Added to the fleet of work and service vehicles are the three new F-650 Ford ROUSH CleanTech bobtails. The Ford F-650 ROUSH CleanTech units have a 6.8L V-10 engine that will be dedicated to use propane autogas. These units will be deployed this month with a 2600 gallon barrel for the sole purpose of delivering propane gas to Blossman’s residential and commercial accounts.

Expansion Complete on BDI Biodiesel Plant

BDIGermany-based BDI – BioEnergy International AG has completed the expansion of a biodiesel plant in Spain. This company news release says the refinery will turn oils and animal fats with very high FFA-content into the green fuel.

ecoMotion Biodiesel S.A. (a company of the international SARIA Group) commissioned BDI with the installation of a “High-FFA esterification” unit in its plant in Barcelona. This technological in-house development from BDI allows BioDiesel producers to use the most challenging oils and fats available on the market – without a limit on free fatty acids (FFA) – whilst retaining the highest BioDiesel quality. BDI therefore sets again a technological milestone in the future market of the BioDiesel production based on oils and animal fats.

“Biodiesel producers are currently facing major challenges as a result of uncertainties with regard to the future European biofuel policy. However, the use of waste and residual materials is safeguarded due to the positive environmental aspects. With the BDI RetroFit-program, we can already integrate the necessary, well-developed solutions in plants for the requirements of tomorrow. We also managed at ecoMotion Spain to prove again our lead regarding technologies for the BioDiesel production from the most challenging animal by-products available on the market”, says Dr. Edgar Ahn – Member of the Board (CSO).

BDI had already been commissioned with the construction of a multi-feedstock biodiesel plant in Barcelona in 2002. This new capability to accept more raw materials is expected to increase the efficiency and flexibility of the refinery.

Dyadic Gives Details of Biomass-to-Ethanol Program

dyadicBiotech company Dyadic International, Inc., has announced details of its program to build a large-scale biomass-to-ethanol plant. This company news release says in the 2G BIOPIC, a new advanced biofuels project funded by a $1.13 million grant from the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 program, Dyadic will work in collaboration with Compagnie Industrielle de Matière Végétale (“CIMV”) and five other industry partners.

Dyadic’s Chief Operating Officer, Danai Brooks, stated, “We are pleased to continue working closely with CIMV, and believe that Dyadic’s C1 enzymes will play a critical role in the 2G BIOPIC project success. The aim of 2G BIOPIC is to demonstrate the performance, reliability and sustainability of producing bioethanol from agriculture waste and wood. The demonstration plant built in the 2G BIOPIC program will process one ton of biomass per hour, or about 50 times the size of the CIMV pilot plant upon which the project is based. Successful funding of the 2G BIOPIC program further highlights the strength of Dyadic’s C1 Expression System in the field of advanced biofuels.”

Emmanuel Dutournier, CIMV’s Chief Financial Officer, Member of the Board of Directors and 2G BIOPIC Program Coordinator, continued, “2G BIOPIC is the second EU funded program where we are collaborating with Dyadic Netherlands. The first program Biomimetic, which deals with depolymerization of our BioligninTM, opens up many opportunities and we look forward to furthering our work together with the Dyadic team. We believe that the Dyadic and CIMV technologies are highly complementary, as Dyadic’s C1 enzymes work particularly well with the purer plant material produced from CIMV’s biomass pretreatment technology.”

The grant will be paid out over three years, with the first approximately $500,000 paid up front.

Book Review: The Power Surge

As I write about energy each day, I often wonder what the trade-offs or consequences will be if a technology takes off, or even if it fails. How will it, if at all, alter America’s energy landscape? From my point of view, we are a country in fear of change and in fear of taking The Power Surgeaction. We are a country that spends more time worrying about what celebrities wore to an award show and when the next iPhone will be hit the streets, then worrying about the underlying causes of recessions (many economists blame oil prices) and what the consequences are of the decisions made, or more often than not, not made, by our elected officials.

So I was very excited when I read, “The Power Surge: Energy, Opportunity, and the Battle for America’s Future,” by Michael Levi who is the Senior Fellow for Energy and Environment and Director, Center for Geoeconomic Studies and Council on Foreign Relations. I have never read a book that does a better job of presenting various energy scenarios and the intended and unintended consequences of them and written and presented in a way based on research, economics and trends and not based on emotions.

There is no argument that there is a battle afoot over America’s, and quite frankly, the world’s energy future.

Our entire life is dependent on energy. We as a society can not function in our current “lifestyle” without energy. Period.

And despite what you personally believe, there are economic, security and environmental consequences and/or benefits to all decisions made and not made as eloquently demonstrated by Levi (and this includes those who believe climate change is a hoax). Levi begins the book with a three very probative and questions and one that he uses against all scenarios he presents in the book. In other words, how does the technology, legislation, or action fare against these three pillars?

  1. Does each energy source that has recently thrived offer important opportunities to improve the U.S. economy, strengthen national security or mitigate climate change while not causing intolerable damages on any of those fronts?
  2. Is is possible to seize those opportunities simultaneously- or would pursuing some of them severely undermine others?
  3. And can the United States take advantage of these opportunities without fundamentally altering the role of government in America?

The book begins with an in-depth discussion of all things oil and touches upon renewable energy sources such as biofuels. He also covers electricity and the role of natural gas in our current and energy future as well as technologies like wind and solar. He also points out that all sides of the issue overstate some of their claims and it was refreshing to see someone who doesn’t only call out claims on the side he/she is against. He writes, Continue reading

Hawaii to Become 100% Renewable by 2045

Hawaii is the first state in the U.S. to pass legislation that will require 100 percent of all energy to sourced from renewable energy by 2045. Lawmakers voted 74-2 in favor of House Bill 623 requiring all electricity to be generated from clean sources such as wind, solar, and geothermal.

gI_59670_100 percent trend chart May15 sz800The measure, if enacted by Governor David Ige, would make Hawaii the first state in the nation with such a 100 percent renewable energy standard. Blue Planet Foundation, whose mission is to clear the path for 100% renewable energy, praised the move.

“As the first state to move toward 100% renewable energy, Hawaii is raising the bar for the rest of the country,” said Rep. Chris Lee, the Chairman of the House Energy and Environmental Protection Committee and introducer of HB 623. “Local renewable projects are already cheaper than liquid natural gas and oil, and our progress toward meeting our renewable energy standards has already saved local residents hundreds of millions on their electric bills. Moving to 100% renewable energy will do more to reduce energy prices for local residents in the long term than almost anything else we could do.”

Senator Gabbard, Chair of the Senate Energy and Environment Committee and a champion of the measure in the Senate, shares the sentiment. “With this bill, we’ll now be the most populated set of islands in the world with an independent grid to establish a 100% renewable electricity goal,” said Sen. Gabbard. “Through this process of transformation Hawaii can be the model that other states and even nations follow. And we’ll achieve the biggest energy turnaround in the country, going from 90% dependence on fossil fuels to 100% clean energy.”

House Bill 623 also increases the interim requirement to 30 percent renewable by 2020. Last year, Hawaii generated about 22 percent of its electricity from renewable resources. Continue reading

Corn Ethanol Yields Improve

corn-ethanol-3A new brief from the U.S. Energy Information (EIA) illustrates just how dramatically corn ethanol efficiency has increased in a very short time.

Today in Energy notes that last year fuel ethanol production in the United States reached an all-time high of 14.3 billion gallons of ethanol fuel. “The growth in U.S. fuel ethanol production has outpaced growth in corn consumed as feedstock—as the industry has grown, it has become more efficient, using fewer bushels of corn to produce a gallon of ethanol.”

If ethanol plant yields per bushel of corn in 2014 had remained at 1997 levels (when ethanol made up just 1% of the total U.S. motor gasoline supply), the ethanol industry would have needed to grind an additional 343 million bushels, or 7% more corn, to produce the same volume of fuel. To supply this incremental quantity of corn without withdrawing bushels from other uses would have required 2.2 million additional acres of corn to be cultivated, an area roughly equivalent to half the land area of New Jersey.

The article credits the yield increases to several factors including increased plant scale which has allowed producers to incorporate better process technology, such as finer grinding of corn to increase starch conversion and improved temperature control of fermentation to optimize yeast productivity. Additionally, the development of better enzymes and yeast strains has led to improved output per bushel of corn.

BioEnergy Bytes

  • http://energy.agwired.com/category/bioenergy-bytes/The National Geothermal Summit is around the corner, taking place June 3-4, 2015 in Reno, Nevada. On tap – key players in the geothermal industry will discuss the outlook for geothermal power in the Silver State and beyond under the theme: “Geothermal Policies as Stimulus for Economic Growth and Environmental Quality”. The annual event is put on by the Geothermal Energy Association (GEA) and attendees will hear from Councilwoman Naomi Duerr, Reno City Council; Paul Thomsen, director, Nevada Governor’s Office of Energy; and, John Ruhs, acting state director, Bureau of Land Management Nevada State Office; among many other influential members of the sector.
  • PSI Repair Services, Inc., a subsidiary of Phillips Service Industries and leading independent service provider (ISP) to the wind energy industry, announced today that it recently shipped its 20,000th repaired wind turbine part to a prominent wind energy company. Since 2009, PSI has provided economical repairs, as well as industry-leading engineering services that include product upgrades, for the largest wind farms in the United States.
  • Golden Age Resources, Inc. has announced construction plans and financing on Cogeneration Pilot Project. Thomas Wolff, Vice President of Golden Age Resources Mexico S de R.L. noted, “The 100Kw Biomass to Energy Plan will build as a scalable WTE (Waste to Energy) Plant with a 2 Mw/hour output by using organic municipal and/or sisal waste with planned implementation of the new fuel cell technology provided from our Strategic Alliance Partner GEI Global Energy Corp.” As soon as the plant reaches initial planned capacity of 2mW/Hr the total energy produced will be 17.52 gW/Yr. The energy generated from the WTE plant will be sold to the Commission Federal de Electricidad with a signed 20 year PPA.
  • Tri Global Energy, the utility-scale renewable energy company with wind farm projects located in Texas and New Mexico, leads Texas as the developer on nearly one quarter of all wind energy projects currently under construction in the state, according to the Q1 2015 Market Report from the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA). The U.S. wind energy industry is in the middle of a near record expansion, with over 13,600 MW of capacity in construction at 100 sites in 23 states, according to AWEA’s Q1 2015 Market Report.