Houston Biodiesel Plant Idled by Hurricane to Re-Open

John Davis

greenhunterpicA biodiesel plant that was nearly completed and put on hold when Hurricane Ike roared ashore in south Texas in 2008 will get new life today. This article in the Houston Business Journal says Houston’s Channel Biorefinery & Terminals LLC will hold a re-groundbreaking ceremony today at 2:30 pm CDT at the site of the 105 million gallon GreenHunter Biofuels biodiesel production facility on the Houston Ship Channel:

The facility was almost operational when Hurricane Ike hit the Gulf Coast and flooded the facility, said Channel CEO Ken Brown.

“It brought everything to a standstill,” he said.

Within the same time frame, the economic crisis hit with the bankruptcy filing of Lehman Brothers.

“When (the previous owner was) ready to commence, there was no money to finish, no working capital, and the plant went into hibernation and receivership,” Brown said. “And there it sat until we bought it.”

Officials with Houston’s Channel Biorefinery & Terminals LLC say they expect to start producing 3 million gallons of biodiesel a year this summer, ramping up the operation to full capacity in the next two years.

Biodiesel

Signs in DC Point to Keeping the RFS

Joanna Schroeder

ACE Biofuels Beltway March 2013 AdvocatesMore than 60 ethanol advocates from more than a dozen states are in DC today meeting with members of Congress and other key influencers to talk about why the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) needs to stay intact, and about the benefits of E15.

Brian Jennings, executive vice president for ACE said one of the best parts of the day was hearing the perspectives of the different advocates about what what elements of the ethanol industry are important to them and their advice on how to talk to others about the benefits of ethanol, whether it be a neighbor, a person you meet at the pump, or a federal or state legislator.

The advocates met with nearly 50 people on Wednesday and Jennings said early reports were encouraging. While there is opposition to the RFS, he is hearing that any type of RFS repeal legislation is going to get traction. “We can’t take that to the bank, and we need to keep pressure on Congress, but the early, encouraging signs that the RFS is in a safe place is really good,” said Jennings.

He noted that there were also lots of questions about E15 and some legislators were asking about the cause of ethanol RINS (Renewable Identification Number) to spike nearly a dollar in the past month. While no one knows for sure what is behind the RIN increase, Jennings said the industry is looking into the cause.

The advocates remain on the hill and will meet with dozens more Congressman and Congresswoman tomorrow.

Learn more about what legislators are saying in my interview with Brian: Signs in DC Point to Keeping the RFS

View the ACE Biofuels Beltway March 2013 Photo Album.

ACE, Audio, Biofuels Beltway, Education, Ethanol, RFS

Two-Home Wind Turbine Tested in Canada

John Davis

canadawindturbineA wind turbine designed to serve up to two homes is being tested in Canada. CBC News reports the mid-sized turbine designed by students from 16 universities from across Canada have is being tested at P.E.I.’s Wind Energy Institute of Canada and is intended to hit that niche between the really small turbines and the bigger ones too large to service individual homes.

“There are some turbines in that size, but it seems they’re either smaller — so a couple of kilowatts, there’s a large number — and then we’ve got others that are up in the 30, 50 to 100-kilowatt range,” said [Wind Energy Institute CEO Scott] Harper.

“There’s maybe a market niche there for something in the 10-kilowatt size. I think it was more, as they designed it, it was big enough, designed large enough to prove that it can work, and test it here to show real results.”

The project, created by a group called the Wind Energy Strategic Network, is being tested through next fall.

Wind

Governors Tell Congress to Support RFS

Cindy Zimmerman

governor-biofuelsThe Governor’s Biofuels Coalition met in Sioux Falls Wednesday and sent a letter to members of Congress in support of the Renewable Fuels Standard.

The letter from the 30 governors represented by the Coalition, led by Iowa Governor Terry Branstad, urges Congress to stay the course on the RFS. “As governors who see firsthand the impact that the RFS has had on our states, we urge you to reject any modifications to the RFS,” the letter reads. “By intentionally using misinformation, biofuels opponents damage the nation’s economy, environment, and energy security.”

The governors’ meeting was held at the headquarters of POET and CEO Jeff Lautt says Governor Branstad is a strong defender of biofuels. “He’s seen first hand the success of what this industry’s done for America on the energy side but also what it’s done on the ag side,” said Lautt.

The Iowa Biodiesel Board and Iowa Renewable Fuels Association both praised their governor’s leadership and appreciate the strong stand taken by the coalition to support the RFS.

Biodiesel, Ethanol, Ethanol News, Government, Iowa RFA, POET

Impact of the Sequester Monster

Talia Goes

Our latest ZimmPoll asked the question, “Will the sequester monster impact you personally?”

Our poll results: Fifty-two percent said No it will not impact you. Twenty-one percent said Yes, Major Impact, seventeen percent said Yes, Minor Impact, and ten percent said I Don’t Know. So most of you do not expect to be affected by the sequester monster. Wonder what all the fuss was about.

chart

Our new ZimmPoll is now live and asks the question, “Have you recently purchased a gun?” The Second Amendment states that you have the “right to keep and bear arms.” Do you practice that right? Has all the talk about new gun laws stimulated you to go out an purchase that gun you’ve been wanting? Let us know.

ZimmPoll is sponsored by New Holland Agriculture.

New Holland, ZimmPoll

St Patty’s Day Foodmaker Goes Green with Solar

John Davis

freirichsolar1A maker of a traditional St. Patrick’s Day favorite is doing more than just wearing the green; it’s going green! Salisbury, North Carolina-based Freirich Foods, makers of some fine corned beef, put in 93 kilowatts of photovoltaic solar at its headquarters plant, according to this story in the Salisbury Post:

The rooftop system is comprised of 377 solar panels using roughly 5,600 square feet of roof space. The system uses a non-penetrating solution that clamps to the standing-seam metal roof.

The system will produce enough electricity to meet the requirements of 10 average American homes and offset the annual CO2 emissions equivalent to 8,113 gallons of gasoline. The project was engineered, procured, and constructed using a local workforce by commercial solar contractor United Renewable Energy LLC and financing was provided by Vantage South Bank.

Freirich is already considered pretty good at being green (and not just on St. Patty’s Day). The company developed a comprehensive recycling program that takes 200 tons of waste a year from landfills. And Freirich employees get cash incentives for purchasing electric vehicles and are provided charging stations for free.

Solar

Plenty of Diesel Vehicles for Biodiesel Production

John Davis

KotrbaTo those who think there’s not enough diesel-capable vehicles out there to help boost biodiesel’s demand, our friends over at the Biodiesel Magazine blog say that’s just not true. Ron Kotrba writes that while he’d like to see more diesel engines on the road, the current group of them out there is more than enough to put up big numbers for the green fuel… if they all would just use it.

But the fact is, according to the Energy Information Administration, in 2012 the U.S. consumed 57.5 billion gallons of diesel fuel (excluding jet fuel). If you assume the U.S. EPA’s 2012 biodiesel production figures of 1.1 billion gallons are accurate, and if you further assume that the entirety of that production was consumed in the U.S., then biodiesel penetration in the diesel fuel pool comes in at a meager 1.9 percent.

With up to 5 percent allowance in ASTM D975 and D396 (diesel fuel and heating oil specs, respectively) without labeling, there’s still plenty of room to grow just to reach a 5 percent penetration rate—in the existing consumption model that consists mostly of heavy-duty applications.

To reach B5 saturation, this would require 2.874 billion gallons of biodiesel, nearly three times the production achieved last year, and significantly more than twice the 1.28 billion gallons the RFS2 requires this year.

Kotrba goes on to say that if all the heavy-duty vehicles in the country become B20 compatible, that would see biodiesel consumption jump to 11.5 billion gallons of use each year … 10 times the current levels.

Biodiesel, Opinion

Wind Could Blow Away Nuclear, Coal

John Davis

WindTurbineinIowa-Photo-Joanna-SchroederWind energy might be poised to do something that should warm the hearts of environmentalists: kill off the nuclear power industry and hurt coal-powered energy operators. This Businessweek article says the news comes on the heels of a record 13,124 megawatts of wind turbines added to the country’s power grid at the end of 2012, trying to take advantage of an expiring federal tax credit.

“Right now, natural gas and wind power are more economic than nuclear power in the Midwestern electricity market,” Howard Learner, executive director of the Environmental Law and Policy Center, a Chicago-based advocate of cleaner energy, said in a phone interview. “It’s a matter of economic competitiveness.”

Wind-generated electricity supplied about 3.4 percent of U.S. demand in 2012 and the share is projected to jump to 4.2 percent in 2014, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

The wind power boom has benefited consumers in regions where wind development is fastest, contributing to a 40 percent wholesale power-price plunge since 2008 in the Midwest, for example. Yet the surplus is creating havoc for nuclear power and coal generators that sell their output into short-term markets.
‘Perfect Storm’

The impact is greatest in the capacity-glutted Midwest. There, Richmond, Virginia-based Dominion is closing a money- losing reactor and selling coal plants, Exelon warns of shrinking nuclear margins and an Edison International (EIX) merchant coal-plant unit has gone into bankruptcy.

In fact, wind power is becoming so plentiful and so cheap that prices are actually falling below zero, because some utilities are required to keep buying wind power even when they don’t need it. Add in the $22-per-megawatt-hour federal tax credit, and wind can keep blowing away the other guys. Plus, the wind production tax credit has been extended for another year, through the end of 2013.

Wind

Ethanol Groups Address RIN Misconceptions

Cindy Zimmerman

The Advanced Ethanol Council (AEC) is working to stamp out RIN illiteracy, offering an education to the media on just what the compliance credits are and how they work under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

rin-dummies-1AEC sent a response entitled “RIN Credits for Dummies” to a recent Wall Street Journal editorial which argues higher prices for RIN compliance credits are driving up the price of gasoline.

In the spirit of educating, AEC pointed out the very basic facts about RIN credits and how they work, such as:

A RIN is produced when a gallon of renewable fuel is produced. Oil companies can then split the RIN from the gallon when they buy the gallon of renewable fuel and sell it on the open market. Oil companies can either buy a gallon of renewable fuel to comply with the RFS or buy a RIN credit on the open market.

According to AEC, “oil companies have indeed bid up the price of RINs over the last few weeks, but they are doing so voluntarily to avoid the alternative of adding more ethanol to gasoline.”

Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) president and CEO Bob Dinneen says oil companies have essentially “gone on strike” by refusing to move to higher ethanol gasoline blends. “The RIN program was designed to meet any shortages of renewable fuels, not to allow oil companies to avoid blending ethanol with gasoline,” Dinneen wrote in a blog post today.

Also on the RFA E-xchange Blog, VP for research and analysis Geoff Cooper provides a good primer on RINS called Stop the RINsanity. Cooper walks through the math of RINS and gas prices and calculates that even in the worst case scenario for RIN pricing, ethanol-blended gasoline still saves consumers money.

“If RIN prices average $0.80 and the ethanol discount to gasoline averages $0.58 per gallon, and if both impacts are fully passed through to retail, E10 would still be $0.05 per gallon cheaper than unblended gasoline,” Cooper concludes.

ACE, advance biofuels, Ethanol, Ethanol News

Governors’ Biofuels Coalition Meeting This Week

Cindy Zimmerman

governor-biofuelsThe Governors’ Biofuels Coalition (GBC) is holding its annual meeting this week in Sioux Falls, South Dakota at the headquarters of ethanol production company POET.

Iowa Governor Terry Branstad, GBC chairman, and South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard, a GBC member, will be leading a discussion of the accomplishments of the federal Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS). Governor Branstad was one of the founders of the coalition and instrumental in the passage of the RFS. The meeting will also include presentations on innovative pubic-private partnerships to expand retail infrastructure and spur economic development, the use of biofuels to cost effectively meet clean air requirements, gasoline quality, and opening markets for cellulosic and advanced biofuels.

The Governors’ Biofuels Coalition was started in 1991 as the Governors’ Ethanol Coalition. Membership now includes representatives from 36 states and eight countries.

Ethanol, Ethanol News, Government, RFN