Michigan Research: Diesel Saves Money

John Davis

UMTRIA new study shows that vehicles that run on diesel save their owners money. While the research didn’t specifically mention biodiesel, the green fuel would also be part of that savings. Biodiesel Magazine reports the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute found that the total cost of ownership (TCO) is lower for diesel vehicles compared to their gasoline-powered counterparts.

“Our results show that clean diesel vehicles generally provide a return on investment in both the three- and five-year timeframes, though there are differences in the amounts of return among mass market vehicles, medium duty trucks, and luxury vehicles,” authors Bruce M. Belzowski and Paul Green, assistant research scientists with UMTRI, state in their report. “The estimates of savings for three and five years of ownership vary from a low of $67 in three years to a high of $15,619 in five years, but most of the savings are in the $2,000 to $6,000 range, which also include the extra cost that is usually added to the diesel version of a vehicle.”

The report concludes that diesel vehicles can and do compete well in the U.S. market and are at an advantage when fuel economy regulations for 2016 and 2025 are considered.

Biodiesel, Research, University

AlsoEnergy Launches New Solar PV Tools

Joanna Schroeder

AlsoEnergy, a company focused on renewable energy monitoring and portfolio management software, unveiled two new offerings at last week’s Intersolar North America 2013. The two new products are PowerOperations, an operations management workflow module and PowerRes, a residential pacakge, are both designed and tailored for the financial community and developers of residential lease programs for the solar market.

AlsoEnergy logoAccording to Robert Schaefer, CEO of AlsoEnergy, when integrated with PowerTrack – the company’s advanced cloud-based software platform for monitoring renewable energy system performance – there are additional efficiencies realized. The portfolio of tools help automate key functions and processes associated with operating and maintaining a portfolio of solar photovoltaic fields.

“If a site shows that there is low production, the PowerTrack system sends this alert to the appropriate people and creates an associated task, thus enabling timely performance management that minimizes system downtime and lost production,” explained Schaefer.

PowerRes, added Schaefer, is a low-cost, portfolio management and monitoring system for solar developers that is ideal for the residential marketplace. It incorporates an easy to install, cellular-based Itron Sentinel socket meter. When integrated with PowerTrack and PowerOperations, it allows developers to deploy and manage thousands of residential sites. Schaefer said PowerRes also includes operations and maintenance of distributed energy assets and can also track performance guarantees.

“Our renewable energy customers and conference attendees indicated that they want to go way beyond simple measuring,” added Schaefer. “So we have successfully integrated management, operations and maintenance for residential, commercial and utility installations. At Intersolar North America we emphasized again how AlsoEnergy can lower the cost, improve the efficiency and improve the performance of renewable energy generation for developers, operators, financiers and EPCs.”

Energy, energy efficiency, Renewable Energy, Solar

BioEnergy Bytes

Joanna Schroeder

  • BioEnergyBytesDFRocky Mountain Institute (RMI) has chosen Jules Kortenhorst to be the organization’s new CEO. As the founding CEO of the European Climate Foundation, Kortenhorst brings significant experience and understanding of the global energy issues RMI works to solve. As CEO, Kortenhorst will report to RMI’s Board and will be primarily responsible for further developing the organization’s strategic vision, the overall fiscal management and stability of the organization, and ensuring RMI’s programmatic initiatives have continued and increasing impact.
  • Frost & Sullivan is hosting a free webinar on August 6, 2013 to discuss the key trends and opportunities in the renewable energy market in Latin America. The key speaker will be Gustavo Stainoh, research analyst for Frost and Sullivan’s Energy & Environment Practice. The briefing will investigate the key trends within the Latin America renewable energy industry, as well as identify its main drivers and restraints. To attend the briefing, email Francesca Valente and include your full name, job title, company name, company telephone number, company email address and website, city, state and country.
  • HMC Farms, is moving forward with Cenergy Power on a 10 acre solar photovoltaic (PV) farm. The 2.2MW solar system will span across 390,000 square feet of ground space and will enable HMC to significantly hedge against rising electric utility charges on two cold storage and packaging meters. An additional 70kW solar carport will be added to supplant HMC’s energy use at the main office building on the property.
  • The Worldwatch Institute is assisting the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) in developing a Caribbean Sustainable Energy Roadmap and Strategy to provide a more strategic approach to implementing renewable energy and energy efficiency measures in the region. The overall goals are to address the inadequate energy security of most CARICOM member states and to establish them as climate-compatible economies through greater diversification of the energy supply away from heavy dependence on imported petroleum products and toward smarter, more-sustainable energy technologies. The report will be released later this month.
  • The OnSite Energy Conference & Trade Show, being held in Brisbane, Queensland (Australia) September 23-35 as announced its agenda. The conference will cover solar, wind, biomass, algae, anaerobic digestion and the biofuels industries.
Bioenergy Bytes

Viesel Fuel Upgrades Enzymatic Biodiesel Plant

John Davis

ViesellogoFlorida-based Viesel Fuel, LLC has upgraded its enzymatic biodiesel plant using technology from Danish company Novozymes. This BioFuels Journal article says Viesel’s green fuel is considered an approved biomass-based diesel under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), meets ASTM International D6751 standards and is on track to be approved for BQ9000 quality assurance.

The Novozymes enzymatic process requires less energy than traditional biodiesel processes, thereby reducing greenhouse gas emissions at a higher rate.

“Novozymes’ leadership in enzymatic processes will change the way the world produces biofuel and we at Viesel Fuel are very enthusiastic to be pioneering their technology to install a commercial scale biodiesel facility,” stated Stuart Lamb, CEO of Viesel Fuel.

The article goes on to say that Novozymes’ enzymatic process is also helping produce a higher value glycerin as a byproduct. Viesel Fuel is one of the first to use Novozymes technology on a commercial scale in North America.


Genscape Issues Cautionary Alert to Corn Buyers

Joanna Schroeder

Genscape has recreated the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) corn yield projections for the 2013 season and is issuing a cautionary alert to corn buyers, traders and other market participants. GenscapeAugust 2013 Yield Forecast Accuracy tapped into its LandViewer model that uses a methodological tripod of high resolution satellite imagery, extensive on-the-ground surveillance, and proprietary algorithms to pinpoint corn yields at the farmland parcel, county, state, and national levels to provide a framework for its corn yield projections.

As of July 11th, the USDA projects average U.S. corn yields of 156.5 bushes per acre (bpa) and 14 billion bushels of corn supply for the 2013 season. However, Genscape’s LandViewer model indicates that if USDA national predictions are to be achieved, it would have to correlate to significantly higher average yield production rates in key corn producing states, such as Iowa, Minnesota, Ohio and Indiana.

“We feel that the USDA’s crop forecast would require far more production from key corn producing states than what our historical 5-year tracking data show,” said Dr. Steffen Mueller, senior director of Genscape’s LandViewer group. “We are issuing a detailed cautionary alert to our clients at this time – and continuing our independent ground verification.”

Genscape’s updated 2013 county-by-county corn yield forecast will be announced on August, 6, 2013. County-level state data will be available to clients via report, and Dr. Mueller will lead in-depth explanations and custom consultations.

biofuels, corn

Caterpillar Finances Waste-to-Energy Project

Joanna Schroeder

Blue Sphere Corp., a company in the Cleantech sector as a waste-to-energy and clean energy project integrator, has announced that its Charlotte, North Carolina project, a 5.2 MW organics-to-energy anaerobic digester, has received a signed commitment letter from Blue Sphere logoCaterpillar Financial Services Corporation, the financial arm of Caterpillar Inc., to provide $17.785 million in debt financing. Blue Sphere has accepted the commitment letter and has paid a non-refundable commitment fee of $177,852 to Cat Financial. This commitment is 100 percent of the debt financing required for the project.

Blue Sphere, along with its partner, Biogas Nord, AG of Germany, is acting as integrator of the Charlotte project, through its Joint Venture company, Bino Sphere. Biogas Nord has designed and built over 400 waste-to-energy plants in Europe, Africa and the Middle East. With the debt financing now committed, Blue Sphere is in the process of completing all closing conditions, including investment tax credit monetization, feedstock supply and permits. Blue Sphere expects to break ground on construction in the 3rd quarter of 2013 with an expected start date of 3rd quarter 2014. Once the project is in operations, Blue Biogas Nord logoSphere will continue as project manager and retain a 37.5 percent ownership position in the project.

Shlomi Palas, CEO of Blue Sphere Corp. sais, “This commitment letter from Cat Financial means that 100% of the debt project financing is now committed to our 5.2 MW organics-to-energy project. Our next step is to prepare and enter into final definitive agreements with Cat Financial to start the disbursement of cash and commence construction. The terms of the commitment letter give us until August 14, 2013 to close. Commencement of construction will, in turn, enable Blue Sphere to begin earning revenue pursuant to the terms of our joint venture with Biogas Nord.”

“Once the project is commissioned, which should take up to 12 months from the start of construction, Blue Sphere will start earning operating and management revenue from the sale of contracted electricity into the local grid owned by Duke Energy, Inc. In parallel, Blue Sphere continues to make progress on the implementation of our second project, a 3.2 MW organics to energy anaerobic digester project in Rhode Island. We expect the second project could begin construction by the end of 2013,” concluded Palas.

Alternative energy, Waste-to-Energy

RFS Hill Briefing Sparks Hot Biofuels Debate

Joanna Schroeder

Advanced Biofuels Association LogoThe Advanced Biofuels Association held an event, “A Policy Briefing on the Future of the Renewable Fuel Standard,” (#RFSFuture) in Washington, D.C. to debate the merits of the RFS and discuss the future of the RFS. The event comes on the heels of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power’s plans for a two-day hearing next week to discuss a series of RFS white papers that review various aspects of the legislation and the feedback received.

The RFS briefing featured opening remarks from Wayne Simmons, President & CEO/Board Director for Sundrop Fuels along with:

  •  A keynote speech from Heather Zichal, Deputy Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change, Office of Energy and Climate Change Policy, Domestic Policy Council, Executive Office of the President.
  • Remarks from Representative Alan Nunnelle, (R-MS) who serves on the House Appropriations Committee and is the Vice Chairman of Energy and Water Development, and Related Agencies.

Rep. Nunnelle noted that he has been intimately involved in working on the RFS white papers. He also said that American energy provides American jobs and its was imperative the legislation, such as the RFS that he feels needs work, must support this.

The Hill logoIn addition, there was a policy panel moderated by Ben Geman, a reporter with The Hill, and featured John Kasbaum, Senior Vice President, Commercial Sector, KiOR, Inc.; John E. Reese, Downstream Policy & Advocacy Manager, NA, Shell Oil Products U.S.; Andrew Rojeski Vice President, General Manager Renewable Energy, Dynamic Fuels LLC; Chris Ryan President and CEO, Gevo; and Heather White Executive Director, Environmental Working Group.

Zichal began her remarks with a brief discussion of President Obama’s commitment to reducing America’s greenhouse gases and emissions, a part of his Climate Plan. She noted that biofuels, along with the Renewable Fuel Standard is an important part of this plan and discussed the lead the military has been taken in investing in and testing biofuels.

While many speakers support the concept of an RFS, several noted, including Reese and White, said the RFS wasn’t working and that corn ethanol needed to be phased out and more support was needed to bring advanced biofuels to market.

advance biofuels, Ethanol, RFS

NFU President Takes Part in RFS Fly-In

John Davis

NFUlogoThe president of the National Farmers Union (NFU) was part of a Washington, D.C. fly-in to talk about the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS). Roger Johnson talked blend wall, E15 and progress on the cellulosic ethanol front with Rep. Lee Terry, R-Neb., and Rep. Bruce Braley, D-Iowa, and others as part Fuels America‘s series of educational briefings.

“The RFS must be maintained to provide for a stable policy environment for the development of the next generation of biofuels,” said Johnson.

“American farmers and rural communities will continue to benefit from the expansion of the industry with new markets for farmers and the creation of good-paying jobs,” said Johnson.

The NFU points out that the RFS is ensuring choices at the pump while delivering economic, national security and environmental benefits.


Groups Applaud EPA’s McCarthy Confirmation

John Davis

The U.S. Senate has approved Gina McCarthy as the next administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on a 59-40 vote. Renewable energy and environmental groups, as well as commercial companies, welcomed her confirmation.

The National Biodiesel Board said it was thrilled by the vote:

nbb-logo“Gina McCarthy is a strong, dynamic leader who knows the intersection of environment and energy issues as well as anyone in the nation. She understands that we must move beyond fossil fuels to meet our objectives on these issues and has demonstrated a practical, balanced approach for doing so, including strong support for the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

The American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) says her confirmation shows a commitment to ethanol and other renewable fuels:

ACElogo“McCarthy understands the Renewable Fuel Standard to be the linchpin to our continued success reducing petroleum use and greenhouse gas emissions. She’s also familiar with how E15 passed the tests EPA administered before approving it as a safe option for 2001 and later model year passenger vehicles.”

The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) echoes other groups’ sentiments in pointing out it is already familiar with McCarthy and her views:

RFA-logo-13“In meeting after meeting over the years, we have always found Gina McCarthy to be approachable and open to dialogue. There is no question that she is a thoughtful, solution-oriented professional who will handle the tough job ahead of her with grace.”

Growth Energy‘s Tom Buis sees McCarthy as good choice who will take a fair approach to the RFS:

buis2“President Obama has chosen an excellent and well-qualified individual to lead the EPA and I look forward to working with Administrator McCarthy to continue to advance the growth and development of sustainable biofuels.

Adam Monroe, Americas Regional President for Novozymes, says his company is looking forward to working with McCarthy:

novozymes“The New Administrator understands the importance of stable policy, like the Renewable Fuel Standard. Across the country, smart, stable policy is creating innovation, investment in our communities and jobs for our workers. It’s also protecting cities and towns where our families live.”

Finally, the Sierra Club added its voice to the chorus of support:

Sierraclub“After dedicating her 25-year career to protecting our air and water, Gina McCarthy has a proven record of protecting American families and getting things done. It’s no wonder she received bipartisan support from the Senate today. We look forward to working with her continue the EPA’s vital work of protecting American families and holding polluters accountable.”

ACE, Biodiesel, Ethanol, Growth Energy, NBB, RFA

RSC Hearing One-Sided

Joanna Schroeder

Dont Mess with RFSThe Republican Study Committee’s Energy Task Force held an informational hearing discussing the impact of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) on July 17, 2013. Speakers included representatives from the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers, National Council of Chain Restaurants, the Turkey Federation, and the National Marine Manufacturers Association. The event happened to occur two days after the American Petroleum Institute (API) launched an aggressive TV and print campaign to reduce the use of ethanol, the roll-out of E15 and end the RFS.

Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) President and CEO Bob Dinneen said of the hearing, “The Republican Study Committee event is nothing more than a one-sided pep rally for Big Oil and Big Food.”

Dinneen continued, “The RSC should be embarrassed by the lack of balance. Not a single representative from the ethanol industry nor a single national security, energy, environment, or auto expert who supports the Renewable Fuel Standard is participating in this event. The RSC is doing a disservice to the Republican Senators and Representatives who strongly support the RFS. Why is the RSC not giving these Republicans a voice?”

“The fact is the RFS was first enacted by a Republican House, Senate, and President. Does the RSC really believe Republicans who support the RFS, past and present, do not have the best interests of this great nation in mind when they move to make the U.S. more energy independent, more nationally and economically secure?” Dinneen concluded.

biofuels, E15, Ethanol, RFA, RFS