Who Knew? Morocco & Environment Go Together

Joanna Schroeder Alternative energy, Climate Change, Environment, Opinion, Solar

220px-Principal_Cast_in_Casablanca_Trailer_cropI have this urge to travel to Morocco if nothing for the sheer desire to re-enact Casablanca as Ilsa Lund, played by Ingrid Bergman. (Who wants to come along and play my husband Victor Laszlo played by Paul Henreid and Rick Blaine, played by Humphrey Bogart? Apply to @jmschroeder) While many people will be mumbling to themselves this is the stupidest idea they have ever heard, I now have a better reason to go: Morocco was one of the major cities selected to host major environmental events to celebrate Earth Day. Who knew that Morocco and the environment go together like Pringles and applesauce (Try it; it’s tasty!).

earth day morocco_for_distribution-1Rabat, the country’s capital was one of six cities around the world representing Global Earth Day for its environmental initiatives. For instance, Morocco has launched a $9 billion project to harness the Sahara sun; the solar farm is expected to supply 42 percent of its power by 2020. His Majesty King Mohammed VI, one of Green Morocco’s strongest advocates, has launched a project to plant a million palm trees by 2015. He has also directed creation of a national agency for the development and safeguarding of oases zones and Argan trees across the country.

In fact, back in 2010, then EPA Administer Lisa Jackson praised Morocco as a model for “its commitment to a clean, green economy.” She also praised Morocco’s leadership on the environment and sustainable development and noted that their projects offer a great example for how sustainable ideas can be spread around the globe.

Leading up to Earth Day, the city held dozens of events including environmental awareness workshops, seminars and presentations on innovative, environmentally friendly technologies. On April 22nd, Morocco unveiled its “National Charter for the Environment and Sustainable Development,” the first of its kind in Africa and the Arab and Muslim work, according to Earth Day Network President Kathleen Rogers. As part of this charter, 10 major new environmental projects were announced ranging from preserving ecosystems to environmental education in schools to fighting desertification to establishing rural development through environmental programs.

Today is the Day of Global Celebration and internationally known musician Seal, along with Nobel Prize winner Wangari Maathai as well as other celebrities joined Moroccans for Earth Day celebrations and asked the country to support the commitment for a Green Morocco.

I’m ready to celebrate a Green Morocco. I’m just going to arrive circa 1942 style.

Alternative energy, Climate Change, Environment, Opinion, Solar

USDA Renews Dairy Energy Pact

Cindy Zimmerman Audio, dairy, livestock, USDA, Waste-to-Energy

Agriculture Secretary Vilsack today renewed a historic agreement with U.S. dairy producers to accelerate the adoption of innovative waste-to-energy projects and energy efficiency improvements on U.S. dairy farms, both of which help producers diversify revenues and reduce utility expenses on their operations. The pact extends a Memorandum of Understanding signed in Copenhagen, Denmark, in 2009.

usda-logoUSDA support for agricultural and waste-to-energy research has played a key role in the agreement’s success to date. Since signing the MOU, USDA has made nearly 180 awards that helped finance the development, construction, and biogas production of anaerobic digester systems with Rural Development programs, such as the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), Bioenergy Program for Advanced Biofuels, Business and Industry Guaranteed Loan Program, Value Added Producer Grants, amongst others. These systems capture methane and produce renewable energy for on-farm use and sale onto the electric grid. Additionally, during this period, USDA awarded approximately 140 REAP loans and grants to help dairy farmers develop other types of renewable energy and energy efficiency systems at their operations.

Anaerobic digester technology is a proven method of capturing methane from waste products, such as manure, and converting into heat and electricity. The technology utilizes generators that are fueled by the captured methane. Dairy operations with anaerobic digesters routinely generate enough electricity to power hundreds of homes per year.

The Secretary was joined on a conference call to make the announcement by The Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy CEO Tom Gallagher and Doug Young, a farmer from NY who has benefited from this MOU.

Listen to that call here: USDA/Dairy MOU press call

Audio, dairy, livestock, USDA, Waste-to-Energy

Food Label Needs

Talia Goes ZimmPoll

Our latest ZimmPoll asked the question, “What is the #1 thing you look for on a food label?”

Our poll results: Nineteen percent said other, sixteen percent said Low Sodium, fourteen percent Don’t Read Labels, thirteen percent said Reduced Fat, ten percent said Saturated Fat Content, and we had a tie at nine percent saying Non-GMO and Organic. Three percent said Heart-check Mark, Fat Free, and No Synthetic Hormones and one percent said All Natural. The majority of our viewers chose Other. Based on responses, “other” constituted calories, carbohydrates, and ingredients. Evidently our viewing audience has a different outlook than the audience being interviewed by media about the “big debates” such as antibiotics, hormones, and non-GMO foods.


Our new ZimmPoll is now live and asks the question, “Does celebrity media attention sway your purchasing/listening/watching decisions? (e.g. Carrie Underwood supporting HSUS)?” Recently in Tennessee, Carrie Underwood has been a big voice for HSUS by publicly pressuring the Governor to veto a bill that would possibly end undercover investigations of animal abuse in the state. Carrie has used Twitter to its fullest, tweeting “@BillHaslam It’s not all about big business. Please look out for the little guys! Show TN that you have a heart…#NoAgGag”. She goes on to explain to questioners and agvocates that she is not against agriculture just against animal abuse. Would you not purchase a ticket to a Carrie Underwood concert based on her recent rant? Let us know.

ZimmPoll is sponsored by New Holland Agriculture.


Princess Cruises Honored for Biodiesel Efforts

John Davis Biodiesel

PrincessCruise1With the tag line of “escape completely,” Princess Cruises looks like it’s trying to escape to a more environmentally friendly fuel: biodiesel. This company news release says it has been honored by the Port of Seattle with a Gold Level Green Gateway Award for the line’s environmental stewardship, including turnings ships’ used cooking oil into biodiesel.

“We’re gratified that the port has recognized us for making a difference in local environmental efforts,” said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises executive vice president. “Passengers come to beautiful ports such as Seattle to experience the area’s natural beauty, so we are committed to doing our part to keep it that way.”

The company goes on to point out that its environmental goals and policies go beyond what is required by law and how Princess Cruises is committed to high environmental standards.


Ornicept: Wind Energy Technology for the Birds

Joanna Schroeder Alternative energy, Audio, Energy, Environment, Wind

DSC_2294Earlier this month, the winners were announced in the Clean Energy Challenge, and prize winner, Ornicept, has a unique technology that can aid in the mitigation of bird issues associated with wind turbines. The technology was developed last May by young entrepreneurs Justin Otani and his co-founder Russell Conard, who graduated from Indiana University. Early on they won a business plan competition called the “Best Competition,” that gave them the initial seed capacity. From there they relocated to Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Conard, says Otani is computer scientist with a bird habit and in college set out to create a computer program that could identify birds with video. When reaching out to biologists and other people on how he could improve the system, the commercial applications became apparent. Simultaneously, while Conard was working with biologists, Otani was working at the Johnson Center for Entrepreneurship for Innovation and running the on campus incubator and also serving as a consultant for student-started companies. It was through this process that he was connected with Conard.

RUSSELLOtani said there needs to be a balance between business and the need to protect wildlife – an issue that the wind industry is also dealing with. Eventually, the technology emerged and when it did, it was a state-of-the-art network of distributed cameras, computers, and computer vision algorithms. When working in tandem, it is a system for remotely collecting data on birds by species as they move through a survey zone.

What’s interesting, Otani explained, is that it may not be a whole wind farm that creates risks to bird but maybe one or two wind turbines that have the majority of impact. So if it’s pre-construction, using their data that lets you know where those high use areas are, you can often offset the placement of the turbines, even a 100 meters, and dramatically reduce the risk to birds.

Today, the technology is being beta-tested and refined and the plan is to roll-out the technology full scale soon. In anticipation of the launch, the Ornicept team will be displaying and discussing their technology during the upcoming American Wind Energy Association Conference & Exhibition taking place May 5-8, 2013 in Chicago.

Listen to my interview with Justin Otani here: Wind Energy Technology for the Birds

Alternative energy, Audio, Energy, Environment, Wind

Producing Biodiesel from E. Coli

John Davis Biodiesel, International, Research

ecoliResearchers in the United Kingdom have figured out how to produce biodiesel from E. coli bacteria. This news release from the University of Exeter says the work with Shell Oil makes a product almost exactly the same as petroleum diesel, removing any blend limits other biodiesel forms might require:

Professor John Love from Biosciences at the University of Exeter said: “Producing a commercial biofuel that can be used without needing to modify vehicles has been the goal of this project from the outset. Replacing conventional diesel with a carbon neutral biofuel in commercial volumes would be a tremendous step towards meeting our target of an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Global demand for energy is rising and a fuel that is independent of both global oil price fluctuations and political instability is an increasingly attractive prospect.”

The release goes on to talk about how E. coli bacteria turn sugars into fat, and thus, the oils to serve as a feedstock for the biodiesel.

Biodiesel, International, Research

Neil Young Fills ‘er Up with Cellulosic Ethanol

Joanna Schroeder advance biofuels, Cellulosic, Climate Change, Electric Vehicles, Environment, Ethanol, Video

Earlier this month, Hall of Fame recording artist Neil Young stopped by Sioux Falls, South Dakota to fill up his LincVolt with POET-DSM cellulosic ethanol. LincVolt is a hybrid-electric 1959 Lincoln Continental with onboard charging powered by cellulosic ethanol. He’s on a cross-country tour to highlight renewable energy.

During his visit, Young said you don’t see much about what is going on with the climate in the media. “It’s just not a fast moving subject. It’s a slow moving big story. But it’s not going to be going away unless we do something.”

He supports American-made fuel and noted that when he filled up with cellulosic ethanol, his vehicle is able to get an 80 percent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions (CO2) over traditional gasoline. “This is just incredible for the planet,” added Young.

Check out the video here and I must say his refurbished Lincoln is “DYNOMITE”.

advance biofuels, Cellulosic, Climate Change, Electric Vehicles, Environment, Ethanol, Video

Bioenergy Bytes

Joanna Schroeder Bioenergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDFRedfield Energy, LLC of Redfield, South Dakota has become a member of the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA).
  • POET Biorefining-Macon has resumed ethanol and Dakota Gold distillers grain production and has now added Voila corn oil to its product mix.
  • Solectria Renewables has commissioned a 2.15MW array at Cedarville University located in Cedarville, Ohio, on Earth Day. Cincinnati-based project developer and EPC, Melink Corporation, chose Solectria Renewables’ SGI series inverters to power this installation and SolrenView web-based monitoring, to monitor the array’s energy activity.
  • Peak Solar LLC now has a new 24-hour hotline for American homeowners who are working on or interested in DIY solar installation on their homes: 1-805-Solar-81.
  • Renewable Energy Systems Americas Inc. has begun construction on the 250 MW Buffalo Dunes Wind Project. Located southwest of Garden City, Kansas, the project was developed by Kansas-based TradeWind Energy and is jointly owned by GE Energy Financial Services and Enel Green Power North America.
Bioenergy Bytes

UPS Ramps Up Its Natural Gas Fleet

Joanna Schroeder Liquefied natural gas (LNG)

UPS is ramping up its natural gas fleet with the addition of approximately 700 liquefied natural gas (LNG) vehicles. In addition, the company will build four refueling stations by the end of 2014. Once completed, UPS says its LNG private fleet will be one of the most extensive in the U.S. The company has been operating natural gas vehicles for more than a decade. With natural gas prices 30-40 percent lower than imported diesel and U.S. production gearing up, the logistics company is investing more aggressively in the natural gas infrastructure necessary to make it part of the UPS delivery network.

UPS LNG truckWorldwide UPS has more than 1,000 natural gas vehicles on the road today. UPS’s alternative fuel and advanced technology fleet of more than 2,600 vehicles also includes a wide array of low-emissions vehicles, including all-electrics, electric hybrids, hydraulic hybrids, propane, compressed natural gas and biomethane. Since 2000, the fleet powered by alternative fuels and technologies has driven more than 295 million miles.

“LNG will be a viable alternative transportation fuel for UPS in the next decade as a bridge between traditional fossil fuels and emerging renewable alternative fuels and technologies that are not quite ready for broad-based long-term commercial deployment,” said Scott Davis, UPS Chairman and CEO.

New UPS-built fueling stations in Knoxville, Nashville and Memphis, Tenn., and Dallas, Texas, will serve its heavy-weight rigs traveling into adjacent states. With the addition of accessible LNG fueling stations, UPS also will add LNG trucks on routes from Dallas, Houston and San Antonio to further extend territory.

An initial investment of more than $18 million to build fueling stations will be supported by the purchase of these 700 LNG tractors and continued expansion of the natural gas fleet in the U.S.  UPS already operates 112 LNG tractor trailers from fueling stations in Las Vegas, Nev.; Phoenix, Ariz., and Beaver and Salt Lake City, Utah, and has its own LNG fueling station on its property in Ontario, Calif.

“When other shipping and logistics companies are talking about possibilities, we are putting alternative fueled vehicles on the highway,” said Davis. “LNG is a good alternative to petroleum-based fuel for long-haul delivery fleets as it is abundant and produces reduced emissions at less cost. At UPS, we are helping to knock down some of the biggest hurdles to broad market acceptance of LNG in commercial transportation by continuing to establish vehicle demand, fuel and maintenance infrastructures.”

Liquefied natural gas (LNG)

Lee Consulting: Alternative Energy Knowledge Center

Joanna Schroeder Alternative energy, Audio, Biodiesel, biofuels, Ethanol, Renewable Energy, Solar, Wind

Have a question about renewable energy? Then look no further than Lee Enterprises Consulting based in Sherwood, Arkansas and your go-to guy, Wayne Lee. Lee has been a consultant for nearly 30 years and about a decade ago, began expanding his expertise into biofuels as people began coming to him with questions. He said he began fairly small with the goal of becoming the one-stop shop for those in the renewable fuels industry. Today, his firm has a breadth of talent in biodiesel, ethanol, biomass, cellulosic, biobutanol, waste-to-energy, wind, solar, and more.

RWL1So what types of services do they offer? Lee says in it upwards of 100.

And what might be a common request or question for his team?

For example, Lee said they are often contacted to do project feasibility studies such as the feasibility to build a biodiesel plant, If the the outcome is a green light, the client will often ask his group to serve as the project manager. In this case, they would help find experts to design and optimize the plant, build the plant, install the plant and bring you up to speed and get you trained. Lee said if this is four different people, he has found that if there is a problem, the four different companies would play the blame game. But if it is one person coordinating all the partners, then he or she can get down to the problem quicker and have it resolved in a timely manner.

As the environment continues to take center stage, I asked Lee if when working with his clients, he kept sustainability in mind. He noted, “If you look at the renewable fuels industry and the alternative fuels industry as a whole, there is a lot of overlap, but really it’s an all of the above approach. I can see an ethanol plant with a biodiesel plant sitting adjacent to it and perhaps add solar panels on the roof and wind turbines on the outside. I think that the key is Mother Earth will give us a lot of free stuff if we’re willing to take it.”

Lee added, “I think that alternative fuels is here to stay. I don’t think that there is bad and a good. There is a what’s good right now. My hope is over the next few years the alternative fuels industry becomes a little more mainstream. Petroleum is here to stay but it’s getting harder to find and harder to get and that’s going to make its price go up. And I think we all have a duty to keep the Earth clean and the way it was meant to be.”

Listen to Wayne Lee’s full interview here: Lee Consulting Enterprises: Alternative Energy Knowledge Center

Alternative energy, Audio, Biodiesel, biofuels, Ethanol, Renewable Energy, Solar, Wind