Plug In Day Celebrates Electric Vehicles

Sunday was National Plug-in Day and among many events around the country was a parade of electric vehicles (EV) with over 200 EV drivers taking part in Santa Monica, California.

The day was organized by Plug-in America and included EV events in over 20 simultaneous venues from Honolulu to New York with displays and demonstrations of plug-in vehicles by Nissan, GM, Mitsubishi, Toyota, SMART, Tesla, Ford, Coda and others.

“Only a few years ago, major automakers were literally crushing electric cars. Today, virtually every auto company in the world is selling or developing a plug-in car, and consumers are snapping up each and every one, stimulating our economy while helping the environment,” said Plug In America co-founder Paul Scott.

Among the event’s promoters was Nissan, which encouraged the 7200 Leaf owners nationwide to take part. “One year ago, the Nissan Leaf was just gaining public awareness. Today, thousands of drivers have chosen to go all-electric, with many more to come,” said Brian Carolin with Nissan North America.

Plug In Day will be followed up this Friday with the opening of the critically acclaimed documentary Revenge of the Electric Car in Los Angeles and New York. Filmmaker and electric-car advocate Chris Paine directs the movie, which follows executives including Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn in his industry-leading pursuit of zero-emission leadership.

Watch the movie trailer below:

Ethanol Leader Responds to Perry Energy Plan

Texas Governor and Republican presidential hopeful Rick Perry donned a hard hat at a Pennsylvania steel plant on Friday to announce his “Energizing American Jobs and Security” plan that he says will create over a million jobs and “reduce dependence on hostile foreign oil.”

“We are standing atop the next American economic boom – energy – and the quickest way to give our economy a shot in the arm is to deploy American ingenuity to tap American energy. But we can only do that if environmental bureaucrats are told to stand down,” said Perry.

“I believe in an “all of the above” energy plan that encourages the development of all our conventional and renewable sources,” he said, calling for the elimination of all “subsidies and mandates that punish consumers and skew the energy marketplace, leveling the playing field for all energy industries.”

The Perry plan would expand energy exploration offshore and on federal and private lands across the country by executive order and basically eliminate the EPA. However, while it touts an “all of the above” approach, some ethanol leaders believe it would promote oil above alternatives.

Iowa RFA“The Perry plan would leave America dependent on that single fuel – petroleum – with OPEC in charge of its price,” said Iowa Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO of Golden Grain Energy Walt Wendland. “The Perry plan would leave intact the federal petroleum mandate. The Perry plan would leave in place the fuel distribution monopoly of oil companies.”

Wendland continued. “But the most indefensible part of the Perry plan is that it would lock in tax subsidies for petroleum while eliminating them for all other competing fuels. That might make sense in Texas, but it’s a stupid policy for America. Governor Perry has said he doesn’t want the government to pick winner and losers. But the Perry energy plan does just that – and foreign oil is the winner.”

The Perry plan would “phase out direct subsidies and tax credits that distort the energy marketplace” but “preserve tax incentives for research and development.” IRFA notes that the tax credits for ethanol and biodiesel are set to expire at the end of the year while petroleum tax subsidies are in the tax code permanently with no scheduled expiration dates and some have existed since 1913.

Sad New From Today’s Indy Car Race

It was with great sadness that I tuned in to today’s Indy Car race and saw the 13th lap multi car wreck and learned that Dan Wheldon was killed. Wow. I’ve had the opportunity to get to know a number of these Indy Car racers over the years. You can say all you want about the wisdom of driving a “car” at 220 MPH but they are still people. This brought back memories of Paul Dana in 2006. I liked Dan and certainly took a number of photos of him in the winner’s circle. He was the winner of this year’s Indy 500.

Today’s race was cancelled after this happened. Then the drivers all rode 3 abreast for five laps to honor Dan. This is just a photo of my tv while they were circling the track.

Here’s a photo of Dan in the winner’s circle in at the 2007 Kansas Lottery Indy 300.

At the time I was working with our sponsor known at that time as the Ethanol Promotion & Information Council (now Growth Energy). Dan won the first race of that season in Homestead, FL. I asked him about racing on ethanol in his post race press conference.

Here’s what he said: Dan Wheldon Ethanol Comment

My prayers go out to Dan and his family. It is a shock when something like this happens. I also hope all the other drivers involved in the accident are okay.

Biodiesel Fuels Soybean Oil Production

Corn stocks and use for ethanol seem to get all the attention when the USDA World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates are released each month, but soybean oil use for biodiesel attracting some notice lately.

World Agricultural Outlook Board Chairman Gerry Bange says soybean oil use for biodiesel is up 44% over last year at 3.6 billion pounds. “The EPA has indicated its intention to enforce the billion gallon standard and what we’re seeing is a substantial increase in the amount of soybean oil being used to produce methyl ester, which is another way of saying biodiesel,” he told USDA Radio.

This is resulting in a tightening of ending stocks for soybean oil and higher prices. “What it’s leading to is a continuation of a fairly strong price at 55 cents per pound, compared to 53.2 cents per pound in 2010-11,” he said.

Ethanol Supporting Former Brazilian President Honored for Hunger Efforts

WFPA strong supporter of ethanol was honored this week for his efforts to fight hunger and poverty in Brazil.

WFPFormer Brazilian President Lula da Silva was recognized with the 2011 World Food Prize for his Zero Hunger strategy, which resulted in Brazil reducing by half its proportion of hungry people (with 93 percent of children and 82 percent of adults eating three meals a day) and also reduced the percentage of Brazilians living in extreme poverty, from 12 percent in 2003 down to 4.8 percent in 2009.

At the same time he was fighting hunger, President Lula was supporting a strong biofuels policy in Brazil, making the case before the United Nations in 2008 that it was possible for a country to produce ethanol and biodiesel to “reduce dependency on fossil fuels and at the same time create jobs, regenerate degraded land and expand food production.”

Brazil is currently the second largest producer of ethanol in the world, behind the United States, and uses sugarcane as a feedstock.

Ethanol Exports Drop While DDGS Rise

Ethanol exports took a dive in August, but exports of the ethanol co-product distillers grains (DDGS) set a new record, according to a post on the Renewable Fuels Association E-xchange Blog.

Renewable Fuels AssociationRFA’s Geoff Cooper quotes new government figures that show exports of denatured and undenatured (non-beverage) ethanol totaled 52.1 million gallons (mg) in August, down from 127.4 mg in July and the lowest monthly total of the year. Still, year-to-date (Jan.-Aug.) ethanol exports stand at 640.7 mg, nearly triple the amount exported during the same period last year. The United States remains on pace to export more than 900 mg in 2011.

Exports of denatured ethanol totaled 43.3 million gallons in August, with Canada receiving 26.4 million gallons. The United Kingdom (10.5 mg) and the Netherlands (5.1 mg) were other top destinations. Notably, Brazil and the United Arab Emirates, which have been leading markets for ethanol exports in 2011, did not import any U.S. product in August.

The U.S. exported 8.9 million gallons of undenatured ethanol in August, with Mexico (3.9 mg), the Netherlands (2.3 mg) and Singapore (2.2 mg) accounting for 94% of total shipments.

While ethanol shipments swooned in August, distillers grains (DDGS) exports hit their highest level of the year. DDGS exports for the month totaled 829,489 metric tons (mt), up 29% from July. Mexico was the leading destination for U.S. DDGS exports, receiving 196,685 mt (24% of total shipments). China was second with 151,204 mt. This marks the highest level of exports to China since December 2010. Canada, Japan, ad Ireland rounded out the top five DDGS export customers in August. Year-to-date DDGS exports stand at 5.25 million mt, and the industry is on pace to ship nearly 8 million mt in 2011.

Read more from the E-xchange Blog.

IT Management for Energy Crops

Farmers interested in producing and trading energy crops for feedstock could be helped by a new IT management platform.

Ontario-based New Energy Farms, a developer of the energy crop Miscanthus in North America, has teamed up with Muddy Boots Software to provide this new service to the energy crop market.

According to the companies, the platform will enable direct trading of energy crops or arable biomass from farmer to end user and allow users to work with large numbers of farmers directly through an aggregation system. Other benefits include accurate energy balance and audit reporting for the whole year or even each load, energy crop yield predictions and allowing a secure route to market for plant breeders to commercialize and license new cultivars.

Hino Showcases Biodiesel Approved Hybrid Trucks

The National Biodiesel Board (NBB) is partnering with Hino Trucks to showcase a new line of biodiesel-capable trucks at the Hybrid, Electric, and High Efficiency Truck Users Forum (HTUF) Conference in Baltimore this week.

The 2012 Hino 195h diesel-electric hybrid cab over truck, on display at the HTUF Expo, will show off its capabilities running on a 20 percent biodiesel blend (B20) and hybrid electric power during the HTUF Ride-and-Drive event today, along with more than 30 high efficiency trucks.

Hino Trucks, a Toyota Group Company, announced its full approval for use of B20 biodiesel blends in its new hybrid-electric truck as well as its complete product line of class 4 and 5 cab over, and class 6 and 7 conventional trucks in July 2011. Hino Trucks is the world’s third largest manufacturer of light and medium duty trucks, and now the fastest growing truck manufacturer in the U.S. Hino’s B20 approval statement joins those of competitors Isuzu Commercial Trucks, Ford Motor Company, International / Navistar, Cummins engines and others. B20 biodiesel blends are now approved by more than 95 percent of the medium duty truck market in the U.S., and by more than 60 percent of the U.S. diesel vehicle and equipment manufacturers as a whole.

“We applaud Hino Trucks for its foresight and proactivity in approving the use of B20 biodiesel blends in its new diesel and diesel-electric hybrid trucks,” said NBB CEO Joe Jobe. “The move toward B20 is a trend that is expected to continue as OEMs like Hino realize the value of biodiesel as a cost-effective, high quality fuel solution to help increase energy security and reduce emissions without sacrificing fuel economy or vehicle performance.”

According to NBB, 95 percent of the U.S. medium duty truck market is now approved for the use of B20 biodiesel.

Read more from NBB.

ICM Designs Cassava Ethanol Plant in Mozambique

Ethanol plant design company ICM, Inc. of Colwich, Kansas has designed and constructed equipment for a “one gallon per minute ethanol plant” currently under construction in Mozambique that will use locally grown cassava as a feedstock.

cleanstarThe project is part of CleanStar Mozambique, a company founded by Novozymes and CleanStar Ventures to protect forests, produce food, deliver energy, reduce air pollution and enrich lives. The vision of CleanStar Mozambique is to implement sustainable farming practices for smallholder farmers, and to integrate a food and energy production facility that will result in improved health and economic benefits for the people of Mozambique.

ICM“We’re thrilled to collaborate with Novozymes and CleanStar Ventures in this project,” said Dave Vander Griend, president and CEO of ICM. “Our employees put a tremendous amount of thought into the design in order to determine what equipment will work best for a location that has limited capabilities for overnight delivery. We are very proud to support CleanStar Mozambique in reducing exposure to breathing charcoal smoke through enhanced cooking practices, and improving the health and livelihood for millions of people living in the developing world.”

ICM’s Manufacturing division produced the shop-fabricated and specialty equipment components for the ethanol plant, which is designed to convert 18 pounds of locally grown cassava chips into a gallon of 185+ proof ethanol. Company officials say the reason the plant capacity is given in a “one gallon per minute” figure instead of the customary annual production number is that unlike plants in the United States, the Mozambicans do not have the ability to run the ethanol plant continuously, so the plant was specifically designed with the capability to start up in the morning, cease in the evening, and start up again the next morning. ICM has sized the cassava milling and cook process to operate 10-12 hours a day, and the small plant will include three fermenters and a beer-well. The distillation is sized to operate continuously, but the plant can begin and cease operations as needed.

ICM is providing a graphic control panel that contains the essential basics for motor control and flow control and during the start-up phase, ICM personnel will train the new plant operators in Mozambique.

USDA Predicts Smaller Corn Crop But Larger Inventory

USDAThe U.S. Department of Agriculture has shaved another 64 million bushels off projections for this year’s corn crop, but added 208 million bushels to beginning corn stocks for 2011/12.

Corn production is now forecast at 12.4 billion bushels, down 1 percent from the September forecast and down slightly from the 2010 production estimate, but still expected to be the fourth largest production total on record. Yields are expected to average 148.1 bushels per acre, the same as expected last month, which would be the lowest average yield since 2005.

Beginning stocks for 2011/12 are raised 208 million bushels from the previous projection based on the September 1 stocks estimate. USDA projected U.S. corn stockpiles at the end of the 2011-12 marketing year Aug. 31 at 866 million bushels, up 29 percent from a previous forecast but still the lowest since 1996. Corn supplies for 2011/12 are forecast 144 million bushels

The estimate of corn use for ethanol and by-products remained the same in the WASDE report at 5 billion bushels.