February Biodiesel Production Hits Nearly 78 Mil Gallons

John Davis

epa-logoGovernment numbers show the biodiesel production pace for the year at just under a billion gallons. Biofuels Journal reports the EPA announced February’s production today at 77.6 million gallons of biodiesel:

The numbers show a total of more than 80.4 million gallons of Biomass-based Diesel for February, but that total also includes renewable diesel production.

With the February numbers, year-to-date biodiesel production stands at just under 150 million gallons.

Made from an increasingly diverse mix of resources such as recycled cooking oil, soybean oil and animal fats, biodiesel is the first and only EPA-designated Advanced Biofuel that’s produced on a commercial scale across the U.S.

Last year, biodiesel production topped just more than 1 billion gallons and supported more than 60,000 jobs in the U.S.

Biodiesel, Government

IRS Extends Biodiesel, Alt Fuels Deadlines

John Davis

IRSlogo3Want to feel good about Internal Revenue Service this time of year? Well, maybe you won’t be doing the wave for tax collectors, but the IRS is helping out those filing tax credit claims for biodiesel mixtures and alternative fuels sold or used in 2012. Biodiesel Magazine explains that several fuel tax credits, including the cellulosic biofuel producer credit, the biodiesel mixture credit, the alternative fuels credit and the alternative fuel mixtures credit, expired at the end of 2011. But with the passage of the deal on January 2 this year that extended those 2012 credits retroactively, if eligible, you’ll have until July 1 to file for them:

The deadline for filing claims for certain refundable excise tax credit payments had already passed before the [American Taxpayer Relief Act] was enacted. Such claims generally are due by the end of the first quarter following the earliest quarter of the claimant’s income tax year included in the claim. For example, a calendar-year taxpayer’s claim for biodiesel mixtures sold in June and July 2012 ordinarily would have been due by Sept. 30, 2012 (the end of the third quarter, which is the first quarter following the earliest quarter included in the claim). Earlier this year, the IRS released FAQs on its website that explained the procedural requirements for claiming the income tax and excise tax credits in light of ATRA. The FAQs did not extend the filing deadlines for claiming the refundable excise tax credits.

More information is available in IRS issued Notice 2013-26.

Biodiesel, Cellulosic, Government

Virginia Tech Finds Way to Get Hydrogen from Plants

John Davis

ZhangResearchers at Virginia Tech have found a way to extract hydrogen from any plant, a breakthrough touted as possibly bringing a low-cost, environmentally friendly fuel source to the world.

“Our new process could help end our dependence on fossil fuels,” said Y.H. Percival Zhang, an associate professor of biological systems engineering in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the College of Engineering. “Hydrogen is one of the most important biofuels of the future.”

Zhang and his team have succeeded in using xylose, the most abundant simple plant sugar, to produce a large quantity of hydrogen that previously was attainable only in theory. Zhang’s method can be performed using any source of biomass.

This new environmentally friendly method of producing hydrogen utilizes renewable natural resources, releases almost no greenhouse gasses, and does not require costly or heavy metals. Previous methods to produce hydrogen are expensive and create greenhouse gases.

Zhang’s process could hit markets within three years, a marketplace that could be at least $1 trillion just in the United States.

You can read more about it in the journal Angewandte Chemie, International Edition.

Hydrogen, Research

DOE to Fund Three Bioenergy Research Centers

John Davis

DOE_logo1Three labs working on advanced, next-generation biofuels will get funding for another five years … of course, if Congress funds it. The U.S. Department of Energy announced the intent to fund the BioEnergy Research Center (BESC) led by Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center (GLBRC) led by the University of Wisconsin-Madison in partnership with Michigan State University, and the Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) led by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. All three were part of the DOE’s 2007 program to accelerate fundamental research breakthroughs:

“Developing the next generation of American biofuels will enhance our national energy security, expand the domestic biofuels industry, and produce new clean energy jobs. It will help America’s farmers and create vast new opportunities for wealth creation in rural communities,” said Energy Secretary Steven Chu. “By investing in innovative approaches and technologies at our Bioenergy Research Centers, we can continue to move the biofuels industry forward and grow our economy while reducing our reliance on foreign oil.”

In five years of operation, the Centers have produced more than 1,100 peer-reviewed publications and over 400 invention disclosures and/or patent applications. Among the breakthroughs the Centers have achieved are new approaches for engineering non-food crops for biofuel production; reengineering of microbes to produce advanced biofuels such as “green” gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel precursors from biomass; and the development of methods to grow non-food biofuel crops on marginal lands so as not to compete with food production.

Each of the centers is expected to be funded at $25 million per year. The next five years are expected to emphasize work on new methods and discoveries, as well as developing new lines of research.

biofuels, Government, Research

Canadian Renewable Fuels Welcomes GF2 Policy

John Davis

canada-rfaThe Canadian Renewable Fuels Association welcomed this week’s launch of that country’s agriculture policy. The Growing Forward 2 (GF2) policy framework was unveiled this week, and CRFA sees it as good for Canada’s renewable fuels industry and the farmers who grow the feedstocks for biofuels:

Today, CRFA members are producing clean-burning renewable fuels across the country. This success is a testament to our Canadian farmers as well as government initiatives to promote economic growth and prosperity, like the federal Renewable Fuels Regulations, the NextGen for Biofuels Fund, and most recently, GF2.

“Farmers across the country are clear winners with increased production and promotion of domestic renewable fuels” said CRFA President W. Scott Thurlow. “Canada’s renewable fuels sector creates jobs and is helping grow the economy in rural Canada. Now, our members are taking the platform created by ethanol and biodiesel technology and using it to develop fuels, and value-added agricultural and chemical products, from a growing range of biomass. Programs like GF2 will help build-out this innovation so that the economic and business risk management benefits of domestic renewable fuels production will accrue for our farmers today and well into the future.”

GF2 is a five-year, $3 billion dollar investment by federal, provincial and territorial (FPT) governments for government agricultural programs and services.

Biodiesel, Ethanol, Government, International, News

Ethanol Blender Pumps Funds Now Available

John Davis

Federal money to help offset the costs of putting in ethanol blender pumps is being made available. The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) announced the USDA is now accepting applications for federal Rural Energy For America Program (REAP) funds to help gasoline retailers install blender pumps, the third year that blender pumps have been authorized as part of the REAP program and part of the USDA’s plan to have 10,000 blender pumps installed over the next five years.

RFA-logo-13“This program provided funding for hundreds of blender pumps the past two years, providing many consumers with the choice and flexibility they deserve to pick the ethanol blends that work for them based on their vehicle, their beliefs, and their budget,” said RFA Director of Market Development Robert White.

ACElogo“We can continue to break the stranglehold oil has over our nation’s economy and energy future by giving consumers more options at the pump,” said ACE Senior Vice President Ron Lamberty. “The USDA’s announcement together with the efforts of the [Blend Your Own (BYO)] ethanol campaign will go a long way toward making that happen.”

The RFA and ACE are offering free grant writing services to those interested in applying. Applications for the grant program are due on April 30, 2013.

ACE, Ethanol, Government, News, RFA, USDA

Register Now for Ethanol 2013: Emerging Issues Forum

John Davis

EmergingIssuesForumJust a few seats left for the Nebraska Ethanol Board’s Ethanol 2013: Emerging Issues Forum! The April 18-19 event in Omaha, Nebraska at the Magnolia Hotel will include several key speakers, including Ron Lamberty with the American Coalition for Ethanol, Greg Krissek from ICM and Sandra Dunphy with Weaver, LLP. Weaver specializes in EPA compliance and fuels consulting for the petroleum industry and will talk about Renewable Identification Numbers (RIN) management and compliance strategies:

This annual forum has become the “must-attend” event of the year for ethanol industry leaders and advocates. The forum is designed to promote interaction between speakers and attendees- and to provide insight and leadership on emerging issues in the ethanol industry and every level.

The lineup of speakers will talk about innovative ethanol marketing and promotion programs, distillers grains marketing, a financial outlook for the ethanol industry and environmental issues.

Register here.

ACE, Ethanol, News

Analysis: RIN Prices Not Pushing Up Gas Prices

John Davis

d-goodContrary to what some in oil industry are trying to tell the public, the recent rise in prices for Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs), the government’s tracking system to make sure companies are properly complying with federal rules about using renewable energy, is not pushing up gas prices. University of Illinois analysts Scott Irwin and Darrel Good say RINs also don’t make money in the supply chain:

We concluded that the buying and selling of RINs within that supply chain results in something close to a zero-sum game in terms of profitability for the industry. The result is that high RINs prices at the present time likely have a minimal impact on RFS2 compliance and the cost of motor fuel at the retail level.

Irwin and Good do admit, though, that RFS2 compliance costs could go up:

Even though ethanol blending margins are expected to remain generally positive in the future, the collision between the E10 blendwall and the RFS2 mandate in 2013 and prospects for an increasingly larger wedge between the RFS2 mandate and the E10 blendwall in 2014 and beyond raise the specter of sharply higher compliance costs. Soaring RINs prices beginning in January 2013 are an early warning sign about the potential for higher compliance costs, particularly in 2014 as the existing stock of RINs could be depleted entirely.

Read what they have to say here.

Research, RINS

More Corn Could Mean More Corn Oil for Biodiesel

John Davis

usda-logoAs we reported earlier this week, the latest USDA 2013 Prospective Plantings report says corn acreage will be at its highest level ever, but soybeans are expected to be lower. You would think that could be bad news for biodiesel makers, who make the green fuel primarily from soybeans. But Biodiesel Magazine points out that biodiesel refineries are already clamoring for ethanol plants’ corn oil, and the expected increase in corn at ethanol plants could increase the amount of corn oil being made into biodiesel:

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, corn oil use for biodiesel production almost doubled in the U.S. from 2011 to 2012, jumping from 304 million pounds to 571 million pounds, despite nearly the same volume of biodiesel produced both years. U.S. biodiesel producers used more corn oil last year than tallow, poultry fat or white grease, nearly matching yellow grease. In December alone, corn oil for biodiesel production was surpassed only by soybean oil.

Now soybean oil is still king in the biodiesel feedstock world, so we’ll have to keep an eye if the uptick in corn acres (and the oil it produces) will be able to pick up any slack from the downtick in soybean acres.

Biodiesel, corn

Growth Energy Joins with Military Support Group

John Davis

Growth_Energy_logo-1A group that lends its support to ethanol producers is also backing the men and women and their families who have served and continue to serve this country through the military. Growth Energy and the Armed Forces Foundation have joined in the “Fueling our Forces” campaign, a charity contest between Growth Energy members to raise the most money possible by September 1, 2013.

“We are excited to be partnering with Growth Energy this year to raise funds for the Armed Forces Foundation,” said Patricia Driscoll, Armed Forces Foundation President. “With 95 percent of every dollar raised going directly to support service members and their families, the Armed Forces Foundation is proud to have a strong ally in Growth Energy. We continue to work to raise awareness of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and the tragic suicide epidemic in the military through the Help Save Our Troops campaign and these funds will help in this uphill battle our nation faces.”

“Partnering with the Armed Forces Foundation is a great opportunity for Growth Energy and our members,” said Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy. “The spirit of the Fueling our Forces campaign—supporting our troops, veterans and their families—is a pillar of what we stand for as an organization and as an industry. Our members are honored to support the brave men and women, and their families, who sacrifice so much for our country and our safety.

The program is already off to a good start as Growth Energy members raised more than $71,000 for the Armed Forces Foundation during last month’s Growth Energy Executive Leadership Conference in Las Vegas.

Ethanol, Growth Energy