Geothermal Capacity Could Double in 10 Years

According to a new report from Pike Research, “Geothermal Power,” geothermal capacity could double in 10 years. The report concludes that increasing investment in geothermal power could result in a 134 percent increase in total geothermal power between 2010-2020. In other words, an increase from 10.7 gigawatts (GW) to 25.1 GW worldwide when based on a high-growth scenario. Using a more moderate growth scenario closer to the current rate of growth, the report estimates capacity would increase 34 percent to 14.3 GW by 2020. Geothermal energy offers many benefits including the ability to provide almost 24 hour per day electricity production with little to no emissions.

“Worldwide potential for geothermal energy is immense but geothermal remains an underutilized resource and represents only a small fraction of the global renewable energy portfolio,” said senior analyst Peter Asmus. “Improved access to resource data, more efficient drilling processes, increased understanding about the industry’s potential, and improving access to financing are driving expanding interest in the sector.”

According to Asmus, the current geothermal capacity is spread across 26 countries with a combined output of nearly 67 terawatt hours (TWh) of electricity. The U.S. is the global leader with 3.1 GW of installed capacity while seven countries represent 88 percent of the global geothermal capacity. Although traditional geothermal resources make up the majority of installed capacity, enhanced geothermal systems (EGS) and co-produced wells both offer opportunities for expansion.

The high-growth scenario used in the study assumes continued and persistent volatility in the price of oil, tightening carbon regulations, improved access to capital, standardization of geothermal exploration data, contribution from EGS-enabled and co-produced resources, technological breakthroughs in exploration and drilling equipment, improved access to drills and skilled labor, and sustained policies supporting renewable energy mandates, grants, and tax subsidies.

Asmus added, “Even if progress falls short in these areas the potential for geothermal market expansion remains strong, and even our conservative business-as-usual forecast is consistent with growth rates observed in the industry since 1990.”

Maverick Biofuels Wins NSF Award

Maverick Biofuels has announced that it has been awarded a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program grant from the National Science Foundation to develop a reactor system for converting syngas into high-value products. The company is commercializing a technology to convert biomass to a mixed-alcohol biofuel that can be readily blended with gasoline as a drop-in fuel. The process utilizes biomass gasification to produce synthesis gas followed by two catalytic reactions, which produces high yields of gasoline-compatible alcohols.

The SBIR Program ensures that the nation’s small, high-tech, innovative businesses are a significant part of the federal government’s research and development efforts.

“Given the level of competition and depth of peer review, this is a significant award for Maverick Biofuels,” said Jeffrey Harrison, chief engineering officer for Maverick.

The company is pursuing a hybrid business model that consists of licensing the technology along with building and operating production facilities with various partners.

Sinclair Oil to Make More REG Biodiesel Available

Sinclair Oil Corporation will make more biodiesel available for fuel distributors and consumers in Iowa, Illinois and Missouri.

The company is making dyed and clear biodiesel-blends of Renewable Energy Group’s REG-9000TM biodiesel available at Sinclair’s Ft. Madison, Iowa terminal, available 24 hours daily for carded drivers:

“Sinclair has a long history of providing business solutions for petroleum distributors and retailers. Offering biodiesel blends at the Ft. Madison, Iowa terminal is an important step in moving our refining and petroleum distribution businesses forward in meeting the Renewable Fuel Standard,” said Jack Barger, Vice President of Marketing and Supply for Sinclair Oil Corporation.

“We are pleased to partner with Renewable Energy Group,” added Barger. “REG® is committed to biodiesel quality and has a long-standing reputation for service to the petroleum industry.”

New Videos Demonstrate Wind Farm Benefits

Two new videos produced by Seimans in conjunction with Cannon Power Group demonstrate how a wind farm can benefit the local community. The videos are based on its Windy Point/Windy Flats (WP/WF) wind farm project in Goldendale, Washington with the first video focusing on the economic benefits of wind energy and the second video focusing on how to finance a wind energy project.

In the first video, Golendale residents tell the story of how the formerly struggling town has new life due to the wind farm. Like many small towns in America, the younger generation has had to leave home to find good paying jobs. But with the growth of renewable energy, such as wind power, the economic equation has been improved through the creation of new jobs and many of the “sons and daughters” are able to come home again.

To date, the capital investment in Klickitat County, where the WP/WF wind farm is located, exceeds $1 billion. The wind farm is actually one of the largest in the US with turbines spanning 30 miles along the Columbia River ridgeline. When completed, the wind farm will produce 500 megawatts (MW) of wind energy, enough to power more than 250,000 homes per year.

The turbines were manufactured by Siemans and “Wind Power Energizes a Community in Klickitat County,” and “Windy Flats – Financing Wind Energy Projects,” were produced by Siemens as part of its 2010 “Summer in America” campaign.

FPL Celebrates First Hybrid Solar Power Plant

Spanning nearly 500 acres in western Martin County, Florida the first ever hybrid solar power plant connects a field of more than 190,000 solar thermal mirrors to an existing combined cycle natural gas power plant to produce energy. Known as the Martin Next Generation Solar Energy Center, the one of a kind facility is owned by Florida Power & Light Company (FPL) and was “put into service” with the help of Florida Gov. Rick Scott and Florida Senate President Mike Haridopolos among others.

“From job creation to cleaner air to energy security, this project demonstrates the many benefits of investing in large-scale renewable energy, especially in Florida,” said FPL President and CEO Armando J. Olivera. “Leadership by the Florida Legislature in 2008 made this project and its myriad benefits possible. We’re hopeful that today’s leaders will take action to enable more cost-effective investments like this so we can continue taking dramatic steps forward to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and get more Floridians back to work quickly.”

FPL’s 75-megawatt Martin Next Generation Solar Energy Center will generate enough energy to power around 11,000 homes. The combined technology is expected to reduce fossil fuel consumption by approximately 41 billion cubic feet of natural gas and more than 600,000 barrels of oil and save FPL customers approximately $178 million in fuel costs over the facility’s estimated 30-year lifetime.

“Energy security is critical to our national security. FPL’s new hybrid solar facility is an important piece of an all-of-the-above energy solution, and I’m glad to see our state is once again leading the way toward a more secure energy future for Florida and America,” said U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney (FL-16).

The center officially went into operation in November of 2010 and is the third of several large-scale solar projects completed by FPL in the past two years. Combined, the three solar plants deliver 110 megawatts of energy to Floridians. In addition, FPL is already planning another 500 MW of solar power projects for the state in upcoming months.

New Study – More Ethanol Commitment Needed to Meet RFS2

In a new study from Air Improvement Resource, Inc. (AIR) commissioned by the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), the requirements of the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS2) can be met with ethanol if more infrastructure is put into place. In addition, more flex-fuel vehicles (FFVs) are needed. The report concludes that if “blender pumps” are made available at nearly one-third of the approximately 162,000 gas stations in the U.S., and if automakers honor and expand their commitment to produce FFVs, the majority of RFS2 requirements can be met with ethanol alone.

“Achieving the goals of the RFS2 and giving Americans more control over their energy future can be done with smart policies and targeted investment that expand ethanol refueling infrastructure and use,” said RFA President and CEO Bob Dinneen. “In a climate of fiscal concerns, this report demonstrates that we can meaningfully expand the ethanol market, reduce our reliance on imported oil, and create jobs without breaking the bank. Addressing the infrastructure needs of America’s renewable fuels policy cannot be based on a wish list. It must be grounded in sound research and analysis that identifies policy needs and the needs of the marketplace. This report clearly highlights part of the path forward.”

The AIR study examines 27 future scenarios regarding available ethanol volumes, FFV availability, ethanol use in non-FFVs, and the availability and location of blender pumps and/or E85 pumps. Based on the results of the scenarios, certain conclusions were drawn about the role ethanol can play in meeting the RFS2, which requires the use of 36 billion gallons of renewable fuels by 2022.

However, there are concerns growing that RFS2 goals will not be met, in part due to several anti-ethanol amendments in the Continuing Resolution that were passed by the House several weeks ago designed to “balance the federal budget”. The amendments inhibit the EPA from rolling out E15 and also disallow government funds to be used to install blender pumps and ethanol infrastructure such as ethanol pipelines.

According to RFA, expanding the use of ethanol will take a multi-pronged approach. Recently the EPA approved the used of E15 for conventional cars and light duty trucks model year 2001 or newer could help to grow the market for ethanol to 20 billion gallons over the next several years. However, RFA notes that even if E15 is ultimately approved for use in all conventional vehicles, meeting long-term RFS2 requirements will require the use of mid-level blends of ethanol higher than E15 (so fuel blends that contain more than 15 percent ethanol, 85 percent gasoline). Continue reading

Propane Ford E-Series Vans Recieves CARB Approval

ROUSH CleanTech’s propane Ford E-Series passenger and cargo vans have been granted California Air Resources Board (CARB) certification status. With the strictest emission standards in the country, all vehicles have to have CARB approval before they can be sold and operated on California roads. Once CARB gives its stamp of approval, many other states follow suit.

“This is truly exciting news for the ROUSH CleanTech team and our customers,” said Joe Thompson, president of ROUSH CleanTech. “CARB certification is that final nod of approval needed to launch a full line of clean burning propane-autogas-powered passenger and cargo vans to fleet managers in California and other states, who have been eagerly awaiting the availability of our cost-effective alternative fuel solution.”

With CARB approval ROUSH can now sell Ford E-150, E-250 and E-350 vans with propane technology. As such, Prime Time Shuttle, a ground transportation company that serves Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), will be incorporating the newly certified vans into their fleet. The company has 15 vans ready to go and will add another 35-40 over the next several months with its full fleet of 175 vans replaced with propane autogas technology within two years.

“We like what we see at ROUSH CleanTech,” said Rattan Joea, president of Prime Time Shuttle. “We’ve wanted to add the autogas E-series vans for quite some time, but needed CARB certification to seal the deal. We can’t wait to show our customers our commitment to a healthier environment with a reliable fleet of alternative fueled vans and shuttles, engineered with racing legend Jack Roush’s dedication to superior automotive products.”

The vans have already received air quality and emission approvals from the Environmental Protection Agency. Recently, the van was recognized with the “Propane Hero” award given to SuperShuttle for formidable performance as an alternative fuel vehicle at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.

Vilsack: US Farms Producing Enough for Food & Biofuels

The man in charge at the USDA says American farmers are producing enough to provide the food AND fuel, in particular ethanol and biodiesel, this country needs.

During the recent Commodity Classic, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack took on the food vs. fuel debate head-on.

“It is irritating to me that we have to read about this all the time, because what it is basically is saying is that the folks advancing this argument either do not understand or do not accept the notion that our farmers are as productive and smart and innovative and creative enough to meet the needs of food and fuel and feed and export.”

And Vilsack took the blame for food price increases off the American farmers and biofuels industry and put it on a more likely culprit.

“I think OPEC has more to do with food price increases than farmers,” pointing out that even if you doubled the price of commodities, farmers, with their paltry 20 cents of every food dollar share, wouldn’t see much of an increase in their pocketbooks.

Vilsack said that those who are trying to stop the opportunity for the nation to be more energy secure, while creating good-paying jobs in the biofuels industry, don’t understand what is at stake.

“First and foremost, it is about national security. We import 60 percent of our oil. Sixty percent of the resources we spend on energy are traveling somewhere overseas probably to countries we don’t agree with or don’t like us. It makes far more sense to me to continue to provide opportunities for investment here in the United States.”

Listen to more of Vilsack’s comments on biofuels at Commodity Classic here: Vilsack on Biofuels at Commodity Classic

Biodiesel Helps Make Livestock Feed More Affordable

While there have been some in the livestock industry that have had some real heartburn with biofuels, a new report shows that biodiesel has actually made animal feed more affordable.

The National Biodiesel Board has released a new study that shows how soybean oil and meal economics favor the livestock industry, potentially saving farmers and ranchers $4.8 billion from 2005 through 2009:

The basic rule of thumb is when demand for soybean oil increases, the price of the other soybean component (soybean meal) decreases, says the U.S. Department of Agriculture funded study by CENTREC Consulting Group, LLC. Increasing demand for soybean oil benefits livestock feeders through lower meal prices.

Illinois farmer and former economics and statistics professor Pat Dumoulin has seen biodiesel’s benefits from every side of the equation. She and her family raise corn and soybeans as well as run a 2,100 sow operation.

“No matter whether you are feeding pigs or people, biodiesel is helping meet the world’s growing demand for protein,” Dumoulin said. “With these economics, we would all win if the trucks that brought our soybean meal ran on America’s advanced biofuel, biodiesel.”

The NBB says this new study complements a January 2010 United Soybean Board report that showed how much biodiesel supports the soybean industry.

Coalition Urges Congress To Axe Ethanol Tax

The fight over the Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit (VEETC) continues. Earlier this week, a coalition of “usual suspects” made up of 90 business associations, taxpayer advocates, hunger and development organizations, agricultural groups, free-market groups, religious organizations, environmental groups, ‘budget hawks’, and public interest groups sent a letter to the Congressional leadership asking them to axe the tax. In addition, they asked them to continue to hold their ground on the anti-ethanol amendments that were included in their version of the Continuing Resolution.

In the letter, the coalition says…

“In particular, Congress has the opportunity to end the $6 billion a year subsidy to gasoline refiners who blend corn ethanol into gasoline. At a time of spiraling deficits, we do not believe Congress should continue subsidizing gasoline refiners for something that they are already required to do by the Renewable Fuels Standard.

Experts like the Congressional Budget Office and the Government Accountability Office have concluded that the subsidy is unnecessary, and leading economists agree that ending it would have little impact on ethanol production, prices or jobs.

We urge you to let VEETC expire and resist calls for spending on infrastructure for conventional biofuels.”

Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy responded to the letter saying, “It is efforts like these that perpetuate our addiction to foreign oil. If American consumers had a choice, most would choose the fuel that creates U.S. jobs, reduces harmful emissions and strengthens our national security. Growth energy has proposed reforming ethanol policies in our fueling freedom plan which would redirect the current tax credits toward the build out of infrastructure to deliver access to higher level blends of ethanol.”

The organization believes that with greater access to the market, the ethanol industry can do much more for our economy and environment. “Once the infrastructure is in place, ethanol will be able to compete without government assistance, creating an opportunity where ethanol will continue to create jobs, strengthen our economy and displace foreign oil. But, as we have said before, this investment won’t happen overnight. The one year extension of the ethanol tax incentive gives Congress the opportunity to consider longer term solutions this year,” added Public Affairs Director, Chris Thorne.