Celebrate Global Wind Day

Did you know that June 15 is Global Wind Day? Well now that you do, there are many fun activities you can take part in to learn more about wind power.

The event is coordinated by the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) along with the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC). This year, they are holding a photo competition.  To enter, find a way to convey wind energy technology in a new way. You can capture the turbines at dawn or capture the activities that take place around a wind turbine or in any way your heart desires.

Once you get your award winning picture, submit your photo to the Global Wind Day website. The winner will receive a  €1,000 Amazon voucher and the winning photo will become part of online professional photography archive.  The photo will also be published in Recharge and Wind Directions magazines.  Five runners up will get a voucher worth €250.

Yet what might be the coolest aspect of the competition is that all photos will be displayed in the European Union section of the event being held in Brussels.  The deadline for submissions is May 6th so you’d better start snapping away!

New Production Poll from BASF

BASFWith the 2012 crop year now underway, we’re introducing the BASF Production Poll. This new poll will be conducted twice each month during the season with timely questions that we think both farmers and non-farmers alike will find interesting. We’d love to hear from you. So let’s get started with our first one.

Please let us know if you have any questions about the poll.

Wind Energy ‘Green Growth’ Report Released

The wind energy industry contributed $32 billion Euros to the European Union’s (EU) gross domestic product (GDP) between 2007 and 2010. In addition, the industry grew more than twice that of the EU’s GDP overall. The information is part of the ‘Green Growth‘ report that was released today during the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) International Conference.

The report also determined that the number of people employed in the wind energy industry increased by 30 percent from 2007 to 2010 with approximately 240,000 people employed in the field. It is estimated that there will be nearly 520,000 jobs in the sector by 2020.

The industry was a net exporter of 5.7 billion Euros worth of goods and services in 2010 while the energy created avoided 5.71 billion euros of fuel costs in the same year. In addition, the industry invested approximately 5 percent of its spending back into research and development (R&D), while on average, wind turbine manufacturers invested close to 10 percent of their revenue back to R&D.

“Wind energy is a recession-busting industry,” said Arthouros Zervos, President of EWEA. “It is countering the recession – providing increasing economic activity, more jobs and exports every year to an EU struggling with an economic crisis intensified by ever increasing amounts of fuel being imported at rising costs to European citizens.”

To ensure the continued growth of the industry, Green Growth states that several things must happen including stable national renewable energy frameworks; a post 2020 energy policy with a binding renewables target for 2030; a joined up European power grid and single energy market; a more ambitious 30 percent greenhouse gas reduction target for 2020; and sufficient and dedicated EU funding for wind energy research.

Brazil Expects More Cane and More Ethanol in 2012

Brazil is expecting more sugarcane and more ethanol production in 2012.

UNICAAccording to the Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association (UNICA), the forecast for the 2012/2013 sugarcane harvest calls for 509 million tons, up 3.19% compared to the total amount of sugarcane processed in the previous harvest, which totalled 493.26 million tons.

Data collected by UNICA, together with satellite image mapping of the South-Central region obtained from the National Institute for Space Research (CANASAT-INPE), indicates an expansion of 3% in the total area planted with sugarcane and available for the 2012/2013 harvest while no significant gains in agricultural productivity are anticipated.

Of the total projected sugarcane crush for the 2012/2013 harvest, UNICA estimates over half of the sugarcane in the 2012/2013 season (51.25%) will be used for ethanol production, which is expected to reach 21.49 billion liters, up 4.58% from last year’s 20.55 billion liters. That total includes 14.54 billion liters of hydrous ethanol, up 11% from last year, and the rest anhydrous, a drop of almost 7%.

UNICA is projecting a drop in anhydrous ethanol production because during six months of the 2011/2012 harvest, Brazil’s mandatory ethanol blend with gasoline remained at the 25% level, 5% above the 20% blend currently in place. The organization notes that the projected production for each type of ethanol in the new harvest was calculated considering the current blend rate. “Should the percentage required by the government change during the harvest, hydrous and anhydrous ethanol volumes will also be revised by UNICA.” UNICA is also projected a drop of more than 8% in ethanol exports, which would bring the exported total down to 1.70 billion liters, compared to 1.85 billion liters in the 2011/2012 harvest.

According to UNICA Technical Director Antonio de Padua Rodrigues, current estimates indicate that the Brazilian fleet of flex-fuel automobiles and motorcycles will increase by 7% during the 2012/2013 harvest, an expansion rate that’s slightly below the projected increase in production o hydrous ethanol. “This means we are likely to observe a slight increase in the consumption of hydrous ethanol by flex-fuel vehicles during the next harvest,” he said.

Incentives Help Drive PV Market

The solar photovoltaic (PV) systems market is growing with the help of government incentives that encourage investment. This news came as a result of a new report by GBI Research, “Semiconductors in Solar PV Power Systems to 2015 – Government Incentives and Feed-in Tariffs to Create Growth Potential for Semiconductor Manufacturers.” The report concludes that investments in renewable energy will continue to be a major driving force of technological advances in the global semiconductor market. Semiconductors are used in solar PV systems.

The growth of the industry was helped along by programs such as feed-in tariffs (FIT). The majority of countries leading in solar PV adoption are in Europe including Germany, Italy, Czech Republic, France, and the UK. While there is no federal FIT program in the U.S., some states have experimented with them including California, Florida, Hawaii, New Jersey, and Washington.

Both China and Japan have announced their support in being the leaders in creating more efficient solar PV technologies and this has also helped boost the semiconductor market. Sales in solar PV systems were nearly $27.8 billion in 2011 are expected to grow to $32 billion by the end of 2015. Ultimately, the increase in semiconductor revenue has been invested back into development and improved the technology’s efficiency, which has improved the efficiency of solar PV systems.

The report said that next technological advancements will be focused on reducing energy losses and cost-per-watt in an effort to extend the grid to more remote places.

Growing GROWMARK Energy Business

From premium diesel, gasoline and lubricants to propane, biodiesel and ethanol, the GROWMARK Energy Division continues to grow and offer high quality products to member cooperatives and the general public.

The annual volume for the cooperative system’s energy division exceeds 1.6 billion gallons of gasoline, distillates and propane, and about 80 percent of the gasoline marketed by GROWMARK and FS member companies contains 10 percent ethanol. According to GROWMARK Energy Marketing and Communications Manager Ron Durdle, they own two refined terminals in Menard, Illinois and Ft. Dodge, Iowa. “The Menard terminal continues to be a good asset for us,” Durdle said during a recent GROWMARK media tour. “Recently added biodiesel blending there and the load-out equipment is state of the art.” Menard has storage for 80,000 gallons of ethanol and 30,000 gallons of biodiesel.

The terminal just east of Ft. Dodge was purchased by GROWMARK in the fall of 2010. “We’re upgrading that, adding biofuels to it and upgrading the facility in general,” Durdle said. GROWMARK’s interest in biofuels extends to part ownership of Mid America Biofuels, a 30 million gallon biodiesel plant in Mexico, Missouri. “It is definitely a mainstream part of our business,” he added.

Propane is a rapidly growing segment of the GROWMARK energy business with the cooperative system now ranked as the sixth largest propane marketer in the country. “GROWMARK FS is in the propane business out of New York state,” Durdle said. “In the bulk of our trade territory, in the Midwest, propane is used for grain drying. But a more regular business is home heat so we’re kind of working our way east there.”

The GROWMARK Energy Division brands range from Dieselex Gold and Comfort Pro propane to United and Archer lubricants and Fast Stop stores. “That’s our retail brand,” Durdle said of Fast Stop. “Very nice opportunity for us to serve other markets than agriculture with our retail sites.”

Overall, Durdle says reaching out to additional geographies and markets adds volume to the overall system and provides a better return for FS cooperative members.

Listen to an interview with Ron Durdle here: Ron Durdle Interview

Infographic Illustrates How RFS is Working

The American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) has released an ‘infographic’ entitled “It’s Working” which provides a vivid depiction of how the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS2) and ethanol are reducing oil imports and saving Americans money at the pump.

ACE Executive Vice President Brian Jennings says the infographic’s attention-grabbing charts and statistics were an important part of the group’s recent DC fly-in and can be used to educate the media and general public about the benefits of ethanol. “We felt the need to create a unique and informative tool about what the RFS and ethanol are accomplishing during our fly-in. Sixty ACE members hand-delivered it to nearly 200 congressional offices and, based upon their feedback, the infographic enabled them to make a persuasive case about the need to keep the RFS intact,” said Jennings. “We encourage all grassroots ethanol supporters to make good use of this valuable resource by sharing it with their policymakers and local media.”

The infographic cites data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration and other reliable third-parties and depicts noteworthy ethanol accomplishments since enactment of the RFS, including helping reduce oil imports and replace the need for 485 million barrels of imported oil, how U.S. ethanol production is greater than the gasoline which could be produced from the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Bakken Shale Oil Formation, and proposed Keystone XL pipeline combined, and how ethanol helps save consumers money.

The image here is just part of the total infographic, which can be viewed in its entirety on the ACE website.

Ethanol Safety Training in Chattanooga

The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), Norfolk Southern Corp., and Tate & Lyle will co-host a free Ethanol Safety Seminar in Chattanooga, TN on April 18th at the Chattanooga Fire Department Training Center.

The goal of this seminar is for attendees to gain a full ethanol emergency response training experience that they can put to use immediately in the field as well as pass along to other first response teams. A majority of this training is based on the Complete Training Guide to Ethanol Emergency Response, a training package created by the Ethanol Emergency Response Coalition (EERC) that has been distributed throughout the United States and to several countries worldwide.

“Ethanol is the most commonly transported hazmat by rail today. It is important that first responders are familiar with this commodity and proper response practices should an ethanol related emergency occur,” said David Schoendorfer, Norfolk Southern Manager Hazardous Materials.

“With this high volume of blended fuel traveling through communities, it is essential that first responders are as fully prepared as possible to act immediately in the unfortunate event of an ethanol emergency,” RFA VP of Technical Services Kristy Moore. “Safety will always be a priority in the ethanol industry and we are thrilled to be able to offer this type of training.”

To accommodate schedules and reach as many participants as possible, the seminar will feature a morning session from 9:00am to 2:00pm and an evening session from 5:30-10:00pm. Lunch and dinner will be provided. Registration is available on-line.

Renewable-Energy Exporter of the Year

The Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im Bank) is awarding Northern Power Systems (NPS), a Vermont-based company that designs, manufactures and sells wind turbines globally, its Renewable-Energy Exporter of the Year Award. The honor was given today during the Bank’s 37th Annual Conference in Washington, D.C.

Northern Power Systems is a great example of an innovative company that is creating American jobs by helping other nations meet their energy needs,” said Fred P. Hochberg, chairman and president of the Ex-Im Bank. “Ex-Im’s financing for renewable energy projects exceeded $720 million last year, and the Bank remains committed to supporting U.S. exports in this vital sector.”

NPS 100 wind turbines are exported into European Feed-in-Tariff (FIT) wind farms and hybrid power applications. Typically, the wind energy offsets diesel-generated power. To help grow its business, NPS recently used Ex-Im Bank’s Renewable Express financing to export 55 wind turbines for a FIT project in Italy. This was the largest export sale from the U.S. to date.

John P. Danner, President and CEO of Northern Power Systems said of the award, “Ex-Im Bank helps NPS successfully compete in global markets by allowing us to offer customers very attractive project financing. We are looking forward to expanding our relationship with Ex-Im beyond Italy to the United Kingdom and numerous other markets.”

It’s NBA Green Week

It’s NBA Green Week this week, sponsored in part by Sprint, and many companies are finding unique ways to reach basketball fans with green messages. One such partnership is between FirstEnergy Solutions and the Cleveland Cavaliers.  On April 10, FirstEnergy donated 40 Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) to offset the electricity use during the game. The REC’s were generated at the Meyersdale wind facility located in Somerset County, Pennsylvania.

How does a REC work?  When a renewable energy facility, such as a wind farm, produces electricity that is certified and then sold into the wholesale electricity market, REC’s are produced. (This is similar to a Renewable Identification Number (RIN) being produced for a gallon of ethanol or biodiesel.) Ultimately, RECs represent the positive environmental attributes associated with renewable energy.

Dave Hennekes, vice president of Retail Marketing at FirstEnergy Solutions said his company was pleased to donate the renewable energy credits for the game in an effort to help support further development of renewable energy.

Here are a few other initiatives:

  • Golden State Warriors and Esurance partnered to promote eco-friendly transportation options in the Bay Area on March 29.
  • Phoenix Suns are supporting a solar energy project.
  • The Trail Blazers unveiled several electric car charging stations at Rose Garden.