Sapphire Energy To Sell Algae-Based Crude to Tesoro

Joanna Schroeder

Sapphire Energy has entered into an agreement to sell its algae-based Green Crude oil to Tesoro Refining and Marketing Company. Under the agreement, Tesoro will purchase crude oil from Sapphire Energy’s Green Crude Farm in Columbus, New Mexico, which recently reached a new milestone: continuous cultivation and crude oil production. This begins the first step of a commercial relationship to process Green Crude oil from Sapphire’s future commercial facilities.

SAPPHIRE ENERGY, INC. GREEN CRUDE OIL ALGAE“In less than one year, Sapphire Energy has started up its commercial demonstration to grow algae; has produced crude oil from our farm; and now with Tesoro as our first commercial customer, we’re providing barrels of our oil to be refined for market use,” said Cynthia ‘CJ’ Warner, CEO and chairman of Sapphire Energy. “This moment is enormously important for the industry as it validates the benefits and advantages of Green Crude, and confirms its place as a market-viable, refiner-ready, renewable crude oil solution.”

Sapphire says it is now producing crude oil daily from algae biomass. The company says its process enables algae to be processed without the need for a timely and costly drying step. With this process, which is the result of more than four years of research, development and field trials, the entire algae cell is now used in oil production, greatly improving yield. Furthermore, the process is scalable, and has proven to be effective with a wide range of algae strains.

In initial testing by Sapphire Energy, Green Crude oil was refined into on-spec ASTM 975 diesel fuel, proving its compatibility with the existing network of pipelines, refineries and transport systems. Moving forward, the company plans to grow production significantly to further expand its commercial demonstration and begin the transition towards commercial-scale production.

Joel Larkins, vice president of Renewable Development at Tesoro, added, “Tesoro is continuously looking at new technologies for producing renewable fuels. We are pleased to become a purchaser of Sapphire Energy’s Green Crude, which shows promise as an alternative fuel solution.”

advance biofuels, algae

What is a RIN?

Joanna Schroeder

Recently, Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL) gave a one minute briefing on what, exactly, is a Renewable Identification Number (RIN). Shimkus explained:

“Mr. Speaker, there’s been a lot of media coverage on RINs.

A RIN is a Renewable Identification Number, which is given to refiners upon the purchase of renewable fuels. It is then used by refiners every February to establish that they have met their previous year’s obligation under the Renewable Fuel Standard.

These recent stories raise a question as to why RINs are being blamed in the increase in gasoline prices. RINs are given away for free by ethanol and other renewable fuel producers to refiners and only have value in the submission of the report in February. We are currently in the month of March and soon to be in April.

There are questions that need to be asked on why such swift dramatic price shifts are being reported in the market. Are speculators at work? There is an excess of over two billion RINs. Why is that not proving and providing stability?

I encourage the media to ask these types of questions, but to simply jump on and blame the renewable fuels sector is incorrect.”

biofuels, Ethanol, Video

Senate Spending Bill Keeps Military Biofuels

Cindy Zimmerman

navy-biofuelsThe U.S. Senate yesterday passed a continuing budget resolution that would keep the federal government operating through the end of the fiscal year on September 30th and keep funding for advanced biofuels testing in the military.

By a vote of 40-59, the Senate rejected an amendment from Sen. Patrick Toomey (R-PA) that would have transferred $60 million in funding for military biofuels testing to increase Defense Department operations and maintenance funding. Toomey said in a press release he was very disappointed in his colleagues who “would rather spend taxpayer dollars on more wasteful biofuel subsidies than support essential maintenance operations for our military.”

Adam Monroe, president of advanced biofuels company Novozymes, praised the Senate for continuing its support of the Navy’s advanced biofuels program. “Every day we import oil, we’re putting our troops, families and country at needless risk. We can reduce that risk with a secure energy supply, including renewable fuels,” said Monroe. Last year, Novozymes opened an advanced manufacturing plant in Blair, Nebraska which specializes in enzymes for both the conventional and advanced biofuel markets.

The Senate spending bill was approved 73-26 and now goes to the House.

advance biofuels, biofuels, biojet fuel, Ethanol, Ethanol News, Government, military

Supporting the Renewable Fuel Standard

Talia Goes

Our latest ZimmPoll asked the question, “Have you recently purchased a gun?”

Our poll results: Thirty-three percent said Yes, Already Own Guns while twenty-nine percent said No, Don’t Own Any. Nineteen percent said No, Have Enough, Eleven percent said Planning To, five percent said Yes, First Gun Purchase, and three percent said Other. Looks like most of you have one or more guns. Let’s hope that ammo for those guns becomes available again soon! Right now it’s very difficult to find any and we all know that to be proficient in using a gun, it takes practice/practice/practice.

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Our new ZimmPoll is now live and asks the question, “Do you support continuing the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS)?” The Renewable Fuels Standard, or RFS, program was first created under the Energy Policy Act of 2005, and established the first renewable fuel volume mandate in the United States. It was expanded in 2007 and increased the volume of renewable fuel required to be blended into transportation fuel from 9 billion gallons in 2008 to 36 billion gallons by 2022. The program includes ethanol, biodiesel and advanced biofuels with the goal of helping America become less dependent on foreign petroleum.

The RFS continues to be challenged by the oil industry, some livestock and poultry interests and food retailers for various reasons but the biofuels industry contends the program is working as intended and has resulted in lower imports of foreign oil. What do you think?

ZimmPoll is sponsored by New Holland Agriculture.

New Holland, ZimmPoll

Big Oil’s Big Stall

Joanna Schroeder

ace logoBig Oil lobbed another attack today against the biofuels industry. Brian Jennings, executive vice president of the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) responded by saying the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) is not about the oil industry’s comfort; it is about providing cleaner American-made alternatives to consumers.

“The RFS costs taxpayers nothing and is doing exactly what Congress intended; saving consumers money at the pump and providing them access to new affordable blends such as E15. The RFS is also disrupting the lucrative choke-hold oil companies have on the market. As a result, Big Oil is desperate to repeal the RFS this year.”

Jennings continued, “With respect to Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs), every time a refiner blends a gallon of ethanol with gasoline, they get a RIN for free. When they purchase more ethanol than the annual RFS obligation, RINs are a reward and provide value to them. The fact there are 2.5 billion excess RINs available for use in 2013 is proof that over-compliance has been commonplace with oil companies. Refiners only have to buy RINs if they refuse to follow the law, and that’s what this is about – they have had more than six years to evolve and comply with the law, but have refused to adapt and change.”

“Most refiners are trying to keep an oversupply of RINs on hand, to be sure that they are able to control the marketplace. The current Big Oil hue and cry isn’t about ethanol supply; it is fear of actual competition,” concluded Jennings.

ACE, biofuels, Ethanol, Oil

Renewable Fuels Leaders Refute Oil Industry Claims

Cindy Zimmerman

fuels-americaLeaders of Fuels America held a press conference this morning to “preemptively answer misinformation on renewable fuel blends and gasoline prices” in a new report by the American Petroleum Institute.

Speaking in defense of the renewable fuels industry were the heads of several industry organizations and companies, including Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis, Renewable Fuels Association CEO Bob Dinneen, Advanced Ethanol Council Executive Director Brooke Coleman, Biotechnology Industry Organization CEO Jim Greenwood, Adam Monroe with Novozymes and Chris Standlee with Abengoa.

Listen to the entire press conference here: Fuels America Press Conference

advance biofuels, AEC, Audio, biofuels, Cellulosic, E15, Ethanol, Ethanol News, Growth Energy, RFA, RFS, RINS

Remembering Ethanol’s Past, Looking to Future

Joanna Schroeder

Remember the days when the ethanol industry was growing like gangbusters? And then the industry was hit with overblown concerns that are still prevailing such as “food versus fuel,” “land use” and environmental concerns relating to just how much greenhouse gas reductions biofuels offer as compared to traditional petroleum fuels. Then the recession took down ethanol plants, companies and consumers alike, and yet the ethanol industry still bounced back. Not enough hardship? Que last summer’s drought. Once again the ethanol industry took another hit and with this, the rural communities where most ethanol facilities are located, have begun to struggle as well.

The New York Times is remembering ethanol’s past and looking to ethanol’s future in its article, “Days of Promise Fade for Ethanol.” With nearly 10 percent of the plants idled and ethanol storage nearing capacity due to a drop in gasoline use, the Times is asking the question of whether ethanol’s light has faded. While the industry admits Kids Visiting Advanced Bio Energy Planttimes have been challenging, Todd Sneller, with the Nebraska Ethanol Board (NEB), says in the article that the industry remains optimistic that technological innovations and sound public policy will keep the industry afloat.

So what would happen to consumers across America if the ethanol industry fades away? One doesn’t have to live in a rural community to feel the impact if such a situation were to occur. Gas prices would go up. The country would need to increase its dependence on oil with all the problems that brings. People who were able to live and work in their hometowns will leave for jobs in larger communities with higher living expenses and less pay. Local, rural businesses will shut down. Homes will be shuttered.

Is ethanol’s light truly fading? Not if the industry can help it. The biofuel industry brings good paying jobs to rural areas across the country. Ethanol both extends the gas supply and lowers prices at the pump. Ethanol is a proven environmental asset for the transportation sector. Ethanol and the ethanol industry has other benefits as well. Yet why don’t people around the country or other know this? Because the industry doesn’t do a good enough job of telling its story in visually compelling ways.  Where are the faces of ethanol? Are you one? Get involved, tell us your story. The industry needs to be heard so it’s light keeps shining strong.

Ethanol, Opinion

Thank a Farmer Today

Joanna Schroeder

This week is Ag Week. Have you thanked a farmer yet?

For those of you reading this post and wondering why you should thank a farmer, remember that they not only produce our food, but also our fuel and fiber. Growers are planting and harvesting crops that are used to create biofuels – biodiesel, ethanol, cellulosic and soon algal-based biofuels.

Need some inspiration? Watch country singer James Wesley music video, “Thank a Farmer.” You can find James’ song on YouTube and purchase it at iTunes.

Agribusiness, biofuels, Video

Solarbrush Robot Takes Industry by Storm

Joanna Schroeder

A robotic invention by Ridha Azaiz, an aspiring German Engineer, is taking the global solar industry by storm. Spurred by the need to keep solar systems clean, or the energy yield of the solar panels would decline, Azaiz developed the Solarbrush.

SolarbrushAzaiz explains that a dirty solar power system only produces two thirds of its power, so Ridha Azaiz came up with a solution. Where solar power systems are most useful – in the aptly named ‘Sunbelt Countries’ like Morocco and Saudi Arabia or Arizona and California – sand deposits are a major problem for solar panels. His Solarbrush robot brushes sand and dust from solar panels until all the particles fall into the gaps away from each panel and onto the ground. Other robots suck, wash and clean the panels with water and detergent.

Azaiz explains these devices are difficult to use and require pumps and pipes which are usually more expensive than a small car. However, Solarbrush produced in higher quantities would only cost around $3,000 per robot. Solarbrush expects that to be profitable, four robots at a time need to be supervised by a service team. Currently, the Solarbrush robot needs to be manually moved from one row of solar panels to the next.

His technology is being noticed and Azaiz’s Solarbrush won the hy! Berlin Hardware Award. Now he is bringing his technology to America, and specifically San Fransisco where he will showcase his technology during the Clean Tech Forum and meet with potential investors.

Clean Energy, Solar

80 ChargePoint EV Charging Stations for NY

Joanna Schroeder

New York will soon be the home of more than 80 new ChargePoint electric vehicle (EV) charging stations. The program is being funded through a $1 million incentive from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA). The EV charging station installed at The Solaire in Battery Park City is ChargePoint’s first Bloomberg-EV-Charging-Stations-ChargePointinstallation of what will be part of a significant NYSERDA EV charging station investment. The Solaire, developed in 2003 by the Albanese Organization is the nation’s first LEED Gold-certified residential building.

“Upgrading the city’s EV infrastructure to new, universal ChargePoint chargers is imperative to the future success of a sustainable society. By working with ChargePoint and NYSERDA to bring new chargers to our LEED-certified rental properties in Manhattan, The Solaire, The Verdesian and The Vanguard Chelsea, the Albanese Organization hopes to inspire more drivers to consider electric vehicles, while providing current adopters with new access to convenient charging locations,” said Russell Albanese, Chairman of the Albanese Organization. “The partnership of ChargePoint and NYSERDA has been an excellent example of the public and private sectors working together to make a great contribution.”

Last year, Governor Cuomo announced $4.4 million being awarded to 10 EV companies, municipalities and other entities, including ChargePoint, to bring 325 charging stations to New York. Earlier this year, Governor Cuomo announced Charge New York, a new initiative to promote EVs through investing $50 million over five years. The program calls for investment in 3,000 public and workplace charging stations by 2018, plus other steps meant to encourage the growth of electric vehicle ownership. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has also announced a plan to make up to 20 percent (or 10,000 spaces) of new New York City parking spaces EV-ready over the next seven years.

“New York is laying the foundation to become a leader in the United States for EVs,” said Pat Romano, president and CEO of ChargePoint. “The majority of residents in New York City live in apartments and without this kind of public infrastructure investment, residents would not be able to buy electric vehicles.”

Electric Vehicles