EPA: 100 Million Gallons of Biodiesel Produced in July

John Davis

The latest numbers from the EPA show that biodiesel makers produced 100 million gallons of the green fuel during July, down a bit from June’s numbers of 112 million gallons but still possibly on pace to surpass last year’s record production. Year-to-date production figures show just under 658 million gallons of biodiesel through the end of the month. Last year, the biodiesel industry set a new production record of nearly 1.1 billion gallons.

The National Biodiesel Board says that the EPA numbers show a total of 108 million gallons of Biomass-based Diesel for the month of July, but that figure also includes renewable diesel production. NBB also points that the biodiesel industry supports more than 39,000 jobs across the country, and with its increasingly diverse mix of feedstocks, biodiesel is the first and only EPA-designated Advanced Biofuel that’s produced on a commercial scale across the U.S.

Biodiesel, NBB

Former Ag Secretary Would Say No to RFS Waiver

Cindy Zimmerman

A former Secretary of Agriculture says he would advise against waiving the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

Clayton Yeutter, who served as agriculture secretary under President George H.W. Bush from 1989 to 1991, says he believes the markets will resolve the current situation. “Markets work,” he said during an appearance at the 2012 Farm Progress Show in Boone, Iowa. “We’re seeing adjustments taking place in ethanol, in the livestock and poultry industries, we’re going to see adjustments in the price levels of grains moving forward. There’s going to be a rationing process and a rationalization process.”

Yeutter notes that it is the EPA’s decision to make, but if he were advising the administration in the matter, “my advice would be do not grant the waiver.”

Listen to or download Dr. Yeutter’s comments about the RFS here: Clayton Yeutter comments on RFS waiver request

Audio, Ethanol, Ethanol News, RFS

Offshore Wind Project Hub Installation Scheduled

Joanna Schroeder

The Blyth Offshore Wind Demonstration Site has sailed some rough waters but now appears to be back on course with smooth sailing ahead. SeaRoc, who was recently awarded a contract for the project, has announced it will charter MPI Adventure to aid in the installation of Narec’s Offshore Anemometry Hub (NOAH). MPI Adventure is a dedicated vessel to transport, lift and install wind turbines and their foundations. Construction is scheduled to take begin this October.

“MPI Adventure is a state of the art vessel coming into this project off the back of a very successful installation campaign at London Array. We consequently feel the NOAH installation is in very safe hands,” said SeaRoc Operations Director Toby Mead.

NOAH will be constructed three nautical miles off the coast of Blyth and consist of a 635t tripod foundation, 100t platform and 25t meteorological mast. Once complete, NOAH will provide site wind speed measurements along side SeaRoc sister company Zephir Ltd’s already installed ZephIR 300 wind lidar. It will also provide needed data for the team constructing and operating the offshore wind energy farm.

“We very much look forward to working with SeaRoc on this challenging project which utilises Adventure to her full potential. She is one of very few vessels on the market capable of installing the 635t tripod in the water depths concerned and will as such be a great asset to the project,” added MPI Offshore Project Manager David Robinson.

Electricity, Energy, Wind

DOE Announces More Solar Grants

Joanna Schroeder

Yesterday I brought you the story that the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced a $10 million grant to develop concentrating solar power (CSP). As a follow-up, the DOE has announcement five more awards as part of its solar power innovation program SunShot Initiative that also supports research projects focused on lowering the cost of photovoltaic and concentrating solar power technologies.

The teams who received the award will collaboratively work together and work jointly with industry experts, universities and national laboratories to work together at the Department’s Scientific User Facilities, a national network of unique facilities that
provide over 10,000 scientists and engineers each year with open access to some of the best instruments and tools in the world, including x-ray sources, accelerators, supercomputers and nanoscale research centers.

“The past decade has seen explosive growth in the global solar energy market. American companies are helping to lead this dramatic progress – driving lower costs and introducing new, better performing technologies into the marketplace. These collaborative projects announced today harness the immense capabilities of our Scientific User Facilities to invent and deploy new technologies that will strengthen American manufacturing and technical competitiveness,” said U.S. Energy Secretary Chu. “As part of President Obama’s all-of-the-above energy strategy, advanced solar energy technologies are helping to provide clean, renewable electricity for homes and businesses across the country while diversifying the United States’ energy economy.”

The five research projects selected fall under two levels: establishing scientific user facility research partnerships and developing a new scientific user facility instrument. Two projects were awarded a total of $900,000 in the first level and three projects were awarded $2.6 million.

PLANT PV will partner with Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s Molecular Foundry to develop 3D mapping tools for higher performing thin film solar material. The University of Colorado will use tools available at Oak Ridge National Laboratory to research high-temperature inexpensive materials for concentrating solar power technologies.

Researchers from Sandia National Laboratories will partner with the Center for Integrated Nanotechnologies in New Mexico to improve the efficiency of thin film photovoltaic materials, while Arizona State University will use x-ray technologies at Argonne National Laboratory to address solar cell material performance. In addition, Stanford University will partner with SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory to research inexpensive ways to print solar cells.

Electricity, Energy, Research, Solar

UC Davis Works to Develop Renewable Diesel Fuels

Joanna Schroeder

Researchers at the Center for Environmental Research and Technology (CE-CERT) located at University of California, Riverside, are working to develop diesel formulations with higher levels of renewable biofuels. The research supports the goal of California to reduce emissions in fuels and lower greenhouse gases.

So far, researchers have evaluated the potential impacts of using biodiesel in diesel sold in the state. A common biodiesel blend is B20 (20 percent biodiesel and 80 percent diesel) and many believe that higher blends can be successfully used. Research has shown that biodiesel lowers carbon dioxide emissions because it is produced from renewable sources.

Biodiesel use and production is on the upward swing in the U.S. and over the past decade has jumped from 2 million gallons produced annually in 2002 to 1.1 billion gallons produced in 2011 according the National Biodiesel Board.

Although biodiesel provides benefits in a number of emissions components, such as hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, and particulate matter, one issue with biodiesel is its potential to increase nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions, a key contributor to smog. Therefore, researchers are studying this closely to develop diesel formulations that would use biodiesel at higher levels, such as B20, while reducing or eliminating any NOx emissions.

“The results show that research is still needed to find optimal biofuel blends that achieve maximum environmental benefits in all aspects,” said Thomas D. Durbin, a research engineer at CE-CERT and the lead author of the recent journal article in Environmental Science and Technology where the findings were outlined.

California is looking to increase the use of B5 blends but is looking for more research before adopting widespread use of higher biodiesel blends.

Biodiesel, biofuels, Research

PV Training Yard to be Unveiled

Joanna Schroeder

Salt Lake Community College (SLCC) Green Academy is unveiling Utah’s only Solar Photovoltaic (PV) training yard on September 6, 2012. The launch will highlight the Solar PV training yard and classroom space, and will feature student and faculty-led abbreviated labs and solar panel demonstrations.

“The completion of the photovoltaic training yard is an exciting addition to sustainable green energy practice and workforce development in Utah. It’s been great to be a part of this project—it demonstrates the College’s commitment to help prepare Utah’s workforce for renewable energy technologies and conservation,” said SLCC Dean of the School of Professional and Economic Development Karen Gunn. “The new training yard is the first of its kind in the state and will facilitate Utah’s capacity to meet industry demands for highly skilled green energy technicians.”

The college has received two grants from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) for a total of $2.1 million. SLCC was selected as one of only a dozen sites nationally for Deborah Buterbaugh, Energy Project Specialist for DOE to visit to see how the College has developed its innovative Solar PV training yard. She will be on hand for the unveiling celebration.

The Solar PV Training yard is a resource for industry professional and prospective technicians looking to learn about solar technologies through hands-on training. The curriculum for the courses are provided by North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners and is taught by certified instructors.

Education, Electricity, Energy, Solar, Video

KSU Coach Bill Snyder Plays for Ethanol

Joanna Schroeder

Kansas State University head coach Bill Snyder is playing for ethanol. He has become a spokesperson for a radio campaign to promote the benefits of ethanol sponsored by the Kansas Association of Ethanol Producers (KAEP). The radio ads are part of a season-long ethanol promotion and will be aired on KSU’s 33-station network during all regular season football games and Bill Snyder Show radio call-in shows. The first program airs on August 30, 2012 at 7:00 pm CDT.

The ethanol industry will also serve as the official game sponsor of the K-State vs. North Texas football game on September 15, hosting a tailgate party for their fuel retailer customers and providing the game’s halftime interview.

“KAEP is thrilled to be partnering with Kansas State Football and our agricultural friends on this exciting opportunity to share the message of ethanol’s benefits to the economy and environment,” said Mike Chisam, general manager of Kansas Ethanol, LLC and KAEP Board Chairman. “We hope that all football fans will learn more about how they can join us in advancing Kansas’ home grown fuel.”

The Kansas Corn Commission, Kansas Sorghum Commission and Growth Energy are also participating with KAEP in the promotion.

biofuels, Ethanol

Kelly Davis Joins RFA

Joanna Schroeder

Kelly Davis is joining the Renewable Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) as Director of Regulatory Affairs. She is an ethanol veteran and before joining RFA full time, Davis chaired the RFA Technical Committee while working for Chippewa Valley Ethanol Company located in Benson, Minnesota. Davis will start with RFA on September 4, 2012 and be based out of the St. Louis, Missouri office.

“Kelly will add immediate value to the members of the RFA, helping them to navigate the myriad of regulatory issues that come down from the federal government,” said RFA President and CEO Bob Dinneen.

“Kelly’s expertise will add greater depth to the RFA’s already deep knowledge of the regulatory and technical issues that can be the difference between profit and not for many RFA members. In particular, Kelly has tremendous expertise in ethanol exports, the EU’s Renewable Energy Directive (RED), and carbon accounting here and abroad. With her recent experience working with an ethanol marketing firm, she will also be a great asset to the RFA’s E15 regulatory team. We are thrilled to welcome Kelly to the RFA and are proud that she will continue to serve this industry as a member of our staff,” concluded Dinneen.

Company Announcement, RFA

Poll Says Increased Feed Costs, Food Prices

Melissa Sandfort

Our latest ZimmPoll asked the question, ”Beyond commodity prices, what will this year’s drought have a greater impact on?”

Our poll results: Thirty-eight percent said feed costs; thirteen percent said food prices; eleven percent said fuel costs and crop insurance, respectively; nine percent said crop inputs; eight percent said land costs; and five percent said tillage practices and other, respectively.

Our new ZimmPoll is now live and asks the question, ” How will the drought affect farm equipment sales?” For growers looking to update their fleet, or invest in new equipment and technologies, will they think twice when factoring in drought affects or will their pocketbooks still allow them that purchase – what do you think?

ZimmPoll is sponsored by Rhea+Kaiser, a full-service advertising/public relations agency.


DOE Invests $10M for 2 Solar Projects

Joanna Schroeder

The Department of Energy has awarded $10 million over five years for two university-led projects to advance the technological development of concentrating solar power (CSP). The award is part of two programs: SunShot Initiative, a federally funded program whose goal is to help solar energy become cost competitive with other energy sources by 2020; and the Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative, which brings together university teams from different scientific disciplines to focus on innovation.

The grant awardees are:

  • University of California – Los Angeles ($5 million over five years) is leading a team with researchers from Yale University and the University of California – Berkeley to investigate liquid metals as potential heat transfer fluids with the ability to withstand higher temperatures.
  • University of Arizona ($5 million over five years) is teaming with researchers from Arizona State University and Georgia Tech to develop and demonstrate new, molten salt-based, fluids as possible alternatives to traditional heat transfer fluids.

CSP technologies use mirrors to reflect and concentrate sunlight onto receivers that collect solar energy and convert it to heat that can be used to produce electricity. Therefore, heat transfer fluids are a key component of CSP systems the the grants were awarded to universities that are focused on improving heat transfer fluids. This advancement will increase efficiency and lower costs of CSP systems.

“Advanced concentrating solar power systems represent a promising pathway for utilities to provide reliable, affordable solar electricity to American families and businesses,” said U.S. Energy Secretary Chu. “The investments made today as part of President Obama’s all-of-the-above energy strategy will help accelerate commercialization of new, lower cost renewable energy technologies and diversify our nation’s energy portfolio.”

Electricity, Energy, Research, Solar, Video