RFA Urges CARB to Revise Land Use Change

Joanna Schroeder biofuels, Ethanol, Ethanol News, Indirect Land Use, RFA

It has been more than two years since the California Air Resources Board (CARB) committed to revise indirect land use change (ILUC) penalties assessed against certain biofuels as part of its Low Carbon Fuels Standard (LCFS). Since it went into effect, a federal district judge has ruled the LCFS unconstitutional; however, CARB was able to move forward with the law while litigation continues.

rfa-logo-09Since ILUC came to forefront, many peer-reviewed studies have been published that show CARB, along with other entities, have overstated the overall carbon intensity of corn ethanol. Despite the growing number of more accurate studies, CARB has yet to make any changes to the LCFS program’s indirect land use change estimates or direct carbon intensity values for corn ethanol. In response to the lack of action, the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) sent a letter to Mary Nichols, CARB Chairwoman.

“I am writing to again encourage CARB to honor its commitments to expeditiously revise the ILUC penalty factor assessed against corn ethanol and to utilize the ‘best available science’ when determining direct [carbon intensity, or CI] values,” wrote RFA President and CEO Bob Dinneen. “Revising the direct and indirect CI values for corn ethanol would be much more than a mere academic exercise; rather, a continued failure to update these CI values will jeopardize the ability of regulated parties to reasonably comply with the LCFS program’s increasingly rigid CI standards in 2013, 2014 and beyond.”

Dinneen’s letter cites a number of reports and studies published in the past several years that demonstrate CARB’s corn ethanol carbon intensity estimates are “unjustifiably inflated.” The most recent study, conducted by GREET model creator Michael Wang at Argonne National Laboratory and published in Environmental Research Letters, found the carbon intensity of average corn ethanol to be 62 grams of CO2-equivalent per megajoule (g/MJ), including possible emissions from ILUC. That’s 38 percent lower than CARB’s current estimate of 99.4 g/MJ for average Midwest corn ethanol.Read More

biofuels, Ethanol, Ethanol News, Indirect Land Use, RFA

ARA and Blue Sun Energy to Partner

Joanna Schroeder advance biofuels, aviation biofuels, Biodiesel, biojet fuel, Renewable Energy

Applied Research Associates, Inc. (ARA) and Blue Sun Energy, Inc. will be partnering for the design, construction and operation of a biofuels ISOCONVERSION Process (BIC) demonstration system using the ARA and Chevron Lummus Global (CLG) process for the production of certification quantities of 100 percent drop-in renewable jet, diesel and gasoline. The demonstration facility is scheduled for ground breaking in St. Joseph, Missouri in the first quarter of 2013 and will be operational in the third quarter of 2013.

According to ARA, CLG and their Biofuels ISOCONVERSION process produces fuels which are ready to use, without blending, in turbine and diesel engines designed to operate on petroleum-based fuels. The low-cost process converts any non-edible fats and oils directly into high-density aromatic, cycloparaffin, and isoparaffin hydrocarbons that are ideal for drop-in jet (JP-5, JP-8 and Jet A) and diesel (ASTM D 975 and F-76 Naval Distillate) fuels.

ARA and Blue Sun Partnership“The scale up of the Biofuels ISOCONVERSION process with our partners at Blue Sun will allow us to take a significant step toward commercial scale production of 100% drop-in fuels at prices competitive with petroleum in the 2015 timeframe,” said Chuck Red, ARA’s Biofuels Program Manager. “The hundred barrels-per-day demonstration system will be capable of producing large fuel samples, a key enabler for ASTM certification of our fuels.”

The Secretary of the Navy has set energy goals that include achieving 50 percent of energy consumption from alternative sources by 2015 for non-tactical uses and by 2020 for Navy-wide uses. To achieve the goal, the Navy has tested biofuels for both jets and ships.

“This partnership aligns perfectly with Department of Defense goals for production of alternative fuels,” said Leigh Freeman, CEO of Blue Sun. “The skill sets and experience of Blue Sun and ARA cover all aspects required to deliver renewable jet and diesel at DoD cost targets, on DoD timelines.”

Blue Sun also operates a biodiesel facility in Saint Joseph, Missouri, and has completed capital investments and the final steps to commercialize a new enzymatic processing technology. Blue Sun says its technology will produce the highest quality fuel from any feedstock at the lowest production costs in the U.S.

advance biofuels, aviation biofuels, Biodiesel, biojet fuel, Renewable Energy

Solar PV Atlas Report Released

Joanna Schroeder Electricity, Energy, Renewable Energy, Research, Solar

The new report, “Solar PV Atlas: solar power in harmony with nature,” has been released by WWF. The report shows that even if all electricity is generated by renewable energy sources, using solar photovoltaic (PV) alone, it would take only an insignificant amount of total land area. The report shows, through seven cases in six countries and one region, that less than 1 percent of the total land mass would be required to meet 100 percent of electricity demand in 2050 if generation electricity with with only solar PV.

WWF teamed up with First Solar, 3TIER and Fresh Generation to develop the report. It looks at Indonesia, Madagascar, Mexico, Morocco, South Africa, Turkey, and the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. According to WWF, the regions represent diverse geographies, demographics, natural environments, economies and political structures. They receive Solar PV Atlasdifferent but good average levels of sunshine, and all show vast potential for widespread development of solar PV.

“Research has found that PV power plants provide considerable environmental benefits, including a low carbon footprint and a short energy pay-back time. Replacing existing grid electricity with PV arrays significantly reduces greenhouse gas and heavy metal emissions as well water usage,” said Lettemieke Mulder, First Solar vice president for Sustainability.

The report illustrates that PV technology, when well-planned, does not conflict with conservation goals and clarifies that no country or region must choose between solar PV and space for humans and nature. Solar PV Atlas, supports WWF’s vision of 100 percent renewable energy by 2050. The organization is actively promoting investments and measures in renewable energy technologies.

Samantha Smith, leader of the WWF’s Global Climate & Energy Initiative, added, “As climate change increasingly threatens people and the natural world, it is more important than ever to work for the rapid and wide-scale adoption of well sited, responsibly operated renewable energy power facilities.”

Electricity, Energy, Renewable Energy, Research, Solar

PMEC Home of Wave Energy Test Site

Joanna Schroeder Alternative energy, Electricity, Energy, Hydro

Pacific Energy Marine CenterNewport, Oregon has been selected as the home for future site of a utility-scale, grid connected, wave energy test site. The project will be hosted by the Pacific Marine Energy Center (PMEC) and run by the Northwest National Marine Renewable Energy Center (NNMREC) based at Oregon State University. As part of the project, PMEC, will test energy generation potential and the environmental impacts of wave energy devices, at an ocean site about five miles from shore. Subsea cables will transmit energy from the wave energy devices to the local power grid, and data to scientists and engineers at on-shore facilities.

“PMEC represents a major step toward the development of energy from Oregon’s ocean waters,” said Jason Busch of the Oregon Wave Energy Trust. “I’m certain that Oregon will reap benefits from PMEC for many years to come, and the research and development performed at PMEC will help usher in this new form of reliable electricity from the sea.” The first installment of funding for PMEC was received in September, 2012, consisting of $4 million from the U.S. Department of Energy, along with a non-federal cost match.

PMEC design and specific site characterization will begin soon, along with the permitting and regulatory process. The exact ocean location for the PMEC site will be finalized in the next few months in a zone that has been selected in collaboration with ocean stakeholders. The goal is to install the wave energy technology in an area that will not impede shipping lanes and takes environmental impacts into consideration.

The project will consist of four “test berths,” open spaces of water dedicated to testing individual devices or small arrays of devices, each of which will be connected to the community’s electrical grid. Data associated with environmental and human dimension impacts will also be collected. Completion will take several years.

“This site selection builds on the global reputation of Oregon State University in both renewable energy research and marine science,” added Rick Spinrad, OSU vice president for research. “Future research results from this site will help ensure our state’s leadership in these critical areas.”

Alternative energy, Electricity, Energy, Hydro

Bioenergy Bytes

Joanna Schroeder Bioenergy Bytes

  • The Third International Conference on Thermochemical Conversion of Biomass, has announced a call for papers. The conference will take place September 3-6, 2013 at the Sheraton Chicago Hotel & Towers. Abstracts are due by March 15, 2013.
  • Become a Solar Citizen. The American Solar Energy Society is looking for solar success stories. Submit your story here.
  • The Geothermal Resources Council has elected its Board of Directors. New board members include Louis Capuano, III is Drilling Engineer/Project Manager at Capuano Engineering Company and Dennis J. Gilles, a member of the Board of Directors for U.S. Geothermal and formally the Senior Vice President with Calpine Corporation.
  • The City of San Diego has launched a new solar initiative called Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program known as FIGTREE.  Applications are being accepted to provide commercial property owners with 100% up-front, long-term financing for energy and water efficiency building upgrades and renewable energy systems.
Bioenergy Bytes

Nebraska Student Awarded NEC Scholarship

Joanna Schroeder Biodiesel, biofuels, Cellulosic, Education, Ethanol, National Ethanol Conference, RFA

Wade Hunt, a native of Sterling, Nebraska, has been awarded the National Ethanol Conference (NEC) Scholarship. Wade began his university academic career at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln as a chemical engineering student. From there, he was accepted as a research internship for the Undergraduate Creative Academic Research Experience (UCARE) program. He also selected to participate in NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory program, where he worked on proof of concept research for an extractor system. While in this position, he was able to perform analogous tests to degrade a common, large protein in aqueous solution. His senior project is to develop a packed bed reactor for the production of biodiesel. Wade is a firm supporter of renewable fuel resources and believes great strides need to be taken to further develop current and future processes to secure the world’s energy needs.

RFA Conference Logo[2]The opportunity to attend the NEC Conference: Driving Forward, in Las Vegas February 5-7, 2013 was made available by the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) and the Renewable Fuels Foundation (RFF).  The focus of the foundation is toward academia, industry and public policy makers as the industry addresses issues related to new users, new feedstocks and new technologies that will impact the future of ethanol. This is the fourth consecutive year the scholarship has been available to students in higher education with a focus on renewable fuels and intending to pursue a career in the industry. Wade will receive complimentary registration to the conference, providing him an invaluable experience and opportunity to connect with hundreds of ethanol leaders, policy makers and experts in the renewable fuels industry.

“The NEC presents an extraordinary opportunity to those eager to learn about the industry, and we are proud to present another commendable student the chance to join us this year,” said Mike Jerke, RFF Chairman and General Manager of Chippewa Valley Ethanol Company. “Ethanol’s best will be on hand to showcase the bright future that lies ahead of the industry, and we hope Wade will leave even more encouraged by what our speakers have to offer.”

This year’s NEC program will highlight critical regulatory, marketing and policy issues facing the ethanol industry. Experts will speak to the current market situation, and address how we as an industry can continue to grow through innovation, new technologies and feedstocks, and by developing more diverse and global markets. Keynote speakers include USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, Linda DiVall, President and CEO of American Viewpoint, RFA President and CEO Bob Dineen will give the state of ethanol report, among others.

Biodiesel, biofuels, Cellulosic, Education, Ethanol, National Ethanol Conference, RFA

Ag Secy Vilsack to Address NBB Conference

Joanna Schroeder advance biofuels, Biodiesel, National Biodiesel Conference, NBB

USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, who just accepted a second four-year term as part of the Obama Administration’s second term, will give a keynote address at the National Biodiesel Conference & Expo in Las Vegas February 4-7, 2013. Vilsack is widely recognized for his leadership in support of the biofuels industry. His address will close out the conference on Thursday, Feb. 7.

Tom Vilsack and biofuels Photo USDA,jpg“Sec. Vilsack is one of the strongest advocates for renewable fuels in the nation, and we are thrilled to have him speak to our industry at the conference,” said Joe Jobe, CEO of the National Biodiesel Board. “Federal biodiesel policies reduce dependence on foreign oil, build green jobs at home, and are stimulating a rural renaissance. Sec. Vilsack has played a huge role in the continued support for these policies, and we’re looking forward to thanking him for his unwavering support.”

Vilsack has called the biodiesel industry a shining example of the promise of a new rural economy, creating opportunities for energy security, farmers, and revitalized job growth in small towns.

In March 2011, President Obama laid out is goal of reducing oil imports by half by 2020 in his Blueprint for a Secure Energy Future. As part of the plan, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has increased the federal targets for biodiesel under the Renewable Fuel Standard to 1.28 billion gallons. Another win for energy security came on Jan. 1, 2013 when Congress passed the American Tax Relief Act, which included a $1 dollar per gallon biodiesel tax incentive.

Jobe added, “As we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the National Biodiesel Board, one of our goals for this conference is to examine where we see America’s Advanced Biofuel in the next 20 years. The Secretary has a vision for American agriculture’s contribution to energy security and the economy, and we are eager to hear his insight on our long-term role.”

advance biofuels, Biodiesel, National Biodiesel Conference, NBB

Sungevity Secures $125 Million

Joanna Schroeder Alternative energy, Clean Energy, Electricity, Energy, Solar

Sungevity has completed a series of venture capital and project financings securing up to $125 million. The funding includes $40 million in equity financings raised in 2012 led by Oakland-based impact investment fund, Brightpath Capital Partners, and home improvement retailer, Lowe’s. New equity investors Vision Ridge Partners, Craton Equity Partners and Eastern Sun Capital Partners, LLC, also participated. The funding also includes a combined $85 million in new project financing commitments from two parties including Energy Capital Partners (ECP) and an undisclosed commercial bank.

Sungevity Solar Installation Photo Credit Hardy WilsonAccording to the company, the funds will be used to support the development of solar projects across nine U.S. states. The company also has a presence in Europe through Netherlands-based, Zonline, and in Australia through a joint venture called Sungevity Australia.

“Our ability to attract substantial investment from a list of respected backers is a powerful vote of confidence in our highly scalable growth model and customer-centric approach to doing business,” said Andrew Birch, Sungevity’s Chief Executive Officer. “We believe this new funding will take us into the next phase of growth and allow us to deliver on our mission of building the world’s most energized network of customers who power their lives with sunshine.”

In 2012, the company optimized its Solar Social Strategy, which helped the company overcome the sector’s common hurdle of high-cost customer acquisition. Key components of the strategy include partnerships along with software that allows Sungevity customers to make referrals. The company also leverages Internet and satellite technology to circumvent the high overhead costs related to providing potential customers with pricing quotes, and it partners with a network of preferred local installers to offset staff-related installation costs. As a result, the company has reduced installation costs by 30 percent in 2012.

Nazar Massouh, who leads ECP’s energy-focused mezzanine investment activities, added, “Energy Capital is excited to partner with Sungevity to provide an innovative and flexible capital solution to efficiently finance its on-going solar installations. Sungevity’s unique customer acquisition approach, scalable business model and stable cash flow generated by its established customer base, is a natural fit for our diversified energy portfolio.”

Alternative energy, Clean Energy, Electricity, Energy, Solar

POET Producing Corn Oil at 25 Biorefineries

Joanna Schroeder Biodiesel, Ethanol, feedstocks, POET

viola-logoNearly all of POET’s ethanol plants have now producing corn oil: 25 of their 27 plants have installed corn oil technology bringing its total capacity to approximately 250,000 tons per year, enough feedstock to produce 68 million gallons of biodiesel annually. Branded Voilà, POET has been selling the corn oil since January 2011 with its ethanol plant in Hudson, South Dakota the first.

“Having a more diverse portfolio of products has been a benefit for POET, particularly when ethanol margins are challenging,” said POET CEO Jeff Lautt. “Expanding our product line is an important part of our strategy for growth.”

According to Lautt, one of POET’s four four Ingreenuity goals is to increase production of bio-based products, and corn oil is playing an important role in reaching that goal.

“There’s a bio-based solution to so much of what petroleum supplies today. It’s exciting for me to see POET playing a large part in providing those solutions,” added Lautt.

Biodiesel, Ethanol, feedstocks, POET

BIO, Fuels America Talk 2013 RFS

John Davis BIO, Cellulosic, Ethanol, Ethanol News, Government, RFS

As the ethanol industry awaits what the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will release for targets for this year’s Renewable Fuels Standard, members of the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) and Fuels America expressed their support for the green fuel.

ericksonBIO‘s Executive Vice President, Brent Erickson, said today in a news conference that they are expecting EPA’s release of the 2013 renewable volume obligations, very soon, calling them “vitally important to companies commercializing advanced biofuels,” and this is expected to be a pivotal year for cellulosic and advanced biofuels.

“Stability in the RFS is crucial to investment [in the advanced biofuels sector],” Erickson explained, adding that “competing industries” would like to preserve their long-standing choke-hold on the fuel market in this country. “While other industry groups are spending large amounts of money to undermine or destabilize the RFS, it’s time for Congress to reaffirm its commitments to this successful policy.”

Standlee2Christopher G. Standlee, Executive Vice President, Abengoa Bioenergy, said that the road to commercialization of any new technology is not short or inexpensive, but the RFS “provides a roadmap to increased energy independence and national security, with a long-term vision for the U.S. fuel industry through 2022.” He also highlighted Abengoa’s efforts in the Midwest to be on the leading edge of the new technology, citing its 25 million gallon cellulosic ethanol plant in Kansas under construction and expected to be running by the end of the year.

robeyOthers on the news conference called the RFS a bold, aggressive vision, with Wade Robey, a board member of POET-DSM Advanced Biofuels, saying Congress took the leap of faith without having the commercialization of cellulosic ethanol in place when it was passed. “It is clear [the EPA’s] volume targets have been optimistic; however, it is that optimism that has spurred many projects to be under construction and coming online soon across the United States. It has sped the development of this clean, domestic energy source,” prompting even foreign investors to jump into U.S. production, Robey said.

koninckxJan Koninckx, Global Business Director for Biorefineries, DuPont Industrial Biosciences, said America is now leading the world in renewable fuels because of the RFS. And he warns that abandoning this successful policy is not the way to go. “When we listen to those who want to repeal the RFS, what we hear is essentially an industry organization that wants the United States to turn its back on new technology … and keep the [U.S.] dependent on a 20th century technology. Turning our backs on innovation is certainly not in the tradition of the U.S. or the company that I am with.”

Listen to all of their opening remarks here: BIO/Fuels America News Conference

BIO, Cellulosic, Ethanol, Ethanol News, Government, RFS