Propel Tells Senate to Fund Ethanol, Biodiesel Pumps

The man in charge of a company that sells biodiesel and E85 ethanol to the public has told Congress that it needs to keep funding programs to help offset the costs of infrastructure that make the green fuels available to the public.

This post from Biodiesel Magazine says Matt Horton, CEO of Propel Fuels, told the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources how important it is for consumers to have access to renewable fuels and how S. 187, the Biofuels Expansion Act of 2011 would help that:

“With the primary location of the existing E85 and biodiesel fueling sites in the upper Midwest, much of the balance of the nation remains without such fueling facilities while Chrysler, General Motors, and Ford continue to produce almost 50 percent of their entire production as Flexible Fuel Vehicles,” Horton said.

Horton also explained Propel’s belief that the federal government must participate in establishing the alternative fuel infrastructure of the future.

“According to the DOE Alternative Fuel Data Center, there are approximately 2,350 public E85 fueling stations across the entire nation. This small number of sites serves an E85 vehicle population exceeding 9 million vehicles,” said Horton. “While it is not the government’s role to choose the fuel of the future, government can and should assist the private sector with offsetting the costs of such new infrastructure. We believe that the establishment of an infrastructure income tax credit represents the most appropriate role of government in this effort.”

Horton recommended a 50 percent tax credit (up to $100,000 per site) for putting in infrastructure with the ability to transfer that credit to third parties to help pay for the equipment, among other recommendations.

Ethanol Report on Boat Racing

Fueled with PrideA new partnership between the ethanol industry and boat racers is hoping to dunk the image of ethanol as a bad fuel for boat engines.

Through the alliance between the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) and the National Boat Racing Association (NBRA), the 2011 National Boat Racing Association Race Series will be “fueled with pride” and ten percent ethanol.

Ethanol Report PodcastThis edition of “The Ethanol Report” podcast features features comments from RFA Director of Market Development Robert White and NBRA president Dan Crummett about the new partnership and how it will demonstrate the safety and performance of ethanol-blended fuel in boat engines.

Listen to or download the Ethanol Report here: Ethanol Report on Boat Racing Partnership

Duke Acquires Martin Creek Elementary Solar Project

Duke Energy Renewables is the new owner of the 1-megawatt solar farm located on the grounds of Martins Creek Elementary School in Murphy, N.C. The 4,400 ground mounted photovoltaic (PV) module solar farm has the ability to generate 1.3 million kilowatt-hours of electricity per year – enough to power nearly 150 average-sized homes. Duke purchased the project from ESA Renewables, who until now, operated the farm on behalf of Duke. ESA also developed and installed the solar farm.

The site began producing electricity in March, and all the energy is sold through Blue Ridge Mountain EMC to the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) as part of its Generation Partners program. The students are able to interact with the solar system through an interactive electronic display. It helps them track power production at the PV facility.

The solar farm is believed to be the only one of its kind located on school property in North Carolina and the third largest solar farm on school property in the states. The 10-year power purchase agreement with TVA is set up to allow the school to share in any revenue created by electric generation. They believe the revenue generated will equate to the cost of salary and benefits for two full-time teachers at the school.

The Martins Creek Solar Project is Duke Energy Renewables’ fourth commercial solar farm in North Carolina and fifth nationwide.

Mossi & Ghisolfi Break Ground on Cellulosic Plant

Italy is soon to be the home of one of the world’s largest cellulosic ethanol biorefineries. Yesterday, Mossi & Ghisolfi Group (M&G) held a groundbreaking ceremony for a 13 million gallon per year plant located in northwestern Italy. The company believes its plant will be 10 times larger than the largest demonstration facilities in operation today and is scheduled to be fully operational in 2012. The technology will enable the facility to produce cellulosic ethanol from a variety of feedstocks. Novozymes will be supplying the enzymes for the plant. The plant will also use the lignin, a co-product as a result of the production process, to burn in an attached power plant. Any excess bioelectricity will be fed back to the grid.

“Laying the foundation for the world’s first commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol plant here in Crescentino is an important milestone for us and at the same time a new beginning,” says Vittorio Ghisolfi, President of the M&G Group. “This plant proves cellulosic bioethanol can be produced in a sustainable manner for the environment and for the industry. But research is not stopping here. We are assessing bio-based substitutes for a range of other petrochemical products and chemical intermediates.”

The cellulosic ethanol will be produced from a variety of biomass-based feedstocks including wheat straw, corn stover or other energy crops. In the production process, the biomass is first broken down into a pulp. At this point, enzymes are added turning the biomass cellulose into sugar. From there, the sugar is fermented into ethanol. Novozymes has been working with M&G for several years to refine the enzyme portion of the process.

“Today’s groundbreaking is fantastic news and signals the dawn of a new green era,” says Poul Ruben Andersen, Marketing Director Bioenergy at Novozymes. “With this state-of-the-art facility, M&G proves there is a cure for the world’s addiction to fossil fuels. Biofuel made from lignocellulosic biomass is no longer a distant pipe-dream. The technology is ready and plants will be built and run on commercial scale, offering a compelling alternative to conventional gasoline.”

Ethanol Leaders on the Hill

Members of the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) are in Washington, DC this week for a board meeting and some face time with Congressional leaders to discuss key issues in the ethanol industry.

RFA president and CEO Bob Dinneen (L), together with RFA chairman Chuck Woodside (center) of KAAPA Ethanol in Nebraska, were among those who met with Senator Ben Nelson (D-NE). “These are the men and women who are directly responsible for the production of U.S. ethanol, providing jobs and economic opportunity and an alternative fuel source to reduce our addiction to foreign oil,” said RFA President and CEO Bob Dinneen. “It is important that our members have the opportunity to discuss their concerns with their Congressional representatives on the critical issues that the ethanol industry is facing now and in the future.”

The top discussion topic on Capitol Hill for the ethanol industry is reform of the Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit (VEETC) in a way that continues to address market evolution and economics needs, together with expanding infrastructure investments and increasing efforts to encourage commercialization of second generation ethanol.

USDA Awards Grants for Sustainable Biodiesel, Ethanol

The U.S. Department of Agriulture has announced nearly $37 million in research grants to promote the production sustainable biodiesel and ethanol production.

This USDA press release
says the money is designed to help the country meet the goal of 36 billion gallons of biofuels per year by 2022 and focuses on three areas: crop protection for sustainable feedstock production systems, enhanced value co-product development, and carbon sequestration and sustainable bioenergy production:

“USDA and President Obama are committed to producing clean energy right here at home, to not only break our dependence on foreign oil, but also boost rural economies,” said Agriculture Secretary Vilsack. “These projects will give us the scientific information needed to support biofuel production and create co-products that will enhance the overall value of a biobased economy. This will propel us to out-educate, out-innovate and out-build in the field of renewable energy and help America win the future.”

Some highlights include projects in California and Michigan that focus on biomass feedstocks and some South Dakota projects that design ecologically optimized feedstock production systems and develop biochar.

The full list of award winners is available here.

Racing Boats to Run on 10% Ethanol

Just like their counterparts on land, some racing boats will now be making the move to ethanol blended fuel.

The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) and the National Boat Racing Association (NBRA) have announced that Hydroplane and Runabout racing boats will soon be speeding across the lakes of the Midwest on a blend of ten percent ethanol fuel (E10). The newly-formed partnership will provide all powered boats competing in the 2011 NBRA series event races with E10 (10% ethanol, 90% gasoline).

“American boaters have been utilizing ethanol-blended fuel safely and effectively for years,” said Vernon Barfield, NBRA Spokesperson. “Ethanol-blended fuel provides the high-performance engines in this series with the horsepower and performance they need to win. We are excited to show that our racing boats are able to perform to their best capability using E10 fuel, shaking the myths that ethanol harms marine engines.”

Today, nearly every gallon of gasoline sold in the United States is blended with ethanol, most commonly in the E10 formulation. This blend of fuel has been approved by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for use in all engine types, including marine equipment, automobiles, and small or non-road engines. These two-stroke engine boats will be taking engine performance to the next level, reaching top notch speeds operating on E10 fuel purchased from the same retail fuel locations as local consumers.

“We are thrilled to partner with NBRA to dispel any notion that ethanol is an unfit fuel for marine engines,” said Robert White, RFA Director of Market Development. “The use of E10 in these racing boats proves that this fuel is as effective during your weekly commute in your automobile as it is on your weekend boating trips.”

Through the partnership of the RFA and NBRA, ethanol pride will be displayed at every race. To educate and inform consumers about the use of ethanol, Fan Packs of ethanol information will be give out to the first 200 attendees at each event with RFA’s “Fueled With Pride” logo displayed on uniforms, course buoys and flags, t-shirts sold at the races by NBRA, trophies presented at national events, near refueling areas of all boats, and on signs placed throughout the viewing area. Through the Ethanol Driver Contingency Program, cash awards will be given to those who promote their use of E10. It is important that America’s consumers are aware the benefits ethanol blended fuels and the positive impact this domestic made fuel has on our environment and our economy.

Find out more at ChooseEthanol.com.

Ryder to Ride on Natural Gas

More Ryder trucks in Southern California will be riding on natural gas.

This company press release says Ryder has ordered 202 heavy-duty natural gas trucks as part of an agreement with the San Bernardino Associated Governments (SANBAG):

The heavy-duty natural gas truck rental and leasing project in Southern California is a $38.7 million project funded as part of a joint public/private industry partnership between the U.S. Department of Energy, the California Energy Commission, and Ryder. The project is expected to displace an estimated 1.5 million gallons of diesel fuel with 100 percent domestically produced natural gas. Ryder will begin taking delivery of the trucks in April and expects to integrate the full order into its fleet by September. Ryder has also begun work to upgrade the first of three existing maintenance facilities in its network to be properly equipped for the indoor servicing of natural gas vehicles and will soon commence construction of two natural gas fueling stations.

Ryder also announced that it will take part in the “NGVs Take the Hill” event this Wednesday, April 13, 2011, just down the street from the U.S. Capitol building. The event is designed to educate the public about the use of natural gas as a clean, viable alternative to foreign oil.

“Providing leadership to promote the use of natural gas in heavy-duty commercial fleets is a key initiative for Ryder,” stated Robert Sanchez, President, Global Fleet Management Solutions for Ryder. “Participation in this event underscores our commitment to bringing cost-effective, environmentally-sound commercial transportation solutions to market that help businesses reduce both fleet fuel costs and emissions.”

Food Distribution Company to Use Biodiesel

Instead of food versus fuel, this time it’s food working with (bio)fuel.

Illinois-based food distribution giant U.S. Foodservice has announced the acquisition of WVO Industries of Bluffton, S.C., a facility that turns used vegetable oil to fuel, and this article from The Packer.com says the company plans to use the biodiesel to fuel their food distro trucks at one of their divisions in South Carolina:

By late 2011 U.S. Foodservice officials hope to be converting 5 million pounds of waste oil into 400,000 gallons of bio feedstock annually. About 200,000 gallons would be used annually in fuel for the division’s trucks. The rest could be used for other divisions or as a supply source for outside companies.

“We expect to duplicate the success of the Columbia biodiesel operation at other U.S. Foodservice divisions to offer customers nationwide an opportunity to contribute to the sustainability of our environment by reducing dependence on petroleum and cutting greenhouse gas emissions,” said Michael Frank, vice president of operations excellence.

U.S. Foodservice officials say they will be using distinctively separate trucks for the waste oil collection, with no danger of the waste coming into contact with the company’s food.

In November 2009, U.S. Foodservice began running its 185 tractors and 210 trailers in Atlanta on B5
, joining the company’s Streator, Ill., and Plymouth, Minn. divisions burning the green fuel.

FAO Urged to See Oil and Food Price Correlation

Global RFAThe Global Renewable Fuels Alliance (GRFA) is calling on delegates to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (UNFAO) meeting in Rome to focus on the price of oil as the real driver behind rising food costs.

Last week while addressing the South American renewable fuels industry in Buenos Aires, GRFA spokesperson Bliss Baker presented data showing the direct link between the recent increase in crude oil prices and the UN FAO’s world food price index.

Global RFA“There is very clear evidence that oil prices are continuing to have a disproportionate affect on the price of our food,” said Bliss Baker. The UNFAO’s Deputy Director, David Hallam confirmed this same finding in early March by saying that “unexpected oil price spikes could further exacerbate an already precarious situation in food markets.”

In January of this year the UN FAO’s global food price index hit an all time high which provoked angry responses from several other organizations concerned with food security. World Bank managing director, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said, “food prices are not only rising, but they are also volatile and will continue this way into the future.” The International Energy Agency called rising oil prices “dangerous” warning that high oil prices could threaten the stability of an already fragile recovering global economy.

Read more from GRFA