America Poised to Take Control of Energy Future

Joanna Schroeder

According to President Obama, America is poised to take control of our energy future, but this could be compromised due to the arbitrary cuts caused by the so-called “sequestration” now taking place. During his speech last Friday at Argonne National Laboratory in Chicago, Illinois, the President pointed out the cuts would affect the federal research projects, “at a time when the country is poised to take control of our energy future.”

obama-argonne-national-lab from cbs“After years of talking about it, we’re finally poised to take control of our energy future. We produce more oil than we have in 15 years. We import less oil than we have in 20 years. We’ve doubled the amount of renewable energy that we generate from sources like wind and solar — with tens of thousands of good jobs to show for it.  We’re producing more natural gas than we ever have before — with hundreds of thousands of good jobs to show for it.  We supported the first new nuclear power plant in America since the 1970s. And we’re sending less carbon pollution into the environment than we have in nearly 20 years.”

While focusing much of his speech on his proposed actions to replace the cuts, he also discussed his proposal to create an Energy Security Trust that would use revenues generated by oil and gas development on federal lands to support new research and technologies that will shift cars and trucks to non-oil fuels. With gas prices high during the past month, Obama urged Congress to adopt his approach.

The renewable energy industry responded to the President’s remarks as well as his proposed Energy Security Trust.Read More

advance biofuels, Alternative energy, Natural Gas, Oil, Solar, Wind

Biodiesel Use on the Rise

Joanna Schroeder

Biodiesel use is on the rise. From the delivery of food and goods, to city fleets and transit systems, to construction and other heavy equipment, diesel-power is driving the economy. And on National Biodiesel Day, the anniversary of Rudolf Diesel’s birthday, Gary Haer, National Biodiesel Board Chairman, says that even if you don’t use biodiesel in your car, biodiesel still has a huge impact on your life.

rudolph diesel engine“You don’t have to drive a diesel vehicle to feel the impact of diesel as it moves the freight that drives the economy,” said Haer, who is also the Vice President of Sales and Marketing for the Renewable Energy Group (REG). “Clean diesel technology, growing biodiesel production, and more light duty diesels on the market today are something to celebrate. It means more opportunities for biodiesel, more American jobs, and cleaner air.”

This past year biodiesel production topped 1 billion gallons for the second consecutive year. With plants in nearly every state in the country, the industry supports more than 64,000 jobs nationwide and recently announced its new 10-year vision: 10 percent of the on-road diesel market by 2022.

Continued growth is expected with the increasing demand for diesel vehicles in the U.S, market.  More than 33 light- and medium-duty diesel passenger cars and trucks, as well as heavy-duty diesel models from nearly 20 different brands, will be available in the market this year. According to recent published reports, clean diesel auto sales increased by 24 percent in 2012 over 2011, while the overall U.S. auto market increased by 13.5 percent.  The Diesel Technology Forum (DTF) predicts that diesel vehicle sales will increase to as much as 10 percent of the American market by 2020.

Want to support the biodiesel industry? Join the Biodiesel Alliance & Backers and visit NBB on Facebook for contest and prizes.

advance biofuels, Biodiesel, NBB

2013 – 100 Year Anniversary for Oil Tax Subsidies

Joanna Schroeder

Did you know that the oldest, continuous tax subsidy for oil companies was enacted by Congress in 1913, making 2013 the 100th year of federal tax subsidies specific to the oil industry? Shouldn’t this event garner a party? The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) and the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) thought so and on March 14, 2013 held a “Century of Subsidies” birthday party for big oil in Washington, DC. On hand for the event were Rick Schwarck, president of the IRFA and CEO of Absolute Energy, Monte Shaw, executive director for IRFA and Brian Jennings, executive vice president of ACE.

Schwark noted that they are not saying all the tax subsidies are necessarily bad and should be discontinued, but rather, that oil has had 100 years of an unfair advantage over all other fuels, including ethanol, and when discussing policies such as the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), the debate should be a full, fair and factual discussion that looks at how to level the playing field.

Today, here are the current oil specific tax subsidies: Expensing of Intangible Drilling Costs; Percentage Depletion Allowance; Deduction for Tertiary Injectants; Geological and Geophysical Expenditures; Exception for passive loss limitations for oil and gas; Enhanced oil recovery credit; and Marginal oil well credit.

To counterbalance the “Century of Subsidies” and other policies that favor petroleum, ACE and IRFA called upon Congress to protect the federal Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS). The RFS cracks open the petroleum monopoly to give consumers non-petroleum choices at the pump. Consumers benefit from market access to lower cost renewable fuels like E15 and E85.

“If oil companies cannot stand on their own two feet after 100 years of clinging to certain taxpayer subsidies, Congress shouldn’t hurt American consumers by repealing the RFS, a policy that helps level the playing field with oil a little bit by giving people affordable and renewable fuel choices,” said ACE Executive Vice President Brian Jennings. “ACE members met with Congress during our fly-in this week to emphasize how the RFS costs taxpayers nothing and has succeeded in delivering benefits for all Americans.”

View the ACE Biofuels Beltway March 2013 Photo Album.

ACE, Ethanol, Iowa RFA, RFS, Video

Genera Awarded for Sustainable Feedstock Innovations

Joanna Schroeder

Genera Energy Inc. (Genera) was awarded the 2013 Sustainable Biofuels Award in the Sustainable Feedstock Innovation category at the World Biofuels Markets 2013 Congress and Exhibition, held in Rotterdam, Netherlands. The award recognizes outstanding achievement for a project that displays “innovation to enhance sustainability in feedstock supply.” According to Genera, it’s integrated solution covers the full biomass system from the farm to the biorefinery including: energy crop selection, land acquisition, production, harvest, collection and logistics.

“Taking the time to celebrate the innovation and invention in this industry is really the heart of these Awards,” said Nadim Chaudhry, Chief Executive Officer of Green Genera World Biofuels Photo- Green Power ConfPower Conferences, organizer of both the awards and the conference. “Our industry has such outstanding leaders, innovative technology and groundbreaking partnerships happening all the time, every year the nominations increase and the judges find it more difficult to choose a winner.”

Over the last six years, Genera, has worked with the University of Tennessee, to establish a comprehensive program for purpose‐grown energy crops, contracting with more than 60 farmers to produce more than 2,000 hectares (5,100 acres) of switchgrass. According to the company, with a focus on sustainability, farms were carefully selected to represent a wide cross section of what a full‐scale commercial energy crop supply region, or bioshed, would look like.

Throughout the development of its integrated system, Genera has tested more than 30 separate energy crop and logistic system alternative and has identified the optimum energy crop supply chain—a system that is cost efficient and meets robust sustainability performance criteria. Genera’s says it’s solution focuses on managing an integrated commercial supply chain to reliably supply a biorefinery with cost competitive, uniform, industrial biomass feedstock.

“It is an honor to receive the 2013 Sustainable Biofuels Award,” said Kelly Tiller, CEO of Genera. “Building a bulletproof biomass supply chain system requires unique skills and experience. We were lucky to have forward‐looking partners at the University of Tennessee and in the State capital. They all contributed to our success here today and we are very grateful to them.”

advance biofuels, Ethanol, feedstocks, Renewable Energy

KiOR Delivers Cellulosic Diesel

Joanna Schroeder

KiOR, Inc. has announced the initial shipments of cellulosic diesel from its commercial scale facility in Columbus, Mississippi. The biorefinery uses pine wood chips and produces gasoline and diesel, the first renewable hydrocarbon fuels in the U.S. manufactured at commercial scale with no compatibility issues. KiOR’s renewable gasoline is also the first renewable cellulosic gasoline ever registered by the Environmental Protection Agency for sale in the U.S.

kior_logo_CMYK“This is a major step forward for KiOR, the biofuels industry and the entire renewable fuels sector,” said Fred Cannon, KiOR’s President and Chief Executive Officer. “With first production at Columbus, KiOR has technology with the potential to resurrect each and every shut down paper mill in the country and to replace imported oil on a cost effective basis while creating American jobs.”

Cannon continued, “This facility demonstrates the efficacy of KiOR’s proprietary catalytic biomass-to-fuel process with the potential to deliver cellulosic gasoline and diesel to the U.S. We are proud to be making history in Mississippi. The technology is simply scalable and we believe sufficient excess feedstock exists in the Southeast alone to build almost fifty KiOR commercial scale facilities.”

Haley Barbour, former Governor of Mississippi, was instrumental in attracting KiOR to Mississippi. He said of the event, “The shipment of this first fuel from KiOR’s Columbus, Mississippi, facility is the culmination of a vision to establish Mississippi as the birthplace of the wood-to-fuels production technology. This progress highlights our highly skilled labor force, abundant natural resources and supportive government climate for innovative companies like KiOR seeking a home to expand their businesses.”

advance biofuels, Cellulosic

It’s National Biodiesel Day!

Joanna Schroeder

Today is National Biodiesel Day! The Iowa Biodiesel Board is asking Iowans to reflect on the contribution the biodiesel industry is making to Iowa and to the nation. March rudolf-diesel_394645698109109557518 is National Biodiesel Day because it is Rudolf Diesel’s birthday, the man who invented the engine that bears his name. He ran early models on peanut oil, and was a visionary for the renewable fuel that would one day be called biodiesel.

In a 1912 speech, Diesel said: “The use of vegetable oils for engine fuels may seem insignificant today, but such oils may become, in the course of time, as important as petroleum and the coal tar products of the present time.”

Iowa has been leading the way with 12 biodiesel plants that produced 184 million gallons of biodiesel in 2012.  This accounts for about 17 percent of all U.S. biodiesel.

“With biodiesel, Iowans are leading an agricultural revolution that is making a meaningful difference in our nation’s energy security and helping our economy rebound,” said Randy Olson, executive director of the Iowa Biodiesel Board. “We truly are at the forefront of innovative American agriculture driving American energy independence.”

Recent economic studies show in 2012, Iowa biodiesel:

  • Supported nearly 5,000 jobs in the state
  • Contributed nearly $400 million to the state’s GDP
  • Generated $236.8 million of household income

Biodiesel also benefits consumers in other ways.  According to a study measuring the impact of the Iowa biodiesel industry on the Iowa agricultural economy, corn, soybean, and livestock  producers all benefit from biodiesel production. Demand for vegetable oils reduces soybean meal prices, to the benefit of Iowa’s livestock producers – and that ultimately benefits the consumer at the grocery store.

Want to show your support for biodiesel today or any day?  Join the Biodiesel Backers!

advance biofuels, Biodiesel

Alltech Gears Up for Algae Symposium

John Davis

alltechalgae1Animal health company Alltech will hold a symposium on algae with hopes of expanding the pond scum’s potential beyond biofuels and into sustainable food production. The 29th Annual Alltech International Symposium is to be held in Lexington, Ky., May 19th-22nd:

“We will focus on algae as part of the foundation of the food chain by identifying the importance of DHA and how it can balance the omega-6:omega-3 ratio in today’s Western diets,” said Becky Timmons, chairperson of the algae-related track at Symposium. “As we look toward the future of nutrition, there is an increasing need to find high-quality, alternative raw materials to feed the growing population. There is a big challenge in front of us – we need to provide consumers the right nutrition, a balanced diet of fatty acids, vitamins and amino acids. We must be forward thinking and identify various opportunities to use value-added solutions in order to provide nutritious food to the world.”

This year the symposium will offer breakout sessions focused on algae, including:

Simplify Your Food Chain: Algae as the Foundation of Nutrition in the Future
You Are What You Eat: Better Health Through Better Nutrition and the Role of DHA
Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better: Identifying the Opportunities for Value-Added Products

Organizers hope this will offer attendees a more holistic experience, with discussions ranging from algae and agriculture’s carbon footprint to nutrition and marketing.

Registration and more information is available here.

algae, biofuels

Topsun Launches First 420W Solar Panel

Joanna Schroeder

topsun-logoTopsun Co., based in South Korea, has launched their new 420W solar panel. According to the company, this 420W solar panel is recognized as a world first and has the highest power output in the solar industry. Its 96-cell outfit and 4mm glass added heavy duty features and galvanized aluminum materials guarantees an over 30-year lifespan.

According to Chang Joe, marketing director of Topsun, “This 420W solar panel is designed with MW utility developers in mind. Until now, utility-scale developers had to use small 250W solar panels for the MW solar projects. For this reason, the developers could not lower the installation cost to less than $2/watt because of the fixed amount and quantity of electric wires, structure cost, and extra labor cost.”

“With this 420W solar panel, the developers and installers can lower the number of solar panels for their installations by up to 40%, resulting in a reduction of approximately 10% in the amount of wires, structures, and labor times for solar projects,” continued Joe. “In the last two years, the PV module price/watt has decreased by about 130%. Otherwise, the balance of systems cost has been sustained. If the developers and installers simulate the cost with 420W PVs, they will see that the 420W solar panel has a better ROI and IRR. In commercial buildings and residential homes, this equation applies with the same effect.”

Electricity, Energy, Solar

ACE, IRFA Celebrate A Century of Subisides

Joanna Schroeder

Century of Subsidies Birthday CakeThe Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) and the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) along with a full house, celebrated a “Century of Subsidies” for Big Oil today with a miniature version of the Capitol cake and ice cream. The cake was created by Charm City Cakes especially for the event that highlighted the fact that oil industry has received certain subsidies since 1913 – 100 years.

“Today’s ‘Century of Subsidies’ birthday party was not about saying every tax subsidy the oil companies get is bad,” said Rick Schwarck, President of the IRFA and CEO of Absolute Energy, an ethanol plant near St. Ansgar, Iowa. “Today’s ‘Century of Subsidies’ birthday party was a reminder to policy makers that Big Oil has benefited from taxpayer support for 100 years – and not just with tax subsidies, but mandates and loan guarantees and other policies.”

“So when the debate heats up over the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and other renewable fuels policy, the debate should be a full, fair and factual discussion that takes an honest, hard look at how federal policy has been tilted in favor of Big Oil for a century,” continued Schwarck. American consumers deserve a level playing field that does not hold back homegrown, low-cost renewable fuels options.”

U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), who was voting on budget issues during the event submitted a statement in response to one hundred continuous years of oil subsidies. “America needs ‘all of the above’ for its energy policy, including domestic oil and gas, renewable energy, conservation, and emission-free nuclear. Oil, gas and nuclear all receive longstanding federal support. Any changes to support for renewables should be made within a broad-based energy policy discussion. Targeting renewables outside of a comprehensive debate doesn’t make any sense when it comes to good policy, and it’s intellectually dishonest if the effort is driven by competition that receives federal support.”

U.S. Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) added, “This issue comes down to one thing: supporting renewable energy and our country’s energy security, all while creating good, middle class jobs that sustain a green economy in states like Iowa. That is why keeping the Renewable Fuel Standard in place is so critical. I salute ACE and the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association for recognizing these contributions and continuing their Century of Subsidies Press Confsupport at a time when it is needed the most.”

On Tuesday and Wednesday, nearly 70 ethanol advocates from around the country met with Congress to discuss the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), E15 and other ethanol related topics as part of ACE’s Biofuels Beltway March. The point of the press event was to show the need to counterbalance the “Century of Subsidies” and other policies that favor petroleum, in part by protecting the federal RFS. The RFS cracks open the petroleum monopoly to give consumers non-petroleum choices at the pump. Consumers benefit from market access to lower cost renewable fuels like E15 and E85.

Listen to the Century of Subsidies press event here: Celebration of a Century of Subsidies

View the ACE Biofuels Beltway March 2013 Photo Album.

ACE, Audio, biofuels, Biofuels Beltway, E15, Iowa RFA, Oil, RFA

California Solar Projects Get Feds’ Go Ahead

John Davis

Earlier, I told you how a Nevada wind energy project got the green light to proceed from the U.S. Department of the Interior. Add two more renewable energy projects in California, this time solar and both in the state’s Riverside East Solar Energy Zone, also to be put on Bureau of Land Management property:

mccoysolar1The McCoy Solar Energy Project, located about 13 miles northwest of Blythe, CA, was proposed by McCoy Solar, LLC (a subsidiary of NextEra Energy Resources, LLC). The 750-megawatt photovoltaic solar facility would be one of the largest solar projects in the world, and encompass about 7,700 acres of BLM-managed lands and 477 acres of private land… When operational, the facility would generate enough clean power for an estimated 225,000 homes in southern California. A 12.5-mile generation transmission line would connect the project to Southern California Edison’s Colorado River Substation.

The Desert Harvest Solar Farm, proposed by EDF Renewable Energy (formerly enXco) on a sitedesertharvestmap1 six miles north of Desert Center, CA, would encompass about 1,208 acres of BLM-managed lands for the 150-megawatt photovoltaic
facility… When operational, the facility would generate enough electricity to power an estimated 45,000 homes in southern California. The project also includes an on-site substation and 230-kilovolt line to the Red Bluff Substation, which will connect the project to the Southern California Edison regional transmission grid.

BLM officials say both were developed with sensitive native species in mind.

Government, Solar