Global Hydropower & Geothermal Growth Slow

Joanna Schroeder

According to a new report from the Worldwatch Institute, although the global consumption and installed capacity of hydropower and geothermal technologies have increased steadily since 2003, both types of energy saw slower growth in 2011. Global installed capacity of hydropower reached 970 gigwatts (GW) but there was only a 1.6 percent increase from the year before. Total geothermal capacity reached 11.2 GW, slowing to below 1 percent for the first time since 20o2, according to the report, authored by Evan Musolino.

“Despite the recent slowdown in growth, the overall market for hydropower and geothermal power is increasing in part because these two sources are not subject to the variability in generation that plagues other renewable energy sources such as wind and solar,” explained Musolino, a research associate with the Worldwatch’s Climate and Energy Program. Hydrogpower Photo Fast Company“The greater reliability of hydro and geothermal can thus be harnessed to provide reliable baseload power.”

Among members of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), hydroelectricity accounted for almost 6 percent of primary energy consumption. It played a more important role in other countries—-at a little over 7 percent of usage—-and these non-OECD nations accounted for 60 percent of worldwide hydroelectricity consumption. On a regional basis, South America and Central America are most dependent on hydroelectricity relative to total energy use.

Although some 150 countries produce hydropower, half of the global capacity was concentrated in just five nations at the end of 2011. China remains the leader, with 212 GW installed, followed by Brazil (82.2 GW), the United States (79 GW), Canada (76.4 GW), and Russia (46 GW).

Similar to  hydropower, the report finds geothermal resources are highly location-specific. Read More

conferences, Geothermal, Hydro, Renewable Energy

Innovative Research From Budding Biodiesel Scientists

Joanna Schroeder

During the National Biodiesel Board Conference & Expo, several Next Generation Scientists displayed their biodiesel research through “posters”. These budding scientists are Next Gen Scientists for Biodieselsmart, talented, creative and innovative. Did I mention they are innovative? These college students are conducting research that has never been done before and as it moves forward, should help improve biodiesel production. A bit of a plug- if you find the research interesting and of value to the industry, consider supporting the students’ continued work.

Here are several interviews with the Next Generation Scientists that discuss their research, why they became involved in the program, and advice for students who are still looking for their niche.

James Anderson, Southern Illinois University: James Anderson

Qingshi Tu, University of Cincinnati: Qingshi Tu

Nina De la Rosa, Florida International University: Nina De la Rosa

Namrata Dangol, University of Idaho: Namrata Dangol

Not sure you want to get involved in Next Generation Scientists? Then be sure to listen to Deval’s interview. Click here to learn more about becoming involved in Next Generation Scientists for Biodiesel.

Deval Pandya, University of Texas at Arlington: Deval Pandya

2013 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

advance biofuels, Audio, Biodiesel, National Biodiesel Conference, Renewable Energy, Research

Advanced Biofuel Orgs Set Record Straight

Joanna Schroeder

The American Petroleum Institute (API) is currently engaging in an all-out attack on the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and the advanced biofuel industry is continuing to fight back. Last month, the Court ordered the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to reconsider the cellulosic biofuels obligations. In response, API is pressuring the EPA to actually zero out the 2012 obligation, according to a letter sent to EPA Assistant Administrator Gina McCarthy.

feb 2013 gas prices copy Photo Greg BollThis is in odds with what API send in its brief to the Court, that the number should not be zero. “EPA’s projection should not be unrealistically low, but it also may not be unrealistically high.” API also claimed to the Court that its members paid $17 million in compliance costs for the RFS, when public records available at the time showed the true cost to be a fraction of that amount.

In response to the letter, Brooke Coleman, executive director of the Advanced Ethanol Council (AEC) said the cellulosic biofuel industry has facilities under construction or starting up in 20 states. “API’s strategy on the RFS is simple: create as much uncertainty and doubt around the program as possible to scare off investors from advanced biofuels. They have lost 10 percent of their market share to domestically produced renewable fuels to date, and they are not going to let the truth stand in the way of their efforts to short-circuit this incredibly successful program.”

According to a statement from the biofuels industry, API is decrying the new EPA proposal to blend 14 million gallons of cellulosic biofuels in 2013, saying the fuel does not exist. In reality, the industry says, EPA’s targets are based on production capacities of plants that are already built. The advanced biofuel industry is asking the EPA to follow the Court’s direction and remain consistent in its implementation of the program’s rules.

Brent Erickson, executive vice president of the Biotechnology Industry Organization’s Industrial & Environmental Section, added, “API is trying to re-litigate in the press the issues it lost in court. The Court recognized EPA’s authority to administer the rules for the RFS, and EPA should reject this attempt to spin that decision.”

“It is interesting that just as reputable companies such as DuPont, INEOS, POET-DSM, and Abengoa are actually getting steel in the ground and building commercial cellulosic biorefineries, API is turning on the crocodile tears and ramping up gross distortions in a desperate and foolish effort to derail American biotech innovation for new and cleaner transportation fuels. They want to strangle the infant cellulosic biofuel industry in the cradle in order to keep Americans captive consumers of high-priced foreign oil,” concluded Erickson.

advance biofuels, AEC, BIO, RFS

DOE to HOST 2013 APRA-E Energy Innovation Summit

Joanna Schroeder

ARPA-E-logoThe Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E) will host its fourth annual Energy Innovation Summit from February 25 to 27, 2013 at the Gaylord Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland. The goal of the Summit is to bring together thought leaders from academia, business, and government to discuss cutting-edge energy issues and facilitate relationships that help move technologies into the marketplace.

Confirmed speakers at this year’s Summit include New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, entrepreneur T. Boone Pickens, Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk, and DARPA Director Arati Prabhakar. The Summit also features a Technology Showcase displaying over 250 breakthrough energy technologies from ARPA-E awardees and other innovative organizations.

Other speakers include:

  •  Nick Akins, CEO, American Electric Power President
  • Mitch Daniels, Purdue President and former Governor
  • David F. Gordon, Eurasia Group Head of Research and Director of Global Macro Analysis
  • Ellen Kullman, CEO, DuPont
  • Blythe Masters, Head of Global Commodities and Corporate & Investment Bank Regulatory Affairs, J.P. Morgan

Click here for additional information on the ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit, including the full Summit agenda.

advance biofuels, conferences

Industry Engagement Critical for Biodiesel

Joanna Schroeder

This past year was a roller coaster but with some big achievements, said Anne Steckel, vice president of federal affairs for the National Biodiesel Board during her presentation at the 10th Annual Conference in Las Vegas. One big achievement: the nbb-13-steckelincrease of volume of biodiesel gallons as part of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). This, noted Steckel, reflects the ongoing growth of the biodiesel industry.

One of the biggest ongoing challenges is the efforts of the petroleum industry to end the RFS. Steckel said NBB is spending a lot of resources fighting these court cases, but she was proud to say they have been successful in winning the last three court cases. But the fight is not over.

She also addressed how devastating the RIN crisis has been for the industry and said NBB is working hard with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and petroleum industry to find a constructive solution. The industry will be seeing new regulations on this soon and NBB will continue to work with its membership to make sure the industry gets the best regulation possible.

Steckle encouraged the attendees to continue to be engaged as 2013 will be another pivotal year for the industry.

Listen to Anne Steckel’s full remarks here: Industry Engagement Critical

2013 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

advance biofuels, Audio, Biodiesel, National Biodiesel Conference, NBB

Clemson’s Biodiesel Guru’s

Joanna Schroeder

a href=””>nbb-13-clemsonIf you have a passion for biosystems engineering and biodiesel then you should consider going to college at Clemson University (or transferring there for your advanced degree). Why? Because three of the coolest biodiesel researchers and innovators are currently working together to advance biodiesel. The biodiesel gurus are all members of Next Generation Scientists for Biodiesel (Seriously students, why haven’t you joined already?): Karthik Gopalakrish, David Thorton and Charles Griffin. These are three smart cookies.

In a nutshell, the team is researching carbon substrates and algae production to be used for biodiesel or other co-products such as animal feed, biochemicals, bioplastics, etc. In other words, they are looking at increasing lipids (more lipids mean more oil) using waste products from different biofuels industries. This poster looked at using ethanol waste, called xylol and biodiesel waste called glycerol. They have discovered some results that no other researchers have found and boy are they promising.

I was quite impressed with their research and offered to give them a funding plug: to support their research, visit their blog.

You’ll be impressed to when you listen to my interview with Karthik, Charles and Charles about their biodiesel research: Clemson's Biodiesel Guru's

2013 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

advance biofuels, Audio, Biodiesel, biofuels, National Biodiesel Conference, Renewable Energy, Research

Industry Responds to Wicker-Vitter Anti-E15 Bill

Joanna Schroeder

The ethanol industry is responding to legislation proposed by U.S. Senators Roger Wicker (R-Miss) and David Vitter (R-La) to block the continued roll-out of E15. The Senators claim the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) acted irresponsibly with its approval of the ethanol blend and claim that E15 will cause a negative impact on families and businesses should E15 be allowed in the marketplace.

E15The industry as a whole is saying that not allowing E15 in the marketplace would take choice out of consumer hands in order to protect the oil company interest over American pocketbooks. The Fuels America coalition says the bill ignores the millions of miles and years of testing the fuel and points to the fact that both Ford and GM have approved the use of E15 in their new vehicles.

“Instead of protecting oil companies, Congress should address what is actually hurting America families and businesses: high gas prices and dependence on oil. Using renewable fuel last year reduced the need for imported oil by more than 465 million barrels, and saving the U.S. $47.2 billion. Using E10 reduced the cost of gasoline by $1.09 per gallon in recent years, and opening up the market to more of this cleaner, low-cost fuel will only increase the potential for more savings,” according to a Fuels America statement.

Bob Dinneen, President and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), pointed out that now that ethanol represents 10 percent of the American fuel supply and growing, oil companies are panicking. “They are fighting to preserve their monopoly, their unfair and outrageously expensive tax credits, and most of all, their record breaking profits. Ethanol is no longer a gnat nipping at their precious ankles. It is a threat to the oil-centric status quo. The RFA and the ethanol producers we represent would welcome a chance to meet with Senators Wicker and Vitter to explain the benefits of E15 and dispel myths and any lingering doubts.”

Dinneen added that the facts are on “our side”.

“The Wicker-Vitter bill is a big, wet kiss for Big Oil on Valentine’s Day,” said Monte Shaw, executive director of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA). “Banning a legal product from competing with foreign oil is the ultimate in big government, nanny-state protectionism for the coddled petroleum industry. I guess we should no longer be surprised by the lengths Big Oil will go to protect its federal petroleum mandate. E15 is a legal fuel for American motorists to choose, but Big Oil doesn’t want consumers to have that choice.”

The industry also pointed out that Big Oil has enjoyed more than a century of subsidies at taxpayers’ expense and nearly 40 years of a “federal petroleum mandate”. “Why is Big Oil so afraid of a little competition from American farmers?,” added Shaw. “Is it because they know their foreign oil can’t compete with lower-cost, cleaner-burning, higher-performing ethanol?”

E15, Ethanol, Iowa RFA, RFA

Marjority of Americans Support Reduction of CO2

Joanna Schroeder

Obama on ClimateAccording to a new nationwide survey, 65 percent of American think that climate change is a serious problem and a substantial majority support President Obama using his authority to reduce its main cause, carbon dioxide.  The national poll, conducted on behalf of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), surveyed 1,218 registered voters and was conducted immediately following the president’s State of the Union speech – the first snapshot taken specifically on the climate agenda Obama outlines in his address.

The survey found:

  • 65 percent of Americans think that climate change is a serious or very serious problem, including 58 percent of independents.
  • 60 percent of Americans support the president using his authority to reduce dangerous carbon pollution, including 53 percent of independents.
  • 62 percent agree with the president’s statement that “for the sake of our children” and our future, we must do more to combat climate change, including 55 percent of independents.
  • A majority of Americans, 57 percent, agreed with Obama’s promise to make addressing climate change a priority in his second term.
  • 65 percent of Americans think that climate change is already a problem or will become a problem in the near future, including 58 percent of independents.

“The president made it absolutely clear that he will lead the fight against dangerous carbon pollution, and a compelling majority of Americans stand firmly behind that leadership,” said NRDC President Frances Beinecke. “The best way to strike back, as a nation, is to reduce the carbon pollution from our dirtiest power plants, the single greatest threat to our climate’s future. That will take presidential leadership. Americans are counting on bold action – for the sake of our children.”

During his address, Obama said the nation can choose to believe Superstorm Sandy and severe drought and raging wildfires were all just “a freak coincidence” or believe the overwhelming judgment of science that they were climate change related. A majority, 58 percent, said they were the effects of climate change, including 51 percent of independents. In addition, 58 percent said the country should do more to address climate change, including 51 percent of independents, while just 14 percent said we’re doing enough already.

The promise to address climate change struck a chord with Americans according to Margie Alt who is the executive director of Environment America. “Now we’re counting on President Obama to put words into action, by rejecting the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, limiting carbon emissions from power plants and advancing clean energy solutions — while protecting the air, water and special places Americans hold dear. By taking these actions the president will help fulfill our obligation to our families and to future generations, and we stand ready to support him at every turn along the way.”

Click here to read the full polling results.

Carbon Dioxide, Clean Energy, Climate Change, Environment

Next Gen Biodiesel Scientists From Lab To Dragster

Joanna Schroeder

nbb-13-mccurdyWhat do Alex McCurdy, Michael Morgan and Robert Willis have in common? They all work in the same lab at Utah State University (USU) and are working on three integrated pieces of biodiesel research. They are members of Next Generation Scientists for Biodiesel, and work in Lance Seefeldt’s lab, a professor in USU’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and a principal faculty mentor on the interdisciplinary project. nbb-13-willis1

Here are some fun facts: McCurdy, Morgan and Willis were all on the team that set a land speed record with a race car design all their own and it ran on 100 percent biodiesel developed by the team. The team is also perfecting the production of fuel using yeast and bacterial platforms and also developing fuel from cheese
waste, carbon dioxide and the sun using microalgae platforms. nbb-13-morgan

Alex noted that the research team has recently succeeded in producing quantities of fuels from all of these sources that have superior properties in test engines, comparing favorably to biodiesel produced from soybeans. This research was featured by the three students during the poster session at the National Biodiesel Board Conference & Expo in Las Vegas.

Listen to an overview of Alex’s research: Biodiesel from Microalgae, Yeast & Bacteria

Listen to an overview of Robert’s research: Liquid, Liquid Lipid Extraction

Listen to an overview of Michael’s research (he is the dragster driver): Dragster Performs on Biodiesel

2013 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

advance biofuels, Audio, Biodiesel, National Biodiesel Conference, NBB

Conergy Adds More Solar Capacity in Greece

Joanna Schroeder

Conergy has added more solar capacity in Greece. The company has just completed a 500 kilowatt plant on 2.25 acres of roof space at the warehouses of Hellenic Energy S.A. in Agios Ioannis Rentis on the edge of Athens.

Conergy rooftop plant on warehouses in Athens, Greece_1Conergy acted as main contractor and was responsible for the overall planning, engineering and design of this turnkey rooftop installation, as well as for the supply of the components and the handling the construction where they cooperated with Hellenic Energy S.A. After connection of the power plant at the end of January, 58 inverters are feeding the clean electricity produced by more than 2,000 Conergy PowerPlus modules on Conergy SolarFamulus mounting systems into the grid. The company says the solar system has an annual production of over 700,000 kilowatt hours and the plant can supply around 200 households in Agios Ioannis Rentis.

“Thanks to the country’s excellent climate, solar installations in Greece provide the perfect combination of sound economic thinking and environmental protection,” said Dr. Stefanos Melissopoulos, Managing Director of Conergy Greece. “But the country’s high insolation levels are not the only advantage. Greece has a large amount of industrial roof space, providing the perfect conditions for making clean and safe investments. There is still great potential.”

Ioannis Kavalis, Managing Director of Hellenic Energy, added, “Conergy possesses a unique track record and many years of experience. This is absolutely vital when planning complex roof spaces. It means everything is supplied from a single source and we are assured of absolute top quality. This is very important when making an investment, particularly in today’s difficult times.”

Alternative energy, Electricity, Energy, International, Solar