Time to Vote

Chuck Zimmerman

I voted. Have you?

It really is a civic duty and I hope you’ll take the time today to get it done. I’m not writing this to encourage you to vote for a certain person or issue. Hopefully you will have become familiar with the issues in your state and know what to do. As far as the Presidential race, you’ve got a clear choice. I can’t see how anyone can be undecided.

So, let’s get out there and get it done. The results will have a major impact on how we run our businesses in this country and you folks involved in the renewable fuels industry will not be unaffected. If you want to know my vote I’ll be happy to tell you. If you know me well you already know!

I don’t know if you use FourSquare but if you check in from your voting location using the #IVoted hashtag you’ll show up on their voting map.

Agribusiness

Renewable Energy Lobbyists Make The Hill List

Cindy Zimmerman

Several advocates for renewable fuels and alternative energy made the annual list of top lobbyists in Washington D.C. compiled by “The Hill.”

Among those recognized by The Hill were the heads of both the Renewable Fuels Association and Growth Energy. The publication called RFA president and CEO Bob Dinneen a “Capitol Hill mainstay for the biofuels industry, Dinneen has been an integral player in many of the renewable fuels sector’s policy victories.” Noting that Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis was formally head of the National Farmers Union, The Hill noted that he “is pressing lawmakers to maintain renewable fuels policies that are popular in rural America.”

The Hill also recognized Denise Bode and Rob Gramlich with American Wind Energy Association. “Bode’s fluency in tax policy has been a godsend for wind companies as they push Congress to extend an industry incentive,” said The Hill. “Gramlich has been with AWEA since 2005, a seven-year stretch that has seen explosive growth in wind power.” On the corporate side for wind energy, The Hill gave a nod to Rich Glick of Iberdrola Renewables, the nation’s second-largest wind power operator. Glick served in Bill Clinton’s Energy Department.

Traditional energy sources were also represented in the top lobbyists listing, including “unflappable” Jack Gerard of the American Petroleum Institute.

Ethanol, Ethanol News, Growth Energy, RFA, Wind

Pacific Ethanol to use Corn Oil Technology at 2nd Plant

Cindy Zimmerman

Pacific Ethanol has announced the implementation of corn oil separation technology at a second plant.

Pacific EthanolThe company is planning to install the technology, which recovers corn oil as a co-product from the ethanol production process, at its Stockton, California plant. The company has awarded Edeniq with a contract for its patented OilPlus(TM) technology, which is expected to be implemented at the Stockton plant by the second quarter of 2013. In June 2012, the company announced the implementation of corn oil separation technology at its Magic Valley, Idaho facilty.

“Corn oil is a high value co-product for the Pacific Ethanol plants, provides us with further diversification of our revenue streams and contributes additional operating income to the plants,” said company president Neil Koehler. “Our Stockton plant is the second of our facilities to implement corn oil separation technology, and we expect to soon award contracts for our two other Pacific Ethanol plants.”

ICM Inc. was awarded the Magic Valley installation contract for its patented Advanced Oil Separation System™, which was scheduled to be complete by the end of this year to begin generating revenue for the company in the first quarter of 2013. Pacific Ethanol estimates that the plant could produce as much as 12 million pounds of corn oil per year.

corn, Ethanol, Ethanol News, technology

DuPont Pioneer Economist Talks Ethanol

Cindy Zimmerman

At last week’s American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers (ASFMRA) Annual Meeting and AgroNomics conference in Indianapolis, the Economics Director for DuPont Pioneer gave an overview on the outlook for global agriculture and part of that discussion included a look at ethanol and what might happen if the Environmental Protection Agency decides to waive the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

“We’ll find out on November 14,” Steve Elmore told the conference. “What they EPA says in that waiver and what it is going forward is going to make a big difference on how the markets view it and everything else…that will be a big guiding factor in the markets and in acres for 2013.”

However, Elmore says the RFS “doesn’t matter as much as people think.” What matters more is the inclusion rates for ethanol in fuel. “We’re producing more than the 10% inclusion rate right now,” he said. “We need to worry about the inclusion rates and agriculture will have to work with the auto industry and Big Oil to make it happen.”

Elmore says Brazil is coming back on line with its sugar crop which will impact the export market for U.S. ethanol which has been up in recent years.

Listen to Elmore’s comments here: Ethanol Comments from Steve Elmore

Audio, Ethanol, Ethanol News, Pioneer

Ethanol Fuels Successful ASRW

Cindy Zimmerman

The 2012 Automotive Service & Repair Week (ASRW) was a great success in New Orleans last month, in part due to new sponsors and exhibitors like the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA).

Automotive Service Association (ASA) president Ron Pyle reports that ASRW featured 237 exhibiting companies, with 43 new exhibitors and 16,652 attendees this year. “By all standards and measurements, ASRW 2012 was a successful event,” said Pyle. “We continue to adjust the content and activities to best meet the needs of today’s repair professional. And we’re pleased with the recent news that our Orlando event earned ASRW a spot on TSNN’s “Fastest 50” list of trade shows. The industry continues to support our decision to rotate the show around the country, and we look forward to delivering an even stronger show next fall in Las Vegas.”

Bobby Likis, nationally syndicated car-talk host of “Bobby Likis Car Clinic,” was very pleased to be part of this year’s event with other new exhibitors for the show. “ASRW is a must-attend for automotive service technicians and shop owners who want to proactively deliver best-of practices and products to their customers,” said Likis. “Car Clinic, Ricardo Engineering (designers of the Extreme Boost Direct Injection [EBDI] engine) and the Renewable Fuels Association (the voice of American ethanol producers) were all first-time exhibitors at CARS 2012.”

ASRW 2013 is scheduled for Oct. 16-19 at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas, Nev.

CARS, Ethanol, Ethanol News

More Accurate ILUC Carbon Accounting

Joanna Schroeder

Dr. Jesper Hedal Kløverpris and Dr. Steffen Mueller have proposed a new approach to measuring the climate impact of biofuels related land-use changes (ILUC) as opposed to other land use changes: “Baseline Time Accounting Concept” and believe it should become an integrated part of future ILUC studies. According to the researchers, this model incorporates baseline time accounting into ILUC models, leading to a more accurate assessment of global warming impact. The peer reviewed study was published in the International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment.

Jesper and Mueller explain that climate impact estimates are more precise when indirect land use emissions from the conversion of land at the agricultural frontier are compared with emissions resulting from the baseline conversion the same land. Historically, ILUC models assume a static land baseline although land use trend regionally differ.

“As many others, I have always been uncomfortable with the annualization method applied for time accounting in most previous ILUC studies because it is basically arbitrary,” said Kløverpris. “A more sophisticated approach was required to assess the actual climate impact of indirect land use change. Baseline time accounting is our proposal for a more scientifically rigorous way of dealing with the time issue in ILUC studies as the science is refined.”

More specifically, the approach incorporates two agricultural land use dynamics that they say is missing from previous time accounting models. The first is accelerated expansion which occurs in regions such as Latin America where agriculture area is expanding. Biofuel production may move up by a year or more the ongoing conversion of land to agriculture.

Globally, explain the researchers, the agricultural area will continue to expand for some decades, so a piece of land converted as an indirect result of biofuels production today would have come into production at some point regardless. That may not continue to be the case but one of the points with baseline time accounting is to assess biofuels production under the conditions prevailing when the biofuels are produced. If global land use dynamics change, so does the climate impact of ILUC.

The second dynamic is delayed reversion Read More

advance biofuels, Carbon Dioxide, Indirect Land Use

Solar Jobs on the Rise

Joanna Schroeder

The Solar Foundation (TSF) has reported in its third annual National Solar Jobs Census that the U.S. solar industry employs 119,016 people, an increase of 13.2 percent from the previous year. The solar job census measured solar industry growth between September 2011 to September 2012. Based on 2012 data collection, TSF also revised the 2011 total jobs number from 100,237 to 105,145. According to TSF, during the same period, employment in the overall economy only grew at a rate of 2.3 percent, while the fossil fuel electric generation industry shed 3,857 jobs or nearly 4 percent of its workforce.

“The solar industry has grown at significantly higher rates than most other industries in the past several years, making it one of the foremost creators of new jobs in the United States,” said Andrea Luecke, TSF Executive Director. “Our census findings indicate that these new jobs are highly skilled in nature, including solar installation, sales, marketing and software development. These new solar industry jobs are sustainable, cannot be outsourced and play a critical role in our country’s economic recovery.”

There were several drivers of employment growth according to the census. Nearly one third of employers who responded to the survey cited the continued decline in component prices as the primary driver. State legislation enacting Renewable Portfolio Standards or authorizing third-party system ownership and federal tax incentives were other leading drivers.

“The National Solar Jobs Census 2012 provides a solid point of reference about solar industry employment that wasn’t available three years ago,” said Philip Jordan, Chief Business Officer at BW Research Partnership. “The Solar Foundation’s research is allowing training providers, job seekers and the public to understand the solar job market with a high degree of confidence.”

Danny Kennedy, co-founder and president of Sungevity and author of Rooftop Revolution, noted that the finds validate the continued boom in business growth the industry has experienced during the past year. During 2012, Sungevity expanded to six new states and the company created 100 new direct and indirect jobs. “Solar power is an American invention and it is exciting to see it become one of the fastest growing job engines in America,” added Kennedy.

The full report will be presented at the Clean Energy Workforce Education Conference on November 14th in Albany, New York.

Alternative energy, Electricity, Renewable Energy, Solar

Quick Cook Method Turns Algae Into Oil

Joanna Schroeder

Researchers from University of Michigan have developed a way to “pressure cook” algae for as little as one minute and transform up to 65 percent of the algae into biocrude. Phil Savage, a professor of chemical engineering at U of M, said the research team is trying to mimic the process nature uses when creating crude oil, and his algae of choice is green marine micro-alga.

To make their one-minute biocrude, Savage and Julia Faeth, a doctoral student in Savage’s lab, filled a steel pipe connector with 1.5 milliliters of wet algae, capped it and plunged it into 1,100-degree Fahrenheit sand. The small volume ensured that the algae was heated through. Previously the team heated the algae from 10 to 90 minutes and saw the best results when treating the algae for 10 to 40 minutes at 570 degrees. A small batch of algae can reach this temperature in one minute.

Savage and Faeth aren’t sure why the one-minute results so much better until they do more experiments. “My guess is that the reactions that produce biocrude are actually must faster than previously thought,” Savage surmised. Yet Faeth suggests that the fast heating might boost the biocrude by keeping unwanted reactions at bay. “For example, the biocrude might decompose into substances that dissolve in water, and the fast heating rates might discourage that reaction,” Faeth said.

Read More

advance biofuels, algae, Renewable Energy

Solar Planet Power Helps Schools Go Solar

Joanna Schroeder

Solar Planet Power has helped several elementary and high schools in West Jefferson and Blacklick, Ohio go solar. The company commissioned a number of ground and rooftop solar projects during October with each project using ReneSola photovoltaic (PV) modules. Solar Planet has more than 10 megawatts of solar power projects contracts in place to install solar power systems in more than 20 school districts, 10 municipalities, and other facilities including university buildings, hospitals and airports, and has already ordered $200 million in solar PV products from ReneSola.

“Construction on the first round of projects took only 45 days to complete,” said Siyd Tawana, president of Solar Planet. “It was truly a pleasure working with ReneSola to secure the company’s high-efficiency 250 W and 255 W modules in a timely manner. It has turned into a great partnership. We have high expectations when selecting modules for the projects we currently have contracted in our home state of Ohio. We are planning to expand to states on both coasts and look forward to completing those new projects with ReneSola, our long-term partner, whom we believe offers the best quality, size options and efficiencies in today’s solar PV marketplace.”

During 2012, ReneSola, based in San Francisco, California, will deliver 2.2 GW to 2.4 GW of solar PV modules and wafers worldwide.

Kevin Chen, president of ReneSola America, noted, “The American markets are still ripe with tremendous growth potential. With more and more states coming on line and others increasing their renewable portfolio standards, companies with outstanding reputations, such as Solar Planet and ReneSola, will flourish. We look forward to forging more partnerships with other leading developers like Solar Planet to grow the number of high-quality, cost-effective PV projects in North and South America.”

Alternative energy, Clean Energy, Electricity, Renewable Energy, Solar

Sapphire Energy & ISB Further Develop Algal Biofuels

Joanna Schroeder

Sapphire Energy and Institute for Systems Biology (ISB), have formed a strategic partnership to further the development of algae biofuels. The two companies will focus on applying systems biology solutions to algae with the goal of significantly increasing oil yield and improving resistance to crop predators and environmental factors.

Nitin Baliga, director of Integrative Biology at ISB, said of the partnership, “Sapphire is dealing with one of the most complicated problems known to humans: how to make fuel from a renewable resource. Together, we have complementary expertise that will allow us to understand, reverse engineer and rationally alter the gene networks for fuel production in algae.”

According to Alex Aravanis, Sapphire Energy’s chief science officer, said that the company has developed “the premier biotechnology platform” for producing and harvesting algae.  “By working with ISB to apply their systems biology approach, we’re able to more rapidly identify genes and regulatory pathways that can increase yield and move us toward our goal of making Green Crude a market viable, crude oil alternative.”

The companies hope to reverse engineer the gene networks in algae and create strategies that will significantly improve the yield of green oil and crop protection. They also hope to significantly reduce the time to market.

Most recently, Sapphire began operating the first phase of its 300-acre commercial demonstration Green Crude Farm, also known as an Integrated Algal Bio-Refinery, in Columbus, New Mexico, in partnership with the US Department of Energy. Once in full production, The Green Crude Farm is expected to produce approximately 100 barrels of Green Crude per day, and be completed the end of 2014.

advance biofuels, algae, Alternative energy, Renewable Energy