BlendStar Completes Construction

Joanna Schroeder biofuels, Ethanol, Renewable Energy

GPRE logoGreen Plains Renewable Energy (GPRE)’s subsidiary BlendStar LLC has completed construction and begun operations at its 96-car unit train terminal in Birmingham, Alabama. BNSF Railway, who will serve the terminal, has a throughput capacity of 300 million gallons ethanol annually.

“We are pleased to announce the start-up of operations at the Birmingham terminal, which will provide more efficient distribution of ethanol to underserved markets in the southeastern U.S.,” said Todd Becker, President and Chief Executive Officer of Green Plains. “We have unloaded the first unit train of ethanol and expect the terminal to be at full capacity in January 2013. This facility expands our geographic footprint consistent with our strategy to expand our downstream distribution capabilities.”

The Birmingham terminal currently has 160,000 barrels of storage and a four-lane covered truck rack, both with expansion capabilities.

biofuels, Ethanol, Renewable Energy

Most Travelling By Car This Holiday

Melissa Sandfort ZimmPoll

Our latest ZimmPoll asked the question, ”How do you plan to travel this holiday?”

Our poll results: Fifty-seven percent said car; twenty percent said people are coming to my house; nine percent said I’m boycotting the holidays; six percent said other; three percent said plane, bus and walk; and no one is taking the train. Looks like the roads will be full of travelers this holiday season so be safe as they’re talking about the possibility of a white Christmas!


Our new ZimmPoll is now live and asks the question, “What kind of Christmas tree do you have?” If you have family at your house that are similar to mine, they’re allergic to real trees so ours is, and has to be, artificial. Let us know!

ZimmPoll is sponsored by Rhea+Kaiser, a full-service advertising/public relations agency.


Cellulosic Biofuels Progress Report

Cindy Zimmerman advance biofuels, AEC, Cellulosic, Ethanol, Ethanol News, RFA

RFA AECThe Advanced Ethanol Council has just released a detailed look at the progress made towards the commercial deployment of advanced cellulosic biofuels.

The Cellulosic Biofuels Industry Progress Report profiles production facilities and projects across the country and producing nations around the world. According to the report, all countries that were profiled are working toward developing production capacity in the U.S. to meet the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

The new data includes each facility’s path to commercial deployment, capacity, feedstock and more, demonstrating that notwithstanding the global recession, the cellulosic biofuel industry is coming on line.

“It was just five years ago that Congress called for the aggressive deployment of cellulosic biofuels to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil. We are pleased to report that the industry is breaking through at commercial scale, and is well on its way to becoming a major player in the American fuel mix,” said Brooke Coleman, Executive Director of the Advanced Ethanol Council (AEC). “This rapid progress is due to the Renewable Fuel Standard and to Secretary Vilsack’s and the Obama Administration’s leadership on the issue, ensuring the policy has remained stable and allowing investors to feel confident about committing the capital necessary to take the industry to scale.”

“Much has been made about the slow development of cellulosic ethanol,” added Bill Brady, CEO of Mascoma Corporation and Chairman of the AEC. “This report should put all that to rest. This is the cleanest, most innovative liquid fuel in the world, and the United States is poised to lead the development of this game-changing industry.”

The report points to the industry’s enormous potential. According to the Sandia National Lab, the U.S. could produce 75 billion gallons per year of cellulosic biofuels without displacing food and feed crops, or more than half of the 134 billion gallons of gasoline consumed by the U.S. in 2011. Read More

advance biofuels, AEC, Cellulosic, Ethanol, Ethanol News, RFA

USDA Supports Sustainable Bioenergy Production

Joanna Schroeder advance biofuels, Agribusiness, bioenergy, biomaterials, Research

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has awarded $10 million in research grants to help develop production of bioenergy and biobased products. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack made the announcement while visiting Michigan State University, one of the grant winners.

Ford Concept Car with Biobased materialsWhile there, Vilsack mentioned the growth potential of biobased products as detailed in a recent study by Iowa State University (funded by USDA) that found that while biobased products in automobile manufacturing is increasing, there are still many parts that can be replaced with biobased materials.

“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 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. Today, with a strong and diversified U.S. agricultural sector, the American automobile industry has a greater incentive for expanding use of biobased products while supporting good-paying jobs here in the United States.”

USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) awarded the grants through the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI). AFRI’s sustainable bioenergy challenge area targets the development of regional systems for the sustainable production of bioenergy and biobased products that: contribute significantly to reducing dependence on foreign oil; have net positive social, environmental, and rural economic impacts; and are compatible with existing agricultural systems.

Projects were awarded in four areas: 1) policy options for and impacts on regional biofuels production systems, 2) impacts of regional bioenergy feedstock production systems on wildlife and pollinators, 3) socioeconomic impacts of biofuels on rural communities, and 4) environmental implications of direct and indirect land use change. Click here to view a full list of the winners.

advance biofuels, Agribusiness, bioenergy, biomaterials, Research

Spring Valley Wins Wind Project of Year

Joanna Schroeder Alternative energy, Electricity, Energy, Renewable Energy, Wind

POWER-GEN International has awarded Spring Valley Wind facility in Ely, Nevada Wind Project of the Year Award. Owned by Pattern Energy Group, the 151.8 MW project is the first wind project on public land and also the first wind project in the state of Nevada.

“We are honored that Spring Valley has received the prestigious Wind Project of the Year Award; this project was spring_valley_wind_farma tremendous collaboration that would not have been possible without the help of so many in Nevada,” said MikeGarland, CEO of Pattern Energy. “Spring Valley received support from Senator Reid, Senator Heller, Secretary Salazar, and local government officials, as well as the great people of Ely. We collaborated on this project with White Pine County, the State of Nevada, Bureau of Land Management, NV Energy, and several Federal agencies and environmental groups, including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Nevada Department of Wildlife, local Native American tribes, and the Sierra Club.”

The Spring Valley Wind project features 66 Siemens 2.3 MW wind turbines, which can power approximately 45,000 homes. Mortenson Construction was the prime construction contractor on the project.  Pattern has a 20-year power purchase agreement with NV Energy for the sale of energy produce by the wind farm.

“Pattern was proud to bring its environmental leadership to Spring Valley Wind with groundbreaking mitigation measures that minimize impacts on the environment, including the preservation of cultural resources, funding for sage grouse, curtailment standards, modified electrical lines to reduce risks to birds, and an advanced radar system designed to protect birds and bats,” added Garland. “The project also provided a strong economic boost to the region and significant benefits to the community and school system for decades to come.”

Alternative energy, Electricity, Energy, Renewable Energy, Wind

Student Transportation Wins Propane Bus Contract

Joanna Schroeder Propane

Student Transportation has been awarded a contract with Omaha and Milliard Public Schools in Nebraska to transport students with propane autogas school buses. The company will provide nearly 300 buses with more than 400 to be fueled with propane. The contract will begin in August 2013.

To best serve the schools, Student Transportation will open at least three facilities in the Omaha metro area. Blue BlueBird Propane Fueled School BusBird Corporation will manufacture the propane autogas buses equipped with ROUSH CleanTech liquid propane autogas fuel system technology. The remaining buses in the fleet will be provided by IC Bus, a division of Navistar.

STI Chairman and CEO Denis J. Gallagher said, “Domestically-produced, clean-burning propane autogas is a perfect fit for school fleets with up to 30 percent less greenhouse emissions. By running propane-powered buses, Omaha Public Schools can reduce their carbon dioxide emissions by 2,310,469 lbs. per year, significantly lowering the school district’s carbon footprint, which was its goal for the coming year.”

According to Student Transportation, propane sales currently contribute more than $122 million to Nebraska’s economy.

“This large deployment is the catalyst that alternate fuels needed to become a viable and reliable fuel source for school transportation,” said Gallagher. “We have been leaders in this area and have been pushing and working with our manufacturers to have a final product that can lower greenhouse emissions and lower costs at the same time. We wanted a large project to roll out our initiative in this area so school districts around the country can see there is a better way to transport children to school with a lower cost of operation. “


Bioheat is Cool

Joanna Schroeder advance biofuels, Alternative energy, Biodiesel, NBB

The National Biodiesel Board has launched a new television advertising campaign in the Northeast to promote the use of Bioheat. Bioheat is heating oil blended with biodiesel and is a renewable option for consumers and businesses that use heating oil to heat homes and offices. The campaign is funded by the Nebraska Soybean Board, the United Soybean Board, the Iowa Soybean Association and the South Dakota Soybean Research & Promotion Council.

BioheatTVThe commercials began running throughout the Northeast in late November, and will run for the next few months during local newscasts and football pregame shows in markets such as Boston, New York City, and Hartford, Conn. The ads highlight the benefits of Bioheat, including greater energy independence, supporting American Jobs, and “making the air in your home and town cleaner.”

“Strong imagery supporting our message is an advantage in creating a connection with customers,” said Paul Nazzaro, petroleum liaison for the National Biodiesel Board. “Consumers see the visual of a Bioheat truck, and see families like theirs, which helps personalize the message. Our goal is simply to pique their curiosity, drive them to the Bioheat website, and contact a dealer who carries it.”

In New York City, one of the commercials congratulates the city on using 2 percent biodiesel in all of its heating oil, thanks to a law that took effect in October. The ads proclaim New York City “Proud 2B2,” a play on the B2 requirement. The campaign is also a marketing tool for Bioheat dealers who can use the commercials in their own markets or on their websites.

Greg Anderson, a fifth generation farmer in Newman Grove, Nebraska said of the Bioheat campaign, “The oilheat market genuinely wants and needs our product, which empowers farmers to continue participating in the U.S. energy sector. Soybean farmers are very proud to wave the Bioheat flag because we recognize the tremendous potential it holds for both our industries.”

advance biofuels, Alternative energy, Biodiesel, NBB

SEIA Releases Solar Training Materials

Joanna Schroeder American Ethanol, Education, Energy, Solar

Solar Energy International has released a series of textbooks and online training materials for use around the world for technical renewable energy training and workforce development. The Solar Energy International Textbook Series will be released throughout 2013.

SEI_Textbook_Cover_FinalKathy Swartz, Interim Executive Director for SEI said, “When SEI was selected by the Department of Energy to be part of the Solar Instructor Training Network (SITN) we saw an immediate increase in requests for our textbook. The SITN is composed of nine Regional Training Providers (RTPs) to help fulfill a critical need for high-quality, local, and accessible training in solar system design, installation, sales, and inspection through train-the-trainer programs.”

She added that the nine RTPs are well-established solar training institutions that offer expert trainers and first-class training facilities across the U.S., and that SEI has a goal of helping to create a well prepared solar workforce.

The textbooks contact photos of PV applications, informational graphs, and interviews with professionals throughout the industry. This textbook series includes both introductory topics for people just entering the field and highly technical textbooks for solar professionals. Book titles include: Introduction to Renewable Energy; Solar Electric Handbook: Photovoltaic Fundamentals and Applications; Solar Electric Handbook: Advanced Photovoltaics for Solar Professionals; and
Solar Electric Handbook: Battery Based Photovoltaic Systems. Click here for more information.

American Ethanol, Education, Energy, Solar

Linda DiVall with American Viewpoint to Keynote NEC

Joanna Schroeder biofuels, Ethanol, National Ethanol Conference, RFA

p-nec13-divallLinda DiVall, President and CEO of American Viewpoint will be the keynote speaker for the upcoming National Ethanol Conference: Driving Forward, taking place in Las Vegas February 5-7, 2013. She will discuss trends in public opinion related to ethanol in general, including its brand image as well as public support of the RFS, E15 and other mid-level blends, and other public policies. Her presentation will run the gambit from political analysis to the most effective consumer and grassroots messaging.

According to the Renewable Fuels Association, who hosts the annual ethanol conference, as American Viewpoint’s founder, DiVall has provided effective strategies to both political and corporate clients for 27 years. She has been a member of the polling team for every GOP Presidential candidate since 1988. Her strategic insight has been utilized on policy issues of energy, Social Security, Medicare, retirement security, and healthcare as well as providing guidance to the GOP on strategies to counter the gender gap. Linda frequently provides political commentary to CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN and PBS.

Registration is open. Click here to get more information about the conference agenda, speakers and to register.

biofuels, Ethanol, National Ethanol Conference, RFA

Last Call for Student Biofuels Campaign Ad

Joanna Schroeder Alternative energy, Biodiesel, biofuels, Ethanol, Iowa RFA

Lights. Camera. Action.


That’s a take.

Directors ChairThis could be you at your video premier of your biofuels campaign ad debuted during the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association’s 7th Annual Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit and Trade Show being held on January 30, 2013. High school students can enter to win $2,000 in cash prizes for the best ad promoting the use of E15 or biodiesel at the pump.  The top three video entries will receive prizes in the amounts of $1,000, $600 and $400 respectively.

“The IRFA is asking Iowa high school students to keep renewable fuels in mind over  winter break, and submit a campaign ad video encouraging consumers to choose E15 and biodiesel at the pump in 2013,” said IRFA Communications Director T.J. Page.  “We can’t wait to see how Iowa high school students set the record straight on renewable fuels and we hope all Iowans will vote with their fuel tanks by asking for E15 and biodiesel in 2013.”

The “Fuel the Future” contest is limited to students currently attending high school (grades 9-12 in a public, private or home school) in Iowa. Campaigns should not exceed 2 minutes in length and must be received by January 18, 2013. More information about the contest and instructions on submission can be found here.

Alternative energy, Biodiesel, biofuels, Ethanol, Iowa RFA