Chile Ramps Up Renewable Energy

Joanna Schroeder

Chile is ramping up its renewable energy sector with two recent project announcements. SunEdison and the Chilean mining and steel group CAP have signed an agreement to construct what the two companies believe will be the largest solar photovoltaic power plant in Latin America and one of the largest on the world. The plant is designed to have an SUNEDISON SOLAR FACILITYinstalled capacity of 100MW (DC) and will be located in the Atacama Desert of Chile. It is estimated that the plant will produce as much as 15 percent of the mining group’s energy needs.

The plant will be built using SunEdison technology. More than 300,000 Silvantis monocrystalline silicon modules will be installed, which according to the company, are made from non-toxic, non-polluting material that can be recycled at the end of its useful life, together with solar trackers designed by SunEdison, for which steel produced by CAP is expected to be used.

Mainstream Renewable Power, has announced they have completed financing and begun construction of its 33 MW Negrete Cuel Wind Farm in southern Chile. The farm is expected to be fulling operational in September 2013. Goldwind is supplying the project with GW87 1.5 MW wind turbines. Mainstream also owns and operates a 150MW Calama Oeste wind farm located in Atacama Desert.

Mainstream’s Chief Executive Eddie O’Connor said, “I am delighted to announce Mainstream’s fifth project to go into construction across three continents in a period of just six months. Since entering the Chilean market back in 2009 Mainstream has built a very strong and growing portfolio of wind and solar projects, many of which are in the mid to late development stages.

Alternative energy, Electricity, International, Solar, Wind

Akash Energy Partners with Gulf Hydrocarbon

Joanna Schroeder

AkashEnergy logoAkash Energy has announced a partnership with Gulf Hydrocarbon Partners a supplier of renewable fuels including biodiesel. The company has terminals in Houston, Texas and Hartford, Illinois.  The partnership will provide distribution infrastructure for biodiesel blending.

“We are very excited about this relationship as it helps achieve our goals of providing a strong distribution network for our customers, ensuring reliable, consistent supply,” said  Justin Heller, President, Akash Energy.

Akash Energy established one of the first biodiesel track racks in the San Francisco Bay area as well as a truck rack in Elizabeth New Jersey. The focus on the company is to develop efficient distribution infrastructure to provide reliable and consistent biodiesel supply to the end-user market.

Jess Hewitt, president of Gulf Hydrocarbon, added, “Collaborating with Akash Energy has been exciting so far. We have already seen the benefits of working together, and I am optimistic about the additional value we will be able to offer our customers. Akash Energy definitely brings a unique approach, and I enjoy the dynamic feel they bring to the table.”

advance biofuels, Biodiesel

Next Generation Scientists Attending NBB Conference

Joanna Schroeder

There are 16 college students who are attending the National Biodiesel Board (NBB) Conference that kicks off today in Las Vegas. One student is Jeremy Ferrell, a Ph.D. student at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, who sees great potential for biodiesel to help revitalize rural areas once dominated by tobacco. Today, Ferrell conducts biodiesel research at an industrial ecology project in North Carolina.

“What fascinates me about biodiesel is its diversity across numerous sectors,” said Ferrell. “The opportunity for biodiesel to enhance rural economies is one of the things that drives my career.”

EvanLeUofNevadaReno_sm_01The students are able to attend the conference through a scholarship program offered to members of Next Generation Scientists for biodiesel, an NBB program with the goal of educating and collaborating with young scientists. The United Soybean Board also supports the program through the soybean checkoff.

“They are often called ‘student scientists,’ but the reality is that these are full-fledged scientists, contributing to the large body of work that makes up biofuels research in this country,” said Kyle Anderson, NBB technical project manager. “There is tremendous potential for this NBB program to have a lasting impact on biodiesel research.  It’s a great investment to share solid information and build relationships with tomorrow’s scientific thought leaders.”

Another student who will be attending the event is Nina De la Rosa, an Environmental Studies student at Florida International University in  Miami. She, along with the other students, will present posters on their research during the event.

“I believe the conference will present engaging information and activities that will allow me to solidify my knowledge, and strengthen research and career interests that I hope to pursue in my professional life,” said De la Rosa. “The knowledge and professional network I gain from this conference will only allow my passion for biofuels to grow and strengthen my commitment to continue in a field that will remain of high importance in our quest for global sustainability.”

advance biofuels, Biodiesel, Education, National Biodiesel Conference, NBB

Taking Corn Cobs for Biofuels Won’t Hurt Soil Quality

John Davis

corncobsConcerns over hurting the soil quality when harvesting some crop residues for cellulosic biofuels, instead of leaving the residues on the fields to help the soil quality, might be unfounded. U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) research says that soil quality would not decline if post-harvest corn cobs were removed from the field.

“Crop residues have many useful functions when left in the field, [including] protecting against water and wind erosion [and] may contain essential nutrients for crop growth that can be recycled back into the soil,” among others says Agricultural Research Service (ARS) soil scientist Brian Wienhold, who conducted the study. But his work compared runoff rates and sediment loss from no-till corn fields where postharvest crop residues were either removed or retained and found no significant difference between fields’ sediment loss rates with and without the cobs. The cobs did slightly delay field runoff.

The study concluded that cobs could be removed from other residue and used for bioenergy feedstock without significantly interfering with the role of crop residues in protecting soils. But Wienhold cautions that you need to make sure you balance taking any residue off the fields with the potential benefits and losses it could cause.

Listen to Wienhold’s comments to USDA here: ARS soil scientist Brian Wienhold

Audio, biofuels, Cellulosic, Government, USDA

U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu Resigns

Joanna Schroeder

In a letter to U.S. Energy Department employees today, Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced his decision to not serve a second term. In his remarks he highlighted the tremendous progress of the last four years.

Hero_StevenChuChu wrote, “Serving the country as Secretary of Energy, and working alongside such an extraordinary team of people at the Department, has been the greatest privilege of my life. While the job has had many challenges, it has been an exciting time for the Department, the country, and for me personally.

I’ve always been inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King, who articulated his Dream of an America where people are judged not by skin color but “by the content of their character.” In the scientific world, people are judged by the content of their ideas. Advances are made with new insights, but the final arbitrator of any point of view are experiments that seek the unbiased truth, not information cherry picked to support a particular point of view. The power of our work is derived from this foundation.

Chu highlighted several areas where he felt there was great success especially in the country’s move to clean energy. Four areas he noted in which he felt demonstrated tangible signs of success included: in the last four years, the production of clean, renewable energy from wind and solar has doubled; in addition to approximately $25 billion annual budget, also made a $36 billion investment through the Recovery Act to help ensure that the clean energy jobs of tomorrow are being created here in America today; the Department has helped one million low income homeowners weatherize their homes; and administered a loan program that generated a portfolio of loans and loan guarantees to 33 clean energy and advanced automotive manufacturing projects.

You can read his full letter of resignation here.

Alternative energy, Clean Energy, energy efficiency, Renewable Energy

U.S. Needs to Open Cars to Fuel Competition

Joanna Schroeder

Anne Korin, co-author of “Turning Oil into Salt,” and the new book “Petropoly,” gave a thought provoking presentation during the 7th Annual Renewable Fuels Summit hosted by the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA). Korin is the co-director for the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security, a think tank focused on energy and security, that she says takes no money from any companies in the energy or alternative energy sector.

Korin Book Signing at IRFA SummitShe began her presentation by noting that over the past seven or eight years our oil imports have fallen over 65 percent to 45 percent, and yet in 2012 there were record gasoline prices. “And if that didn’t show to Washington, the people thinking about energy security, the traditional paradigm, which is only if we reduce our oil imports, we’re going to face lower oil prices. If that traditional paradigm was not proved to be completely wrong, then nothing will show it to be,” said Korin.

The solution: to rethink the fuel paradigm. The country needs more fuel choice: from ethanol, biodiesel, methanol, electrification and more, although she said the lowest cost would be liquid fuel choice. She noted that use of biofuels is not a battle the industry can win on its own and points to a bill that has been re-introduced again called the Open Fuel Standard. The bill is technology neutral. “But this bill is not getting out of the barn,” said Korin, “because the industry has not put it’s full weight and its full energy into pushing this bill forward.”

“And I would say as long as you think about your industry in a vacuum, which goes together with thinking of it as an additive, which goes together with thinking of being a big fish in a small pond, and you don’t shift your thinking to be a small fish in a very large pond and that small fish is bigger than the big fish in the small pond, than you’re not going to have the desperately needed impact on the safety and security of the United States as a whole that you really could and ought to have,” she continued.

Korin concluded, “It’s very important for the country that the ethanol industry be engaged in this fight.”

Listen to Anne Korin’s full remarks here: U.S. Needs to Open Cars to Fuel Competition

View the IRFA Renewable Fuels Summit Photo Album.

Audio, Biodiesel, biofuels, Ethanol, Iowa RFA

We Will Fight For Biofuels

Joanna Schroeder

We will fight for biofuels was the key message delivered by both Iowa Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds and Iowa Governor Terry Branstad during the opening session of the 7th Annual Renewable Fuels Summit, hosted by the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA). As IRFA Executive Director Monte Shaw said during his remarks, 2013 will be a pivotal year for biofuels. Both Reynolds and Branstad said they would fight for the future of renewable fuels in both Iowa and at the federal level.

During her remarks Reynolds noted that the renewable fuels industry supports more than 82,000 jobs in Iowa and this is growing. However, she noted, the state must have a robust and skilled workforce if Iowa’s economy is to continue to thrive. She said they are working to close the skills gap that exists in Iowa today with their Skilled Iowa Initiative.

Branstad reiterated the economic role the renewable fuels industry plays in Iowa and around the country and said they the industry must continue to fight for the truth with facts.

“There are a lot of lies and misinformation, especially on the east coast and west coast and we in the Midwest have to fight for this industry which is so important,” said Branstad. “Having been Governor during the farm crisis of the 80s I know the difference between a strong, renewable fuels industry, and when we didn’t have it. We don’t want to go back to those bad old days.”

Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit Photo Album

advance biofuels, Biodiesel, biofuels, Ethanol, Iowa RFA, Video

Muscatine Students Win Fuel the Future Contest

Joanna Schroeder


The winners of the 3rd Annual High School Renewable Fuels Video Contest hail from Muscatine, Iowa and wow are they clever. Alli Burns, Ana Arzate and Sariah Garrido of Muscatine took the top price in the “Fuel the Future” video contest for high school students that was sponsored by Faegre Baker Daniels, LLP. The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) awarded the team its $1,000 prize during the 7th Annual Renewable Fuels Summit. The video, titled “Fuel the Future” beat 37 other entries.

Second place, and winner of a $600 prize, was awarded to Sam Fathallah of Marion, Iowa for his video entitled, “Why You Should Use Ethanol 15.” Fathallah is an eleventh grader at Linn-Mar High School.

IRFA Video Winner CheckThird place was awarded to Drew Laviada-Garmon and Tiler Lemkau of Muscatine for their “Gangnam Style” spoof entitled, “E15 Style.” The two Muscatine High School seniors won $400 for their video.

“The renewable fuels industry needs to look no further than the IRFA YouTube page for its next big promotional video,” said IRFA Communications Director T.J. Page. “The IRFA congratulates the ‘Fuel the Future’ winners as well as each of the Iowa high school students who took on the challenge of entering this contest.”

So for those of you reading our blog who live outside of the U.S., let me give you a little context to the video. It is a superb spoof of an ASPCA commercial, a non profit that rescues animals, that featured Sarah McLachlan and her hit song “In the Arms of the Angels”.

You can watch all of the videos that were submitted at IRFA’s YouTube channel.

IRFA Renewable Fuels Summit Photo Album

Biodiesel, biofuels, E15, Ethanol, Video

Amyris Ships First Product

Joanna Schroeder

240617Amyris has shipped it first commercial product from its plant in Brazil. The facility was the company’s first purpose-built industrial fermentation facility and produces Biofene, the company’s brand of renewable farnesene, to be used in a range of specialty chemical and fuel applications.

“This initial shipment marks the successful completion of our start-up activities. We have operated multiple tanks without contamination or surprises through several production runs during the first month of operation,” said John Melo, President and CEO of Amyris.

“We are now focused on ramping up Biofene production and delivering product to our customers, from renewable diesel for bus fleets in Brazil to squalane emollient globally and soon a range of specialty chemical applications,” Melo concluded.

Amyris’s Biofene plant in Brotas, in the state of São Paulo, Brazil, sources its sugarcane feedstock locally from the Paraíso mill. Prior to the start-up of this facility, Amyris relied solely on contract manufacturing for commercial production.

advance biofuels, biochemicals, Brazil

Biofuel Industry Responds to RIN Integrity Proposal

Joanna Schroeder

biodiesel_and_ethanol_fuel_pumps_at_retail_fuel_station_e85__e10_ethanol_b5_b20_biodiesel_mind_J53-1369484The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its proposed rules for the 2013 Renewable Fuels Standard yesterday. A portion of the proposal focused on dealing with Renewable Identification Number (RIN) fraud. Last year, several individuals were indicted for committing fraud by selling fake biodiesel RINS. The proposal is open for comment until March 19, 2013 and the industry is just now beginning to review and digest what it entails.

“While we are still reviewing the details, this proposal appears to be another positive step toward ensuring that RIN fraud is a thing of the past,” said Anne Steckel, National Biodiesel Board’s vice president of federal affairs. “We want to thank the EPA for working aggressively to address this issue and for proposing constructive solutions that will restore confidence in RIN markets.”

Steckel continued, “This problem was caused by a handful of wrongdoers who took advantage of a good policy for advancing America’s energy security. Two of those people are now facing significant prison time, and that enforcement along with these tightened regulations will go a long way toward preventing anything like this from happening again.”

The organization intends to continue working cooperatively with the EPA and our partners in the petroleum sector in bringing this issue to closure.

While the fraud cases were around biodiesel RINS, the EPA proposed rules addresses fraud across all renewable fuel sectors of the RFS. This includes ethanol RINS and cellulosic RINS. Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy said, “We are pleased to see that EPA is moving forward with a voluntary program to address the concerns raised about the integrity of RINS in the RFS program. We look forward to reviewing the proposal and will work with EPA to ensure that the program is successful.”

advance biofuels, Cellulosic, Growth Energy, NBB, RFS