Iowa Biodiesel Board Comments to EPA

In comments submitted this week to the Environmental Protection Agency, the Iowa Biodiesel Board (IBB) said that the federal Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) has “breathed new life into Iowa’s struggling biodiesel industry.”

The comments were submitted by IBB executive director Randy Olson in regard to EPA’s notice of proposed rulemaking on the Regulation of Fuels and Fuel Additives: 2012 Renewable Fuel Standards.

Home to 15 plants with 315 million gallons of capacity annually, virtually all of our state’s plants shut down or operated at reduced capacity in 2010. Today most of those plants are operating again, many at or near their full potential. Other idled plants have been purchased and plan to begin production soon. The RFS2 has stimulated an investment in infrastructure, which is critical to the long-term success of biodiesel in our nation’s energy portfolio. In Iowa, Magellan Pipeline has announced plans to install equipment for biodiesel blending at its Des Moines terminal. Other Iowa terminals carrying biodiesel are in Mason City, Ottumwa and Fort Madison. The RFS2 serves as a stabilizing force that will make these investments pay off over the long term. Despite claims of RFS2 opponents, the needed infrastructure is falling into place.

Read the full text of the comments from IBB.

Bikers From Australia See Need For Alternative Fuel

Bikers come a long way to go to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. Probably none came any further than these folks from Queensland, Australia. They got some nice t-shirts from the on-location ethanol team.

I asked them what they thought of using renewable fuels like ethanol. The answer, “I guess we’re really going to have to do something about an alternative fuel because I don’t think that the oil resources are going to last forever so we’ve definitely got to look somewhere else for our fuel needs.”

You can listen to my interview with our Australians here: Australians at Sturgis Interview

2011 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally Photo Album

Domestic Fuel coverage of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is sponsored by The Renewable Fuels Association

Kansas Corn Helping at Sturgis Motorcycle Rally

The ethanol team got a helping hand this week at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally from Jere White, Executive Director, Kansas Corn Growers Association. Here he is handing out promotional t-shirts.

I sat down with him to get his thoughts on this promotional opportunity. Jere says the audience is a little different than might have been considered in the past but when it comes to the E15 issue it was found that some of the push back came from boaters and bikers. The Sturgis event is the largest gathering of bikers in the country and he believes that after several years of promotion and education a difference is being made. Jere rode his own motorcycle to the event which he has converted to run on E85 and it is performing well.

You can listen to my interview with Jere here: Jere White Interview

2011 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally Photo Album

Domestic Fuel coverage of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is sponsored by The Renewable Fuels Association

Making Energy More Environmentally Friendly

Sturgis Motorcycle Rally sponsor Interstate Batteries likes seeing ethanol as a sponsor too since both companies are energy oriented.

According to Mike Ragan there’s also a tie through the fact that both are working on more environmentally friendly means of producing energy. In my interview with him he describes how they’re changing some very old technology. He also made a point of saying that batteries are the most recyclable part of a car. He says eighty percent of a battery can be recycled including the casing.

Interstate Batteries sets up a battery testing tent at the Buffalo Chip in which they stock some of the most popular battery sizes. While we talked a bike rolled in, got its battery tested and replaced.

Listen to my interview with Mike here: Interstate Battery Interview

2011 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally Photo Album

Domestic Fuel coverage of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is sponsored by The Renewable Fuels Association

Bharat & SG Biofuels Create Jatropha Partnership

India’s second largest petroleum company, Bharat Renewable Energy (BREL), has partnered with SG Biofuels (SGB) to develop sell jatropha hybrids modified for the production of biodiesel in India. The first phase of the program will focus on crop development aimed at creating oil-rich jatropha hybrids suited to growing conditions throughout India. The next phase will consist of deploying more than 86,000 acres of jatropha using SGB’s JMax hybrid seeds.

“With the genetic diversity of their Jatropha hybrid material combined with ability to produce large volumes of hybrid seed, SG Biofuels is an ideal partner to work with to successfully develop, validate and scale Jatropha as the primary source for biodiesel in India,” said Mr. M.V. Radhakrishnan, chief executive officer of BREL.

Through molecular breeding and biotechnology, SGB is optimizing jatropha hybrid varieties at its JMax crop development centers. The centers feature hybrid material from SGB’s germplasm library totally more than 12,000 genotypes. The company will work with BREL to select, test and scale up the hybrids most suited to various growing regions across India. The ultimate goal is to grow jatropha suited for biodiesel production to help meet the country’s National Policy on Biofuels targets of blending 20% of fuels with ethanol and biodiesel.

“We look forward to working with BREL to develop a thriving Jatropha industry capable of meeting the country’s significant demand for biodiesel,” added Kirk Haney, president and chief executive officer of SGB. “Our partnership is a great example how collaborations across the entire value chain – from crop science and agronomics to downstream refining and logistics – are the key to the successful scaling of Jatropha.”

Solar Overload – A Unique Home Solar Demonstration

This is kind of fun. Have you wondered how much power you can really get from a home solar power system? You’re not alone. A new video, “Solar Overload” demonstrates just how much power can be produced from a home solar power system. HelioPower has created “Solar Overload, How Many Appliances Does It Take to Spin the Meter Forward?” and features a 4 kilowatt (kW) residential solar power system in Laguna Niguel, California trying to “overload” the solar system. Scott Gordon had the system installed in 2006 and today he is the vice president of residential sales for HelioPower.

More accurately, Gordon along with his colleague Bret Pursuit, demonstrate how many appliances it takes in Scott’s 2200 square foot home to incur a utility charge, or “spin the meter” forward – what happens to most of us folk not benefiting from solar energy.

“As a leading solar installation firm in California, HelioPower is committed to educating consumers on the benefits of solar,” said Gordon. “In ‘Solar Overload‘ I’m able to show just how many appliances it takes to activate a utility cost from my residential solar power system. Over the five years I’ve had the solar panel system my family has saved $10,000 in utility bills. We are able to demonstrate how that happens when you see the many appliances it takes to spin the meter forward.”

So how much did it take? At 2 pm on a sunny afternoon, he turned on two refrigerators, two DVRs, one laptop, a 21″ monitor, and one cell phone charger. Guess what? The meter was still spinning backwards. He also added 56 light bulbs, one attic fan and five ceiling fans set on high. Still not running the meter forward. Now take a guess and see what happens when he adds a microwave, electric clothes dryer, energy efficient washing machine, and a pool pump.

Ventower Opens Wind Turbine Facility in Michigan

It’s good to see that the U.S. has not lost all of its renewable energy manufacturing jobs overseas. Today, Ventower Industries has cut the ribbon on its new 115,000 square foot wind turbine manufacturing facility located in the Port of Monroe, Michigan. A ceremony earlier this week marked the occasion and acknowledged the four-years of work between Ventower management, local, state and government entities and various funding agencies.

“I am grateful for the commitment and the efforts of our shareholders, employees, contractors and the unwavering support of our economic development and training partners who contributed to building this state of the art facility,” said Gregory Adanin, Ventower president & CEO. “Ventower is well positioned to supply towers to our Great Lakes region where we continue to see increased wind project development opportunities. It is and always has been our goal to become an integral part of the industry supply chain and be part of advanced wind energy component manufacturing, education and innovation.”

Production at the facility will begin later this month to meet orders for towers this year and into 2012. The company will provide wind towers for both onshore and offshore applications and is focused on customers throughout the Great Lakes and Atlantic Regions.

“Our commitment to domestic manufacturing, job creation and renewable energy have all been important drivers during our initial efforts here in Michigan. Moving forward, Ventower will embrace the new, green economy while utilizing advanced fabrication techniques and processes at our state of the art facility,” added Board Chairman James Viciana.

Ukraine Home of Europe’s Largest Solar Power Plant

By the end of this year, the Ukraine will be home to what is believed to be the largest solar power plant in Europe. The solar power farm is expected to produce up to 100,000 megawatt-hours of electricity per year, or 80 MW and makes it not only the largest in Europe but one of the largest in the world. The project is part of the country’s national Natural Energy project that was launched in 2010. Ultimately the country’s goal is to produce 2,000 MW of electricity from wind and solar energy or nearly 30 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2015.

Once the construction is entirely completed, the area of the power station will equal 207 football fields. The solar power produced should be enough to power 20,000 average sized households.

Austrian-based Activ Solar is in charge of the project, and company CEO Kavel Ertefai said, “A project of this scale means a radical change of solar energy development in Europe, while securing Ukraine’s position as renewable energy provider.”

The country funds its energy saving projects by the profits the government receives from selling CO2 under the Kyoto protocol. In 2009, revenues from CO2 sales to Japan alone were nearly $400 million U.S. dollars. Today, Ukraine ranks 12th in energy rankings with installed renewable energy capacity of 54 GW.

New Biofuels Projects Funded

Ten new government-funded research projects were announced today to help accelerate bioenergy feedstock production.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack visited a waste-to-energy bioprocessing facility under construction in Florida today to announce that the Departments of Agriculture (USDA) and Energy (DOE) have awarded 10 grants totaling $12.2 million to spur research into improving the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of growing biofuel and bioenergy crops. The grants are part of a broader effort by the Obama administration to develop domestic renewable energy and advanced biofuels, providing a more secure future for America’s energy needs and creating new opportunities for the American farming industry.

“USDA is helping our nation develop the next generation of biofuels to grow jobs and generate energy from new, homegrown sources,” said Vilsack. “Combining DOE’s leadership in genome-scale technologies with USDA’s experience in crop improvement will accelerate the efficient production of biofuels.”

The 10 projects are located in California, Colorado, Illinois, Florida, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Virginia.

Vilsack made the announcement at the INEOS New Planet BioEnergy facility in Vero Beach, Fla., which was granted a conditional USDA loan guarantee earlier this year to help build and operate a biorefinery capable of producing 8 million gallons per year of cellulosic ethanol and 6 megawatts of electricity.

Today’s USDA and DOE joint announcement will also benefit Florida by providing grant funding to the University of Florida in Gainesville to improve energy production from cane biomass. The project will produce a range of foundational genetic resources and genetic makers for energy cane breeders to efficiently develop energy cane cultivars with increased biomass production and reduced input requirement.

DOE Updates Billion Ton Study

The Department of Energy (DOE) has concluded its Billion Ton Study that was first conducted in 2005. This new version of the report confirms that America has ample biomass resources including grasses, ag wastes, and wood wastes among others to meet America’s national renewable fuel goals. One goal of the study was to assess the amount of biomass available that would not impact U.S. farms and forest products such as food, feed and fiber crops.

“Developing the next generation of American biofuels and bioenergy will help diversify our energy portfolio, reduce our dependence on foreign oil, and produce new clean energy jobs,” said U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu. “This study identifies resources here at home that can help grow America’s bioenergy industry and support new economic opportunities for rural America.”

The study confirms that there are ample volumes of biomass feedstocks available for conversion into ethanol and other biofuels that would meet the requirements as set forth in the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). The RFS sets out a goal of producing 21 billion gallons of fuel by 2022 from advanced or cellulosic biofuels – in other words, biofuels produced from non-starch crops. The DOE study states, “This potential resource is more than sufficient to provide feedstock to produce the required 20 billion gallons of cellulosic biofuels. The high-yield scenario demonstrates potential at the $60 price that far exceeds the RFS mandate.”

Brooke Coleman, executive director of the Advanced Ethanol Council said of the study, “America has both the resources and the know-how to break our addiction to foreign oil. What is lacking is the political will to stand up to oil special interests and level the playing field for all biofuels, including next generation ethanol, to compete. Scores of promising technologies are ready for commercial deployment, but are being held up by an unstable and unpredictable policy climate.”

He concluded, “In order to deploy these technologies to harness the potential of America’s vast biomass resources, and to compete in the global race to produce next generation fuels, consistent and stable policy relating to biofuels is essential. That means continuing investment in new technologies, expanding refueling opportunities for domestically produced, non-petroleum fuels like ethanol, and protecting the integrity and the intent of the RFS.”