Ag Seems Positive With Trump Presidency

Jamie Johansen

zp-nh1Our latest ZimmPoll asked the question, “What will Trump presidency mean for ag?”

The election is over, however we are still discussing what a Trump Administration will not only mean for agriculture, but for our nation as a whole. NAFB hosted an agriculture “Reaction to Election” panel last week highlighting insights from key agricultural leader opinions. Remarks from those leaders fell into place with our recent poll results. An overwhelming majority feel a Trump presidency will equal positivity for ag.

Here are the poll results:

  • All good – 43%
  • All bad – 17%
  • Bad for exports – 9%
  • Nothing will change – 17%
  • I’m moving to Canada – 14%

Our new ZimmPoll is live and asks the question, What are you most thankful for this year?

As we come off the high from political discussion overload, this week we want to take it easy and think back over 2016. Thanksgiving is a time of reflection, a time to remember and give thanks. Share with us what tops your charts when it comes to thankfulness this year.

ZimmPoll

BioEnergy Bytes

Joanna Schroeder

  • BioEnergyBytesDF1Acting on behalf of North European Bio Tech Oy (NEB), St1 has begun the analysis and signed letters of intent with Alholmens Kraft and UPM on a sawdust-based ethanol plant in the Alholma industrial area in Pietarsaari. The planned production capacity of the plant is 50 million litres of advanced bioethanol per year. The Cellunolix® plant, which utilises sawdust and recycled wood, is planned for UPM’s Alholma industrial area. Alholmens Kraft and UPM would provide the project with the mill site’s services and commodities and where possible, would utilise the by-products of the ethanol production in their own processes.
  • Clean Energy Fuels Corp., has announced that the City of Torrance has awarded Clean Energy a new multiyear compressed natural gas (CNG) contract to fuel its fleet of vehicles. The six-year deal, which calls for 550,000 gasoline gallon equivalents, will enable the city to use Clean Energy’s Redeem™ brand of renewable natural gas (RNG), rated up to 70 percent cleaner than diesel and considered the cleanest transportation fuel available.
  • It’s been a year since President Obama and the leaders of 19 nations stood together in Paris to launch Mission Innovation (MI) to accelerate the pace of clean energy innovation and to support economic growth, energy access and security, and as an urgent and lasting global response to climate change with the goal of doubling public investment in clean energy research and development to reach $30 billion in five years. Members are taking another step forward with the announcement that the Obama Administration has created the Sustainable Biofuels Innovation Challenge – to develop ways to produce, at scale, widely affordable, advanced biofuels for transportation and industrial applications.
Bioenergy Bytes

USDA Releases $1.5M in BCAP for #Biomass Harvesting

Joanna Schroeder

Farmers and others who harvest biomass crops for renewable energy will have access to $1.5 million in FY2017 under the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP). The total funds available under the program for 2017 is $3 million with the other $1.5 allocated to growers who establish or maintain biomass crops to be used specifically for energy or biobased products.

bcap_logo_368“USDA investments in expanding biofuel feedstocks lay the foundation for more bioproducts made in rural America, supporting rural economic development, reducing carbon pollution and helping decrease our dependence on foreign energy,” said USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) Administrator Val Dolcini.

Facilities seeking to be qualified by USDA to accept BCAP-funded biomass can begin enrollment Nov. 14 through Dec. 5, 2016. Also, between Jan. 9, 2017, through March 15, 2017, USDA will accept applications from foresters and farmers seeking incentives to remove biomass residues from fields or national forests for delivery to energy generation facilities. The retrieval payments are provided at match of $1 for $1, up to $20 per dry ton. Eligible crops include corn residue, orchard waste or diseased or insect-infested wood materials.

To enroll for BCAP funds click here. To contact your local FSA county office, click here.

advance biofuels, biomass

Natural Chem Acquires Abengoa #Ethanol Plant

Joanna Schroeder

Photo Credit: Natural Chem

Photo Credit: Natural Chem Group

Another Abengoa plant has been sold. Natural Chem Group (NCG) has acquired the ethanol plant in Portales, New Mexico via a bidding process. The new owner has plans to re-purpose the facility into an Eco-Fuels Blend Terminal with the ability to produce 4.5 million gallons of B20 biodiesel each month. The biodiesel blend will be blended with diesel at the facility for use as a commercial transportation fuel.

Several years ago New Mexico passed a B5 mandate but has not enforced the legislation due to lack of local blending operations. Once the conversion is complete, NCG’s blending facility will be able to blend all the fuel to meet the mandate. The majority of vehicles in the state that will use the B5 include regional fleets and trucking companies.

“We look forward to beginning plant operations, creating jobs, providing revenue and boosting the local economy,” said Robert J. Salazar, Natural Chem’s CEO/President. “We envision multiple uses for our Portales facility involving renewable fuels and natural chemicals. We believe this will be a positive addition to Portales and the regional economy and help sustain the biofuels industry nationally,” added Salazar.

NCG acquired the property through the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Missouri in St. Louis. The sale was approved after Abengoa Bioenergy, a Spanish renewable energy firm, filed for Chapter 11 protection earlier this year.

The company is reporting it will pay an outstanding tax bill owed to Roosevelt County. Prior to the ethanol plant being shuttered in 2012, it was the only ethanol facility in the state.

biofuels, Ethanol

KIPP Jacksonville Schools Go Propane

Joanna Schroeder

KIPP Jacksonville Schools has converted to propane – the first U.S. charter school to do so. The 100 percent propane fueled school bus fleet will be used to transport students to and from campus. The 14 Blue Bird Vision Propane buses will reduce the fleet’s carbon footprint; the buses emit 80 percent less smog-producing hydrocarbon and nearly eliminate particulate matter as compared to diesel fuel.

KIPP Jacksonville Schools deployed its first-ever fleet of school buses to transport students to and from the area campus. It's the first 100-percent propane-fueled fleet for a U.S. charter school.

KIPP Jacksonville Schools deployed its first-ever fleet of school buses to transport students to and from the area campus. It’s the first 100-percent propane-fueled fleet for a U.S. charter school.

“As the size of our campus expanded along with the number of students, it was time to have our own means of transportation,” said Bobby Kennedy, founding transportation manager of KIPP Jacksonville Schools. “We consulted with our Blue Bird dealer, Florida Transportation Systems, on available options, and were impressed by the safe and clean-operating properties of propane-fueled buses.”

According to ROUSH CleanTech, who installed the fuel systems, the propane autogas fuel systems are Environmental Protection Agency and California Air Resources Board certified.

“When compared with other fuel types, propane naturally runs cleaner, making for a more pleasant ride for both KIPP Jacksonville Schools’ passengers and drivers,” said Brian Carney, executive director of school bus and customer support for ROUSH CleanTech, manufacturer of the buses’ propane fuel system. “It also has noticeably quieter operation and increased maintenance savings overall.”

Performance of the buses have not been compromised in any way, according to Kennedy, who said the Ford 6.8L V10 engines in the propane buses are responsive to acceleration. In addition, drivers have also said the engines are quite and the buses don’t heat excessively at their feet as compared to diesel buses.

Kennedy said using propane has enabled the school system to save money in both lower fuel prices as well as in less maintenance costs.  Currently KIPP Jacksonville Schools pays nearly half the cost per gallon for propane as compared with the average cost for diesel. Kennedy also noted that going forward the school will continue to purchase propane-fueled buses.

Alternative energy, Propane

Partners Celebrate Alaska Airlines Cellulosic #Biofuels Flight

Joanna Schroeder

An Alaska Airlines flight from Seattle Sea-Tac International Airport to Washington, DC took off yesterday powered by a 20 percent cellulosic alcohol biofuel blend produced by Gevo. The aviation biofuel is branded as Alcohol-to-Jet (ATJ) fuel and is produced from woody residues in the Pacific Northwest including limbs, stumps and branches. The ATJ fuel for this flight was made from forest waste from sustainably managed forests owned by Weyerhaeuser (OR), the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe (WA), and the Confederated Salish Kootenai Tribes (MT). In addition, some of the rejected residues were provided from Cosmo Specialty Fibers (WA).

Photo Credit: Alaska Airlines

Photo Credit: Alaska Airlines

“This latest milestone in Alaska’s efforts to promote sustainable biofuels is especially exciting since it is uniquely sourced from the forest residuals in the Pacific Northwest,” said Joe Sprague, Alaska Airlines’ senior vice president of communications and external relations. “NARA’s accomplishments and the investment of the U.S. Department of Agriculture provide another key in helping Alaska Airlines and the aviation industry reduce its carbon footprint and dependency on fossil fuels.”

The flight used 1,080 gallons of biofuel and while it had a minimal impact on the airline’s overall GHG emission reductions, Alaska Airlines says if it were able to replace 20 percent of its entire fuel supply at just Sea-Tac Airport, it would reduce GHG emissions by 142,000 metric tons of CO2 or the equivalent of removing 30,000 cars off the road over the course of one year.  In June, Alaska Airlines also flew the friendly skies with a Gevo aviation biofuel.

Also celebrating the accomplishment were several organizations that had a hand in the production of the biofuel. While Gevo gets credit for producing the aviation biofuel, ICM’s integrated biorefinery pilot plant in St. Joseph, Missouri milled, enzymatically hydrolyzed to sugars and then fermented to isobutanol using pretreated hemlock and lodgepole pine. An element of the process was Gevo’s fermentation microorganism and GIFT process located at the plant. Once the isobutanol was recovered by distillation, it was then transported to Silsbee, Texas.

ICM’s Vice-President, Technology Development, Steve Hartig said, “ICM’s pilot plant provides customers like GEVO with access to high quality pilot plant equipment and people, in order to enable efficient process development and production campaigns. This project has been a tremendous success and required a mix of mechanical, chemical and biological skills which ICM’s team was able to bring.”

nara_3791

Photo credit: Alaska Airlines

Passengers had a surprise in Washington, DC where they were greeted by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. He highlighted the bioenergy breakthrough along with the benefits the bioenergy industry provides including supporting jobs and rural economies. The five-year project (from conception to flight) was supported in part by a $39.6 million research and education project from USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). The project was led by Washington State University and the Northwest Advanced Renewables Alliance (NARA) that was launched in 2011.

“In 2011, USDA awarded our largest-ever competitive research grant to the Northwest Advanced Renewables Alliance, betting on the promise that cellulose-rich, discarded wood products could be a viable renewable fuel source instead of going to waste. Today, we are able to celebrate the results of that investment, which is a major advancement for clean alternatives to conventional fossil fuels,” said Vilsack. “Over the course of the Obama Administration, USDA has invested $332 million to accelerate cutting-edge research and development on renewable energy, making it possible for planes, ships and automobiles to run on fuel made from municipal waste, beef fat, agricultural byproducts and other low-value sources. All of this creates extra income sources for farmers and ranchers, is bringing manufacturing jobs back to rural America, and is keeping our country at the forefront of clean energy and innovation. We must continue to focus on targeted investments to help the rural economy retool itself for the 21st century.”

aviation biofuels, biojet fuel, Cellulosic, isobutanol

Iowa’s Pink at the Pump Campaign Raises $12K

Joanna Schroeder

Photo credit: Iowa Renewable Fuels Association

Photo credit: Iowa Renewable Fuels Association

During the month of October, nearly 30 Iowa retailers participated in the “Pink at the Pump” Campaign. When consumers purchased E15 at participating stores, the retailer donated three cents of each gallon. This year the campaign raised $12,000 for the National Breast Cancer Foundation. The organization provides help and inspires hope to those affected by breast cancer.

“We are proud of Pink at the Pump’s success during its first year,” said Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) Managing Director Lucy Norton. “The program allowed Iowa E15 retailers to join forces with a worthy cause to focus awareness on breast cancer and cleaner-burning E15. E15 is a great fuel option for anyone concerned about making healthier choices because ethanol-blended fuels, like E15, reduce cancer-causing chemicals in gasoline.”

Photo credit: Iowa Renewable Fuels Association

Photo credit: Iowa Renewable Fuels Association

Another cool element of the campaign is that during the month of October, participating retailers showcased pink handled E15 nozzle guards that were sponsored by IRFA.

“Retailers did a great job promoting Pink at the Pump during Breast Cancer Awareness Month. We hope to not only repeat the campaign next year, but also to expand the program and make it even better,” added Norton. “Retailers reported that Pink at the Pump encouraged many new folks to try E15. We’re hopeful these new customers will continue to boost ongoing sales of the product. E15 really is the cleanest, most-affordable fuel option for those driving 2001 or newer vehicles,” Norton concluded.

According to IRFA, E15, a blend of 15 percent ethanol and 85 percent gas, is commonly sold at a 5 to 10-cent per gallon discount as compared to E10. The ethanol fuel blend is approved for use for vehicles 2001 or newer.

biofuels, E15, Ethanol, Iowa RFA

NBB’s Anderson Discusses #Biodiesel Wins at #NAFB16

Joanna Schroeder

So far this year biodiesel has secured some great wins. During the National Association of Farm Broadcasting’s (NAFB) Trade Talk, Cindy Zimmerman spent a few minutes with Nebraska farmer Greg Anderson who is the National Biodiesel Board (NBB) treasurer. They spoke about some of the 2016 successes for the biodiesel industry.

nafb-16-nbbOne big success was New York City’s increased support of Bioheat – a blend of heating oil and biodiesel. Anderson noted, “We’re excited about the recent developments in New York City where the city council passed a mandate increasing biodiesel usage in heating oil (Bioheat) from 2 percent to 20 percent by the year 2034. So this will go up incrementally year-by-year. That’s good news for Midwest soybean farmers and good news for the whole biodiesel industry.”

Anderson added that with this mandate in place, New York City is now the single largest user of biodiesel in the country. “The heating market in New York City is just a billion gallons by itself, so when you take 20 percent of a billion gallons you’re looking at a lot of gallons of biodiesel being commanded to that market,” continued Anderson. “What’s good with New York City is they set the pace for other cities and states around it who take a look at that model and then will put that in place as well. So we’re going to see that usage expand through the whole Northeast sector commanding a lot of demand for biodiesel in the future,” he added.

Anderson also discussed the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) where he said NBB continues to ask for increasing standards by 2022. They would like to see the standards increase to 2.5 billion gallons now – the industry is already surpassing 2 billion gallons per year – and then up to 4 billion gallons by 2022.

“It’s time for our nation to really embrace this and we’re seeing it happen…Really, biodiesel is the tip of the spear driving the Renewable Fuels Standard and we can be very proud of that,” concluded Anderson.

To learn more, listen to Cindy’s interview with Greg Anderson here: Interview with Greg Anderson, NBB

View and download photos from the event here: NAFB Convention Photo Album

Coverage of the NAFB convention is sponsored by
NAFB Convention is sponsored by FMC
advance biofuels, Audio, Biodiesel, NBB

REG Breaks Ground on Ralston Biorefinery

Joanna Schroeder

Renewable Energy Group (REG) has officially broken ground on its $24 million expansion project at its biorefinergy in Ralston, Iowa. Once complete, the biodiesel plant will expand from 12 million to 30 million gallons nameplate production capacity per year. Special guests at the event included Iowa Governor Terry Branstad along with Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds.

reg-ralston-iowa-groundbreaking

Iowa Governor Terry Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds (center) join Renewable Energy Group leaders to break ground on the expansion project that will increase REG Ralston’s nameplate capacity to 30 million gallons. (Photo: Business Wire)

”REG Ralston has been an efficient biorefinery with an ample supply of lower cost, lower carbon intensity feedstock next door connected by a pipe, and the original nameplate capacity was tied to the output of soybean oil from the adjacent crush,” said Daniel J. Oh, President. “This expansion matches the greater output volume from the newly expanded soy crush at Landus Cooperative.”

The project also includes logistics improvements as well as other site enhancements. Up to $20 million of the funding for the expansion project is to be provided by long-term debt financing.

Branstad recalled the history behind the Ralston facility. “I was here in the 1990’s when biodiesel was just a dream,” he said. “I am honored to participate in the expansion of Iowa’s first continuous flow biodiesel plant. REG has demonstrated an ongoing commitment to investing in Iowa and building a future for this state in home grown, advanced biofuel.”

When the project is completed, REG’s total annual company nameplate capacity from its 11 biodiesel plants will be 470 million gallons.

advance biofuels, Biodiesel, REG

Kansas Gov Brownback Supports Higher #Ethanol Blends

Joanna Schroeder

gov-sam-brownback-at-sandras-quick-stopLast week Kansas Governor Sam Brownback helped celebrate some new higher ethanol blends offerings in Garnett. Sandra’s Quick Stop held a pump promotion to create awareness around their new blender pumps that offer consumers the choices of E15, E30 and E85 fuels. Funding for the station came from USDA grant money along with support from several Kansas groups.

Gov. Brownback said during his remarks that ethanol plays an important role in the state’s economy and higher blends will build markets for the renewable fuel. “One of the keys then is getting us higher blend ratios. I think our new administration, they should push to allow higher blend ratios, higher blends. We can do it, we can do it safely, we can do it well. This is homegrown, this is making America great again,” Gov. Brownback said. “Kansas is a great production state. . . We need markets here, and we need markets overseas.”

The retail station is near East Kansas Agri Energy (EKAE) whose President and CEO Jeff Oestmann is a veteran. He spoke about the importance of domestic fuels. “I spent eleven years in the Marine Corps in various locations around the world, and I can tell you one thing, I would rather buy my fuel from the Midwest than the Middle East. So the concept of bringing our fuel from our plant to locations like this is very unique and I want to see a lot more of that as we go forward,” Oestmann said.

Speakers also included Robert White, Renewable Fuels Association vice president of industry relations and Kansas Corn Commission CEO Greg Krissek. Staff from EKAE, RFA and Kansas Corn pumped ethanol fuel for customers and answered questions about ethanol blends.

E15, E85, Ethanol