BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDF1Gevo has announced that Ruth Dreessen, a Director since 2012, has been named Chairman of the Board, and that Shai Weiss, Director and Chairman, has stepped down from the Board of Directors. These changes will take effect immediately. In addition, Gary Mize, Director since 2011, will assume the role of Audit Committee Chairman.
  • DuPont recently completed a five-year field study on the performance of solar panels from around the world, and Dr. Alex Bradley, Principal Investigator, DuPont Photovoltaic Solutions, shares those findings in PV Tech’s special PV Power issue. Learn what to look for – and what to specify – to help ensure your solar panels will provide safe and reliable power output for their 25 year expected lifetime, to protect your solar investments.
  • Coronal Group and Panasonic Eco Solutions in North America (Panasonic) announced a strategic investment in Blue Oak Energy, a solar engineering and construction company. This investment will allow Blue Oak Energy to expand its depth and breadth to meet the growing demand from its customer base. Blue Oak Energy will continue to operate as an independent entity under the leadership of its Founder and CEO, Tobin Booth.
  • The African Renewable Energy Fund (AREF) announced during the African Development Bank’s “Energy Week” that it successfully reached its final close at its hard cap, with US $200 million of committed capital to support small- to medium-scale projects, with investment at the final close from European Investment Bank (EIB) and the Global Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Fund (GEEREF), among other investors.

Nidera Biodiesel Earns Sustainability Certification

NideraA Dutch company specializing in commodity services and solutions for the global agricultural markets has earned an important sustainability certification for its biodiesel made from waste cooking oil. Nidera received the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials (RSB) certification for the production of the green fuel.

“We were very pleased to work with RSB to certify UCO biodiesel produced at the Biodiesel Aragon facility [in Huesca, Spain],” said Bert Ooms, Nidera’s Group Communication Manager. “We are very happy to have a new option available for the certification of sustainable biofuels and waste materials.”

Rolf Hogan, Executive Director of RSB said, “Nidera and Biodiesel Aragon have chosen RSB to demonstrate the sustainability of their biodiesel production from used cooking oil. This shows a high level of commitment to sustainability in their operations”.

RSB is recognized by NGOs as the “most comprehensive and ambitious” biomaterials sustainability certification program in the world. RSB provides a holistic approach towards sustainability assurance, covering social, environmental and operational aspects.

Grid Guru Debunks Clean Power Plan Blackouts

According to a new white paper, implementation of the Clean Power Plan (CPP) will not cause blackouts and opposers to the plan claim. Lauren Azar, former Commissioner at the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin and senior advisor to former Energy Secretary Steven Chu, conducted a detailed review of the recent history of the power industry and found that utilities will quickly adapt to changes brought about by the CPP.

The Electric Grid 2030Using recent industry trends as the foundation, the paper demonstrates how the power sector has adapted to change in the recent past. One key indicator in the final CPP is the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) estimate that there will be a need to build at most 13.6 gigawatts (GW) of new natural gas plants in the next 10 years to meet the demand for electricity as coal plants phase out. The paper notes that, from 2000 to 2010, the country added the equivalent of 237 GW in new natural gas plants as power producers seized the opportunity to capitalize on the vast supply of cheap natural gas—showing that the natural gas industry is capable of building over 13 times the amount of power plants than the EPA estimates will be needed to maintain resource adequacy.

In a similar examination of the renewable sector, the paper finds that in 2014 alone, the country added nearly 7 GW of solar and 4.9 GW of wind electric-generation, making the EPA’s estimated target of 81 to 84 GW in those renewables by 2030 a feasible task.

Recent history serves to demonstrate how the energy industry can adapt to comply with the CPP without risking additional blackouts, but the paper also notes that, in the unlikely event of a reliability issue, the CPP has several backup plans to address any grid reliability threat.

GMP & Yeloha Offer Unique Solar Sharing Program

Green Mountain Power (GMP) and Yeloha, a peer-to-peer Solar Sharing Network, have launched a unique solar sharing program, the first by a utility. The platform enables customers to generate their own solar energy and share it with other residents online whose roofs are not suited for solar panels. Customers will be offered to host the panels free of charge in exchange for sharing some of their solar power. GMP says the program represents a beacon of change for nationwide energy.

“This is a unique opportunity to empower more people to be able to harness the power of the sun,” said Mary Powell, president and CEO GMP, a B-Corp utility. “We see a tremendous opportunity in leveraging more rooftops around Vermont for the benefit of all those who may currently be renters, or own homes that are not well suited for solar. As Vermont’s energy company of the future, we are transforming the old grid system into one where power is generated and consumed closer to the home or community where it is needed. This partnership with Yeloha will help accelerate this revolution in distributed power.”

How it Works - AnnotatedYeloha is an online platform with a mission to make solar accessible to everyone, including those who don’t own a roof suitable for solar, such as renters and apartment dwellers, or those who can’t afford the panels by going solar on someone else’s roof. The platform is sometimes referred to as the “Airbnb of Solar”.

“We are pleased to join forces with Green Mountain Power, a forward-thinking energy provider, as our first utility partner,” said Amit Rosner, Co-Founder and CEO, Yeloha. “Working together, we have the unique opportunity to democratize access to clean energy; literally bringing power to the people, by the people.”

The initiative will start as a pilot in Rutland and Barre Vermont.

Biofuels Capacity to Grow to 61B Gallons by 2018

According to new research, global biofuels capacity will grow to 61 billion gallons per year (BGY0 by 2018. Ethanol and biodiesel will continue to dominate with 96 percent of the capacity in 2018, but novel fuels and novel feedstocks will be major drivers of capacity growth, according to Lux Research.

The study finds that novel fuels and novel feedstocks will grow at a rate of 27 percent and 16 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR), respectively, through 2018. Ethanol and biodiesel will grow at a slower 2 percent rate but will reach capacities of 40 BGY and 19 BGY, respectively.

Biofuels growth from Lux research“While ethanol and biodiesel dominate global biofuel capacity today, limits on their growth mean that novel fuels like renewable diesel, biojet fuel and biocrude are crucial to the future of the industry,” said Victor Oh, Lux Research Associate and lead author of the report titled, “Biofuels Outlook 2018: Highlighting Emerging Producers and Next-generation Biofuels.”

“Producers also need to tap into novel feedstocks like waste oils, non-edible biomass, and municipal solid waste to push the industry beyond food-vs.-fuels competition,” he added.

Lux Research analysts studied growth of biofuels utilizing an alternative fuels database of over 1,800 production facilities globally. Among their findings:

  • Waste oils will dominate next-generation biofuels. With a 52% share, biodiesel made from novel feedstock, specifically waste oils, will lead novel fuels capacity in 2018. Cellulosic ethanol and renewable diesel follow with 19% and 18%, respectively.
  • Americas continue dominance. With a 64% share of global biofuels capacity, the Americas are a dominant force. The region, led by the U.S. and Brazil, also leads in utilization of global production capacity with 86%, much higher than the global average of 68% in 2014.
  • Eight countries are biggest emerging producers. China, Indonesia and Thailand in Asia; Colombia and Argentina in the Americas; and Portugal, Poland and France in Europe are the biggest emerging production centers for biofuels after the U.S. and Brazil.

Senate Democrats Propose New Energy Package

A group of Senate Democrats have proposed a new energy bill to promote clean energy. If passed, the legislation would end some subsidies for fossil fuels and close some oil and gas tax loopholes; incentivize clean energy such as solar and wind through grant programs and tax incentives; and encourage carbon capture and sequestration along with continued development of nuclear energy and biofuels.

AWEA logoIn response to the proposed bill, Tom Kiernan, CEO of American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) commented, “We commend Senators Reid, Wyden, Schumer, and Cantwell for putting forward a policy framework to provide domestic energy producers with greater stability so businesses can invest and bring costs down even further. The tax code has a century-long history of incentivizing American-made energy, and we must continue to ensure that we have abundant, clean, and affordable energy to power our economy. Wind energy has proven that it can deliver in these areas and it must continue to be a critical part of the U.S. energy mix. We appreciate the leadership of Sens. Reid, Wyden, Schumer, and Cantwell in trying to find common ground to ensure that the U.S. is well-suited to face the energy challenges of the 21st century by promoting a diverse energy portfolio.”

According to Senate Finance Committee staff, this legislation would save Americans at least $20 billion over the next 15 years and create/support at least 3.5 million jobs.

SEIA logo“By providing long-term, steady federal tax and energy policy, this legislation provides the stability that businesses in the solar industry need to grow – adding tens of thousands of new, well-paying solar jobs across the country, which today includes more than 174,000 Americans,” said Solar Energy Industry Association (SEIA) President and CEO Rhone Resch. “We also applaud the inclusion of programs that remove barriers for low-income Americans, making it easier for everyone to access clean, affordable, reliable solar energy.”

If approved and signed into law, this legislation would temporarily extend the federal solar investment tax credit (ITC), and then ease the transition afterward through the creation of long-term, technology-neutral clean energy tax incentives.

Resch added, “The United States deserves to be a world leader in cutting-edge technologies, and providing a long-term extension of the ITC will encourage massive investment in the U.S. solar industry. When you provide certainty to solar consumers and businesses with an energy tax code that promotes innovation and encourages the development of new and efficient technologies – America wins. We see this bill as a major step forward, and the solar industry looks forward to working with Congress so all solar technologies are included.”

BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDF1Amyris has announced a multi-year, Technology Investment Agreement (TIA) worth up to $35 million with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA) Biological Technologies Office to create new research and development tools and technologies that will significantly reduce the time and cost of bringing new molecules to market. Amyris has chosen five specialized subcontractors to assist in achieving these innovations.
  • The Association of Cleantech Incubators of New England (ACTION) has announced that the law firm of Posternak Blankstein & Lund LLP is a new Network Sponsor. ACTION’s mission is to accelerate the success of early-stage cleantech entrepreneurs supported by its membership of 12 cleantech incubators throughout New England and three international incubators located in the United Kingdom, Italy, and Canada.
  • Ricardo will be a key partner in the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 Green Vehicle Initiative project ‘HDGAS’ – a project that aims to develop, demonstrate and optimize advanced powertrain concepts for dual-fuel and pure natural gas powered heavy duty vehicles. Particular areas of focus for the company will be the development of engine and aftertreatment systems that offer the prospect of delivering real driving emissions well below Euro VI limits for heavy duty vehicles.
  • The 5th Solar Integration Workshop will take place in Brussels October 19-20, 2015. The spectrum of topics ranges from Photovoltaic (PV) power plants to Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) and from the integration of solar power in distribution networks to questions of supply security. Flexibility from conventional generators, insolation forecasts and grid code issues will also be intensively discussed.

Partnership Fosters Algae and Biodiesel Growth

MSUPHYCOMichigan State University (MSU) and algae company PHYCO2 are developing algae technologies that cut greenhouse emissions and could eventually lead to more biodiesel. This article from MSU says PHYCO2’s revolutionary and patented concept promotes algae growth and sequesters, or captures, carbon dioxide from power plant emissions.

Under the collaborative research agreement, MSU and PHYCO2 – an algae growth and carbon dioxide sequestration company based in Santa Maria, California – will investigate the performance of PHYCO2’s algae growth and carbon dioxide absorption technology, as well as algae-processing technologies.

PHYCO2 will be testing its algae photo bioreactor, technology that continuously captures significant amounts of CO2 and grows algae with LED light, at MSU’s T.B. Simon Power Plant. MSU and PHYCO2 expect to be able to absorb up to 80 percent of captured CO2 emissions for the production of algae. MSU will be testing the growth of several algae strains and post processing of the algae that is grown.

The project’s goals are to cost-effectively grow algae while significantly absorbing CO2 for sequestration from the gas emissions at the power plant. The algae can then be sold into current markets for biofuels, bioplastics and other applications.

“MSU has always been on the forefront of cutting-edge research and development,” said Robert Ellerhorst, director of utilities at the MSU power plant. “Our collaborative work with developers fits MSU’s research agenda to solve the world’s problems – in this case, reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”

“We are confident that this partnership between MSU and PHYCO2 will meet and exceed the challenge issued by the White House,” said PHYCO2 CEO Bill Clary. “The PHYCO2 photobioreactor represents the future of cleaner emissions and the first CO2 capture technology that truly is market sustainable.”

VW’s Diesel Scandal Could Hurt Biodiesel

VWA growing scandal that Volkswagen created software to let its diesel vehicles cheat some environmental tests could have implications for the even greener fuel biodiesel. This story from CBS News says VW cheating on diesel with possibly as many as 11 million vehicles doesn’t help the fuel’s greener cousin.

“It’s a shame when someone tries to cheat this test because it’s an important yardstick for us to make sure the car will provide cleaner driving,” [Andre Boehman, professor of mechanical engineering at University of Michigan and a self-described diesel-vehicle fan] said. “It would make me a little more careful in my shopping for which vehicle to purchase, although it may be hard for a consumer to know if vehicles are operating the way” the automaker states it should be.

For some diesel enthusiasts, the idea of driving a car that’s easier on the environment — diesel-engine fuel efficiency can be as much as 30 percent higher than gas-powered cars, and diesel cars can also use biodiesel fuel — is the main draw. The cars were not only billed as virtuous to drive, since they consume less fuel than gas-powered cars, but fun, too…

Current owners of Volkswagen diesel vehicles are feeling burned, with some saying that they bought their cars for their fuel efficiency and minimal impact on the environment, which now appears to be a lie.

“I am very disappointed that VW willfully decided to lie not only to the government, but to its customers,” one car owner wrote on Volkswagen’s Facebook page. “Many of us have been fans of the brand through thick and thin for entire lifetimes. I currently own two diesels and I feel betrayed and cheated.”

Meanwhile, Volkswagen is trying to regain that trust and issued the following statement:

Volkswagen does not tolerate any kind of violation of laws whatsoever. It is and remains the top priority of the Board of Management to win back lost trust and to avert damage to our customers. The Group will inform the public on the further progress of the investigations constantly and transparently.

Novozymes Launches Liquozyme LpH for Ethanol

Novozymes_logo_leftNovozymes has launched a new enzyme for ethanol producers who want to reduce their use of chemicals without sacrificing yield. Liquozyme LpH is an alpha-amylase effective at low pH that thins the mash by breaking down starch into shorter dextrin chains. A more fluid mash ensures more efficient operational performance for ethanol producers running their production at low pH. According to Novozymes, plant trials have shown improved viscosity levels and liquefaction, enabling customers to reduce their use of chemicals for pH adjustment.

“We were really pleased by our recent trials,” said Peter Halling, vice president for biofuels at Novozymes. “Ethanol producers can reduce dosing of both ammonia and sulphuric acid during the cook process. This saves costs and ensures a safer working environment.

Liquozyme LpH is the latest addition to Novozymes’ range of enzyme products for the ethanol industry, and there is more to come.

“Novozymes will continue to develop new technology for the ethanol industry,” Halling added. “We will expand our portfolio further towards the end of the year with significant new innovation.”