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As ships risk “Unseaworthy” rating, warns IMO, bioenergy is a key to saving them

Biofuels Digest - Mon, 12/11/2017 - 4:10pm

By Ron Cascone, Principal, Nexant, Inc.
Special to The Digest

Reuters reported on November 16, 2017 an International Maritime Organization (IMO) declaration that ships not meeting stack sulfur emission limits through reductions in the sulfur content of their fuel or by installing scrubbers risk being declared “unseaworthy”. Ship owners and refiners are in a quandary about how to comply with the IMO rules finalized last year requiring shippers worldwide to cut sulfur emissions from 3.5 percent to 0.5 percent by 2020. The IMO stated that there would be no delays or exceptions in enforcement, whether or not the industry takes the necessary steps for compliance. It warned of the consequences that all stakeholders face if they do not comply, that non-compliant ships considered “unseaworthy” would have their charter affected, and also indemnification for insurance claims. However, enforcement of the global sulfur regulation is handled by individual countries acting as either flag states or port states, and no one can predict how the enforcement will play out when push comes to shove.

As seen immediately below and in the next chart, bunker fuel sulfur limits have been reduced drastically the past seven years to 0.1 percent now and in the future in the Sulfur Emission Control Areas (SECA or sometimes ECA), which include Europe’s Baltic and North Seas, and more recently areas within 200 nautical miles of the U.S. and Canadian coast, and the global cap will be 0.5 percent in 2020.

The Reuters story says that the IMO is to hold sessions in February and later in 2018 on “how to ensure consistent implementation.” An IMO panel approved a rules amendment to require suppliers to certify, starting on January 1, 2019, that the bunker fuel supplied is under the sulfur limits, or that the ships have scrubbers, or have an official exemption. Few ships have so far opted to install the costly scrubbers, which would allow them to keep burning high-sulfur fuel oil, meaning sellers will be under pressure to reduce the price of high sulfur fuel, and refiners and distributors will have to make adjustments. The market will definitely get very tight for low sulfur diesel and marine gas oil that will likely be blended with higher sulfur fuels to achieve sufficient volumes, with a fly-up in prices of low sulfur fuels. One outcome could be that suppliers would finance installation of scrubbers to be able to continue selling their production of high sulfur bunkers.

The Digest has been following the developments around the IMO global sulfur rule since at least 2011, and most recently with, “Singing a song in Singapore: GoodFuels Marine, BHP, and MPA collaborate on biofuels during closed-door roundtable”, September 24, 2017, by Helena T. Kennedy. This title raises nostalgia over the 1991 off-broadway hit musical, “Song of Singapore”, an old-movie parody about the drama there during the Japanese invasion at the outset of WWII.

Technologies to Meet New Bunker Fuel Specifications

At the risk of mixing metaphors, this IMO regulatory drama is an impending “train crash”, which Nexant has studied in its recent report, PERP 2017S7: Technologies to Meet New Bunker Fuel Specifications, June 2017.   As with aviation, shipping is a global issue, except that many more diverse solution options are feasible. This report reviews in-depth the history of marine fuels (“bunkers”), the IMO rule, the technology options available to refiners to provide compliant fuels, the shipowners’ options for stack gas scrubbing, and LNG bunkering. The report evaluates practical issues, economics for each solution over a wide spectrum of geographies, and world markets. It looks at conventional and advanced technologies to make compliant low sulfur fuels. It also looks at wet scrubbers, dry and membrane stack sulfur removal, and other options. The report analyzes engine technologies as relevant to low sulfur fuel utilization and other issues. Nexant is also doing single client consulting to dig even deeper into these subjects.

The two primary parties among the number of affected ones in this regulatory / technological / economic / strategic stew are the petroleum refiners and the ship owners, whose interests could largely be at odds. Not all countries of registry of ships are members of the IMO. Will they largely be simply co-victims or antagonists? No one can really predict if this apparent stalemate could be broken by various parties pressuring the IMO to relax limits and/or deadlines. Could the bio-economy also help relieve the pain?

Most of all the goods we consume are on ships at sea at some point in their supply chain, and certainly internationally traded commodities and manufactured goods are. In addition, passenger ships and ferries are important world-wide, the latter especially in archipelago nations like Indonesia and the Philippines, or in virtual archipelagos like the Baltic nations. Not to mention the very profitable vacation cruise industry. Most of us don’t take the Queen Elizabeth II (or her Mom, the RMS Queen Mary) to Europe any longer, but I’ll bet you or someone you know has taken a leisure cruise (Alaska, Hawaii, Caribbean, etc.). Therefore, you and/or your family and friends are further affected.

The Scrubber problem

Again, the solutions available to meet the IMO rules promulgation are onerous, challenging, and expensive.   The maritime industry is hard-pressed to invest in such solutions as scrubbers, so has been reluctant so far to commit to this solution.

Scrubbers are difficult to install on shipboard, require expert operators and maintenance people to be trained or added to the crew, and if they have operating problems, may render a ship “unseaworthy” until they are fixed. The overall scrubber systems, including liquids associated, could take up much valuable shipboard space that could otherwise be used for cargo, on e.g., a container ship, and may be out of the question on a cruise ship or other specialized craft.

Heavy, high sulfur marine bunkers have been the “junkyard” of the petroleum refining industry since ships stopped burning coal between WWI and WWII. Initially, ship powering technology continued to be primarily steam boilers fired with petroleum fuels rather than the previous model of coal boilers driving steam engines. These boilers could tolerate nearly any kind of heavy, viscous, sulfurous liquid fuel, and since most fuel is burned on the high seas, society did not push back. Eventually, however, diesel-type internal combustion engines and even some turbine-type systems took over. These require cleaner, higher-specification fuels. Eventually, governments around inland seas such as the Baltic and Mediterranean developed regulations to upgrade the fuel specifications further with respect to limiting stack sulfur emissions.

Among other developments, this led to an interest in LNG bunkering in the Baltic and Scandinavian countries, especially along the fiord-riven coast of Norway, for local transports and ferries. However, this solution is more challenging or even impractical for international shipping with variable ports of call. This is analogous to the dynamics of alternative fuels being implemented for local trucking, taxis, and buses, versus passenger cars and highway trucking (the classic alternative fuel “chicken and egg” problem). Nonetheless, it is reported that about 120 LNG-fueled ships are in operation or on order globally.

While low-capital solutions are generally preferred by the ship owners (no surprise), it seems that on the other hand, refiners are hard-pressed to produce and distribute low sulfur fuels, globally, in time to meet fuel performance specifications on engines. Fuel supply logistics are also challenging, if, for example, LNG were to be embraced as a wider solution, as well as more mundane concerns for potential problems in mixing existing hydrocarbon fuel inventories with low-sulfur diesel gas/oil mixtures that refiners might provide.

The biofuels option

Now, besides the US Navy and other navies, all of global commercial shipping will have to become a “green fleet”. We see this as a potential opportunity for biofuels, especially biodiesel and HVO (hydrogenated vegetable oil, or renewable diesel), DME (fossil or bio), and perhaps upgraded biomass-based bio-oil. For the most desirable solutions of biodiesel and HVO, there is not enough natural seed oil and animal fat to make much of a difference without a break-through like development of leaf-oil (e.g., by Australian CSIRO and others).

DME is another longer-tern zero-sulfur solution. It has roughly the properties of LPG, except that it has a high cetane number (average of 58 versus diesel’s average of 49), making it an ideal diesel engine fuel, but it has 54 percent the energy density of diesel fuel.   Its energy density is also only 13 percent lower than LNG, but 24 percent higher than methanol. DME can be stored similarly and as easily as LPG for re-fueling and on-board (but not the same as for liquid fuels like diesel), in tankage that is cheaper, and that is much less challenging than, say, for storing and handling LNG. New and larger tankage for DME and logistic challenges would need to be weighed against the cost and space requirements for scrubbers. DME is a way of exploiting and monetizing the enormous and relatively inexpensive world supply of methanol, being based on a number of lower cost, abundant natural gas resources in North and South America, Africa, the Middle East, Pacific Rim, etc.), and its logistic ubiquity.

Technologies are being developed to “activate” (convert) CO2 to renewable liquid biofuels such as methanol by utilizing “stranded”, or excess, renewable electricity. Nexant recently published a report, Biorenewable Insights: Carbon Dioxide to Chemicals and Fuels, which covers this subject, with more to come. DME is relatively easily and cheaply produced by dimerizing methanol. There are hyper-scale versions of this technology as well as small-scale for distributed generation (e.g., from Oberon Fuels).     Importantly, fossil-based DME supply can seamlessly be transitioned to bio-DME at any time in the future. Nexant has an excellent report on this subject, Biorenewable Insights: Methanol/DME (2015). Trucks and cars using DME are being developed by Volvo and others. Nexant is involved in huge study of DME implementation as an LPG substitute or blendstock in Asia. Oberon’s small-scale DME technology could be implemented in multiple ports, utilizing existing methanol, or produced from fossil methane or syngas, or bio-based feeds. On the basis of the global interest seen in DME as a vehicle and cooking fuel, a 5-10 year timeline for its availability in ports for bunkering is projected by experts.

Ron Cascone is a Principal in the Energy and Chemicals Advisory at Nexant, Inc. He is a chemical engineer with 50 years of experience in the process industries. Ron has led or assisted in many technical, economic, and business feasibility analyses and in dozens of finance due diligence assignments across a wide range of industries and technologies, and mostly of late, in renewable chemicals, fuels, and polymers technology developments and first-of-a-kind projects. Ron has a broad knowledge of the global chemical and energy industries, biofuels, renewable chemicals, and other bio-based materials, bio-based processing, agriculturally-related sustainable development strategies, and many other industrial and economic sectors. He has authored or advised on numerous Nexant multiclient reports first generation and advanced liquid biofuels, including by gasification, fermentation, pyrolysis and chemical conversion.

Ron majored in chemical engineering at Manhattan College and Columbia University. He has authored many published articles and conference papers and holds two US patents in synfuels.

Categories: Today's News

Fish, wildlife & bioenergy: The Digest’s Multi-Slide Guide to Sustainable impacts on fish and wildlife habitats

Biofuels Digest - Mon, 12/11/2017 - 3:00pm

The Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies is working with bioenergy industries and leaders to assist them in the sustainable development of bioenergy that includes our fish and wildlife resources, in the quest towards sustainable bioenergy to meet our nation’s needs for energy independence and reductions in greenhouse gas emissions while also preserving our nation’s remarkable wildlife and fisheries resources.

Dr. Susan Rupp, bioenergy liaison for the AFWA, prepared this illuminating overview on the role of fish & wildlife agencies in successful biomass production for bioenergy, and the deck is presented here.

Categories: Today's News

I Don’t Like Losses, Sport: The invention of bioeconomy risk insurance and Fulcrum BioEnergy’s leap to scale

Biofuels Digest - Mon, 12/11/2017 - 9:40am

We have news you can use today on the subject of the most powerful, inevitable, fearsome, mysterious, taboo, and untouchable four-letter word in the advanced bioeconomy lexicon.

Risk.

The problem of Investor risk is ridiculously easy to understand and ridiculously hard to solve. If you think back to your own 401(k) or IRA for a second, you’ll understand risk tolerance among financial investors in a  jiffy.

Financial investors will tolerate very short-term cases of marginally sub-par returns and they have no tolerance at all of losses.

As Michael Douglas, in his Oscar-winning turn as Gordon Gekko in Wall Street, elegantly explained it:

I don’t like losses, sport. Nothing ruins my day more than losses. Now you do good, you get perks, lots and lots of perks.

The poor distribution of technology risk is a market failure, especially corrosive in the bioeconomy because risk concentrates like a hurricane and blows down those least able to bear it, like a bully picking out a mark on the playground.

And risk induces panic and suffocation long before it induces death, which is one reason why the Valley of Death is so unimaginably painful to ventures and the people in them. Chilling early-stage venture investing far more effectively and absolutely than the absence of good deal flow.

What’s to protect the bondholders? The technology risk insurance program.

The remedy

Recently, Fulcrum BioEnergy raised $150 million in bond financing for its Sierra BioFuels project, which will convert  up to 175,000 tons of municipal solid waste per year into more than 10 million gallons of low-carbon synthetic crude oil, beginning in early 2020. More on Fulcrum’s progress here — and our most recent Multi-Slide Guide is here.

Fulcrum’s existing investors include US Renewables Group, Rustic Canyon Partners, United Airlines, Waste Management, BP, and Cathay Pacific.  Their strategic equity capital is at risk — as it should be.

“There’s a lot that’s special about the Fulcrum project,” New Energy Rick CEO Tom Dickson told The Digest. “They have Abengoa as an EPC, and despite what has happened to the corporate paren, Abengoa’s core US EPC unit is strong. They have offtake, great management, irreplaceable equity partners.  But it’s not GE standing behind a technology with a performance agreement. There’s a perceived technology risk.

So, who’s measuring that risk in order to efficiently spread it. Turns out, not many.

“Each party has a focus on the risk they have a mandate to assume,” Dickson noted. “Lenders have a mandate to take credit risk, and some market risk. But they are not really into assuming technology risk. Because of that, when it comes to the technology process risk, they are not trying to understand that, and someone has to do that to get first commercials financed, and put capital behind that assessment.”

How’d that “first of kind” project get done? For one thing, Fulcrum brought in New Energy Risk, an affiliate of global insurance giant XL Catlin.

What does New Energy do, exactly?

New Energy Risk is a specialty insurance technology company that acts as an effective bridge between new technology innovators, insurers and lenders. It was founded in 2010 to provide complex risk assessment and is part of XL Innovate, an insurance technology venture firm. It’s not a small potatoes thing. The firm has helped its customers gain over $1 billion in financing for renewable energy and new technology deployments.

In this case, New Energy Risk developed a custom solution, backed and provided by XL Catlin (the global brand used by XL Group Ltd’s  insurance and reinsurance companies which provide property, casualty, professional and specialty products around the world).

What happened?

“We start with the engineering data,” explained NER’s Jon Cozens, “ and we end up with actuarial output. From the engineering data we are creating a model and looking at failure modes, and the impact on financing and the risk position. In the event of a failure, we ask, how long will it take to alleviate, is the capital there to handle it, and could the timelines impact loan covenants.

“We step in when there is underperformance,” Dickson added, “when the project has run out of alternative means — warranties, it’s own cash — and the failure is due to the technology. Not because of a hurricane, but because of the science; you turn it on, it doesn’t work or at a low percentage of nameplate and because of that , in default of a loan covenant. We alleviate that shortfall.”

Every financing is different

Sometimes the risk freak-out factor focuses on long-term performance, sometimes around start-up and commissioning.

To complicate matters, every project is so darn different. It’s not as simple as: here’s a wind turbine, here’s the standard power purchase agreement, here are the wind curves. The feedstocks are different, the molecules vary, the technologies are unique, the offtake agreements are one-offs, the lenders are not the same, some bonds are rated and others are not, the loan periods don’t line up, the covenants change with every deal.

Dickson explains, “it depends on the policy. if it is short term and responding to risk around completion and commissioning, for us we’re looking really at moving stuff through the pipes, and what are the failure modes, and how do you recover from those. Does it mean adding a unit or redesigning — and does the project have enough time to fix it?”

“In a 10 year policy where we are looking at failure at any time during amortization when it falls below X. By then, the pipes have been figured out, and it is about long-term science, and becomes more about reliability than the expected efficiency. Also, we do work, actively with the USDA loan guarantee program. 9003 loan guarantees require an EPC wrap, and while a lot of EPCs do will wrap completion and delay, it’s been tough relating to the technology itself. Some are successful, some get there some do not. We’ve been working in that area as well.”

So, it’s complex and time consuming.

“It can take 3-4 months for our work,” Dickson noted. “But we’re never the long pole in the tent when it comes to timelines.”

The best projects survive

“If we can structure around the risk,” Cozens told the Digest. “There are going to be fewer failures and more successes. But we want to help the strong projects and keep the projects not yet ready on the back burner.  Even if we structured our way out of a loss [from a single project], we all need to grow the capital base, and that means not just doing projects for the sake of it and making money for ourselves, but identifying and supporting the best projects.”

And Fulcrum fits that mould.  As Dickson eplained, “Fulcrum is showing what is possible in the waste-to-fuel space, and doing it at unprecedented scale. We look forward to working with them on more projects in the years to come.”

Best of breed, multiple projects. Terms that were in the “future milestones” part of a corporate slide desk, say, five years ago. Today, we’re seeing the survivors from a culled flock beginning the breakout from the Valley of Death.

As Cozens noted, “The winners in the market are survivors and for a reason,”

Categories: Today's News

Case Studies in Renewable Finance: The Digest’s 2017 Multi-Slide to Funding Bioeconomy projects in the US vs Internationlly

Biofuels Digest - Mon, 12/11/2017 - 8:38am

Bottom line, if you’re in the business of financing a renewable fuels project with a loan guarantee in the mix, you’re probably talking with some combination of New Energy Risk, Stern Brothers, Faegre Baker Daniels partner John Kirkwood or Kilpatrick Townsend partner Mark Riedy. They’ve been part of the go-to team for more projects than there are stars in the heavens — more importantly, the ones that get done, and done well.

Recently, Mark Riedy gave a monumental presentation at ABLC Next in San Francisco, outlining a number of case studies in companies funding bioeconomy project in the US vs. internationally.. Consider it a must-read.

Categories: Today's News

Bioproducts, USDA and you: The Digest 2017 Multi-Slide Guide to USDA Agricutural Research Service partnership

Biofuels Digest - Sun, 12/10/2017 - 4:50am

The Agricultural Research Service (ARS) is the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s chief scientific in-house research agency. ARS conducts research to develop and transfer solutions to agricultural problems of high national priority and provide information access and dissemination to: Ensure high-quality, safe food, and other agricultural products; Assess the nutritional needs of Americans; Sustain a competitive agricultural economy; Enhance the natural resource base and the environment; Provide economic opportunities for rural citizens, communities, and society as a whole; and Provide the infrastructure necessary to create and maintain a diversified workplace.

Bill Orts, ARS Research Leader, Bioproducts gave this illuminating overview of partnership with USDA and ARS for bioproducts at ABLC Next 2017 in San Francisco.

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Poop to plastic and biofuel, innovators put crap to good use

Biofuels Digest - Sat, 12/09/2017 - 7:09pm

No matter how much we recycle, reduce or reuse, we will always have one kind of waste – human waste. From when we are babies to our last days, we poop. While most say “eww,” or share an elementary school poop joke, researchers at University of Calgary are saying “cool!” Instead of flushing it away, they found a way to turn what comes out from down below into something quite valuable way up above in outer space. And no, it’s not bullsh*t. It’s human sh*t.

Faced with two problems – 1) what to do with human waste in space and 2) how to get needed supplies to astronauts in space (especially longer space missions like Mars), scientists are working on solutions. The University of Calgary discovery is probably the most entertaining and interesting solution yet.

UCalgary’s gold-medal project, entitled “Astroplastic: From Colon to Colony,” tests the theory of using human waste as the foundation for a bioplastic that can then be used in 3D printers to build tools. The multi-faculty team received the gold medal prize during a recent competition in the International Genetically Engineered Machine Foundation’s Giant Jamboree in Boston.

“With space travel, such as a three-year mission to Mars, there are major challenges to overcome,” explains Alina Kunitskaya, a fourth-year chemical engineering student at the Schulich School of Engineering. “Transporting material is difficult and expensive, and how do you anticipate every challenge and everything you need over three years on a trip to Mars? Recycling waste is another major challenge.”

A visit to Calgary’s wastewater treatment plant and further brainstorming refined that idea into a solution for deep-space astronauts. And, armed with the advice of real space travelers like Chris Hadfield and University of Calgary Chancellor Robert Thirsk, the team had its mission.

“This year, the University of Calgary’s project involves using genetically engineered E. coli to turn human waste into bioplastics,” reads the team summary of the project.

“We envision our project as a start-to-finish integrated system that can be used in space to generate items useful to astronauts during early Mars missions. This will solve the problem of waste management by upcycling solid human waste into a usable product.”

And yes, it works. More than just an exercise on paper, the iGEM team actually produced the bioplastic in the Bachelor of Health Sciences laboratory, where the team worked all spring and summer, carefully documenting every detail of their collaborative work on a wiki website.

Their method takes bacteria they engineered to consume the volatile fatty acids found in solid human waste. The bacteria consume the acid, forms a plastic, and then secretes the plastic out. The plastic can then be used in 3D printers to create objects like tools needed on a space mission. Their next step is to test the process in a microgravity environment simulation over the next eight months.

From bioplastics to biofuels

Poop isn’t just useful in outer space or as a bioplastic feedstock, however, as we’ve seen it expanding into biofuels and renewable energy as well.

In fact, poop is becoming so valuable a commodity, that South Korea’s government invested $8.7 million in virtual currency that would pay people to poop for biofuels, as reported in the Digest in March. People there will get paid the equivalent of 43 cents every time they use the new waterless toilet developed by the Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology that turns human waste directly into biofuel. Hope is that by 2020, the value of the currency will have increased so that every poop “donation” is worth about $3.12. The plan is that the virtual currency will help to support the economically disadvantaged in larger towns and cities where the systems will be implemented.

In Oregon, the city of Portland isn’t letting waste go to waste either. As reported in the Digest in April, the Portland City Council approved a measure to convert methane from the Columbia Boulevard Wastewater Treatment Plant into renewable natural gas suitable for powering the city truck fleet. “We’re going to be turning poop into power,” City Commissioner Nick Fish commented. ““Just think about that,” Fish said. “We’re taking waste and turning it into cash and along the way we’re replacing dirty diesel with clean energy.” Currently, methane gas produced at the treatment facility is flared, producing CO2 as an emission. Ultimately, the Council aims to capture and use 100% of its waste treatment methane.

Just last week, the Digest reported that AABGU researchers see promise in poop from the coup – poultry waste – for renewable heat and power. The scientists believe treated poultry waste could replace as much as 10 percent of coal used in generating electricity, which would reduce carbon pollution. And as reported in the Digest in May, Nigerian researchers developed a biogas process for chicken manure and invasive plants. Eight kilograms of poultry waste and sunflowers produced more than 3 kg of biogas — more than enough fuel to drive the reaction and have some leftover for other uses such as powering a generator. Also, the researchers say that the residual solids from the process could be applied as fertilizer or soil conditioner.

Bottom Line

So the bottom line on what to do with what comes out of our bottoms is up in the air, literally outer space. But poop is not only valuable for astronauts, but for us down on earth too. At the Digest, we are often amazed at what new feedstocks are able to be converted into something useful and beautiful, and while this feedstock certainly isn’t beautiful, we definitely see the value in something so sh*tty.

Categories: Today's News

Homeland Energy Solutions gets EPA RINs approval

Biofuels Digest - Fri, 12/08/2017 - 3:06pm

In Iowa, Homeland Energy Solutions LLC received approval from the U.S. EPA for “efficient producer” status for the production of non-grandfathered ethanol produced in its Lawler, Iowa facility. Based on the EPA’s assessment, fuel produced through the Homeland Lawler Process qualifies under the Clean Air Act for renewable fuel RINs.

Using corn starch as the feedstock, the dry mill process meets the 20% lifecycle GHG reduction requirement of the Clean Air Act. Homeland qualifies for RINs only of the ethanol meets the GHG reduction requirement and meets other applicable requirements in the CAA and EPA regulations. The approval applies specifically to the Lawler facility and the process, materials used, fuel and co-products produced and process energy sources.

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Drought dries out corn and soy profits, raises prices

Biofuels Digest - Fri, 12/08/2017 - 3:04pm

In Argentina, a drought that started on September 21 continues to wreak havoc on late-season soy and corn plantings as well as existing, growing crops. Prices on soybean and soymeal reached their highest levels since July because of the Argentina drought, especially since it is the top global supplier of soymeal livestock feed and soy oil used for cooking and biofuels. While more rain than usual fell earlier this year, the last six months have seen drought because of a change in the La Nina climate phenomenon, according to Reuters.

Corn and soy farmers are very concerned about recovering investments made in the crops this year. Juan Graneros, a soy and corn farmer, told Reuters, “I already paid the lease and the inputs. I have to plant no matter what, and try to lose as little as possible.” Even if rain falls in the coming week, it won’t be enough to fix the damage done.

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New cellulosic ethanol biorefinery to be built in Bosnia

Biofuels Digest - Fri, 12/08/2017 - 3:03pm

In Bosnia, Timemedia and Goldwater SRL are interested in building a cellulosic ethanol biorefinery in Bosnia’s Serb Republic entity. The government of the Serb Republic told SeeNews that it will “soon sign a cooperation protocol with the companies, following which they will start securing financial and other resources for the project.” The biorefinery is planned to be located in Bosnia’s north-eastern region of Semberija. Goldwater SRL is based in Italy and Timemedia is based in Bosnia. The Serb Republic is one of two entities that make up Bosnia and Herzegovina. The other is the Federation. No further details about the project were released at the time.

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ArcelorMittal gets nod from World Economic Forum for Circular Economy

Biofuels Digest - Fri, 12/08/2017 - 3:00pm

In Luxembourg, the Circulars, a circular economy prestigious award program, commended ArcelorMittal for demonstrating leadership and innovation by applying circular economy principles to its business models. Some of the examples highlighted in the commendation was its ambition of becoming a zero-waste company by developing and scaling up carbon capture and utilisation technology, resulting in products like Steelanol, a bio-fuel made from waste carbon monoxide, with the help of microbes. This high-grade ethanol will then be used for transportation and to make plastics. The company anticipates Steelanol could create 2000 direct and indirect jobs and generate an income of 300 million euro a year by 2025, while significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions – 5 million tonnes worth a year by 2025.

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Palm oil beat down vegetable oil prices

Biofuels Digest - Fri, 12/08/2017 - 2:59pm

In Germany, UFOP reports that palm oil prices weakened considerably over the past few weeks, pulling down vegetable oil prices as well. Pressure came from prices in Kuala Lumpur, where palm oil was recently traded at the lowest level since August 2016. Falling exports, sluggish demand, rising production and storage quantities, and also recent import duties levied in India caused prices to collapse and weighed down all vegetable oil prices.

In the case of sunflower oil, the large crop in the northern hemisphere caused additional negative pressure. Moreover, the firming euro made imports to Europe cheaper due to the favourable exchange rate. Rapeseed oil benefited from delayed but typical seasonal autumn demand from the biodiesel industry at the beginning of November, but was also affected by the downward pull from palm oil prices.

The same applies to soybean oil, which, however, increased in value at the beginning of October 2017, based on a significant rise in US domestic demand in the wake of the imposition of US import duties on biodiesel imports from Argentina. However, the stabilising effect on soybean oil prices failed to last, because the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently maintained the applicable volume of biodiesel for 2018 at 2.1 billion gallons (approximately 7 million tonnes). The quantities of biodiesel Argentina used to sell to the US are now looking for a new market, e.g. in the EU. In September, the EU Commission reduced anti-dumping duties, opening the way for this biodiesel export option.

Categories: Today's News

U.S. ethanol production up 6% higher than a year ago

Biofuels Digest - Fri, 12/08/2017 - 2:57pm

In Washington, D.C., ethanol production jumped up from the previous week and represents a new all-time record, with an averaged 1.108 million barrels per day (b/d)—or 46.54 million gallons daily, according to government data released and analyzed by the Renewable Fuels Association. The four-week average for ethanol production increased to a record 1.076 million b/d for an annualized rate of 16.50 billion gallons—about 6% higher than a year ago. Stocks of ethanol were 22.5 million barrels. That is a 2.3% increase from last week and a 25-week high. Stocks are 22% higher than year-ago levels. Imports of ethanol were 36,000 b/d—the first time in four weeks that import volumes were logged and only the sixth week for imports in 2017.

Average weekly gasoline demand increased 2.0% to 373.6 million gallons (8.895 million barrels) daily. That is equivalent to 136.4 billion gallons annualized. Refiner/blender input of ethanol decreased 4.0% to 885,000 b/d—a 39-week low, which is equivalent to 13.57 billion gallons annualized. Expressed as a percentage of daily gasoline demand, daily ethanol production increased to the highest rate in 44 weeks at 12.46%.

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Alberta government gives $1.4B funding for cleantech, low-carbon innovations

Biofuels Digest - Fri, 12/08/2017 - 2:55pm

In Canada, the government of Alberta is putting $1.4 billion into five categories to create new jobs and reduce carbon pollution over seven years for clean tech innovation projects. The bulk of the funding comes from the Climate Leadership Plan, which recycles carbon levies back into Alberta industries to help them compete and grow their economy.

The new funding is part of Alberta’s response to recommendations from the Climate Technology Task Force and the Oil Sands Advisory Group – to expand and diversify markets available to Alberta energy producers and help ensure they continue to be global innovation leaders. As part of the funding, Alberta will be adjusting an existing Bioenergy Producer Program to provide grants only to dedicated biofuel-producing facilities. The funding allocates $63 million for bioenergy projects including biodiesel, ethanol, and biomass.

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New study looks at California’s LCFS and low-carbon liquid fuels

Biofuels Digest - Fri, 12/08/2017 - 2:54pm

In California, a new study co-authored by Propel and consulting firm ICF shows that consumers will make low carbon purchasing decisions if given the opportunity to do so and that low carbon liquid fuels must play a more significant role to meet California’s 2020 and 2030 carbon reduction goals. The research also shows the current policy model will need to change to allow more low carbon capable vehicles to enter the market.

The study illustrates key points on the LCFS’ size, scope and need for equity including that the LCFS is expected to deliver more GHG reductions than all other transportation programs combined and that the pricing forecasts, and forecasted deficit generation—linked to gasoline and diesel fuel consumption—suggest that the annual market value of credits traded will approach $4 billion by 2022 (or ~$190/MT), with a cumulative market value exceeding $17 billion in 2022. The study also shows that low-carbon fuels need to make up 25+% market share to achieve the 2020 goal and even more for 2030 (more than double to roughly 5 billion gallons).

Categories: Today's News

Trump wants it both ways on RFS debate

Biofuels Digest - Thu, 12/07/2017 - 3:32pm

In Washington, President Trump wants to see a compromise on the Renewable Fuel Standard that keeps farmers happy but also protects oil industry jobs and told oil state senators to “get it done” in the long awaited meeting held Thursday. Some reports on the meeting made it sound more like he was in favor of easing “the burden” on the refining industry while others made it very clear that nothing would get done without the consent of corn states.

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Categories: Today's News

Chairman of Senate’s environment committee demands EPA assess RFS impacts on water, air and land quality

Biofuels Digest - Thu, 12/07/2017 - 11:22am

In Washington, Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW), sent a letter to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt to request that the EPA complete overdue studies assessing the impact of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) on air, water, and land quality.

Under sections 211(v) of the Clean Air Act and 204 of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA). Under section 211(v) of the Clean Air Act, EPA was required, by May 19, 2009, to study whether the RFS “will adversely impact air quality.”

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Categories: Today's News

Indian researchers produce chemicals from glycerin

Biofuels Digest - Thu, 12/07/2017 - 11:22am

In India, researchers from Chemical Engineering and Process Development Division together with colleagues from the National Collection of Industrial Microorganisms Center, National Chemical Laboratory, Pune have developed a method to produce 2,3- butanediol (BDO), 1,3- Propanediol (PDO)  – along with acetoin and ethanol from glycerol using bacterial strains. By integrating these chemical processing methods into biodiesel manufacturing facilities in a biorefinery model, the researchers say biodiesel producers can greatly improve their economics.

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Categories: Today's News

UK union calls for talks about workers to be laid off by Vivergo Fuels

Biofuels Digest - Thu, 12/07/2017 - 11:21am

In the UK, urgent talks are being called for to seek assurances about job security, following the news that Hull-based biofuel producer Vivergo Fuels is to stop production.

Unite, the country’s largest union, represents repair and maintenance staff working for two firms TEI and Doosan Babcock operating on the £350 million site of the UK’s largest bioethanol producer.

Vivergo has expressed concern about continuing uncertainty over the transport department’s renewable transport fuels obligation and how this may affect the future of the E10 ‘green’ fuel made from organic material and which is designed to cut carbon emissions.

Unite understands that its currently approximately 30 members will now concentrate on the plant’s annual maintenance program, but the union wants to know about future employment prospects.

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Categories: Today's News

Indian sugar mills to supply record 1.13 billion liters of ethanol this season

Biofuels Digest - Thu, 12/07/2017 - 11:20am

In India, sugar mills responded in force to the oil marketing companies’ tender to supply ethanol next year with a record-breaking 1.13 billion liters purchased against 1.55 billion liters offered, 71% higher than the volume supplied last year when cane production was significantly impacted by drought and ethanol prices were 5% lower. The previous record in 2015/16 was for 1.11 billion liters. Some of the volumes were rejected because they would have supplied more than 10% blending at specific depots.

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Categories: Today's News

UK farmers worried EU’s anti-crop biofuel stance will destroy rapeseed demand

Biofuels Digest - Thu, 12/07/2017 - 11:19am

In the UK, farmers are concerned about the potential limiting of crop-based biofuels in Europe may effect their export potential of both rapeseed and rapeseed oil, 40% of which goes to European biofuel production. Even though a smaller limit under negotiation for the Renewable Energy Directive II would only limit European countries, so potentially not the UK if Brexit goes through, a reduced market would negatively impact those farmers. The UK’s own limits of 4% by 2018 and 2% by 2032 wouldn’t impact current wheat ethanol producers, for example, but would keep more projects from being developed.

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Categories: Today's News

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