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Today's News

Affordable Cellulosics: The Digest’s Multi-Slide ABLC Guide to Renmatix

Biofuels Digest - Tue, 12/04/2018 - 6:15am

Renmatix is a technology licensor that enables the production of petrochemicals from plants. The company’s water-based Plantrose process is the lowest cost method for converting a wide range of non-food biomass into cellulosic sugars, used in the global chemical and fuels markets.

CTO Fred Moesler gave this illuminating overview of the company’s promise and progress at ABLC 2017.

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GoodFuels Marine’s drop-in bio-heavy fuel oil successful trialed by NORDEN vessels

Biofuels Digest - Mon, 12/03/2018 - 3:07pm

In the Netherlands, GoodFuels Marine in conjunction with bulker and tanker owner and operator NORDEN A/S has successfully completed trials of the world’s first zero emission, ‘drop in’ Heavy Fuel Oil (HFO)-equivalent marine biofuel – almost entirely reducing all carbon and Sulphur emissions.

The culmination of three years extensive research and development with partners including Royal Dutch Boskalis and technology group Wärtsilä, GoodFuels’ Bio-Fuel Oil (BFO) delivers near-zero carbon and Sulphur Oxide (SOx) emissions without any requirement for engine modifications. The trials – which saw hundreds of tons of ‘drop in’ BFO taken onboard in the Amsterdam-Rotterdam-Antwerp region – were conducted on the 37,000 deadweight tons (dwt) Handysize product tanker vessel NORD HIGHLANDER as she ran in typical commercial operation in the North and Baltic Seas.

The successful operation effectively means that there is the capability to future-proof fuel requirements for shipowners and operators who are seeking an alternative to both distillates and Ultra Low Sulphur Fuel Oil (ULSFO) in order to comply with 2020 0.5% Sulphur cap requirements, as well as impending International Maritime Organization (IMO) Greenhouse Gas (GHG) reduction requirements. These requirements include an objective to reduce average carbon intensity from shipping – the amount of carbon emitted for each unit of transport – by at least 40% by 2030, and 70% by 2050.

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VW’s R33 BlueDiesel in-house testing successful with 20% CO2 savings

Biofuels Digest - Mon, 12/03/2018 - 3:06pm

In Germany, Volkswagen has been testing the newly developed R33 BlueDiesel fuel at its in-house filling station in Wolfsburg since January 2018. The innovative fuel enables CO2 savings of at least 20 percent compared to conventional diesel thanks to the use of biofuels. It also enables major customers to achieve climate protection goals with their fleets.

Volkswagen employees tested the new fuel initially. Over a period of nine months, they filled up company vehicles with R33 BlueDiesel only. Up to one third of the new fuel consists of renewable fuel components.

The R33 concept was jointly developed by Volkswagen, the Coburg University and other project partners. The current supplier since January 2018 is Shell Global Solutions in cooperation with Tecosol and Neste, who supply fuels certified according to European standards. R33 BlueDiesel complies with the diesel standard DIN EN 590 and fulfils all criteria for use as a standard fuel without having to meet further requirements. This innovative fuel is of particular interest to Volkswagen’s major and fleet customers whose diesel vehicles cover many kilometers a year as its use helps to achieve climate protection goals.

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First of 10 planned Ethiopian jatropha-based biodiesel plants ready for commissioning

Biofuels Digest - Mon, 12/03/2018 - 3:05pm

In Ethiopia, a 12,000-liter per day jatropha-based biodiesel facility will be commissioned soon, sourcing feedstock from farmers who have planted 1.4 million hectares of jatropha via digital payment system. API, the company behind the project, hopes to have 10 biodiesel facilities online by 2025 with a total 730 million liters of production annually with a total invest of $250 million. The first facility is still waiting for sign off from the Ministry of Finance as well as the national standards agency before it can begin production.

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Indonesia’s B20 mandate will require 6.2 billion liters in 2019

Biofuels Digest - Mon, 12/03/2018 - 3:04pm

In Indonesia, Reuters reports that the Ministry of Energy announced nearly 6.2 billion liters of biodiesel will be allotted for blending during 2019 via 18 fuel distributors that will then blend and retail the fuel onto consumers to comply with the new B20 mandate. The country recently boosted its mandate to 20% from 15% in an effort to boost demand for domestic palm oil as well as to reduce the drain on FX petroleum imports have had on the country’s trade balance that also led to devaluation of its currency.

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Philippine investors to develop $323.6 million sorghum-based ethanol plant

Biofuels Digest - Mon, 12/03/2018 - 3:03pm

In the Philippines, the Manila Times reports that the country’s first non-molasses based ethanol plant will be developed in Zamboanga City, using sorghum as feedstock at the $323.6 million facility. The annual production capacity of the project that is seen as a key driver to improving the socio-economic conditions of the region was not announced. The project developers from Metro Manila are currently seeking permissions from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. Feedstock will be sourced directly from farmers but the company will supply seedlings.

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Brazilian sugar mills continue to push more towards ethanol and shun sugar

Biofuels Digest - Mon, 12/03/2018 - 3:02pm

In Brazil, Reuters reports that sugar mills continue to shun sugar in favor of ethanol production and are investing in more production capacity of ethanol to help ensure continued focus on the fuel while the globe swims in sugar supply. That focus on ethanol already in the 2018/19 season will see sugar production at a 12-year low with nine million metric tons of sugar destined for ethanol. RenovaBio is pushing for more ethanol production, with government estimates seeing more than 47 billion liters of consumption by 2028 compared to 26.7 billion liters in 2018.

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University of York researchers find key to producing biofuel from wood in the gut of curious wood-eating crustacean

Biofuels Digest - Mon, 12/03/2018 - 3:01pm

In the UK, scientists studying the digestive system of a curious wood-eating crustacean have discovered it may hold the key to sustainably converting wood into biofuel. Gribble are small marine invertebrates that have evolved to perform an important ecological role eating the abundant supplies of wood washed into the sea from river estuaries.

They can also be something of a marine menace, consuming the wood of boats and piers and causing considerable damage in the process. Until now, the question of how gribble break through lignin – the highly resistant coating that wraps around the sugar polymers that compose wood – has been a mystery.

The team of scientists, led by the University of York, studied the hind gut of gribble, and discovered that Hemocyanins – the same proteins that make the blood of invertebrates blue – are crucial to their ability to extract sugars from wood. The discovery brings researchers a step closer to identifying cheaper and more sustainable tools for converting wood into low carbon fuel – a promising alternative to fossil fuels like coal and oil.

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New study shows biodiesel blenders tax credit vital for industry

Biofuels Digest - Mon, 12/03/2018 - 2:59pm

In Maryland, a new study from FIT Consulting considers the impact of the biodiesel industry on the U.S. economy, environment and energy security. It also examines the impact on the industry’s financial health if an important incentive – the biodiesel blenders tax credit (“BTC”) – were discontinued.

By analyzing 2017 production and financial data, FTI Consulting found that the biodiesel industry generated the following impacts for the U.S. economy and environment:

Economic output (economy-wide sales) valued at $21.6 billion across the economy, which translates to U.S. GDP of $6.5 billion;

Employment for approximately 61,900 workers, 2,300 of which were employed directly in the biodiesel industry;

Paid wages and benefits totaling $3.8 billion;

Federal tax and state and local tax contributions of $1.2 billion and $600 million, respectively; and,

A reduction in GHG emissions by 14.8 million tons, which is equivalent to taking 3.2 million cars off U.S. roads and equal to approximately $750 million in social benefits.

In addition to these benefits, biodiesel can help the U.S. decrease its reliance on foreign oil.

The BTC is a critical element in maintaining the viability of the biodiesel industry – and the realization of the benefits listed above – because it helps mitigate industry exposure to fluctuations in market prices for petroleum diesel. This study finds that biodiesel producers would have suffered an average loss of $0.25 per gallon produced in 2017 without the retroactive BTC. As such, certainty regarding the future of the BTC is vital for the biodiesel industry and, without legislative action retroactively implementing the BTC for 2018 and extending the BTC for 2019, compromises the significant economic, environmental and energy security-related benefits the industry provides.

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GoodFuels launches zero-emission heavy fuel oil. Ultra-low sulphur marine biofuels step forward.

Biofuels Digest - Mon, 12/03/2018 - 11:39am

From the Netherlands comes news of a world first:  GoodFuels Marine and the shipping company NORDEN have completed successful trials of what they bill as “the world’s first zero emission, ‘drop in’ Heavy Fuel Oil equivalent marine biofuel”, and in almost entirely reducing all carbon and sulphur emissions. 

Averting the potential crisis

Though a smaller-scale effort in itself, this story line intersects with the biggest energy story of the next 3 years. As  renowned energy analyst Phil Verleger opined n a July note to energy market observers, “The global economy likely faces an economic crash of horrible proportions in 2020, not for want of a nail but want of low-sulfur diesel fuel,” writes Verleger in “$200 Crude, the Economic Crisis of 2020, and Policies to Prevent Catastrophe”.

The root cause? A rule agreed by the  International Maritime Organization in 2008 and confirmed in 2016 to reduce sulphur content in marine fuels from 3.5 percent to 0.5 percent beginning in January 2020.

The proximate cause? Neither shipping owners nor oil refiners found a way to comply either through fuel-switching, crude-switching to bring in less sulphur-laden “sour” crudes, or to add enough refinery or on-board equipment to remove sulphur. It was a crisis of inaction.

The scramble for alternatives

Now, the action has begun in earnest. Shipowners and operators are (now, urgently) seeking an alternative to both distillates and Ultra Low Sulphur Fuel Oil in order to comply with 2020 0.5% sulphur cap requirements, as well as impending International Maritime Organization Greenhouse Gas reduction requirements. These requirements include an objective to reduce average carbon intensity from shipping – the amount of carbon emitted for each unit of transport – by at least 40% by 2030, and 70% by 2050. 

Marine biofuels viability points

In the UK, a recent report by Lloyd’s Register and UMAS, ‘Zero Emission Vessels 2030’, aimed to assess the viability of these low/zero-emission fuels and technologies. In the scenario with a low renewable price (e.g. in the case of hydrogen, where hydrogen production is cheap), the Marginal Abatement Cost Curve shows that by 2050 a carbon price of $100/t of CO2 leads to almost 75%-85% reduction in CO2 emissions. This estimate is not too dissimilar to the findings of an international team led by the well-known economists Stiglitz and Lord Stern. This study suggested that the carbon price for the economy as a whole required to achieve the Paris Agreement temperature goals and using a carbon price to create the economic incentive for change, would need to be between $50-100/t of CO2 in 2030, with expectations that it would continue to rise thereafter.

We profiled the sector opportunities in The Digest’s 2018 Multi-Slide Guide to Biofuels for the Marine Sector, here.

The Goodfuels backstory

In 2016 GoodFuels founded The GoodShipping Program to further engage cargo owners in the challenge of combatting shipping’s carbon emissions. In September 2018 the Program announced that five shippers had completely offset the carbon emissions of their cargo by refuelling a vessel with marine biofuels. 

The culmination of three years extensive research and development with partners including Royal Dutch Boskalis and engine manufacturer Wärtsilä, GoodFuels’ Bio-Fuel Oil (BFO) delivers near-zero carbon and Sulphur Oxide (SOx) emissions without any requirement for engine modifications. The trials – which saw hundreds of tonnes of ‘drop in’ BFO taken onboard in the Amsterdam-Rotterdam-Antwerp region – were conducted on the 37,000 deadweight tonne (dwt) Handysize product tanker vessel NORD HIGHLANDER as she ran in typical commercial operation in the North and Baltic Seas. 

Founded in 1871 Dampskibsselskabet NORDEN A/S is an independent shipping company incorporated in Denmark and listed on Nasdaq Copenhagen. NORDEN operates a mix of owned and chartered tonnage. In dry cargo, NORDEN is active in a number of vessel types and one of the world’s largest operators of Supramax and Panamax vessels. In tankers, NORDEN is active in the Handysize and MR product tanker vessel types operated through the 50% owned Norient Product Pool. 

We profiled the company in One if by land, two if by sea: The Digest’s 2018 Multi-Slide Guide to Good Fuels Marine, here.

Next steps

NORDEN A/S and GoodFuels Marine will continue working with each other to gain more experience and scale usage of the fuel as an alternative to HFO, ensuring the realisation of the opportunity to offer commercially attractive carbon-neutral transport to meet customers’ demands. 

Reaction from the stakeholders

Dirk Kronemeijer, CEO, GoodFuels Marine

“For over three years we have been working day and night to develop our BFO solution. The importance of its arrival in the market is further underlined by the dual prospect of impending lower sulphur and carbon legislation. Bringing this to market now offers shipping a near-zero carbon and SOx alternative to HFO, and VLSFO – 0.5% blended fossil fuel – both of which will be prevalent in the market post-2020. From this point onwards we want to scale supply as fast as we can in order to actively contribute to the world’s 1.5 degree challenge.” 

Jan Rindbo, CEO, NORDEN

“NORDEN has come a long way in increasing fuel efficiency and has reduced CO2 emissions per tonne cargo transported on owned tanker vessels by 25% between 2007 to 2017. With the newly introduced IMO targets on CO2 reductions, however, it is evident that increased fuel efficiency alone is not enough. We need alternative solutions and with this test, NORDEN has shown a viable method towards reaching these targets. “Now that we have proven CO2 neutral transport as a viable alternative, I am convinced many carbon-conscious customers will demand this type of transport within a foreseeable future.” 

More on the story
GoodFuels web site is here.

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Bamboo for bioenergy a viable option in Indonesia

Biofuels Digest - Sun, 12/02/2018 - 2:19pm

In Indonesia, bamboo is being looked at as a sustainable alternative bioenergy source, especially considering the country’s palm oil for biofuel being attached for deforestation and other impacts. Researchers from Australia’s RMIT University and the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) consider bamboo a viable alternative since it grows fast, has a long root system, can grow on degraded land, and is easy to maintain since it requires little watering or fertilizers.

The researchers also say bamboo’s long root system can also help control erosion and retain water and its leaf litter can improve soil fertility. Clean Power Indonesia (CPI) said bamboo is an economically viable source of bioenergy for Indonesia and allows for decentralized energy production since the country is made up of thousands of islands which may not be connected to the national power grid. That is why they set up pilot bamboo power plants on the remote Mentawai islands that are bringing electricity to about 1,200 households as of right now.


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Trade Associations Ask Trump to Ensure Rigorous Review of Argentine Biodiesel Import Duties

Biofuels Digest - Sun, 12/02/2018 - 2:15pm

In Washington, D.C., three trade groups wrote President Donald Trump to express concern that the U.S. Department of Commerce has initiated “changed circumstances” reviews of U.S. trade duties on Argentine biodiesel companies. The National Biodiesel Board, the American Soybean Association, and the National Renderers Association urged the president to ensure that Commerce undertake a rigorous, comprehensive and transparent review before considering any adjustment to the duty rates it established just this year.

The U.S. Commerce Department imposed antidumping and countervailing duty orders in January and April 2018, following investigations in which the government found that biodiesel imports from Argentina were massively subsidized and dumped, injuring U.S. biodiesel producers.

The groups opposed Commerce’s initiation of the changed circumstances review, arguing that Commerce has well-established administrative review procedures for revisiting antidumping and countervailing duty rates. The agency has not used “changed circumstances” reviews for these purposes. Commerce’s initiation of these reviews just months after finding that Argentina engaged in unfair trade practices creates a great deal of uncertainty for the biodiesel industry and other stakeholders.

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Rapeseed market goes calmly into winter

Biofuels Digest - Sun, 12/02/2018 - 2:11pm

In Germany, UFOP reports that rapeseed prices have moved up slightly in very small steps since rising sharply in the summer due to the smaller rapeseed harvest. Consequently, the gap over soybean prices, which were in decline, widened, although rapeseed failed to reach previous years’ levels. The recently reported price of EUR 359 per tonne matched the year-ago level. Consequently, rapeseed was down EUR 26 per tonne from two years ago, when the German rapeseed harvest was considerably larger.

The feed market is one of the main beneficiaries of biodiesel production, because rapeseed meal is generated as a by-product of rapeseed oil production. Throughout Europe, rapeseed meal is the primary domestic GM-free source of protein for livestock feeding, concludes the Union zur Förderung von Oel- und Proteinpflanzen(UFOP).

The current changes in prices and comparatively low stocks motivate farmers not to sell their rapeseed for the time being. According to information published by Agrarmarkt Informations-Gesellschaft (AMI), sales opportunities are expected to improve for the second quarter of 2019 when supply of oil mills will still be very patchy. Nevertheless, rapeseed producers and agricultural traders will not be in a rush to sell the commodity during that marketing period, because even now there are many speculations on price increases in the transition to the 2019 crop. The small EU rapeseed crop in 2018, the foreseeable low export potential of Australia – traditionally the EU’s most important supplier –, and not least the difficult winter rapeseed sowings in Germany and France all fuel hopes that rapeseed supply will be scarce and prices will rise as a result. The rapeseed market is therefore not expected to pick up at the beginning of the new year, because price expectations of oil millers and farmers are likely to be still too disparate then.

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Bioenergy recognized as a key contributor to achieve a climate neutral Europe by 2050

Biofuels Digest - Sun, 12/02/2018 - 2:08pm

In Belgium, the European Commission published its long-term strategy for emissions reduction looking at different options to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80% with more ambitious scenarios achieving a balance between greenhouse gas emissions and removals by 2050.

Bioenergy Europe released a statement that said it “is glad to see that bioenergy is put forward as one of the key solutions to achieve a net-zero carbon economy by 2050 and this in symbiosis with a wider bio-economy relying on a sustainable feedstock from forests and agriculture. Bioenergy has the potential to increase significantly within the limits of a sustainably available biomass potential and provides versatile and flexible technologies in the heating & cooling, transport and electricity sector including the possibility for negative emissions.”

“In its long-term strategy, the Commission recognises the importance of bioenergy to achieve a net-zero carbon economy by 2050. Now, we need a clear implementation roadmap for investments to take place, especially in the heating sector.”, Jean-Marc Jossart, Secretary-General of Bioenergy Europe explains.

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Stora Enso signs agreement to acquire forest assets in Bergvik Skog

Biofuels Digest - Sun, 12/02/2018 - 2:07pm

In Sweden, the shareholders of Bergvik Skog AB, a Swedish forest holding company, signed a binding agreement regarding the intent to restructure its ownership. With this agreement, the parties aim to complete the transaction during the first half of 2019. Stora Enso’s forest holdings in Sweden will increase to 1.4 million hectares, of which 1.15 million hectares is productive forest land. The total value of the transaction in Stora Enso’s balance sheet is estimated to be approximately EUR 1.0 billion.

Currently, Bergvik Skog’s Swedish forest assets are owned by its subsidiaries Bergvik Väst AB and Bergvik Öst AB, representing approximately 83% and 17% of these assets respectively. As a result of this transaction, Stora Enso will transform its current ownership of 49.8% in Bergvik Skog, to a direct holding of 69.8% of the value of the forest assets in Bergvik Väst.

“I am pleased that we have taken a step forward in this ownership restructuring along with the other shareholders in Bergvik Skog. This transaction is a natural next step for us, as we strongly believe in the bioeconomy and want to secure our competitive raw material supply for the long term. With direct ownership, we will have better visibility of our wood supply in Sweden. This will give us better opportunities to further develop sustainable forest management, thus strengthening our competitiveness,” says Karl-Henrik Sundström, CEO of Stora Enso.

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Global Bioenergies gets 13 letters of intent for purchases covering the capacity of its first plant project

Biofuels Digest - Sun, 12/02/2018 - 2:06pm

In France, Global Bioenergies received thirteen letters of intent from French and international industrial leaders for purchases totaling 49,000 to 64,000 tons of isobutene and derivatives annually. This covers the total production capacity of the planned IBN-One plant. The letters of intent come from the cosmetics, specialty fuels, road fuels and air transport industries.

Over half of the letters of intent and a significant share of capacity (about 20%) are earmarked for high added-value niche markets in specialty fuels and cosmetics. Several of the letters of intent include price indications that confirm the potential for isobutene derivatives to fetch prices far higher than their oil-derived counterparts.

Marc Delcourt, Chief Executive Officer of Global Bioenergies, commented: “Demand from the cosmetics industry is rising significantly. This surge in interest stems from a paradigm shift in cosmetics: renewable isobutene derivatives are actively sought after because they can substitute for ingredients belonging to the silicone family, being phased out. We estimate the global market for isobutene derivatives in tens of thousands of tons per year, just for cosmetics. A large share of IBN-One’s capacity could serve this market and make the plant highly profitable.”


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Enogen corn from Syngenta worked well with ICM technologies in ethanol production trial

Biofuels Digest - Sun, 12/02/2018 - 2:04pm

In Minnesota, a recent trial evaluating the use of Enogen corn enzyme technology with ICM’s Selective Milling Technology and Fiber Separation Technology successfully demonstrated that the technologies work well together, providing synergies that can bring higher ethanol yield and more robust starch-fiber separations. The technologies were tested at Corn Plus, a Minnesota-based dry grind ethanol plant.

Enogen corn is an in-seed innovation available exclusively from Syngenta and features the first biotech corn output trait designed specifically to enhance ethanol production. Using modern biotechnology to deliver best-in-class alpha amylase enzyme directly in grain, Enogen corn eliminates the need to add liquid alpha amylase. The product is rapidly gaining widespread acceptance because of the value it delivers to ethanol producers and the opportunity it provides corn growers to be enzyme suppliers for their local ethanol plants.


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Belgium’s first biomethane produced in Bright Biomethane system

Biofuels Digest - Sun, 12/02/2018 - 2:03pm

In Belgium, the country’s first biomethane-to-grid is now reality. The Bright Biomethane installation at Energy Conversion Facility ‘IOK Afvalbeheer’ in Beerse, Belgium successfully produced Belgium’s first sustainable biomethane and injected into the natural gas grid of net operator Eandis.

A double first for Bright Biomethane: the first project in Belgium and the first biomethane plant of the country. The biomethane system uses membrane technology to upgrade the biogas to 91 Nm3 biomethane per hour, equivalent to the annual natural gas consumption of 350 households. The Bright Biomethane system is an easily expandable system, ensuring that enough biomethane is produced in the future to provide gas for around 1,000 families. The biogas is produced from the anaerobic digestion of garden, fruit and vegetable waste (GFV) from more than half million residents of the Kempen area.

IOK Afvalbeheer currently produces renewable bioenergy in two ways: 75% of the biogas is converted in a CHP into heat and electricity that also is reused by the biogas plant and the biogas upgrading system and 25% of the biogas is converted to biomethane for injection into the national gas grid. This sustainable energy production will in the future shift towards an increasement of the biomethane. Instead of 91 Nm3 low-calorific biomethane (L-gas), 242 Nm3 high-calorific biomethane (H-gas) per hour will be produced in the near future.

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EPA RVO – Details on the digits and reactions ‘round the country

Biofuels Digest - Sun, 12/02/2018 - 1:57pm

What a whirlwind weekend after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced their final renewable volume obligations under the Renewable Fuel Standard program for 2019. “It’s just numbers,” some say, but oh no, not in the biofuels world. It’s never just numbers. This time it’s about waivers, fixing the damage done, and ensuring a bright future for biofuels. It’s about hollow chocolate bunnies and two steps back for some.

French mathematician Rene Descartes is best known for “I think, therefore I am,” but he also said “Perfect numbers, like perfect men, are rare.” So true in this case as not everyone is happy about EPA’s numbers and how they relate to small refiner waivers. If you want to know get the details on the digits from EPA, the waiver what-what, the reactions ‘round the country from biodiesel, biogas, ethanol and more, the Digest has you covered.

The Numbers

If you just look at the numbers alone, they look pretty decent for biofuels compared to 2018 numbers. Unlike the stock market, nothing went down and most went up, albeit slightly. They include a total renewable fuel volume of 19.92 billion gallons (up from 19.28 which is about 3% increase), of which 4.92 billion gallons (up from 4.29) is advanced biofuel, including 418 million gallons (up from 288) of cellulosic biofuel, 2.1 billion gallons of biomass-based diesel (same as 2018). That leaves a 15-billion-gallon requirement for conventional renewable fuels like corn ethanol. You can read the EPA’s Final Rule here.

The Reactions – from chocolate bunnies to two steps back

“Without reallocation of small-refinery exemptions, the numbers released today may look good on the outside, but just like the chocolate bunnies my children open up on Easter morning, they are hollow on the inside,” said Iowa Renewable Fuels Association Executive Director Monte Shaw. “While any increase is better than a flatline, these modest increases vastly underrate the potential of advanced biofuels.”

Iowa Corn Growers Association’s President Curt Mether said that while happy to see the EPA’s numbers for corn-based ethanol, they have a very important request for the EPA: “stop granting unnecessary waivers to obligated parties and not to include those waivers in its formula for determining annual volumes as required under the RFS. This intentional omission effectively cuts ethanol demand and works against the goals of the RFS program to the detriment of motorists, our environment, and Iowa’s corn farmers.”

Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor, said that while the numbers are a positive step forward and they “hold promise with a 15-billion-gallon commitment to starch ethanol and 418 million gallons of cellulosic biofuels,” the billions of lost gallons due to excessive small refinery exemptions need to be accounted for. “Until these are addressed properly, we’re still taking two steps back for every step forward,” said Skor.

South Dakota-based American Coalition for Ethanol CEO Brian Jennings agrees the exemptions are a huge issue and is “fighting this injustice with a challenge of three specific Small Refinery Exemptions (SREs) in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit and a petition asking EPA to account for the lost volumes resulting from retroactive SREs.”

U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa said that the 2019 numbers are good news and encouraging but the true test is yet to come. Senator Grassley met with EPA’s Acting Administrator Wheeler and said he is “optimistic about the potential for a revisiting of this practice” referring to the hardship waivers to multibillion-dollar oil companies. “There’s no good reason oil companies making billions of dollars in profits should be exempted from following the law as passed and intended by Congress. I’m disappointed the rule didn’t reallocate waived volumes to make up for the damage done by former Administrator Pruitt.”

Grassley remains hopeful and said, “Specifically, I’m glad levels for biodiesel are maintained and slightly increased. And although the levels for advanced biofuels and cellulosic biofuels don’t represent the full potential of the industry, they are very promising and will help significantly.”

Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Geoff Cooper didn’t mince words when he said that the “EPA did not prospectively account for any small refiner exemptions that it expects to issue in 2019. Hopefully, that means EPA is not intending to issue any small refiner waivers at all in 2019 because it knows there is no rationale or basis for doing so.”

National Corn Growers Association (NCGA), Lynn Chrisp, Nebraska farmer and president said they are happy about the numbers for conventional ethanol but upset about the waivers and said, “When the EPA continues to grant waivers and does not account for those volumes in this rule, domestic demand for our crop is lost, impacting farmers’ livelihood and the economy of rural America.”

POET’s Kyle Gilley, Senior Vice President of External Affairs and Communications also addressed the waivers and said, “It is time to get our America First fuel policy back on track, and we encourage the acting EPA administrator to hold oil refiners accountable and maintain the integrity of the Renewable Fuel Standard.”

Biotechnology Innovation Organization’s Brent Erickson, executive vice president of BIO’s Industrial & Environmental Section applauded the EPA for “increasing advanced and cellulosic biofuel volumes from 2018,” but expressed disappointment that “EPA missed this opportunity to reallocate gallons displaced from small refinery waivers, issued at the behest of the petroleum industry.” He said that the “EPA also needs to approve new biofuel pathways and facility registrations to allow volumes of advanced and cellulosic biofuels to grow.”

Advanced Biofuels Business Council’s Executive Director, Brooke Coleman, said, “The final targets open new possibilities for advanced and cellulosic biofuels, but without a check on abusive EPA waivers, we’ll continue to see plants closing their doors or idling production. The agency cannot fulfill the president’s commitments in the heartland without putting a lid on handouts to oil giants like Chevron and Andeavor.”

In a joint statement, Americans for Energy Security and Innovation Co-Chairs Jim Talent and Rick Santorum said that the new targets represent a “modest step forward for U.S. energy security, but that promise will be short-lived unless the EPA puts a lid on abusive waiver practices. Dozens of handouts to well-connected refiners have already destroyed demand for more than two billion gallons of American-made biofuel.”

The American Biogas Council was pretty happy about the EPA numbers and for good reason since “Of the 418 million gallons of cellulosic biofuel called for in the RFS, the vast majority, 388 million gallons, are requested from biogas and that represents a 45% increase in production from the 2018 volumes,” said Patrick Serfass, the ABC Executive Director. “This is a concrete validation of the significant growth in the biogas industry year over year. At the same time, we are disappointed, again, that this rule shows zero progress toward activating the biogas to renewable electricity (eRIN) pathway. We want EPA to activate the eRIN pathway immediately by processing the project registrations that are already in EPA’s hands.”

Johannes Escudero, CEO of the Coalition for Renewable Natural Gas, was appreciative of the 2019 numbers and said it “reflects continued growth in the renewable natural gas industry.” The RNG industry produces 95% of the fuel used to meet the RFS program’s cellulosic biofuel requirement, according to RNG Coalition. “The growth in production of renewable natural gas and the completion of nearly 50 new production facilities from coast to coast since 2014 is proof positive that the RFS is working as intended for cellulosic and advanced biofuels,” said Escudero. But even Escudero hopes the EPA will ensure that small refiner exemptions “are administered in a way that do not undermine the program’s advanced biofuel requirements.”

The National Biodiesel Board (NBB) said, “EPA’s failure to properly account for small refinery exemptions will continue to destroy biodiesel demand.” Yes, destroy. In other words, it’s just not enough. NBB CEO Donnell Rehagen said, “EPA recognizes that the biodiesel and renewable diesel industry is producing fuel well above the annual volumes. The industry regularly fills 90 percent of the annual advanced biofuel requirement. Nevertheless, the agency continues to use its maximum waiver authority to set advanced biofuel requirements below attainable levels. The method is inconsistent with the RFS program’s purpose, which is to drive growth in production and use of advanced biofuels such as biodiesel.”

Iowa Biodiesel Board said that farmers are disappointed by the RFS rule and the modest changes made. Grant Kimberley, their executive director pointed out that the “small refinery exemptions reduced demand for biodiesel by more than 300 million gallons in 2018 – the equivalent of the entire state of Iowa’s biodiesel production.”

There are others not happy about the new numbers too, but in a different way, like the National Council of Chain Restaurants which has repeatedly asked Congress to repeal the RFS and on Friday called on the EPA to completely review biofuel levels under the federal RFS, saying increased levels announced for 2019 meet requirements for a “reset” of the program. NCCR Executive Director David French said, “Not only are those old levels wildly unrealistic for advanced fuels, the levels required for last-generation, conventional corn ethanol are unnecessary and run counter to the law’s environmental goals. Corn ethanol is flatly bad for the environment and consumers alike, and it’s high time for the mandate to go away.”

Bottom Line

So what does EPA need to do to really help the biofuel economy? They need to look at the waivers. They need to reverse the damage done from the previous waivers and not turn a blind eye to what the industry is telling them. As NBB points out, “In the final rule, EPA states that it has not received small refinery exemption petitions for 2019 and therefore estimates zero gallons of exempted fuel in its RVO formula.”

But is that realistic? The EPA has estimated “zero gallons every year since 2015, even though it retroactively exempted more than 24.5 billion gallons of fuel between 2015 and 2017, according to NBB. RFA’s Cooper brings up the fact that “Pruitt issued nearly 50 refinery waivers from 2016 and 2017 RFS requirements, including bailouts to companies like Chevron and Andeavor that recorded billions of dollars in net profits in those years.”

NCCR also brings up a good point that the new numbers “are high enough to set in motion a reset of the RFS program required by law when levels deviate more than 20 percent from those allowed under the RFS statute for two consecutive years. The reset means the EPA is required to conduct a complete review biofuel levels under the program, which could lead to lower levels being set.”

While the reactions are mixed, they mostly have one thing in common – the EPA needs to deal with the small refiner waivers, so we will see if the EPA is listening.

Categories: Today's News

Top 4 Techs: The Digest’s 2018 Multi-Slide Guide to Carbon Capture, Gas-to-Liquids, Bio-Based Ethylene Glycol, Biomass to Commodity Chemical Application

Biofuels Digest - Sun, 12/02/2018 - 8:58am

Carbon Capture, Gas-to-Liquids (GTL) Technologies, Bio-Based Ethylene Glycol, and Biomass to Commodity Chemical Application. EPIC Modular Process writes that “through our work scaling technologies for pilot plants or commercial systems, we often get exposed to the up-and-coming processes on the verge of commercialization. In the last several years, we have seen an especially large surge in CO2, Gas-to-Liquids, and biomass process technologies seeking demonstration or pilot plants.

The company prepared this illuminating overview of what it sees as the top four types of process technologies developing and deploying now.

Categories: Today's News


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