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Alternative Energy / Biofuels

  • New Cellulosic Ethanol Plant Commercializes Renewable Fuel

    A new factory that hopes to break oil’s stranglehold over America’s transportation sector has just opened its doors in Iowa.The $275 million factory will churn out ethanol – a renewable fuel that can be blended directly with gasoline and used normally in cars and trucks. However, this factory won’t produce traditional ethanol, which is made from corn. Instead, it will use farm waste from left over corn stalks, husks, corncobs, and leaves. Dubbed Project Liberty, the new cellulosic ethanol factory in Iowa promises a “new era” for renewable fuels. It is the second commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol plant to be constructed…

  • The Global Outlook For Biofuels

    Introduction to the GSRToday I want to take a deep look at the global biofuels picture, drawing mainly from the Renewables 2014 Global Status Report (GSR) that was released in June by REN21, the Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century. I had intended to draw data primarily from the recently released Statistical Review of World Energy 2014, but I believe that the GSR is the most comprehensive report available when it comes to the global renewable energy picture. The GSR has more complete renewable energy data than the BP Statistical Review, but both reports complement each other. Full…

  • Rethink Biofuel Sources, Not Biofuels Subsidies

    The world’s foremost economic authorities are divided as to whether the planting of conventional crops to produce biofuels makes sense. Some say that the amount of money and resources poured into growing corn, rapeseed, jatropha, sugarcane and other plants for biofuels is wasted -- that it takes away land needed for food production, creates more emissions than it saves, and has caused food prices to go up worldwide. Others say that if the price of food crops includes the cost of linked oil production, then biofuels are still cheaper, that certain biofuel crops have not been fully tested and that…

  • Why Biodiesel May Not Be The Miracle Fuel You Think

    Nine years ago, U.S. President George W. Bush passed the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) with the goal of lessening America's dependence on foreign oil supplies and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.The RFS mandated that a certain percentage of transportation fuel sold in the U.S. contain ethanol, which is mostly produced from corn. Two years later, the standard was expanded to include biodiesel, derived from vegetable oils such as rapeseed or palm oils.With more retailers being incented to offer biodiesel, and regular diesel becoming nearly extinct for owners of diesel-fueled cars, it is important to ask whether biodiesel actually helps or harms…

  • Biofuel Industry Presses White House To Strengthen Renewable Fuel Program

    The White House is expected to issue goals soon for the country’s use of renewable fuels during 2014 and its coming under pressure from the biofuels industry and some Democratic senators to set higher long-term objectives.The Renewable Fuel Standard calls for gradually raising the proportion of biofuels mixed in with gasoline and diesel fuel every year through 2022. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is expected to increase the amount of corn ethanol to about 13.6 billion gallons from the current level of 13 billion gallons set in November 2013.But biofuel industry officials say the EPA’s longer-term plans are to limit…

  • US Restaurants Join Anti-Ethanol Mandate Rally

    The ethanol industry, already reeling from a draft plan for cuts in the ethanol mandate for this year, will now face more pressure as everyone from conservatives and environmental activists to restaurant chains pool their resources to lobby for more cuts.In November, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a proposal to reduce the ethanol and biofuels mandate for 2014 and now a new coalition of the unlikely, which includes industry groups, the Clean Air Task Force and even the National Council of Chain Restaurants (NCCR) are pushing lawmakers to ensure more cuts. For restaurant chains such as Pizza Hut and…

  • Producers Panic as Ethanol Mandate Loses Support

    Ethanol producers are panicking amid speculation that the ethanol mandate could be drastically reduced or scrapped entirely this year as the biofuel loses its allure and bipartisan allies and former friends team up against it.December saw California Democrat Dianne Feinstein—a renewable fuel champion--coordinate efforts with Oklahoma Republican Tom Coburn to come up with a Senate bill to get rid of ethanol from the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), citing fears that corn-based fuel production mandates will harm livestock producers.In November, Washington proposed cutting the biofuels mandate for 2014 by 16% to 15.21 billion gallons. This would be the first cut in…

  • Algae's Momentum Gaining but it's no Oil Revolution

    A deal between refiner Phillips 66 and Sapphire Energy to develop green crude was lauded by advocates as the dawn and the emergence of a new renewable form of domestic oil. With a production target of around 65,000 barrels per day by 2025, however, the celebration may be premature. Phillips 66 and green crude pioneer Sapphire Energy, Inc., agreed to work together to develop crude oil derived from algae to the commercial level. Both sides said they'd work to expand on Sapphire's test program to show green crude can be refined using traditional methods. Sapphire Chief Executive Officer Cynthia Warner said the…

  • European Car Manufacturers and Oil Companies Join to Create a Biofuel Roadmap

    A consortium of six major car manufacturers and oil companies in Europe – Volkswagen, Daimler, Honda, Neste Oil, OMV and Shell – has today published a “biofuel roadmap” for the EU to 2030. The roadmap, prepared by technical consultancy E4tech, may be seen as an attempt by the industry to transcend the current deadlock between the European Parliament and EU Member States over new biofuels legislation, which is crippling biofuel investment. The roadmap provides, for the first time, a comprehensive long-term plan for EU-wide biofuel policy that connects the fuels and auto industries and that, according to these industries, would…

  • Research Unlocks Algae Biofuel Potential

    Along with camelina and jatropha, marine algae is a front runner in the search for a renewable feedstock for production of commercial quantities of biofuel.While marine algae produce lipid oils, fat molecules that store energy needed for fuel production, the process occurs when they are nutritionally starved, which also stunts their growth. When well-nourished, the algae do grow well, but produce carbohydrates instead of the desired lipids for conversion to fuel.But, in a breakthrough with potentially massive implications for production of commercial quantities of biofuel, researchers at the renowned Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego…