December 2010 News and Matters of Interest

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BCAPEligible Materials List Available

USDA Biomass Crop Assistance ProgramThe US Department of Agriculture’s Biomass Crop Assistance Program on December 21, 2010, posted a matrix of biomass materials that may be eligible for BCAP matching funds, and biomass that definitely is not eligible during 2011 funding cycle. Posted even more recently, on December 28th, is a table with one entry: the first newly-qualified biomass conversion facility for the 2011 season, POET’s Emmetsburg, Iowa biorefinery. BCAP matches dollar for dollar the cost of planting and harvesting biocrop materials like Miscanthus, and/or separation of such harvested materials from other high-value crops, as with nut hulls. All forms and contact information necessary for application are posted on USDA’s BCAP website. 12/29/2010


JustReleased: Principles for Responsible Biotech Tree Use

Institute for Forest Biotechnology Biotech Tree PrinciplesGrowing and harvesting short rotation woody crops shows good promise for providing long-term biomass fuel, especially critical when trying to finance a biopower and/or cellulosic biorefinery. Use of “biotech” trees, genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) designed for fast growth and other properties, is on the near horizon, but carries the worries attendant to other GMO agriculture. The Institute for Forest Biotechnology has completed two and a half years of development, and this month announced the release of their Responsible Use: Biotech Tree Principles (Principles). The Principles were developed to help protect forests wherever biotech trees are used, to establish a high level of performance for managing biotech trees, to create a simple and effective set of practices so users along the biotech tree value chain know how to use the trees responsibly, and to increase societal benefits when biotech trees are used by promoting interaction and education between foresters, biotechnologists, and other stakeholders. The voluntary program has provisions for asserting that biotech agri-forestry has been performed in accordance with the Principles. 12/29/2010


NewEnzyme Blend Skips a Step in Biofuel Process

Energy & Environmental ScienceVirginia Tech researchers have announced that their new enzyme mixture consisting of 12 purified enzymes and coenzymes is effective in acid hydrolysis “soup”, a first key step in one form of biomass-to-fuel conversion. Usually, the acid hydrolysate is toxic to enzymes; the resilient strain makes a detoxification step is unnecessary, reducing the cost and increasing biofuel yields. The research paper, "Analysis of biofuels production from sugar based on three criteria: thermodynamics, bioenergetics, and product separation," is summarized on-line; the entire article is available (for a fee, or through library services) in the December 16, 2010 edition of the Royal Chemistry Society’s advanced online journal Energy & Environmental Science. The research will be published in the January 2011 issue of the journal Chemistry & Biology. 12/29/2010


MSULab Finds Fungus-Producing Eucalyptol: New Source of Biofuel

Journal of Microbial EcologyA Montana State University Department of Plant Sciences & Plant Pathology professor and his graduate student have collected, identified and sent off to the US Department of Energy (DOE), fungal samples that produce highly-scented oil previously only found in Eucalyptus-tree bark. The discovery was made from plant samples collected in the jungles of the Canary Islands off the coast of Africa. Eucalyptol can be added directly in a 1:8 ratio to gasoline; the discovery may allow quantities of fuel grade oil to be produced from the fungus. the DOE awarded $300,000 to continue the research; the agency’s labs are collaborating to map the genome and test the produced oil in various engines. The research has been published in this month’s Journal of Microbial Ecology. Email questions to Dr. Strobel and Angela Tomsheck, at uplgs@montana.edu. 12/29/2010


PNNL Researches Catalysis Without Precious Metals

Catalysis Without Precious MetalsConversion of raw syngas and biomethane to liquid fuels requires that the gas be passed over metal catalysts such as platinum, cobalt, rhodium, palladium and other rare and precious metals. Rare metals are getting scarcer however, and are very expensive to mine even if you can. China and Japan have stopped export of used electronics; US federal agencies are now under White House orders to stop throwing used electronics away, as this is the other major source for rare and precious metals. Reliance on these precious commodities is both a commercial and security risk. Now researchers at the Center for Molecular Electrocatalysis, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, have announced findings this month of a different approach: catalysis without precious metals, relying instead on advanced methods of using iron, copper and other more readily available metals to effect the change. The 306-page hardbound book, Catalysis Without Precious Metals, is available from book retailers. 12/27/2010


AB 118 Localized Health Impact Reports Available On-line

California Energy CommissionThe California Energy Commission has now posted four reports summarizing their analyses of the Localized Health Impacts (LHI) associated with selected projects proposed for funding in each of the past four Assembly Bill 118 grant funding cycles. The most recent LHI Report is a review of the 12 projects submitted under the Biofuels Production Plants grant solicitation (PON-09-604). For all projects, the report includes project descriptions, criteria emissions data, demographic data, and a brief analysis of the air quality impacts, while two of the twelve projects were fully analyzed for local health impacts in their local communities. 12/27/2010


ARB’s LCFS Regulatory Advisory 10-04 Released

ARB Low Carbon Fuel Standard GuidelinesGuidelines for 2011 implementation of the California Air Resources Board’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) have been released. LCFS Guidelines 10-04 are built upon lessons learned in past implementation activities, including the development of the LCFS Reporting Tool. They also develop the proposed path forward on addressing land use change after receiving recommendations from the Expert Workgroup subgroups, and the development of a screening tool for high-carbon-intensity crude oils and several others. The Guidelines establish the compliance obligation for regulated parties in 2011 to meet the carbon intensity standard for gasoline and diesel, and discuss discretionary enforcement of the LCFS during the initial implementation year of 2011, including the 0.25% carbon-intensity (CI) reduction requirement. 12/27/2010


EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Reporting Tool is Now On-Line

EPA Greenhouse Gas Reporting ToolOn December 17, 2010, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) went live on-line with their Electronic Greenhouse Gas Reporting tool (e-GGRT). The web tool supports facility registration under EPA's Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program, and lets users start the minimum 10-day process of application for a Certificate of Representation (COR), which is due to the EPA by January 30, 2011. Each e-GRRT user will need to print, sign and mail an Electronic Signature Agreement to complete the process. 12/27/2010


ISCC Year One Review Released

International Sustainability & Carbon Certification The International Sustainability & Carbon Certification organization (ISCC) has been operating for one year. During that time, 235 companies registered for certification, including registrations from the USA, Latin America and Southeast Asia; so far, 104 certificates were issued. ISCC has staged eight training sessions and trained 250 auditors on the implementation of the EU’s Renewable Energy Directive. The English version of the ISCC flyer is now available, providing information about ISCC, sustainability and the certification procedure. The next ISCC trainings for the year 2011 are being planned for Germany, USA, Latin America and Eastern Europe. Details will be published on the ISCC website. 12/27/2010


Producer Responsibility White Paper Available

Natural LogicIf we shift the responsibility for recycling and recovery back to the companies that sell the goods in the first place, those same companies, and not their competitors, can make further use of the resources we’d otherwise throw away. Onsite implementation of Conversion for Recovery fits right in, with Producer-Based Recycling. A new (free) white paper on Product Stewardship & Extended Producer Responsibility released by Natural Logic, Inc. explores the potential for this paradigm shift to dramatically and positively impact the economics of marketing, recycling and overall resource management. 12/21/2010


DOE Regional CHP Application Center Presentations Now Available

DOE Clean Energy CenterThe US Department of Energy’s (DOE) multi-campus Pacific Regional CHP Application Center (RAC) has held two workshops on “What’s New in Clean & Efficient Combined Heat & Power (CHP) in California?” Presentations from the meeting are now available. Each RAC’s mission is to “lead deployment and market transformation of CHP.” The Irvine RAC is focused on education and outreach; the UC Berkeley RAC covers Case Studies, Baseline Assessments, and Policy Analysis. The San Diego State University Industrial Application Center provides Project Feasibility Screenings. Presentations are also available from DOE’s kick-off RAC conference, September 29-30, 2010 in Illinois, presenting “Waste Heat Recovery for Power and Heat”. 12/20/2010


BCAP Funding Survives Budget Cut – For Now

Biomass Crop Assistance ProgramUSSenate Democrats pulled their massive $1.2 trillion dollar spending bill from consideration on December 17, 2010 after losing Republican support. The bill included language that would have removed funding for the USDA’s Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP). See our 10/27/2010 News. BCAP, strongly promoted by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, provides payments to farmers who supply crop residue, grasses or wood to biofuel or power plants. The BCAP website had just posted the materials necessary for project description, application forms and submission guidelines for support on December 15, 2010. 12/20/2010


California Cap & Trade Regulatory Package Adopted

California Air Resources BoardThe California Air Resources Board (CARB) has adopted a regulatory package for AB 32, the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006. The package includes a Cap & Trade program that will begin in 2012, designed to use a market-based approach to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2020. A new mandatory reporting rule for entities emitting over 10,000 metric tons of CO2e has been approved; businesses with emissions over 25,000 metric tons of CO2 equivalent must participate in the cap & trade market by purchasing “allowances” to emit GHGs. During the January 1, 2012 to December 31, 2014 initial compliance period, 90 percent of the company’s allowances are free, while cost of the other 10 percent will be dictated by the allowance market. Investment in pre-approved environmental and agricultural offset projects can replace up to 8% of a company’s offset liability. 12/20/2010


US Senate Passes Extension of Treasury Cash Grants for Clean Tech

US Treasury Cash Grant Program for Clean TechnologyThe US Senate passed a one year extension of the Department of Treasury Section 1603 tax grant program (TGP in their tax bill compromise on December 15, 2010. The 1603 grant provision which was originally passed during the Bush Administration has met opposition from Republicans who don't want to support anything associated with the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). One day before the vote, the US Partnership For Renewable Energy Finance (US PREF, an element of the American Council on Renewable Energy) introduced a white paper analysis to Congress that claimed the bill would rescue at least $25 billion of renewable energy projects.  A 2009 amendment to the earlier TGP provides RE project owners a cash grant en lieu of tax reduction from earlier production and investment tax credits (PTC/ITC). Address TGP questions to 1603Questions@do.treas.gov. 12/17/2010


RSB Releases Summary of Changes to Version 2 P&Cs

The Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels (RSB) is an international initiative coordinated by the Energy Center at EPFL in Lausanne The Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels Steering Board approved Version 2 of RSB Principles & Criteria and supporting Guidance document on November 5, 2010. The full Roundtable is now scheduled to certify Version 2 early in 2011. RBS has released a Summary of changes from Version 1 to Version 2, and Synopsis of the September to October 2010 public consultation on Version 1.1. The tables provide easy comparison of the version, with rationale for the changes that were made. At the November meeting the Steering Board requested formation of an Expert Group to address outstanding issues related to biocrops, or “genetically modified organisms” (GMOs). The GMO Expert Group will recommend enhancements to RSB guidelines for risk mitigation regarding GMOs to minimize potential liabilities. 12/17/2010


GreenHunter Set to Repower Mesquite Lake Bioenergy Facility

SDG&E's Sunrise Powerlink transmission line.Lack of sufficient high voltage transmission lines for exporting power from California's Imperial Valley has long been an impediment to renewable energy development in that area of the state. In November 2010, San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) received a Notice to Proceed from the Public Utilities Commission and has started construction of the $1.8bn, 117-mile Sunrise Powerlink transmission line, a new 500kV transmission line to transport power from renewable energy resources within the Imperial Valley to San Diego. GreenHunter’s idle Mesquite Lake bioenergy facility in the Imperial Valley has long been slated for repowering and possible expansion. Last month, GreenHunter closed on approximately $30 million in tax-exempt Recovery Zone Facility Bonds issued through the California Enterprise Development Authority (CEDA). The bond will provide for the construction, refurbishment and expansion of their Mesquite Lake bioenergy facility located near El Centro, California. 12/17/2010


UK’s University of Warwick Converts Waste Plastic for Recovery

UOW converts waste plastic for recovery.University of Warwick (UOW) researchers have successfully designed and tested pyrolytic conversion of a wide range of waste plastic, including sheeting and polystyrene, by disassembling the molecular structure into waxes, monomers, acids, acrylates and activated carbon. The lab scale tests finished in mid-December 2010 have produced distilled liquids and solids for processing into new products. Research modeling indicates that annual conversion of 10,000 tons of mixed plastics would produce $7.7 million dollars worth of recycled chemicals and about $770,000 a year in avoided United Kingdom (UK) landfill taxes. For further information, email Kevin Marks, Warwick Ventures, k.t.marks@warwick.ac.uk. 12/17/2010


Spain’s Citrotecno to Produce Ethanol from Citrus Waste

Citrotecno to produce ethanol from citrus wasteValencia, Spain is known as the home of Valencia juice oranges. The substantial orange juice industry results in a great deal of citrus waste. After two years of research and development, the Spanish firm Citrotecno will now use that waste to produce new products, including ethanol, at its first plant in Silla, Valencia. Citrotecno expects to process between 132,000 and 165,000 tons of citrus waste from both orange juice producers and citrus fruit farms in Valencia and Murcia to produce 21,000 tons of livestock feed pellets, about 100,000 US gallons of D-limonene essential oils, 1.32 million US gallons per year of ethanol and 18 million gallons of purified water for both irrigation and drinking. The essential oil by-product will also be used as a solvent for resins, pigments, inks and paints, and to manufacture adhesives or as an additive in fragrances. 12/15/2010


New DOE Biomass Program Webinar Presentations Available

National Advanced Biofuels ConsortiumThe U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Biomass Program launched a Webinar series relevant to the development of renewable fuels, power, and products from biomass resources in September 2010. The slide presentations from their November 18, 2010 webinar on "Advanced Biofuels Research Pathways" are now available, along with the session's audio recording. This second Webinar discussed ongoing advanced biofuels research, including research on biochemical and thermochemical conversions. It also reviewed the National Advanced Biofuels Consortium’s progress in research, development, and demonstration of process technology strategies to convert biomass feedstock into a form that can be used in a petroleum refinery. A continuing series of presentations will be announced on the program's website. 12/09/2010


ARB Schedules Workshop on 2011-2012 AQIP Funding Plan

California Air Resources BoardThe California Air Resources Board (ARB) has scheduled a public workshop for January 11, 2011 to discuss their AB 118 Air Quality Improvement Program (AQIP) Funding Plan for Fiscal Year 2011-12. AB 118 provides up to $50 million annually through 2015 for the AQIP to fund air quality incentive projects, including low-emission vehicles and equipment projects, air quality research, and advanced energy technology workforce training. The FY 2010-11 AQIP Funding Plan has been focused on supporting five deployment projects and four demonstration projects. ARB staff will seek public input to evaluate the project categories funded in 2010-11 and evaluate potential funding of new categories. Contact Johanna Levine at (916) 324-6971 or jlevine@arb.ca.gov with questions. 12/07/2010


IREC Proposes Community Renewable Program Rules

Interstate Renewable Energy CouncilMost Conversion Technology development requires a scale above "residential" to be cost-effective. While California’s community-scale solar initiative is now facilitation of installation of entire distributed grid sub-divisions, other forms of renewable energy at this scale still meet significant resistance. The Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) together with the Vote Solar Initiative has analyzed the benefits and challenges of community-scale renewable development and policy, particularly in Massachusetts, Colorado, California, Washington, and Utah. In November 2010, IREC published their proposed Community Renewable Program Rules to provide basic guidance. The Rules consider renewable system size, interconnection, eligibility for participation, allocation of the benefits flowing from participation, net metering of system production, and other essential features to provide a program that can be tailored to local circumstances. For questions, contact the Jeff Weidman at jwiedman@keyesandfox.com. 12/6/2010


CEC Hears Proposed Changes to Eligibility and RPS Guidebooks

California Energy CommissionOn Wednesday December 15, 2010, the California Energy Commission (CEC) will decide whether to approve changes to the Fourth Edition of the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) Eligibility Guidebook and to the Overall Guidebook, Third Edition. The hearing was originally scheduled for the November business meeting but was postponed due to last month’s heavy AB 118 awards agenda. The Guidebooks implement the CEC's responsibilities under the RPS, including certification of RPS-eligible facilities and verifying procurement for RPS compliance. Teru Talk discussed the proposed changes in September 2010; the CEC website provides the detailed staff documents and public comments. 12/6/2010


EPA Finalizes 2011 RFS2 Percentage Standards

US Environmental Protection AgencyThe U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on November 30, 2010 posted their finalized percentage standards for the four categories of fuel under the agency’s renewable fuel standard program, known as RFS2. EPA re-calculates percentage-based standards for the following year; based on the standards, each producer and importer of gasoline and diesel determines the minimum volume of renewable fuel that it must ensure is used in its transportation fuel. The Final Rule (EPA420-F-10-056 ) was signed November 23, 2010 and submitted for publication in the Federal Register; questions or comments should be directed to EPA’s RFS1 & RFS2 Compliance Help program. 12/6/2010


Greenpeace and CEP Promote Boreal Forest Jobs

GreenpeaceThe environmental organization Greenpeace on November 19, 2010 held a joint news conference with the Communications, Energy and Paper-workers Union of Canada (CEP) to announce recommendations for stimulating Northern Ontario's forest industry and creating green forestry jobs while preserving the ecological value of Canada's boreal forest. Greenpeace’s report, Building a Green Economy in the Boreal Forest, lays out a vision where forestry workers in northern communities can stay on the job without compromising the natural environment the development of the Boreal Forest. The policy recommendations in the report were submitted to Canadian Premier Dalton McGuinty and Northern Development, Mines and Forestry Minister Michael Gravelle in October, aimed at the development of a national Canadian forest management strategy. 12/6/2010


ABO Releases Draft Standardized Algal Industry Descriptive Language   

Algal Biomass OrganizationControlled growth and harvesting of algae can provide a self-funding tool for remediation of liquid and gaseous emissions, including reduction of greenhouse gases from other waste conversion processes. Integrating algal photo-bioreactors (PBRs), whether enclosed or as open ponds, requires an understanding of the specialized jargon that comes with the algal industry. Achieving that understanding just became easier: the Algal Biomass Organization (ABO), the trade association for the algae industry, has just released “Algal Industry Minimum Descriptive Language”, establishing a common language for the algae industry. ABO’s press release says the document is intended to help facilitate life cycle analysis, unify research and spur the deployment of algae demonstration facilities. The ABO is accepting comments to the document through March 31, 2011. Submit your comments to technicalstandards@algalbiomass.org. 12/3/2010


BIO Asks Congress to Extend PTCs to Biobased Products

Biotechnology Industry AssociationThe Biotechnology Industry Association (BIO) has joined with 32 industrial companies and associations to petition Congress for expansion of Production Tax Credits (PTCs) to include biobased products. PTCs are currently being considered in the “Domestic Manufacturing and Energy Jobs Act of 2010” by the House Ways and Means Committee, and in the “Clean Energy Technology Leadership Act of 2010” (S. 3738) by the Senate Finance Committee. BIO delivered their white paper Biobased Chemicals and Products: A New Driver of U.S. Economic Development and Green Jobs to Congress on December 1, 2010. The signatories project that growth in the biobased chemicals and plastics industry can create thousands more jobs. 12/2/2010


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