September 2010 News and Matters of Interest

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DOE: Renewable Fuels Infrastructure Investment of ARRA Grant Funds
Biofuels developers should be hunting down and chatting up grantees of ARRA's Energy Efficiency Community Block Grant  (EECBG) awards. In a letter dated September 29, 2010 and shared courtesy of the ethanol association Growth Energy, DOE's Deputy Assistant Secretary of Energy Efficiency Kathleen Hogan says: "DOE is encouraging grantees to consider allocating or increasing funding to renewable fuel infrastructure programs in those regions of the country most conducive to and in need of increased infrastructure investments ... if funds have not been obligated by grantees and are available, targeted investments to improve renewable fuel infrastructure are a valuable use of Recovery Act funds for meeting the strategic energy goals of the nation." 09/30/2010

CEC's Proposed RPS Guidebook Changes: TRECs and DG Energy
On-site conversion of biomass and/or waste to renewable energy is categorically excluded right now from being counted toward the percentage of renewable energy generated in the state, simply because it is distributed energy, or DG. This may soon change. The California Energy Commission recently circulated proposed changes to the Overall and Eligibility Guidebooks implementing the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS); see our Teru Talk article of September 9, 2010, exploring Guidebook focus on MSW. Also under consideration: removing the exclusion of renewable DG from the RPS, and allowance of Tradable Renewable Energy Credits, or TRECs. Many of the public comments to the CEC's proposed changes (all in, and now available on the CEC website) focused on these two issues. CEC staff indicate their own decisions will follow on the final TREC rulemaking of the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), yet clear inter-agency purview and interpretation conflicts have been identified in the public's comments. Look for the proposed Guidebook changes to come before the CEC for approval at the November 17, 2010 Business Meeting. 09/30/2010
USGS Nitrogen & Phosphorus Contaminant Hot Spots Report
Fast-growing Bioenergy crops often are also "hyper-accumulators", capable of extracting many contaminates out of soils and near-surface groundwater. Thermal conversion of Short Rotation Woody Crops (SRWC) such as willow (Salix spp.), poplar (Populus spp.), and Empress tree (Paulownia spp.) can clean up the soil and water while providing feedstock for energy, fuels and other commodities. Called "phyto-remediation", the technique is one method approved by USDA and EPA for water basins to strategically mitigate nitrogen pollution from confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs). The United States Geological Survey (USGS) National Water Quality Assessment Program (NWQAP) just released a very detailed national assessment for both nitrogen and phosphorus contaminated "hot spots" that could act as a road map for companies capable of integrating phytoremediation, biocrop production, and conversion. Click here for the USGS report. 09/30/2010
CARB Votes for 33% Renewables by 2020
The California Air Resources Board voted yesterday to approve the most aggressive Renewable Electricity Standard (RES) in the nation, now set at obtaining 33% of the state's energy from renewable sources by 2020. All forms of renewable energy meet the criteria, including renewable energy generated from waste conversion facilities certified as eligible under CEC RPS eligibility guidelines. The regulation is a coordination of ARB, California Public Utilities Commission, California Energy Commission and California Independent System Operator, following Governor’s Renewable Electricity Standard Executive Order, signed on September 15, 2009. The goal of 33 percent renewable electricity was also a major measure in the Scoping Plan, adopted by the Board in December 2008, toward fulfilling AB 32, the requirements of California’s climate change legislation. The regulation applies to investor owned utilities (IOUs) and publically owned utilities (POUs) including municipal utilities and creates a phased approach program for compliance. Click here for more. 09/24/2010
Clean Energy Small Business Act Introduced Today
Congresswoman Doris Matsui (CA-05), a Member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, introduced the Small Business Clean Energy Financing Act, legislation which will assist small businesses in the clean energy sector to access financing. The Congresswoman's office explains, "As you are aware, small businesses in the clean energy sector are experiencing greater difficulty in accessing financing than those firms servicing more traditional segments of our economy. Due to the larger degree of uncertainty related to clean energy development, financial institutions are less comfortable with offering credit for advanced energy investments. This legislation would call greater attention to the gap in capital accessibility by directing the SBA to establish a clean energy program within the 7(a) loan program. This legislation would not authorize and/or appropriate additional funding. SBA would be able to utilize its existing budget authority.  The clean energy financing program would only be available to U.S. clean energy companies." You can read more about the Bill and send your thoughts to Congresswoman Matsui through her website here, and read the proposed Bill language here. 09/23/2010
New International Energy Agency report: "Ending Energy Poverty"
Conversion Technologies can reduce global energy poverty and improve human health by providing clean electricity, heat and cooling alternatives; part of our global challenge is knowing where the need is most urgent. The International Energy Agency (IEA) has just launched a new report in co-operation with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO): “Ending Energy Poverty: How to make modern energy access universal”, a special excerpt of IEA World Energy Outlook (WEO) 2010. The report was presented on the sidelines of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDG) Summit in New York. An early excerpt available at: http://www.iea.org/index.asp; the full report will be published in November of this year. 09/21/2010
UK's RFA Hosts EU for Public Discussion of "Indirect Land Use Change"
When we consider "sustainable" certification for development of energy, fuels and co-products from waste, we get into all other issues related to sustainability. One of those topics, "Indirect Land Use Change" or iLUC, "indirectly" shines a brighter light on waste conversion, because the only land use change THIS causes is less land disposal. The United Kingdom's Renewable Fuels Agency (RFA) will host the European Commission’s Ignacio Vazquez, to provide stakeholders with insight into the view from Brussels regarding iLUC associated with production of sustainable biofuels. Speakers including the RFA’s chairman Prof Ed Gallagher, and the UK Department of Transport (DfT) Director of Environment & International Affairs Graham Pendlebury. Shell’s biofuels agronomy manager, Alex Nevill and Chris Malins of the ICCT have also agreed to speak at the event while consultants from Ecofys will present on their work on iLUC mitigation. The free event will take place on Thursday, 23 September at the Institute of Education at the University of London. If you are in London this week, attend, and report back to us! To see more details, click here. 09/20/2010
Edward Someus has started a LinkedIn discussion group to consider the broad topic of building no-emissions conversion facilities; the participation is growing rapidly and seems a solid venue for detailed and open considerations. Folks need to be signed into LinkedIn (free) to participate; click the Group Directory here and select Zero Emissions Carbon Refinery. 09/20/2010
Small Business Contracting Support Should Help Conversion Tech Start-ups

President Obama's Interagency Task Force on Federal Contracting Opportunities for Small Businesses put forward thirteen recommendations to: (1) Develop clearer and more comprehensive small business contracting policies; (2) Provide for a better workforce and hold agencies accountable for meeting small business goals; and (3) Leverage technology to enhance transparency, increase federal procurement accessibility for small businesses, and improve data quality. Read the Executive Summary here. 09/16/2010


Free Brookings Institute "Center for American Progress" Event, Washington DC 

The Brookings Institute's Center for American Progress, with the Council on Competitiveness and the National Association of Development Organizations is presenting a free admission, limited audience gathering state and local policymakers, members of the Obama administration, and leaders from the business, academic, and philanthropic sectors for a conversation about the significance of regional innovation clusters to the future of the American economy. The event is scheduled for September 23, 2010 in Washington DC. For more information, click here. 09/16/2010


Pyrolysis and BioOil Research at PNNL Gets a $3.1MM Boost

The Energy Department is awarding up to $3.1 million to the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory at Richland for biofuel research, working with UOP and Abermarle. Doug Elliott, who coordinates the Pyrolysis Network (PyNe) for the International Energy Agency's Task 34: Pyrolysis, indicates that there will be a formal PNNL press release regarding the DOE funding of this parallel Pyrolysis to biofuels effort in the near future. Watch here for more. 09/15/2010


New US Patents for ThalesNano H-Cube Continuous Flow Hydrogenation Method
When making biofuels, or for that matter, any number of foundation chemicals from our wastes and bi-products, the ability to effectively "hydrogenate", or add hydrogen to molecular structures, often becomes a costly, critical step. ThalesNano just announced USPTO approval of a series of patents for their well-tested H-Cube continuous flow hydrogenation system, which they say "enables safe, fast and cost-efficient hydrogenation with superior yields when compared to conventional methods." In April, the company just shipped their 500th bench-top H-Cube unit to a Chinese research facility. 09/14/2010


ISU Research Breakthrough: Biomass + High Temp and Pressure = $$

Iowa State University researchers have found how to use high temperature and pressure on biomass to produce high-value chemicals such as ethylene glycol and propylene glycol, without the use of strong acids, enzymes, catalysts or hydrogen gas. New patents have just been applied for. For more, click here. 09/10/2010


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