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AIM for Climate Support Grows (Ind. Report)
AIM for Climate
Date: 2021-10-06
In Washington, the Agriculture Innovation Mission for Climate (AIM for Climate) initiative to transform the global agricultural sector reports it has the support of 30 nations -- including Canada and the United States -- as well as the The UN Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the United Kingdom's COP26 Presidency, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. AIM for Climate will be officially launched at the 26th UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland, this November.

AIM for Climate is focused on dramatically increasing public and private investment for innovation in climate-smart agriculture and food systems.

The initiative was announced by U.S. President Joe Biden and UAE Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum at President Biden's Leaders Summit on Climate in April, this year.

AIM for Climate will focus on three main investment channels: scientific breakthroughs via basic agricultural research; public and private applied innovation and research for development; and the development and deployment of practical, actionable research and information. (Source: AIM, PR, 5 Oct., 2021) Contact: AIM for Climate, www.aimforclimate.org

More Low-Carbon Energy News USDA,  AIM for Climate,  Climate Change,  


Univ. of Iowa Ups Miscanthus Bioenergy Use (Ind. Report)
Convergen Energy, University of Iowa
Date: 2021-09-22
In the Hawkeye State, the University of Iowa reports its met its goal of a 40 pct renewable energy mix by 2020 on its way to going coal free by 2025, with the use miscanthus grass pellet fuel. The university presently sources 42 pct or more of its power from renewable sources and one boiler exclusively fed biomass fuels.

The University initially grew and dried miscanthus and combined it with coal which was burned for power production. But this year the University sent its harvested miscanthus crop to Green Bay, Wisconsin-based Convergen Energy which incorporates miscanthus and non-recyclable paper as ingredients in fuel pellets to be burned for power production. The pellets are EPA-designated as a non-waste alternative fuel with reduced emissions over traditional fuels.

Fast-growing giant miscanthus can grow in marginal soil and produces twice the biomass of switch grass, according the USDA. (Source: University of Iowa, Gazette, 21 Sept., 2021] Contact: University of Iowa, Convergen Energy, 920 432 3200, info@convergenenergy.com, www.convergenenergy.com

More Low-Carbon Energy News Miscanthus,  Biomass Pellet,  Convergen Energy,  


USDA Reports Renewables, Energy Efficiency Funding (Funding)
USDA, Rural Energy for America Program
Date: 2021-09-17
In Washington, The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports the issuance last week of $473,320 in renewable energy grant funding to 40 projects at farms and other rural businesses in Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia through the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP).

The funding was part of a total grant package of $464 million that include $129 million to 48 states and Puerto Rico, as well as distributed $335 million to build or improve 1,432 miles of power line through the Electric Loan Program.

The funding was distributed through the USDA Rural Development office. (Source: USDA, PR, Farm & Dairy, 15 Sept., 2021) Contact: USDA Rural Development, www.usda.gov, www.rd.usda.gov; Rural Energy for America Program, www.rd.usda.gov/programs-services/rural-energy-america-program-renewable-energy-systems-energy-efficiency

More Low-Carbon Energy News USDA,  Rural Energy for America Program,  Renewable Energy,  Energy Efficiency ,  


US Ethanol Exports Hit 52 Mn Gallons in July (Ind. Report)
USDA Foreign Agricultural Service
Date: 2021-09-10
The USDA Foreign Agricultural Service (USDA-FAS) reports in July the U.S. exported 51.64 million gallons of ethanol, down from both the 81.86 million gallons exported during the previous month and the 72.91 million gallons exported in July, 2020. Distillers grains (DDGs) exports stood at 1.06 million metric tons in July, 2021 when compared to July 2020.

The U.S. exported ethanol to more than 30 countries in July with Canada being the leading importer followed by South Korea and the Netherlands. Ethanol exports totaled $138.82 million in July, down from $189.11 million in June, but up from $129.47 million in July 2020.(Source: USDA Foreign Agricultural Service, Website, Sept., 2021) Contact: USDA Foreign Agricultural Service, www.fas.usda.gov

More Low-Carbon Energy News USDA Foreign Agricultural Service,  Ethanol,  


USDA Awards $26Mn in Biofuels Infrastructure Grants (Funding)
USDA, USDA Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program
Date: 2021-08-25
Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development Justin Maxson announced that USDA is investing $26 million to build infrastructure to expand the availability of higher-blend renewable biofuels, such as E15 and flex fuels such as E85, by 822 million gallons annually in 23 states. USDA is making the awards under the Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program. The announcement includes investments in 23 states including California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Texas and Wisconsin.

The announcement marks the one-year anniversary of the Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program. To date, USDA has invested $66.4 million for projects that are expected to increase biofuels sales by 1.2 billion gallons annually.

Through this program, USDA helps transportation fueling and biodiesel distribution facilities offer higher ethanol and biodiesel blends to customers by sharing the costs to install fuel pumps, equipment and infrastructure.

In California, AltAir Paramount LLC will use a $1.5 million grant to install a pump, safety infrastructure and piping at its fuel distribution facility. Funds will also be used to retrofit and upgrade a biodiesel storage tank. This project is expected to increase biodiesel sales by 135 million gallons per year.

In Ohio, United Dairy Farmers Inc. will use a $634,000 grant to replace 21 dispensers and four storage tanks at four fueling stations. The company also will install 13 dispensers at two more fueling stations in Ohio and Kentucky. This project is expected to increase ethanol sales by 4 million gallons per year.

In North Carolina, Zenith Energy Terminals Holdings LLC will use a $614,930 grant to install a truck rack biodiesel blending system at a fuel distribution facility. This project is expected to increase biodiesel sales by 24 million gallons per year.

The National Biodiesel Board notes the funding for 12 projects from California to Connecticut will support nearly 771 million gpy of biodiesel per year and reduce the nation's carbon emissions by more than 7.2 million metric tpy at a cost of less than $2.25 per ton. (Source: USDA, 20 Aug., 2021) Contact: Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program, www.rd.usda.gov/hbiip

More Low-Carbon Energy News Biofuel,  USDA Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program,  USDA,  


USDA Supports Kansas Biofuel Availability Projects (Funding)
USDA Rural Development
Date: 2021-08-23
In Topeka, the USDA has announced a $5.19 million Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program investment to build infrastructure and expand the availability of higher-blend renewable biofuels in Kansas through the following projects:

  • TA Operating LLC will replace 28 dispensers and two storage tanks at two fueling stations in Salina, Kan., and Gary, Ind. The $190,000 investment is expected to increase the compay's ethanol sales by over 1.1 million gpy;

  • Three G Energy Inc. will replace four dispensers at a fueling station in McPherson. The project is a $117,000 investment and is expected to increase the company's ethanol sales by over 894,000 gpy;

  • Magellan Pipeline Company LP will install a 25,000 barrel storage tank, piping, pumps, gauging, manways, tank insertion heater and insulation, as well as a small biodiesel mechanical building in Kansas City, Kan. The company will also install a 10,000 barrel storage tank with piping, pumps, gauging, tank insertion heater and insulation, as well as a small biodiesel mechanical building at a distribution facility in Brookline, Mo. The $4.8 million project is expected to increase biodiesel sales by over 223.6 million gpy. (Source: USDA, 21 Aug., 2021) Contact: USDA Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program, www.rd.usda.gov/hbiip

    More Low-Carbon Energy News Biofuel,  USDA Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program,  USDA,  


  • Biobased Products Major Jobs Creator, says USDA (Ind. Report)
    USDA Rural Development
    Date: 2021-08-13
    USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development Justin Maxson on July 29, the 10th anniversary of the creation of the USDA's Certified Biobased Product Label, unveiled an Economic Impact Analysis of the U.S. Biobased Products Industry .

    According to the report, in 2017 the biobased products industry: contributed $470 billion to the U.S. economy; directly and indirectly supported 4.6 million American jobs; and generated 2.79 jobs in other sectors of the economy for every biobased job. Additionally, biobased products displace approximately 9.4 million barrels of oil annually, and have the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by an estimated 12.7 million metric tons of CO2 equivalents per year.

    Established in 2011 underneath USDA's BioPreferred Program, the Certified Biobased Product Label is intended to spur economic development, create new jobs and provide new markets for farm commodities. By harnessing the powers of certification and the marketplace, the program helps purchasers and users identify products with biobased content and assures them of its accuracy.

    USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities, create jobs and improve the quality of life for millions of Americans in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community facilities such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural, tribal and high-poverty areas. (Source: USDA Rural Development, Website, , Aug., 2021) Contact: USDA Rural Development, Justin Maxson, Deputy Under Sec., USDA BioPreferred Program, www.biopreferred.gov/BioPreferred/faces/catalog/Catalog.xhtml

    More Low-Carbon Energy News Biofuel,  Biobased Products,  USDA Rural Development,  


    Climate-Smart Agriculture, Forestry Strategy (Report Attached)
    USDA
    Date: 2021-05-26
    In Washingto on January 27, 2021, Pres, Joe Biden signed Executive Order 14008, Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad, directing all Federal agencies to coordinate in a Government-wide approach to combat the climate crisis.

    In compliance with the Order and recognizing the role agriculture and forestry will play in climate change mitigation and resilience, the USDA submitted the agency's recommendations for a climate-smart agriculture and forestry (CSAF) strategy covering CSAF practices that decrease wildfire risk fueled by climate change, CSAF as a source sustainable bioproducts and fuels, and conservation actions that provide measurable carbon reductions and sequestration.

    The USDA report notes: "The adoption of on-farm biogas capture technologies and the production of biobased products can provide producers with new income streams while also reducing GHG emissions and improving water quality. Opportunities to generate income from these technologies include the generation of renewable electricity and the production of biobased products from manure, renewable natural gas (RNG) and liquefied natural gas (LNG). USDA should support producers as they enter these new markets and consider innovative finance mechanisms to provide upfront capital for biogas technologies and encourage the connection of multiple small operations to provide economical renewable energy production."

    Download the USDA Climate-Smart Agriculture, Forestry Strategy; 90 Day Progress Report HERE. (Source: USDA, May, 2021) Contact: USDA, www.usda.gov

    More Low-Carbon Energy News USDA,  Climate Change,  Carbon Emissions,  Bioenergy,  Biofuel,  


    USDA Forest Service Supports Wood Energy Projects (Funding)
    USDA Forest Service
    Date: 2021-05-17
    In Washington, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service is reporting $15 million in Wood Innovation grant funding support for 60 wood energy and related projects and technologies to help local governments and qualified non-profit organizations conserve working forests and leverage an additional $30 million in matching and partner funds bringing the totals well above $45 million.

    The Wood Innovations Grant program awards for fiscal year 2021 include $8.9 million for 44 projects across 23 states and Puerto Rico. Initiated in the 2018 Farm Bill, the grant program helps fund the costs of installing wood energy systems and innovative wood product facilities in rural communities nationwide.

    Awardees will use locally sourced wood to reduce energy costs and fossil fuel use while supporting sustainable forest management. (Source: USDA, Forest Service , PR, 15 May., 2021) Contact: USDA Community Forests Program, www.usda.gov

    More Low-Carbon Energy News USDA Forest Service,  Wood Energy,  


    FACA Recommends USDA Carbon Bank Pilot Projects (Ind. Report)
    Food and Agriculture Climate Alliance
    Date: 2021-05-05
    The Food and Agriculture Climate Alliance (FACA) has developed the following specific recommendations for how the U.S. USDA should approach a potential carbon bank -- a voluntary policy mechanism to help reduce barriers that producers and landowners face to participating in voluntary carbon markets and adopting climate-smart practices.

    FACA recommends that USDA lay the foundation for a potential carbon bank by first developing a series of pilot projects aimed at:

  • Scaling climate solutions -- Pilot projects should help increase adoption of climate-smart practices that reduce, directly capture or sequester greenhouse gas emissions, and/or increase climate resilience. Pilots should deploy "critical climate infrastructure" to increase the capacity of farmers, ranchers and forest owners to adapt to climate change, while ensuring food and economic security.

  • Removing barriers to adoption -- Pilot projects should encourage the widespread adoption of climate-smart practices and critical climate infrastructure by removing barriers and making it easier for producers and landowners to adopt these practices.

  • Improving carbon accounting standards -- USDA should develop consistent and credible criteria to account for the carbon sequestration and greenhouse gas reduction benefits of climate-smart agriculture and forestry projects and practices.

  • Ensuring equitable opportunities -- Pilot projects must be developed with and provide equitable opportunities for minority, socially disadvantaged and small-scale producers.

  • Information gained from the pilots will serve two critical purposes -- First, it will help USDA build a durable foundation for a carbon bank that gains long-term bipartisan congressional support. Second, it will help USDA build confidence in how to verify the climate benefits delivered by specific practices and management approaches.

    According to the FACA, this approach will lay essential building blocks for a voluntary carbon bank that creates opportunities for all producers and landowners to participate in rapidly developing voluntary private markets and leverages private investment in agricultural and forestry climate solutions. As USDA develops a carbon bank, it must protect all existing funding for farm bill conservation and insurance programs, and it must ensure that a USDA-led carbon bank doesn't undermine voluntary private markets.

    The FACA consists of 70 member organizations representing farmers, ranchers, forest owners, agribusinesses, manufacturers, the food and innovation sector, state governments, sportsmen, and environmental advocates. These groups have broken through historical barriers to develop and promote shared climate policy priorities across the entire agriculture, food and forestry value chains, according to its website. (Source: FACA, Website PR, 3 Apr., 2021) Contact: FACA, www.agclimatealliance.com

    More Low-Carbon Energy News Voluntary Carbon Market,  Carbon Emissions,  Climate Change,  Carbon Bank,  Carbon Storage,  CCS,  


  • Biofuels Included in USDA Infrastructure Investments (Funding)
    USDA
    Date: 2021-04-26
    In Washington, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports it is investing $487 million in critical infrastructure that will help communities in 45 states "build back better and stronger while prioritizing climate-smart solutions and environmental stewardship."

    USDA is making the investments under the Water and Environmental Program, the Rural Energy for America Program, the Electric Loan Program and the Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program.

  • Biofuel Infrastructure -- USDA is investing $18.4 million in 20 states through the Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program (HBIIP) to build infrastructure to help expand the availability of higher-blend renewable fuels by approximately 218 million gpy. This will give consumers more environmentally-friendly fuel choices when they fill-up at the pump.

    For example, in Georgia, RC Bells Inc. will use a $130,500 grant to replace four dispensers and a storage tank at a fueling station in Acworth. The infrastructure supported by this investment will expand the use of renewable fuels by approximately 420,000 gpy.

  • Other investments include: Rural Water and Wastewater Infrastructure -- $374 million; Renewable Energy in Rural Communities -- $78 million; and Rural Electric Infrastructure Upgrades -- $17.4 million.

    USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to support infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community facilities such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural, Tribal and high-poverty areas. (Source: USDA Rural Development , PR 22 Apr., 2021) Contact: USDA Rural Development www.usda.gov, www.rd.usda.gov

    More Low-Carbon Energy News USDA,  HBIIP,  Biofuel,  


  • Renewables Included in USDA Infrastructure Investments (Funding)
    USDA
    Date: 2021-04-26
    In Washington, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports it is investing $487 million in critical infrastructure that will help communities in 45 states "build back better and stronger while prioritizing climate-smart solutions and environmental stewardship." USDA is making the investments under the Water and Environmental Program, the Rural Energy for America Program, the Electric Loan Program and the Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program.

  • Renewable Energy in Rural Communities -- USDA is investing $78 million in renewable energy infrastructure in 30 states through the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). This program helps agricultural producers and rural small businesses purchase and install renewable energy systems and make energy efficiency improvements. Projects financed under this program can help to reduce the amount of greenhouse gas pollution that affects our climate.

    For example, in Iowa, Textile Brewery LLC will use a $20,000 grant to purchase and install a 38-KW solar array. This project will save the company nearly $20,000 in electricity costs and will replace 50 pct of the electricity it uses each year.

  • Other investments include: Rural Water and Wastewater Infrastructure -- $374 million; Rural Electric Infrastructure Upgrades -- $17.4 million; Biofuel Infrastructure -- $18.4 million.

    USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to support infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community facilities such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural, Tribal and high-poverty areas. (Source: USDA Rural Development , PR 22 Apr., 2021) Contact: USDA Rural Development www.usda.gov, www.rd.usda.gov; Rural Energy for America Program, www.rd.usda.gov/programs-services/rural-energy-america-program-renewable-energy-systems-energy-efficiency

    More Low-Carbon Energy News Rural Energy for America Program ,  USDA,  HBIIP,  Renewable Energy,  


  • ISU Anaerobic Digestion, RNG R&D Funded (R&D, Funding)
    Roeslein Alternative Energy,Iowa State University
    Date: 2021-04-21
    In Ames, Iowa State University (ISU) reports it and Penn State University and Roeslein Alternative Energy have received a five-year, $10 million grant from the USDA National Institute for Food and Agriculture for the Consortium for the Cultivating Human and Natural Regenerative Enterprise anaerobic digestion, renewable natural gas (RNG) project.

    Iowa State researchers are also looking to expand the anaerobic digestion feedstock mix to add flexibility and environmental benefits, reduce costs, simplify operations and so that more farmers could take advantage of the technology to make money and improve the environment. (Source: Iowa State University, PR, Website, Iowa Farmer, 17 April, 2021) Contact: Iowa State University, Bioeconomy Institute, Lisa Schulte Moore, Project Dir., 515-294-3816, www.biorenew.iastate.edu; Roeslein Alternative Energy, (314) 729-0055, www.roesleinalternativeenergy.com

    More Low-Carbon Energy News Roeslein Alternative Energy,  RNG,  Anaerobic DIgestion,  Iowa State University,  


    Bolivia Planning Soybean Biodiesel Production (Int'l. Report)
    Bolivia
    Date: 2021-04-16
    In La Paz, the Government of Bolivia is reporting plans to construct a 300 million lpy biodiesel production facility that will open a new market for the country's soybean producers and reduce diesel and gasoline imports which stood at 2 billion lpy at a cost of $1.4 billion in 2019.

    The planned $270 million biodiesel plant is slated for Santa Cruz and is expected to be fully operational by 2024. An international competition for the construction of the plant will be announced in the second half of 2021.

    The government plans to establish a 5 pct blend mandate for biodiesel which could require up to 505,000 MT of soybeans, or roughly 95,000 MT of soy crude oil, which would produce 105 million liters of biodiesel. Bolivian soybean growers produce roughly 3 million metric tpy. (Source: USDA, Global Agricultural Information Network, 15 Mar., 2021)

    More Low-Carbon Energy News Biodiesel,  Soybean,  


    USDA Touts Carbon Sequestration Easements (Ind. Report)
    USDA
    Date: 2021-04-07
    In Washington, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service reports that over the past 28 years it has protected more than 5 million acres of wetlands, grasslands, and prime farmland -- an area the size of New Jersey -- in perpetuity through the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP). ACEP helps landowners, land trusts, and other entities protect, restore, and enhance wetlands, grasslands, and working farms and ranches through conservation easements

    Wetland Easements -- totaling over 2.8 million acres nationwide -- improve water quality by filtering sediments and chemicals, reducing flooding, recharging groundwater, protecting biological diversity while Agricultural Land Easements protect productive working lands being converted to non-agricultural uses. Agricultural land easements total more than 1.9 million acres.

    Working with private landowners to protect, preserve and restore wetlands, grasslands, forests and farmlands is integral to USDA's efforts to build resiliency and reduce the impacts of climate change across the nation. Easements allow landowners to partner with NRCS to implement voluntary climate-smart management practices that maximize the amount of carbon sequestered from the atmosphere and stored in soils or plant biomass across these landscapes.

    The Biden Administration USDA is engaged in a "whole-of-government effort to combat the climate crisis and conserve and protect our nation's lands, biodiversity and natural resources including our soil, air and water." (Source: USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, PR, 3 April, 2021) Contact: USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, Terry Cosby, Acting Chief, 202-690-7246, www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/site/national/home

    More Low-Carbon Energy News USDA,  Carbon Sequestration,  


    Rural Maine Solar Projects Score $8Mn USDA Funding (Funding)
    ASP2 Rural
    Date: 2021-03-22
    In the Pine Tree State, the Ridgefield Press is reporting Maine-based ASP2 Rural LLC will receive nearly $8 million in federal loans to help develop three solar power projects in rural parts of the state. The company is slated to receive funding through the USDA Electric Infrastructure Loan and Loan Guarantee Program.

    The threes projects include roughly 1,000 KW projects in the towns of Caribou and Fairfield and a 4,000 KW project in Skowhegan. (Source: Ridgfield Press, 21 Mar., 2021) Contact: ASP2 Rural, www. opencorporates.com/companies/us_me/20200694DC; USDA Electric Infrastructure Loan and Loan Guarantee Program, www.rd.usda.gov/factsheet/electric-infrastructure-loan-loan-guarantee-program

    More Low-Carbon Energy News Solar,  


    RFA to Assist Retailers with HBIIP (Opinions, Editorials & Asides)
    USDA, HBIIP
    Date: 2021-02-05
    "When the USDA Rural Development office announced the reopening of its Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program (HBIIP) funding opportunity and gave retailers one more shot at a grant award, it set a tight 30-day application period that ended January 19.

    "In the first HBIIP funding opportunity, the Renewable Fuels Association was able to assist applicants secure funding in 22 states which will result in over $50 million in new ethanol infrastructure and bring almost 1,200 new blender dispensers to the marketplace. RFA was front-and-center once again on this second round, working up to the final hour to assist as many retailers as we could. In the end, we helped 11 companies in seven states submit applications for 47 locations that could result in 233 new higher blend dispensers where consumers can enjoy the benefits of higher ethanol blends.

    "According to the USDA, HBIIP was created to increase significantly the sales and use of higher blends of ethanol and biodiesel by expanding the infrastructure for renewable fuels. The program is also intended to encourage a more comprehensive approach to market higher blends by sharing the costs related to building out biofuel-related infrastructure.

    "For retailers, HBIIP can provide the extra support needed to bring higher blends into their marketplace. The cost-share grants provide up to 50 percent of total eligible project costs, not to exceed $3 million per applicant. The program will share the costs related to the upgrading of fuel dispensers (gas and diesel pumps), associated ancillary equipment, and other infrastructure necessary for a location to ensure the environmentally safe availability of fuel containing ethanol blends greater than 10 percent such as E15 and E85 or fuel containing biodiesel blends greater than 5 percent.

    "We're looking forward to seeing this new round of grants announced and fulfilled, so we can help retailers move more low-carbon ethanol into fuel tanks around the country. For those retailers that might have missed out on this funding opportunity, there are some states and individual renewable fuel advocates that offer funding throughout the year. Please reach out to RFA for assistance in navigating these opportunities." (Source: Renewable Fuels Association , 3 Feb. 2021) Contact: Renewable Fuels Association, Cassie Mullen, Dir. Market Development, www.ethanolrfa.org

    More Low-Carbon Energy News USDA,  HBIIP,  Renewable Fuels Association,  Ethanol Blend,  


    Global Grasslands Contribute to Climate Warming (Study Attached)
    Climate Change,International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis
    Date: 2021-01-08
    Grasslands play a critical role in carbon sequestration. But a recent study -- Climate Warming from Managed Grasslands Cancels Cooling Effect of Carbon Sinks in Sparsely Grazed and Natural Grasslands -- found human activity is causing grasslands to become a source of greenhouse gas emissions.

    According to the USDA Climate Change Resource Center, grasslands cover approximately 25 pct of the earth's surface, contain nearly 12 pct of the land-based carbon stocks and are essential in supporting food and livestock production. Yet, citing the expansion of pasture lands and higher livestock numbers, researchers warn current management of grasslands is accelerating climate change.

    Until recently, natural and managed grasslands emitted and removed an equal amount of greenhouse gases, canceling each other out. Researchers from the Austria-based International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) investigated how these fluctuations in greenhouse gases have contributed to climate change in both managed pastures and natural grasslands, between the years of 1750 and 2012. The IIASA researchers found that the ability for natural and sparsely grazed grasslands to absorb more carbon has intensified while grasslands heavily managed by humans became a source of greenhouse gases, emitting similar quantities of greenhouse gases to that of croplands.

    While nearly half of all temperate grasslands and 16 pct of tropical grasslands have been transformed for agricultural or industrial use and conserving grasslands to preserve soil health and reduce emissions from managed grasslands could deliver a significant reduction in global greenhouse gas emissions, according to the study.

    Download the Climate Warming from Managed Grasslands Cancels Cooling Effect of Carbon Sinks in Sparsely Grazed and Natural Grasslands report HERE. (Source: Nature Communications, EcoWatch, 6 Jan., 2020) Contact: USDA Climate Change Resource Center, www.fs.usda.gov/ccrc; International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, www.iiasa.ac.at

    More Low-Carbon Energy News Carbon Emissions,  Climate Change,  Carbon Sink,  


    TCPL Seeks Smart Grid Expansion Loan Funding (Ind. Report)
    Traverse City Light & Power
    Date: 2021-01-04
    In Michigan, the Traverse City Light & Power (TCLP) utility is reporting plans to seek an $18 million loan from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to build out the rest of its fiber optic network and upgrade a city "smart grid" for better power outage management and energy efficiency.

    The USDA offers multiple financing programs to assist communities with sustainability and growth efforts, including utilities expansion. TCLP has already successfully worked with USDA in recent months, becoming the first municipal utility in the country to receive a USDA loan to promote energy efficiency and renewable energy. If approved, the USDA loan will enable TCLP to drawn down funds as the project proceeds rather than assume the entire debt upfront. (Source: TCLP, PR, Website, The Ticker, 4 Jan., 2020) Contact: Traverse City Light & Power, Tim Arends, 231-922-4940, www.tclp.org

    More Low-Carbon Energy News Traverse City Light & Power,  Smart Grid,  Energy Efficiency,  


    USDA Reopens HBIIP Biofuel Grant Funding (Funding)
    USDA
    Date: 2020-12-18
    Further to our 19th May coverage, he United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is reporting a second round of grants through the Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Programme (HBIIP) for infrastructure projects. The HBIIP grants are intended to facilitate increased sales of higher biofuel blends to new and returning applicants.

    The first round of HBIIP grants was announced in May 2020 to expand the sale and use of ethanol and biodiesel fuels and share the costs related to and/or offering sales incentives for the installation of fueling equipment. (Source: USDA, PR, 18 Dec., 2020) Contact: USDA Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program,www.rd.usda.gov/hbiip Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Programme

    More Low-Carbon Energy News USDA,  HBIIP,  


    More Refiners Seeking RFS Biofuel Hardship Waivers (Ind. Report)
    EPA, RFS
    Date: 2020-11-20
    In Washington, the EPA is reporting over the past 30 days, US refiners added five requests for "hardship waiver" exemptions of 2020 renewable fuel blending requirements and one to exempt 2019 requirements . There are nine pending applications to waive Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) requirements for 2020 and 32 pending applications to waive 2019 requirements.

    EPA administrator Andrew Wheeler stated that the agency would not act on waiver requests for compliance years since 2019 until ongoing court challenges to prior decisions are settled.

    As previously noted, "hardship waivers" were intended for refineries producing 75,000 bpd or less and suffered "disproportionate economic hardship" from the costs of RFS compliance. The waiver frees the refineries from an obligation to provide the EPA with biofuels credits proving compliance. Under the now vanquished administrator Greg Pruitt's direction, the EPA handed out 54 exemptions over two years and not a single request for an exemption was denied.

    On Sept 18 we reported Trump had suggested he'd provide $300 million to oil refiners and that those funds would come out of the USDA Commodity Credit Corp. (CCC) which is intended to provide farmers with Market Facilitation Program (MFP) payments. Trump later denied suggesting cash payments to refineries whose waiver applications had been rejected. (Source: EPA, Various Media, 19 Nov., 2020)

    More Low-Carbon Energy News EPA,  Renewable Fuel Standard,  ,  Hardship Waiver,  Biofuel Blending,  


    Ceres Solutions, CountryMark Score E15 Pump Grant (Funding)
    Ceres Solutions,CountryMark
    Date: 2020-11-18
    Ceres Solutions and CountryMark are reporting receipt of $55,562 in USDA grant funding for the installation of E15 and E85 biofuel blend pumps at the Ceres Solutions owned CountryMark branded filling station in Rensselaer, New York. The new pumps are expected to be in service early in December.

    The grant was awarded through the USDA Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program (HBIIP), which offers $22 million in grants with the expectation to increase national ethanol demand by roughly 150 million gpy. (Source: Cerea Solutions, NewsBug, 16 Nov., 2020) Contact: Ceres Solutions, Jeff Troika, Pres., CEO, www.ceres.coop; USDA Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program, www.rd.usda.gov/hbiip

    More Low-Carbon Energy News HBIIP,  E15,  E85,  Biofuel Blend,  


    WASDE Holds on Soybean Oil Biodiesel Forecast (Ind. Report)
    USDA
    Date: 2020-11-13
    In its just released Nov. 10th World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE), the USDA lowered its 2020-21 projections for soybean oil for use in biodisel production at 4.17 billion bushels in 2020-21, down 89 million bushels on lower yields reported in Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Ohio and Nebraska. With reduced production, soybean ending stocks are projected at 190 million bushels, down 100 million from last month.

    Prepared and released by the World Agricultural Outlook Board (WAOB) , the monthly WASDE provides annual forecasts for U.S. and world wheat, rice, coarse grains, oilseeds, cotton, sugar, meat, poultry, eggs, and milk. The WAOB chairs the Interagency Commodity Estimates Committees (ICECs), which include analysts from key USDA agencies who compile and interpret information from USDA and other domestic and foreign sources to produce the report. (Source: USDA, Nov., 2020) Contact: USDA, World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates , www.usda.gov/oce/commodity/wasde

    More Low-Carbon Energy News Soybean Oil,  Biodiesel,  


    Growth Energy Comments on Biofuel Production (Opinions & Asides)
    Growth Energy, USDA
    Date: 2020-11-02
    Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor recently submitted the following comments to the USDA's Agriculture Innovation Agenda regarding readily available technologies that enable our domestic agriculture sector to increase production while reducing its environmental footprint.

    In her comments, Skor argued that biofuels like ethanol play a critical role in achieving the USDA's goals and called for building on current investments to expand renewable fuels role in the nation's transportation infrastructure. "Supporting programs like the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and initiatives to expand access to higher biofuel blends like E15, E30, and E85 can build on biofuels' environmental progress and expand the market for American agriculture,", said Skor. "USDA's Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program (HBIIP) is a prime example how the agency can support the productivity of our farmers, while decreasing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and encouraging further adoption of sustainable farming practices across our agriculture sector."

    Skor also notes the biofuels industry's continued advancements to capture CO2 and the plant-based fuel's ability to replace harmful toxics and improve air quality. "We have a better option in ethanol, the single most affordable and abundant alternative to petroleum-based fuel additives that threaten air quality in communities across the globe. To expand on these benefits, USDA should continue to promote programs that boost biofuels access and use throughout the country.

    As the department works to streamline programs and seek opportunities to improve sustainable farming across the country, Skor encouraged USDA to continue exploring the strong link between U.S. agriculture and our biofuels industry, and promote the increased use of biofuels so our nation's farmers can continue to rely on these markets as we work to reduce the environmental impact of the agriculture sector.

    The organizations have asked the United States District Court for the District of Columbia to order the following: EPA should not withhold the name of the company submitting an application for an SRE nor the name and location of the refinery for which relief is requested; EPA should immediately produce the information that was unlawfully withheld for Renewable Fuel Standard compliance years 2015, 2016, and 2017, and; EPA should not withhold any of the five data elements identified in the proposed Renewables Enhancement and Growth Support (REGS) rule (Source: Growth Energy, Website PR , 28 Oct., 2020) Contact: Growth Energy, Emily Skor, (202) 545-4000, www.growthenergy.org

    More Low-Carbon Energy News Growth Energy,  USDA,  RFS,  Biofuel,  


    Growth Energy Touts Biofuels' Advantage to Meet Ag Innovation Goals (Opinions, Editorials & Asides)
    Growth Energy, USDA
    Date: 2020-10-30
    In Washington, Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor submitted comments to the USDA as part of the agency's Agriculture Innovation Agenda, regarding readily available technologies that enable the U.S. domestic agriculture sector to increase biofuel production while reducing its environmental footprint.

    In her comments, Skor argued that biofuels play a critical role in achieving the department's goals and called for building on current investments to expand renewables fuels' role in the nation's transportation infrastructure.

    "Supporting programs like the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and initiatives to expand access to higher biofuel blends can build on biofuels' environmental progress and expand the market for American agriculture. USDA's Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program (HBIIP) is a prime example of how the agency can support the productivity of our farmers while decreasing greenhouse gas emissions and encouraging further adoption of sustainable farming practices across our agriculture sector," Skor noted.

    Growth Energy is the world's largest association of biofuel producers representing 89 U.S. plants that produce more than 7.5 billion gpy of renewable fuel, 96 businesses associated with the production process, and tens of thousands of biofuel supporters across the country, according to its website.

    Download Skorr's full comments HERE. (Source: Growth Energy, Website PR, 28 Oct., 2020) Contact: Growth Energy, Emily Skor, CEO, (202) 545-4000, www.growthenergy.org

    More Low-Carbon Energy News Growth Energy,  Biofuel,  USDA,  RFS,  Biofuel Blends,  HBIIP,  


    Growth Energy Lauds USDA HBIIP Grants Announcement (Ind. Report)
    Growth Energy
    Date: 2020-10-19
    Growth Energy welcomed the USDA's announcement of grants under the Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Programme (HBIIP). Growth Energy's network of both large and small retail partners secured nearly $30 million in grants for over 290 sites selling more than 400 million gpy of petroleum .

    "This announcement offers a welcome ray of hope during an otherwise rough year for America's farmers, retailers and biofuel producers. It represents a major milestone in our efforts to ensure more Americans can access cleaner and more affordable ethanol-blended fuel. We're grateful to Secretary Perdue, USDA, and our congressional champions who are working tirelessly to make higher ethanol blends a success. We're especially proud of Growth Energy's incredible network of retail partners, who bring Unleaded88 (E15) to consumers across the nation and are paving the way for higher blends of ethanol," Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor said. (Source: Growth Energy, PR, Oct., 2020)

    More Low-Carbon Energy News E15 news,  Growth Energy news,  Ethanol news,  Ethanol Blend news,  HBIIP news,  


    USDA Announces Biofuel Infrastructure Grant Funding (Funding)
    USDA
    Date: 2020-10-16
    In Washington, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced at least $22 million in grant funding through the Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program (HBIIP) to increase demand for American ethanol and biodiesel biofuel blends. The agency noted the possibility of additional funding from a total $100 million pool, with the $22 million projected to increase demand by more than 150 million gallons of ethanol.

    HBIIP helps fuel and biodiesel distribution centers convert to higher ethanol and biodiesel blends through equipment and infrastructure improvements cost sharing. Gas stations, fleet facilities, fuel terminal operations and other industry players are eligible to apply for HBIIP grant funds.

    Download Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program details HERE. (Source: USDA, Oct., 2020) Contact: USDA, www.rd.usda.gov

    More Low-Carbon Energy News Biofuel Blend,  Ethanol,  USDA,  Biofiesel,  


    USDA Grants Promote Higher Ethanol Blends (Ind. Report)
    USDA Rural Development
    Date: 2020-10-12
    On Thursday last, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced the USDA has invested $22 million out of the up to $100 million in grants available to increase American ethanol and biodiesel sales.

    These funds were made available through the Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program (HBIIP) to recipients in 14 states. The initial $22 million in HBIIP investments are projected to increase ethanol demand by nearly 150 million gpy.

    HBIIP helps transportation fueling and biodiesel distribution facilities convert to higher ethanol and biodiesel blends by sharing the costs related to the installation of fuel pumps, related equipment and infrastructure. Eligible applicants are vehicle fueling facilities, including, but not limited to, local fueling stations/locations, convenience stores, hypermarket fueling stations, fleet facilities, fuel terminal operations, midstream partners and/or distribution facilities. Higher biofuel blends are fuels containing ethanol greater than 10 pct by volume and/or fuels containing biodiesel blends greater than 5 pct by volume.

    Download HBIIP program details HERE. (Source: USDA, 8 Oct., 2020) Contact: USDA Rural Dev., www.rd.usda.gov

    More Low-Carbon Energy News USDA news,  Ethanol Blend news,  Biofuel Blend news,  


    ISU Researchers Transforming Pennycress Into Commercial Crop (R&D)
    Illinois State University
    Date: 2020-10-02
    Although pennycress (Thlaspi arvense) is widely considered a weed, Illinois State University researchers are working to genetically modify pennycress into a commercially grown cover crop that could be processed into biofuel, jet fuel, animal feed, and other high-value products. The mult-istate, multi-institutional 5-year effort is funded by a $10 million USDA grant and $13 million from the US DOE.

    Domesticated, commercially grown pennycress could be grown as a cold-resistant, high-yield oilseed crop across the central United States, where nearly 80 million acres of land devoted to corn and soybeans sit dormant in the winter months.

    This research has been ongoing for 10 years with the latest grant awarded in 2020. Illinois State researchers are currently working under the umbrella of the Integrated Pennycress Research Enabling Farm and Energy Resilience (IPREFER) program with colleagues at Western Illinois University, the University of Minnesota, The Ohio State University, the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, and the St. Louis-based crop development company CoverCress Inc.

    Download Integrated Pennycress Research Enabling Farm and Energy Resilience (IPREFER) program details HERE (Source: Illinois State University, 1 Oct., 2020) Contact: Illinois State Univ., Professor John Sedbrook, (309) 438-3374, (309) 438-3722 -- fax, jcsedbr@ilstu.edu, www.illinoisstate.edu

    More Low-Carbon Energy News Pennycress,  Biofuel,  


    USDA Supports Rural Kansas Energy Efficiency Projects (Ind. Report)
    USDA Rural Development
    Date: 2020-09-28
    Reporting from Topeka, USDA Rural Development State Director for Kansas, Lynne Hinrichsen, has announced that USDA is investing $558,552 to make energy efficiency improvements and reduce energy costs for farmers, ag producers and rural-based businesses and institutions in rural Kansas.

    USDA is investing in 17 rural small businesses and agricultural producers through the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) Renewable Energy Systems & Energy Efficiency Improvement Grants and Guaranteed Loans. Investments can used for renewable energy systems such as wind, solar, biomass, geothermal and hydropower. REAP funding can also be used for energy audits and to make energy efficiency improvements to heating, ventilation and cooling systems, insulation, lighting and refrigeration.

    USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities and create jobs in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community facilities such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural areas. (Source: USDA Rural Development, Salina Post, 26 Sept., 2020) Contact: USDA Rural Development, www.rd.usda.gov/programs-services/rural-energy-america-program-renewable-energy-systems-energy-efficiency/mn, www.rd.usda.gov/ks

    More Low-Carbon Energy News USDA Rural Development,  Renewable Energy,  Energy Efficiency,  


    Could Trump Use USDA Funds for RFS Waiver Payoffs? (Ind. Report)
    RFS Waivers
    Date: 2020-09-18
    Further to our 16 Sept. coverage, the Trump EPA denied 54 of the pending 99 small refinery exemption (SRE) requests from oil refiners to blend less ethanol under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). However, EPA still hasn't acted on 44 waivers, 14 of which are also gap-year waivers and 31 of which are for the 2019 and 2020 blending requirements.

    In a blatant move to win support and placate the biofuels and refinery interests, Trump has suggested he'd provide $300 million to oil refiners and that those funds would come out of the USDA Commodity Credit Corp. (CCC) which is intended to provide farmers with Market Facilitation Program (MFP) payments.

    Commenting on Trump's possible cash payments to refiners scheme, former Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said he "strongly expects that no action will be taken on the remaining waivers until after the election." Vilsack was critical of the reports that the President indicated that he would offer $300 million through the CCC fund in lieu of the waiver approvals, as the CCC is designed specifically to be used by USDA for the purpose of helping farmers.

    As previously noted, "hardship waivers" were intended for refineries producing 75,000 bpd or less and suffered "disproportionate economic hardship" from the costs of RFS compliance. The waiver frees the refineries from an obligation to provide the EPA with biofuels credits proving compliance. (Source: EPA, Feedstuffs, 17 Sept., 2020)

    More Low-Carbon Energy News Trump,  RFS,  Refinery Waivers,  Biofuel Blend,  Tom Vilsack ,  


    NCGA Helps Build Ethanol Blend Pumps, Infrastructure (Ind. Report)
    National Corn Growers Association
    Date: 2020-09-04
    In the Show Me State, the Chesterfield-headquartered National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) reports it is working with Austin, Texas-based Wayne Fueling Systems to produce and sell fuel pumps certified to deliver fuel containing up to 25 pct ethanol.

    As previously reported, NCGA also recently partnered with the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), assisting fuel retailers in applying for the USDA Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program (HBIIP). The $100 million program included $86 million to expand the availability of higher blends of ethanol, like E15 and E85.

    NCGA support for this program helped deliver program awareness and technical assistance for applications representing more than 1,100 fuel dispensers across 21 states and 222 locations dispensing more than 250 million gallons of gasoline annually. (Source: NCGA, Sept., 2020) Contact: NCGA, PR, Wayne Fueling Systems, (512) 388-8311, www.wayne.com; National Corn Growers Assoc., Mark Palmer, Renewable Fuels Dir., (636) 733-9004, (636) 733-9005-fax, corninfo@ncga.com, www.ncga.com

    More Low-Carbon Energy News National Corn Growers Association,  Ethanol Blend,  E15,  E85 ,  


    Adv. Biofuel Show Promise for Replacing Fossil Fuels (Ind. Report)
    Advanced Biofuel
    Date: 2020-08-31
    A new study led by Colorado State University is predicting significant climate benefits stemming from the use of advanced biofuel technologies. Accounting for all of the carbon flows in biofuel systems and comparing them to those in grasslands and forests, the team found clear strategies for biofuels to have a net carbon benefit.

    John Field, research scientist at the Natural Resource Ecology Lab at CSU, said it has been a challenge for the biofuel industry to demonstrate commercial viability for cellulosic biofuels created from switchgrass and other non-edible plants.

    The research team used modeling to simulate switchgrass cultivation, cellulosic biofuel production and carbon capture and storage (CCS), tracking ecosystem and carbon flows. Scientists then compared this modeling to alternative ways to store carbon on the land, including growing forest or grassland.

    CCS technology is being used by at least one facility in Illinois that is processing corn to ethanol as a conventional biofuel to create ethanol, but these systems are not yet widespread. As part of the study, researchers created models to simulate what this would look like at a cellulosic biofuel refinery. "What we found is that around half of the carbon in the switchgrass that comes into the refinery becomes a byproduct that would be available for carbon capture and storage. The resulting byproduct streams of high-purity CO2 would not require much separation or clean-up before being stored underground," the study noted.

    The research team analyzed three contrasting U.S. case studies and found that on land where farmers or land managers were transitioning out of growing crops or maintaining pastures for grazing, cultivating switchgrass for cellulosic ethanol production had a per-hectare mitigation potential comparable to reforestation and several-fold greater than grassland restoration.

    Using switchgrass can be particularly helpful in parts of the country where planting more trees is not an option.

    This research was partially funded by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, the US DOE via the Center for Bioenergy Innovation, and the Sao Paulo Research Foundation in Brazil.

    The study illustrates how deliberate land use choices support the climate performance of present-day cellulosic ethanol technology and how technological advancements and CCS addition could produce several times the climate mitigation potential of competing land-based biological mitigation schemes. These results affirm the climate mitigation logic of biofuels, consistent with their prominent role in many climate stabilization scenarios, the study concludes. (Source: Colorado State University, Green Car Congress, Aug., 2020) Contact: Colorado State University, Natural Resource Ecology Lab, John Field, (970) 491-1604, John.L.Field@colostate.edu, www.nrel.colostate.edu

    More Low-Carbon Energy News Advanced Biofuel,  Cellulosic Biofuel,  Switchgrass,  


    USDA Grants Support Hudson Valley Renewables Projects (Funding)
    USDA Rural Development
    Date: 2020-08-31
    The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports it is investing more than $7.4 million in loan and grant funding to support renewable energy and energy efficiency projects in rural New York State. Projects in the Hudson Valley include: Aeon Holdings, LLC in Catskill has been awarded a Rural Development investment of $15,943 in grant funding to be used for the purchase and installation of a 37.6-kW Solar array. Aeon Holdings is a REHC that leases the property to Hearthstone Care which provides social adult daycare in Catskill. The project will realize more than $5,000 per year in savings and will replace a 40,783 kWh per year

    AIREAGO Corp. is a construction technology small business that designs, builds, and improves furniture, tools, and structures in Bloomingburg. The investment of $20,000 in grant funding will be used to purchase and install a 46.97 KW solar energy system.

    Ellenville's 209 Storage Vault, Inc. is receiving $15,011 in grant funding that will be used to purchase and install a 24-kW solar energy array. 209 Storage Vault is a self-storage facility. This project will realize $3,668 per year in savings and will replace 26,198 kWh per year.

    USDA Rural Development loans and grants support infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community facilities such as schools, public safety, and others. (Source: USDA Rural Development, Mid-Hudson News, 30 Aug., 2020) Contact: USDA Rural Development, www.rd.usda.gov

    More Low-Carbon Energy News USDA Rural Development,  Renewable Energy,  


    USDA Grants Help Maine Businesses Cut Energy Costs (Funding)
    USDA Rural Energy for America Progam
    Date: 2020-08-28
    Reporting from Augusta, the USDA Rural Energy for America Progam is providing nearly $1 million in grant funding to support a total of 33 Maine rural businesses, farms, and organizations improve energy efficiency, lower energy consumption and cut operating costs.

    The individual grants range from roughly $8,000 to $100,000 with an average in the $35,000 range. (Source: USDA, Rural Energy for America Progam, WABI, 27 Aug., 2020) Contact: USDA, Rural Energy for America Progam, www.rd.usda.gov/programs-services/rural-energy-america-program-renewable-energy-systems-energy-efficiency

    More Low-Carbon Energy News USDA Rural Energy for America Progam,  


    USDA Invests in Puerto Rican Renewables, Efficiency (Ind. Report)
    USDA
    Date: 2020-08-26
    The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports it is investing $631,993 on the Rural Energy for America Program in Rural Puerto Rico, to increase energy resilience and decrease the demand for energy through energy efficiency. The following are among the 16 participants that received funding to develop renewable energy projects and to perform energy audits for agri-businesses:
  • Ana G. Mendez University System -- $59,267 to conduct approximately 25 energy audits for agri-business. These audits will provide the analysis to make energy efficiency improvements and/or installations of renewable energy systems.

  • Supermercados Selectos Mana, in San Sebastian -- $287,500, for the purchase and installation of a 743 kW solar energy system expected to yield $230,580 in annual savings.

  • Vaqueria Maria in Morovis -- $28,750 for the purchase and installation of a 44.84 kW solar energy system expected to deliver $16,115 in annual energy cost savings. (Source: USDA, Website, NewsIsMyBusiness, 25 Aug., 2020) Contact: USDA, Rural Energy for America Program, www.rd.usda.gov/programs-services/rural-energy-america-program-renewable-energy-systems-energy-efficiency

    More Low-Carbon Energy News USDA,  Renewable Energy,  Energy Efficiency,  Rural Energy for America Program ,  


  • ISU Researchers See Anaerobic Digestion, RNG Potential (Ind. Report)
    Iowa State University
    Date: 2020-08-26
    Iowa State University researchers are studying ways to increase farmer interest in and profits from anaerobic digestion (AD) and renewable natural gas (RNG) made from manure and other low-value biomass. The research team is aiming to help resolve technical, economic and social issues believed to be hindering the growth of AD technology in the US.

    The researchers see abundant possibilities for RNG in Iowa and beyond to address greenhouse gas emissions and to diversify farm income and reduce pollution in the state's waterways.

    The development of biofuels is a major recommendation in Iowa's 2016 energy plan and the state economic development authority's 2018 Biomass Conversion Action Plan which has been funding research into various anaerobic digestion techniques.

    According to a 2013 National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) inventory, Iowa produces more manure than any other state but the sources are not sufficiently concentrated to make digestion feasible or economically profitable.

    Researchers hope to enhance the efficiency, reduce the costs and create ancillary income streams that will persuade farmers in Iowa and beyond to add AD to their operations. To that end, the researchers will explore the use of mixed prairie grasses and winter cover crops, such as annual rye, for AD.

    The project is funded with a $10 million grant from the USDA. (Source: Iowa State University, PR, Aug., 2020) Contact: Iowa State University, Prof. Lisa Schulte Moore, Natural Resource Ecology and Management, (515) 294-7339, , www.iastate.edu

    More Low-Carbon Energy News Iowa State University ,  RNG,  Biogas,  Anaerobic Digestion,  


    Mustard Family Member Seen as Biobutanol Feedstock (Ind. Report)
    National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research
    Date: 2020-08-14
    In Peoria, Illinois, a research team at the National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research (ARS) is working to rekindle the production of butanol from Lesquerella (a.k.a. Fendler's bladderpod and Yellow Top), a member of the mustard family that's native to the U.S. Southwest. Other possible feedstocks include wheat straw, sweet sorghum bagasse, penntcress, corn stover and other food wastes and processing byproducts like dried distillers grains, solubles and "presscake" (the crushed remains of lesquerella seed whose oil has been extracted).

    The ARS team's efforts are part of a broader umbrella effort to create new, value-added markets for agricultural commodities, especially those that serve as sustainable alternatives to petroleum-based fuels.

    In laboratory trials, the researchers produced 11-14 grams of butanol per liter of lesquerella presscake. The total chemical production (combined butanol, acetone and ethanol) was 19 to 29 grams per liter -- a nearly 67 pct increase over using corn and glucose sources to produce these three same chemicals. The research team plans on scaling-up their experiments using two-liter bioreactors and, if successful, even larger ones.

    Keeping feedstock costs down is key to making butanol competitive with gasoline, he added. At $25 a ton or less, lesquerella presscake would command a selling price of $2.27 or less a gallon -- about a dollar less than from sweet sorghum, another promising feedstock source, according to the release. (Source: National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research, PR, Aug., 2020) Contact: National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research, Nasib Qureshi, Chemical Engineer, www.ars.usda.gov/midwest-area/peoria-il/national-center-for-agricultural-utilization-research

    More Low-Carbon Energy News National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research,  


    ACE Comments on COVID-19 Economic Relief Pkg, (Opinions & Asides)
    American Coalition for Ethanol
    Date: 2020-07-29
    Late yesterday, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell unveiled his coronavirus economic relief package including $20 billion in relief to be used by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in addition to the $14 billion in funding the previously enacted CARES Act provides USDA via the Commodity Credit Corporation account. This marks the next step toward supplying much needed assistance to the renewable fuels sector. American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) CEO Brian Jennings believes ethanol producers, considered 'processors' under any commonsense definition of the term, would be prime candidates to receive a portion of USDA's increased discretionary funds in this proposal. While Jennings welcomed the inclusion of the assistance, he urged for more specific language in the following reaction:

    "We are grateful Senate leaders have responded to our request for economic relief to biofuel producers in the phase four stimulus, however, Congress gave USDA the flexibility to provide relief for renewable fuel producers in the last package and USDA declined to exercise it. While Senator McConnell's bill is more specific about processors of ag commodities, it still leaves discretion to USDA which has so far failed to use the authority to support our industry.

    "As I stated in my recent letter to Senators McConnell and Schumer, direct aid for biofuel producers is long overdue. That is why we support and urged inclusion of the Grassley-Klobuchar bill which makes direct assistance certain. Ethanol producers have acted as an economic bridge for U.S. farmers when they purchased corn before the extent of the pandemic was known. It is only fair to aid the ethanol industry which has fronted cash to farm economies.

    "We will continue to urge for more specific language in the final bill. Fortunately, momentum appears to be in our favor since both the House-passed Heroes Act and Senate proposal contain relief provisions. Now we need to ensure the legislative details are correct as there should be no reason direct assistance for ethanol producers doesn't make it in the final phase four bill. ACE urges grassroots advocates to contact their lawmakers and ask them to include biofuel producer relief in the final coronavirus relief package and to get it done before the August recess." (Source: American Coalition for Ethanol, 29 July, 2020) Contact: American Coalition for Ethanol, Brian Jennings, CEO, (605) 334-3381, www.ethanol.org

    More Low-Carbon Energy News American Coalition for Ethanol,  Ethanol Biofuel,  


    USDA $10Mn Grant to Support AD, RNG Development (Funding Report)
    Roeslein Alternative Energy
    Date: 2020-07-22
    A recently announced five-year, $10 million grant from the USDA National Institute for Food and Agricultural will allow the Consortium for Cultivating Human and Natural reGenerative Enterprise (C-CHANGE) research team led by Iowa State University, Penn State and Roeslein Alternative Energy (RAE) to develop new methods of turning biomass and manure into fuel and develop new value chains on US farms, with emphasis on renewable natural gas (RNG).

    C-CHANGE researchers are developing new ways for farmers to produce RNG that could be used as an energy source both on and off farms. The project focuses on anaerobic digestion (AD) and new separation technologies, allowing biogas to be upgraded to RNG and distributed through the gas pipeline network.

    The project director on the transdisciplinary and multi-institutional grant is Lisa Schulte Moore, a professor of natural resource ecology and management and associate director of the Bioeconomy Institute at Iowa State. According to Schulte Moore, the consortium will develop methods for farmers to make more efficient use of resources. (Source: USDA National Institute for Food and Agricultural, PR, July, 2020)Contact: Roeslein Alternative Energy, (314) 729-0055, www.roesleinalternativeenergy.com

    More Low-Carbon Energy News Roeslein Alternative Energy,  Anaerobic Digestion,  RNG,  


    Growing Climate Solutions Act calls for USDA to Lead Voluntary Carbon Credit Markets (Reg. & Leg.)
    USDA
    Date: 2020-07-08
    In Washington, the recently tabled Growing Climate Solutions Act, a bipartisan bill seeking to address climate change by placing the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in a leadership role over voluntary carbon credit markets would "break down barriers for farmers and foresters interested in participating in carbon markets so they can be rewarded for climate-smart practices," according to the bill's Senate co-sponsors. While proponents tout the benefits of voluntary conservation practices, critics say the approach will result in limited climate action rather than meaningful change.

    The bill creates a certification program at USDA so that farmers and forest landowners can better participate in voluntary carbon credit markets that can help land managers pay for conservation practices, which in turn could help to store carbon in soil, trees, and ecosystem restoration projects.

    The bill's lead sponsor, Senator Mike Braun, (R-IN) serving on the Senate Agriculture Committee, is joined by Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), along with Lindsay Graham (R-SC) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI.) The American Farm Bureau Federation, National Farmers Union, National Milk Producers Federation, Environmental Defense Fund, World Wildlife Fund, McDonald's, and Microsoft are among the bill's supporters. (Source: Daily Yonder, 7 July, 2020)

    More Low-Carbon Energy News Carbon Credit,  USDA,  Carbon Credit Market,  


    USDA Bioech Crop Rule Approval Applauded -- Notable Quote
    American Soybean Association
    Date: 2020-06-03
    "We are pleased with USDA's final rule streamlining the regulatory process for low-risk biotech crops to come to market. By establishing a common-sense regulatory process to ensure new biotech plants varieties are reviewed quickly with predictable timelines and allowed to go to market if they pose no risk, soybean growers can remain efficient and competitive through this continued access to innovation." -- Caleb Ragland, Chairman, American Soybean Association, June, 2020 Contact: , American Soybean Association, 314-576-1770, www.soygrowers.com

    More Low-Carbon Energy News Biotech news,  Biotech Crop news,  American Soybean Association news,  


    Higher Biofuel Blends Infrastructure Grants Offered (Funding)
    USDA
    Date: 2020-05-19
    In Washington, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports the launch of an online portal to begin accepting applications for Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program (HBIIP) grants.

    USDA plans to make available up to $100 million in competitive grants for activities designed to expand the sale and availability of ethanol and biodiesel fuels. The funds will be directly available to help transportation fueling and biodiesel distribution facilities convert to higher ethanol and biodiesel blends by sharing the costs related to the installation of fuel pumps, related equipment and infrastructure.

    Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program details HERE. Application information HERE.

    (Source: USDA Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program, 15 May, 2020) Contact: USDA, www.rd.usda.gov/hbiip

    More Low-Carbon Energy News USDA,  Biofuel Blend,  Biofuel Infrastructure,  


    RFA CEO Comments on USDA $100Mn Infrastructure Grant Program (Opinions, Editorials & Asides)
    Renewable Fuels Association
    Date: 2020-05-08
    "U.S. ethanol producers today are facing the worst economic conditions in the industry's 40-year history due to COVID-19, and they need immediate emergency relief to survive this catastrophe. Once the pandemic is over and fuel markets are showing signs of recovery, expanding infrastructure via the Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program will be important to the long-term future of the ethanol industry and rural America.

    "We thank the USDA for its efforts to support the future of renewable fuels." -- Geoff Cooper, CEO, Pres., Renewable Fuels Association

    Cooper was commenting on the USDA's just announced $100 million grant program for activities designed to expand the availability and sale of higher blends of ethanol like E15 and E85, as well as other renewable fuel blends. (Source: RFA, PR, Various Media, 4 May, 2020) Contact: Renewable Fuels Association, Geoff Cooper, (202) 289-3835, www.ethanolrfa.org

    More Low-Carbon Energy News Ethanol,  USDA,  Ethanol Infrastructure,  Renewable Fuels Association ,  


    $100Mn Biofuel Blends Infrastructure Incentives Available (Funding)
    USDA,Renewable Fuels Association
    Date: 2020-05-06
    In the Nation's capital, the USDA reports it intends to make up to $100 million available in competitive grants under the Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program to support activities designed to expand the availability and sale of ethanol and biodiesel.

    According to the USDA release, funds will be made directly available to assist transportation and fueling and biodiesel distribution facilities with converting to higher ethanol and biodiesel blends by sharing the costs related to and/or offering sales incentives for the installation of fuel pumps, related equipment and infrastructure. distribution facilities.

    Of the total $100 million, $86 million will be available for implementation activities related to ethanol blends above E10 and $14 million will be available for implementation activities related to blends of biodiesel above B5. Grants for up to 50 percent of total eligible projects costs, up to $5 million, are available to vehicle fueling facilities, including local fueling stations/locations, convenience stores, hypermarket fueling stations, fleet facilities, fuel terminal operations, midstream partners and/or distribution facilities.

    The agency expects the $100 million in funding to support approximately 150 awards and provide assistance to approximately 1,500 locations.

    As an aside, Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Geoff Cooper offered the following statement in response: "U.S. ethanol producers today are facing the worst economic conditions in the industry's 40-year history due to COVID-19, and they need immediate emergency relief to survive this catastrophe. Once the pandemic is over and fuel markets are showing signs of recovery, expanding infrastructure via the Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program will be important to the long-term future of the ethanol industry and rural America. We thank the USDA for its efforts to support the future of renewable fuels." (Source: USDA, May, 2020)Contact: USDA, Sonny Perdue, Sec., www.usda.gov; Renewable Fuels Association, Geoff Cooper, (202) 289-3835, www.ethanolrfa.org

    More Low-Carbon Energy News Renewable Fuels Association,  USDA,  Biofuel,  Biofuel Blend,  


    Forest Service Details State-by-State Carbon Emissions (Ind. Report)
    USDA Forest Service
    Date: 2020-05-04
    USDA Forest Service reports the release of its Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Removals from Forest Land, Woodlands, and Urban Trees in the United States, 1990-2018 report, a state-by-state overview of carbon emissions and related trends and details on deforestation and reforestation across the 49 continental states. Estimates of carbon movement from the atmosphere into living trees, dead wood, and soil as well as state-by-state estimates of emissions from forest fires is included.

    The Forest Service scientists quantified the contribution of forests, harvested wood products, and urban trees to carbon capture and storage. They found that, collectively, these natural systems account for more than 95 pct of Earth's terrestrial carbon sink. The atmospheric carbon absorbed by forests, harvested wood, and urban trees is equal to more than 11 pct of the total greenhouse gas emissions in the United States each year between 1990 and 2018.

    Download the Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Removals from Forest Land, Woodlands, and Urban Trees in the United States, 1990-2018 report HERE. (Source: USDA Forest Service, April, 2020) Contact: U.S. Forest Service, www.fs.usda.gov

    More Low-Carbon Energy News CCS,  USDA Forest Service,  Carbon Emissions,  


    USFS Announces Woody Biomass Energy Funding (Funding Report)
    U.S. Forest Service
    Date: 2020-04-24
    The U.S. Forest Service (USFS) reports it has awarded a total of $7.62 million in matching fund grants to 35 projects as part of the agency's Wood Innovations Grant Program. Eight of those projects focus on renewable energy, while the remaining 27 focus on expanding markets for wood products.

    The Wood Innovations Grant program advances innovations in wood energy and products that create jobs, revitalize local economies and support sustainable forest land management. Selected projects include:

  • Hoonah Indian Association: Hoonah, Alaska; Hoonah biomass design based on 2017 feasibility study;

  • Maine Energy Systems LLC: Bethel, Maine; Demonstration project for increasing whole house pellet heating clusters;

  • Red Lodge Mountain: Red Lodge, Montana; Red Lodge Mountain waste to warmth energy project;

  • Middle Niobrara Natural Resources District: Valentine, Nebraska; Middle Niobrara Natural Resources District headquarters heating project;

  • City of Prineville: Prineville, Oregon; Prineville renewable energy project engineering and design study;

  • Blue Mountain Lumber Products LLC: Pendleton, Oregon; Expanding forest biomass pellet manufacturing capacity;

  • Smokehouse Products LLC: Hood River, Oregon; Installation of wood chip dryer and processing equipment using renewable energy and heat provided by Wind River biomass utility;

  • Next Generation Wood Inc.: Hiwassee, Virginia; Market assessment for the expansion of biochar use and sales;

  • Long Falls Paperboard LLC: Brattleboro, Vermont; Long Falls Paperboard biomass combined-heat-and-power conversion project—flue gas condensation alternative to achieve maximum efficiency.

    Access Wood Innovations Grant Program details HERE (Source: US Forest Service, PR, 16 April, 2020) Contact: US Forest Service, www.fs.usda.gov

    More Low-Carbon Energy News U.S. Forest Service,  Biomass,  Woody Biomass,  


  • Biofuel Producers Left in the Lurch on $19Bn Aid Pkg (Ind. Report)
    USDA
    Date: 2020-04-22
    . "We don't have a fundamental way to help that (biofuel) sector," responded USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue to the Trump administration's announced $19 billion aid package to farmers.

    Biofuels producers were not included in the aid package, although the sector consumes approximately 40 pct of America's total annual corn crop.

    In the 2018/2019 crop marketing year, (Sept. 1- Aug. 31) the U.S. grew more than 14.42 billion bushels (366 million metric tons) of corn. (Source: USDA, nexstar, 21 April, 2020)Contact: USDA, Sonny Perdue, Sec., www.usda.gov

    More Low-Carbon Energy News Biofuel,  Sonny Perdue,  USDA,  Corn,  Corn Ethanol,  


    USGC: US Ethanol Available for Export During COVID-19 (Ind Report)
    U.S. Grains Council
    Date: 2020-04-15
    "While U.S. ethanol exports are up by 3 percent year-over-year according to new data from the USDA, the outbreak of COVID-19 will have structural impacts on demand for the rest of 2020. The U.S. Grains Council (USGC) is working to keep end-users around the world informed on the status of the U.S. ethanol industry as the pandemic continues to develop.

    "USDA reported last week that U.S. ethanol exports increased slightly year-over-year to 812 million gallons (288 million bushels in corn equivalent) for the first six months of the marketing year (Sept. 2019-Feb. 2020). "Brazil remained the top export destination at 201 million gallons (71.3 million bushels in corn equivalent), despite a small decline due to the restructuring of Brazil's tariff rate quota (TRQ) and a strengthening U.S. dollar. The EU had a notable 28 pct increase from 2018/2019 imports at 79 million gallons (28 million bushels in corn equivalent).

    "These data points were not able to take into account the still-developing impacts of COVID-19 and oil production disputes, which have led to deep decreases in demand for gasoline and shifts in the relationship between oil and ethanol prices.

    "Compounding the overall demand decline, the lack of an agreement on crude production between the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and Russia sent shock waves across global energy markets and is contributing to shortages in a critical component to the industry -- storage.

    "To date, U.S. ethanol weekly ending stocks are at a record high, and the United States remains positioned to supply customers globally. (Source: US Grains Council, PR, 13 April, 2020) Contact: US Grains Council, Brian Healy, Global Ethanol Market Development, (202) 789-0789, (202) 898-0522, www.grains.org

    More Low-Carbon Energy News U.S. Grains Council,  Ethanol,  


    Congressional Biofuels Caucus Seeking Direct Biofuels Industry Relief (Opinions, Editorials & Asides)
    USDA
    Date: 2020-04-13
    Iowa Congressman Steve King (R), a member of the Congressional Biofuels Caucus, reports he has signed the attached bi-partisan letter to USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue requesting that the USDA use "funds from the CARES Act to provide direct relief to the biofuels industry."

    Dear Secretary Perdue,

    "The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act provided USDA with additional resources to support farm income and prices during this economic downturn. The CARES Act included a reimbursement of $14 billion to the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC), and $9.5 billion for the Secretary to respond to the economic impacts of COVID-19. As the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) prepares to address financial hardship in agriculture, we urge you to use funds from the CARES Act to provide direct relief to the biofuels industry.

    "Demand for fuel is declining as states implement stay-at-home orders and discourage travel. This sudden shift in demand is worsening market conditions to the point ethanol plants are halting production. The biofuels industry is a vital market for the commodities our farmers produce, and USDA must take immediate action to ensure plants can retain skilled workers and continue production when market conditions improve.

    "The biofuels sector provides a direct and significant boost to the value of corn and soybeans. Ethanol plants purchase two out of every five bushels of U.S. corn and biodiesel producers use over 8 billion pounds of soybean oil a year. Ethanol plants produce dried distillers grains (DDGs) as a byproduct, providing livestock farmers with a low-cost, high-protein component of animal feed. To assist with the response to COVID-19, some ethanol and biofuels plants have volunteered to produce hand sanitizer and disinfectant products to address nationwide shortages. And, ethanol plants produce high purity carbon dioxide that is critical for medical facilities and food processing. The biofuels sector plays a large role in the livelihood of America's commodity and livestock producers, and biofuels plants are major employers in many rural communities.

    "USDA should take immediate action to stabilize the biofuels industry with resources provided by the CARES Act. We look forward to working with you on this issue as USDA assists producers through this challenging time. Thank you for considering this request." (Source: Congressman Steven King, KIOW Radio, 12 April, 2020) Contact: Rep Steve King, steveking.house.gov

    More Low-Carbon Energy News Biofuel,  USDA,  

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