green and sustainable business

Biofuel gets major boost, so does wind

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The answer is blowing in the wind and biofuel.windturbines

True, at least for a part of the renewable energy solution. A Reuters report is saying that the U.S. wind industry is counting heavily on legislation that calls for the generation of 25 percent of the nation’s electricity to be generated from renewable sources by 2025.

Before you ask why so long? Consider that a paltry 7 percent currently of our juice comes from all types renewables. Pretty woeful and we’re way behind but the start has to begin somewhere. Keep the rally caps on.

The wind power industry has posted strong growth for several years but that has hinged mainly on uncertainties around the on-again, off-again production tax credit.

Investment in new wind power capacity grew from $3 billion in 2005 to $17 billion in 2008, but was projected to fall to $13 billion this year, due to lost financing, low prices for natural gas and political uncertainty, Reuters reported.

The fallout for the U.S. wind industry, the world’s largest producer of wind power at 28,000 megawatts (MW), could result in industry consolidation.

However, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) recently reported that more than 2,800 megawatts of wind energy industry was installed in the United States over the of the first quarter of 2009. New projects in 15 states now bring total wind power generating capacity in the U.S. to 28,206 MW.

Attendees at the Windpower 2009 conference called on U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to lobby for congressional passage of legislation to create a national renewable energy standard.

“At no time in our history has the need for a new energy policy been so urgent,” Salazar was quoted as telling members of AWEA at conference. Salazar said that if the U.S. fully pursues its potential for wind energy on land and offshore, it can generate as much as 20 percent of U.S. domestic electricity by 2030 and create a 250,000 jobs.

Supporters of a national standard, including AWEA, say it would provide a target and boost demand for the energy credits that wind farms and other renewable projects create.

With the Bush crowd gone a solid renewable energy standard looks more and more like it might actually happen and happen soon – good news for wind, solar and biofuel sourcers.

biofuel4Biofuels got a major boost in that regard May 5 from the White House.

In response to recommendations from the Governors’ Biofuels Coalition, President Obama officially directed members of his administration to shepherd the development of the U.S. biofuels industry.

His directive creates the nation’s first comprehensive biofuels market development program; coordinates infrastructure policies; and identifies policy options to improve the sustainability of biofuels feedstock production.

The coalition says the president’s action came in response to a letter from Govs. John Hoeven of North Dakota and Chet Culver of Iowa – the chair and vice chair of the Governors’ Biofuels Coalition respectively – that proposed a number of initiatives to accelerate U.S. development and use of renewable, sustainable, low-carbon fuels produced domestically.

“With this directive, a national strategic vision for the role of biofuels in America’s future has been established,” said Gov. Hoeven.

The May 5, 2009, presidential directive was distributed to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, Secretary of Energy Stephen Chu, and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson. It creates a Biofuels Interagency Working Group led by these three officials.

The White House said the working group will:

  • Develop the nation’s first comprehensive biofuel market development program, which shall use existing authorities and identify new policies to support the development of next-generation biofuels, increase flexible fuel vehicle use, and assist in retail marketing efforts;
  • Coordinate infrastructure policies impacting the supply, secure transport, and distribution of biofuels; and
  • Identify new policy options to promote the environmental sustainability of biofuels feedstock production, taking into consideration land use, habitat conservation, crop management practices, water efficiency and water quality, as well as lifecycle assessments of greenhouse gas emissions.

In his directive, the President called on Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to:

  • Immediately begin restructuring existing investments in renewable fuels as needed to preserve industry employment; and
  • Develop a comprehensive approach to accelerating the investment in and production of American biofuels and reducing our dependence on fossil fuels.

“Expanding our biofuels infrastructure provides a unique opportunity to spur rural economic development while reducing our dependence on foreign oil – one of the great challenges of the 21st century,” said Vilsack.

The President also announced that $786.5 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will be provided to accelerate advanced biofuels research and development and expand commercialization by providing additional funding for commercial biorefineries.  These efforts will be overseen by the Department of Energy.

The DOE biomass program will leverage DOE’s national laboratories, universities, and the private sector to help improve biofuels reliability and overcome key technical challenges, with the goal of create advanced biofuels like green gasoline, diesel, and jet fuels.

The $786.5 million in Recovery Act funding is a mix of new funding opportunities and additional funding for existing projects. It will be allocated across four main areas:

  • $480 million solicitation for integrated pilot- and demonstration-scale biorefineries;
  • $176.5 million for commercial-scale biorefinery projects;
  • $110 million for fundamental research in key program areas; and
  • $20 million for ethanol research

“Developing the next generation of biofuels is key to our effort to end our dependence on foriegn oil and address the climate crisis — while creating millions of new jobs that can’t be outsourced,” Secretary of Energy Steven Chu said.

he President also announced the Environmental Protection Agency’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on the Renewable Fuel Standard.  This proposal outlines the EPA’s strategy for increasing the supply of renewable fuels, poised to reach 36 billion gallons by 2022, as mandated by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.

Increasing renewable fuels will reduce dependence of foreign oil by more than 297 million barrels a year and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by an average of 160 million tons a year when fully phased in by 2022.  EISA will establish four categories of renewable fuels..

The new categories include:

  • Cellulosic biofuels;
  • Biomass-based diesel;
  • Advanced biofuels; and
  • Total renewable fuel.

In 2022, the proposal would require 36 billion gallons annually of renewable fuels, of which 16 billion gallons must be cellulosic biofuels; and 1 billion gallons must be of biomass-based diesel.  At most 15 billion gallons of the renewable fuel mandate can be met with conventional biofuels, including corn-based ethanol.

For the first time, some renewable fuels must achieve greenhouse gas emission reductions compared to the gasoline and diesel fuels they displace. Refiners must meet the requirements to receive credit toward meeting the new standards.

This might be the best news direct from the top for the biofuels industry since, well, ever.


Written by William DiBenedetto

7 May, 2009 at 12:33 pm

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