Biofuels Digest The world's most widely-read advanced bioeconomy daily Fri, 29 May 2020 00:50:11 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Canada launches EOI for lignin joint investment challenge Thu, 28 May 2020 23:07:49 +0000

In Canada, Nextfor launched a series of High Performance Lignin Collaboration Forums to gather value chain feedback on the state of lignin product development in Canada and Ontario. Industry leaders worked together in these sessions to identify three opportunity maps for commercialization:

  • Polymers & Fine Chemicals
  • Resins & Adhesives
  • Thermoplastics & Composites

An EOI have been opened with the aim of launching a C$1 million joint investment challenge (50% industry matching contribution required) to support a project which will establish or increase the commercial readiness of lignin-based platforms; and build robust consortiums through information sharing and collaboration.

Valero’s Supreme Court hopes against EPA dashed so backs five governors instead Thu, 28 May 2020 23:06:48 +0000

In Texas, the San Antonio Business Journal reports that the Supreme Court has refused to hear Valero’s spat with the Environmental Protection Agency where the oil company argues that blenders should have to bear some of the cost of blending biofuel under the Renewable Fuels Standard. Typically, the Supreme Court gives a reason for rejecting to hear a case but this time it declined a reason for the refusal. With the Supreme Court no longer an option, the company is supporting the five governors who are asking the EPA to partially waive RIN obligations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ethanol stocks reach 19-week low despite rising production Thu, 28 May 2020 23:05:53 +0000

In Washington, DTN reports that Energy Information Administration data shows that although ethanol production is ramping up after it shut down more than 50% of capacity due to the COVID-19 pandemic, stocks are still shrinking. Last week, stocks reached the lowest level in 19 weeks at 23.2 million barrels, falling 400,000 barrels from the week prior. Simultaneously, production rose to a nine-week high of 712,000 bpd, up an average of 32,000 bpd. Stocks in the Midwest region held steady, but losses were seen across the other four PADD regions.

D4 RIN prices reach highest seen since December 2019 Thu, 28 May 2020 23:04:52 +0000

In New York, Platts reports D4 prices rose to their highest level since December at 56 cents/RIN on the back of expected higher blending mandates from the Environmental Protection Agency. Between higher blending expected for 2021 and fewer waivers that will likely be granted under the small refinery exemption program following significant scrutiny, prices have begun to move higher since May began. The 2021 blending mandate recommendations are expected for releases in the next few weeks.

Spot ethanol prices on the rise but not as fast as hoped Thu, 28 May 2020 23:03:05 +0000

In Texas, ICIS reports that increased driving demand has lifted spot prices for ethanol as shelter in place orders are lifted, but the market had hoped for a faster recovery. There is also concern that China will not buy as much US-origin ethanol as expected as part of the phase 1 trade deal easing the US-China trade war, instead opting for Brazilian-origin ethanol imports. ICIS data shows that ethanol spot prices hit bottom in early April but has been rising steadily ever since.

Brazilian hydrous ethanol prices jump 19% in a month Thu, 28 May 2020 23:02:16 +0000

In Brazil, Platts reports that on the back of 28% higher gasoline prices in May, hydrous ethanol prices have been steadily increasing since May 13, already rising by almost 19% in a month. Between January 14 and April 29, Petrobras cut gasoline prices a whopping 12 times which hit the competitiveness of ethanol prices just as mills were starting the new crushing season. Together with reduced demand from the COVID-19 pandemic, prices for ethanol crashed. Petrobras has since raised gasoline prices four times, helping to support ethanol.

University of Georgia researchers say biofuel production could lead to environmental decay Thu, 28 May 2020 23:01:09 +0000

In Georgia, modern sustainability practices often encourage resource and energy efficiencies across separate sectors, such as food production or biofuels, but this siloed approach could actually lead to ongoing environmental decay, according to a recent commentary by researchers in the University of Georgia College of Engineering.

Using new technology to improve efficiency, in particular, may accelerate this environmental decay by creating more products at cheaper prices. The materials and energy “saved” are not actually preserved but diverted to other uses, the authors wrote in a paper published recently in Nature Sustainability.

Oregon DEQ submits details plans to carry out GHG reductions Thu, 28 May 2020 22:59:57 +0000

In Oregon, the Department of Environmental Quality has submitted detailed information to Gov. Kate Brown on how it plans to carry out her March 10 executive order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the state. In all, DEQ submitted a preliminary report on Cap and Reduce programs, and four other work plans regarding clean fuels, other strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transportation, regulations to reduce methane emissions from landfills, and strategies to reduce food waste. The reports outline the processes DEQ will use beginning later this year for developing rules, policies and strategies to accomplish the governor’s emission reduction goals, which are designed to ensure that Oregon is doing its part to fight climate change. DEQ will be holding virtual workshops and listening sessions on program options over the next six months. Formal rulemaking will begin next year, with final decisions coming to the state Environmental Quality Commission late in 2021.

Competitive Edge: Hydragas Energy Thu, 28 May 2020 22:57:33 +0000

Q: What was the reason for founding your organization – what was the open niche you saw that could be addressed with a new product or service? What was the problem, or gap, or opportunity?

We founded Hydragas to develop a renewable gas recovery technology, to supply clean energy at country-scale. The roots of the technology developed were in addressing a compelling need to harvest biogas from a unique lake. Lake Kivu is one of the Great Lakes of Africa, also the world’s largest bio-digester. It contains about 12 tcf of biogas.

The problem is both complex and threatening. The lake has been accumulating gas for as much as 1000 years, but the rate is accelerating. In 70 years or less, saturating the gas carrying capacity of the lake will trigger a catastrophic eruption.

It can happen sooner as there are factors such as two nearby volcanoes and that Africa’s rift valley hosts the lake. But there is now a solution that can harvest and “de-fang” the gas eruption threat, by preventing a powerful limnic eruption. In doing so we can harvest the 2tcf of renewable natural gas. From this source we can power up two countries with carbon-negative energy to 15 million.

Q: Tell us about your organization. What do you do?

We could be a technical service organization, based on the R&D and design skills we have committed to over 18 years. But we choose instead to be a project developer, deploying our IP in biogas recovery from deep water. We rely on nature, including archaea methanogens and other biota, to do the main work.

The reason is that the financial reward lies in the projects rather than the equipment or know-how. Our skills-set is built on deep knowledge of, and our innovations in the recovery of dissolved methane in water. This covers several types of water body, oceans, seas, lakes and aquifers. Each of them has a specific pathway to depositing methane, often with other gases.

Our products are process plants that produce gas. Any associated plant, including power generation, are co-packaged. Our ability to “farm” the biota can enhance the productivity of digesters, on which we depend, to be more productive. So we will deliverers of the energy and GHG reductions to the consumer.

Q: What stage of development are you?  Choose one:

Demonstration stage – proven at small, integrated scale, but not yet commercially available.

Q: What do your technologies, products or services do and accomplish – how does it (they) work, who is it (they) aimed for?

As conceived, the technology was to extract gas from water more efficiently, and with higher recovery, than any other. This was achieved by re-inventing the process; first by building extraction plant underwater, second by radically accelerating the separation of gas from water.

The innovation we introduced allowed us to drive the process more strongly, while also eliminating 90% of the energy consumed by process equipment. Parasitic energy use dropped to <2%, compared to ~20-30%.

In the field of accomplishment, we get into exceptionally important outcomes. The first application, described in (3) above, is to reduce the dire, impending threat of Lake Kivu erupting as gas nears saturation levels. A limnic eruption event has potential to kill 2-4 million people in a day. Averting that event is huge.

Allied to that is preventing 2 gigatons of carbon being emitted that day. These outcomes are achieved at the same time by our method that keeps the lake safe in perpetuity.

Q: Competitively, what gives your technology, product or service set an edge in cost or performance, sustainability, or any other aspect, that makes it stand out from the crowd, In short, what makes it transformative?

There is literally a stack of competitive attributes that make the Hydragas technology stand out against its competitors. This varies from productivity factors, capital cost and qualitative performance in meeting a slate of exacting technical requirements.

Quantitatively, gas extraction has higher recovery (84% vs ~40%), efficiency (98% vs ~75%) net energy out, recoverability (84-100% vs 52%) of gas in situ.

As the capital cost of total Hydragas plant is lower ($4.3 M per MW, vs $8.25/MW) than its competitor, KivuWatt, so financial performance is twice as good before GHG emission reduction credits. With sales of credits able to double our revenues, financial performance is even better.

A complex sustainability target is met, ensuring the process is sustainable for centuries. All legacy methods of gas production are unsafe and unsustainable, constraining operations to <50 years and possibly causing a limnic eruption.

We are able to make Lake Kivu safe for centuries.

Q: What are the 3 top milestones you have accomplished in the past 3 years?

  1. In the prior three years of activity, Hydragas updated the feasibility study for the project based on performance data from the pilot project that we conducted in situ on Lake Kivu. We updated the extraction process from two to three-stage separation and gas clean-up.
  2. Over the same period, Hydragas was represented on the International Expert Advisory Group for Lake Kivu. The group completed the three-year program of study and research on the lake’s biology, hydrology, limnology, volcanology and seismology. The findings were fundamental in confirming the regulation needed to ensure safe gas extraction. The published Management Prescriptions for Lake Kivu Development (the “MPs”) define the regulation of gas exploitation.
  3. Hydragas has updated estimates, the financial model and assurances that the technical compliance requirements are fully met for safe production. The financial outcomes of the project are now well understood and lead the field.

Q: What are the 3 top milestones you will accomplish in the next 3 years?

  1. The next most important milestone is to close the $23 M funding of the demonstration project to be built 2020/21 on Lake Kivu. At completion, the project must undergo tests and underwater monitoring to ensure that gas is produced without disturbing the sensitive and vital lake density structure.
  2. Funding for the $215 M, first commercial gas and power generation project is the next milestone. It will allow the 18-20 month construction of a 50 MW facility. It is anticipated that commercial production can occur within three years, provided there are no undue delays in the funding stages.
  3. On commissioning of the first commercial project, we hope to have secured the necessary debt-funding and supplementary capital to proceed with a further eleven installations in Rwanda and DRC. Half of the resource is in each country and development will need to follow accordingly.

Where can I learn more about Hydragas Energy?

Click here to visit Hydragas Energy’s website.

Australia’s Efforts to Support Renewables: The Digest’s 2020 Multi-Slide Guide to Accelerating Large-Scale Renewable Energy Thu, 28 May 2020 22:53:03 +0000

The Business Renewables Centre – Australia and project partners like WWF, ARENA, Rocky Mountain Institute and others are working on getting Australia to use more large-scale renewable energy and using Power Purchase Agreements to get there.

But why a renewable energy PPA? How are corporate PPAs an important segment in a diversified market? Where are the deals? What are the types of deals? What are the 3 key trends in the corporate PPA sector? What are the key barriers? Find out this and more.