Thursday, March 11th, 2010
The U.S. Senate voted 62 to 36 Wednesday to pass a tax extension bill (H.R. 4213) that includes a key $1 biodiesel tax credit.
The expiration of the credit on Dec. 31, 2009 put the breaks on an expanding industry and raised questions about biodiesel’s future in the U.S.
With many biodiesel plants either idle or shutdown throughout the country, the bill will reinstate the credit retroactively, extending it through Dec. 31., 2010.
Although biodiesel received a tremendous boost under the new renewable fuel standard (RFS2), without a tax credit, the industry could not compete on price with petroleum-based diesel.
Monday, March 8th, 2010
A recent report in preparation for the 12th International Energy Forum’s ministerial, scheduled in Cancun, Mexico later this month, studies and assesses the potential and limitations of biofuels.
Criticized by the Global Renewable Fuels Alliance (GRFA) as “self serving,” the report suggests that mounting evidence from research and analysis shows that the demise of the fossil fuel era is nowhere in sight and cautions against the widespread adoption of biofuels.
Authored by Claude Mandil, the former executive director of the International Energy Agency, and Adnan Shihab-Eldin, the former acting secretary general of OPEC, the report examines the extent to which biofuels could contribute meaningfully to meeting a substantial portion of future demand in the transportation sector.
Monday, March 8th, 2010
The U.S. Congress is coming under increased lobbying pressure from the algal organizations to extend tax code parity to algae-based biofuels.
The Algal Biomass Organization and members of the Biotechnology Industry Organization are urging Senate Finance Committee chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) and Ranking Member Charles Grassley (R-IA) to adopt an amendment offered to the Tax Extenders Act of 2009 by Sens. Bill Nelson (D-FL), Mike Crapo (R-ID), and Jeff Bingaman D-(NM).
The amendment would ensure algae fuels receive the financial and regulatory benefits available to other advanced biofuel feedstocks and promote the development and commercialization of algae fuels. (more…)
Monday, March 8th, 2010
A California-based startup company says it has developed an improved version of the internal combustion engine that boosts gas mileage by more than 50 percent and enabled a prototype vehicle to get 64 miles per gallon on the highway in recent test drives.
Transonic Combustion, backed by Vinod Khosla and other venture capitalists, says it has invented a new fuel injection system that heats and pressurizes gasoline before injecting it into the combustion chamber, placing the fuel in a “supercritical” state that allows for clean and fast combustion. (more…)
Sunday, March 7th, 2010
The Unstoppable…Solar Lobby?! A skirmish this week in Arizona revealed that the solar industry, while still adolescent, is developing some political brawn. A bill in the state legislature proposed expanding the definition of “renewable” to include nuclear power, a move that would have allowed the state’s lone nuclear plant to fulfill Arizona’s mandate to receive 15% of its electricity from renewables. Solar companies howled, including Suntech Power Holdings, which threatened to cancel its first U.S. factory in Arizona. Days later, the proposal was retired.
Wal-mart to Suppliers: Go Green or Else Wal-mart announced a goal of cutting 20 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions from its supply chain by the end of 2015. By using its unparalleled purchasing leverage, Walmart intends to force greener behavior on the part of its vendors, like it or not. (more…)
Friday, February 26th, 2010
The European Commission confirmed on Thursday that it believes legally binding sustainability criteria for biomass used to generate heat and power are not necessary in Europe, thus ending a long process by which the European Union body has debated the utility of a supranational scheme.
The Commission, however, adopted a report on sustainability requirements for the use of solid biomass and biogas in electricity, heating, and cooling. The report makes recommendations on sustainability criteria to member states and encourages them to introduce schemes at the national level.
This strategy minimizes the risk of the development of varied and possibly incompatible criteria at the national level, leading to barriers to trade and limiting the growth of the bio-energy sector in the European Union. (more…)
Thursday, February 25th, 2010
In advance of this fall’s launch of plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles, lithium ion battery manufacturers are breaking ground on manufacturing plants nearly every month.
Nearly $2 billion in stimulus funding has spurred the building of facilities in Michigan and Indiana that will start churning out battery packs by the end of the year, but the escalation in production has the potential to outstrip the demand for the batteries by as early as 2012.
As I said during yesterday’s interview on NPR’s “All Things Considered,” the battery companies have understandable but potentially misguided motivations to quickly ramp up production. For battery companies to receive the full amount of stimulus grants and loans, they must meet specified goals for production capacity.
Monday, February 22nd, 2010
GreenRoad, which is developing technologies to encourage safe and fuel-efficient driving behavior, announced today that it has raised $10 million in financing from Generation Investment Management, the investment firm co-founded in 2004 by Al Gore.
GreenRoad will use the proceeds of this financing to accelerate the deployment of its GreenRoad 360 service among existing and new customers.
GreenRoad 360, the Company’s proprietary technology-based service, provides drivers and fleet managers with real-time, comprehensive and preventative feedback, analysis, reporting and coaching on drivers’ abilities, maneuvers and patterns.
Monday, February 22nd, 2010
The last several months have seen a flurry of activity in the aviation sector, as fuel price volatility and impending greenhouse gas regulations have goaded major airlines to ink deals for renewable jet fuel.
The latest involves British Airways, which struck a deal with Solena Group for 16 million gallons of jet fuel from waste.
The moves highlight the tremendous pressure airlines are under to keep costs low in an increasingly oil constrained world and regulated marketplace. During the last oil spike, fuel expenses, which historically ranged from 10 to 15 percent of US passenger airline operating costs, averaged more than 35 percent in the third quarter of 2008. According to news coming out of the International Air Transport Association, the marketplace for cheap fuel is about to get much more crowded.
Friday, February 19th, 2010
Most people are familiar with automobile air emissions. Perhaps one day there will only be electric cars and no car air emissions. But there are many on other engines in use by commercial and industrial operations that may cause air emissions. In general these are called reciprocating internal combustion engines, or RICE.
On February 17, the Environmental Protection Agency issued a final rule that will further reduce emissions of toxic air pollutants from existing diesel powered stationary reciprocating internal combustion engines.