Renewable Energy Memo

May 30, 2011

Taylor English Duma Renewable Energy Blog

Thank you for your support of RenewableEnergyMemo. To improve our ability to post new content, we’re now publishing all new posts at the Taylor English Duma Renewable Energy Blog.

Please update your blog rolls to link to the Taylor English Duma Renewable Energy Blog.

March 11, 2010

Alternative Fuels Tax Credits Extended

The U.S. Senate yesterday voted by a margin of 82-36 to pass the American Workers, State and Business Relief Act, which included H.R. 4213.  That bill includes a one year extension of the biodiesel excise tax credit and the alternative fuel mixture credit.

Producers reacted with a sign of relief and reportedly have re-commenced or ramped up production in response to the news. 

For more background on the biodiesel and alternative fuel excise tax credits, please check out our recent podcast on Lexis-Nexis.

February 13, 2010

Webinar: Renewable Energy in 2010

Please join Ken Driver, Rob Brubaker and Jonathan Wilson at 1pm eastern on Thursday, February 18 for a webinar entitled “Renewable Energy in 2010.”

In the first of a two-part series we will explore the challenges and opportunities posed by the renewable energy sector in 2010. Part 1 addresses a range of federal public policy initiatives that target renewable energy.

Renewable Energy in 2010, Part 1:

Federal Initiatives that Target Renewable Energy

Thursday, February 18, 2010

1:00 pm eastern; 90 minutes
 
In 2009, the federal government committed billions in potential grants and tax incentives for renewable energy projects, yet each incentive program carries with it a unique mix of costs and benefits.  At the same time, Congress, the agencies, and the courts are tackling environmental matters in a way that could impose major new costs on emitting greenhouse gasses, placing a premium on the renewable generation of electricity.  Finally, because many renewable resources are located far from consumers, the surge in renewable generation is posing a major challenge for the U.S. electric transmission system.  So far, progress has been slow, and without new planning, siting, and cost-allocation systems, the limits of today’s transmission system could delay future renewable energy projects. 

Program Faculty

Kenneth B. Driver (Moderator), Partner, Jones Day, Washington, DC

Robert Brubaker, Porter Wright Morris & Arthur LLP, Columbus, OH

Jonathan B. Wilson, Taylor English Duma LLP, Atlanta, GA

CLE Credit

1.5 hours of CLE credit in 60-minute states/1.8 hours of CLE credit in 50-minute states have been requested in states accrediting ABA teleconferences and live audio webcasts.*

NY-licensed attorneys: This non-transitional CLE program has been approved for experienced NY-licensed attorneys in accordance with the requirements of the New York State CLE Board for 1.5 total NY CLE credits.

The following states accept ABA teleconferences for CLE credit:
AL, AK, AR, AZ, CA, CO, FL, GA, IA, ID, IL, KY, LA, ME, MN, MO, MS, MT, NC, ND, NH, NM, NV, NY, OK, OR, RI, SC, TN, TX, UT, VA, VI, VT, WA, WI, WV, WY.

*States currently not accrediting ABA teleconferences: DE, IN, PA, KS, OH

Click here to view a map of MCLE states

January 9, 2010

NREL Publishes Primer on Community Wind Projects

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory at Berkeley has published a new paper on the application of federal incentives on community wind projects.  (Revealing the Hidden Value that the Federal Investment Tax Credit and the Treasury Cash Grant Provide to Community Wind Projects). 

The paper provides a helpful summary of the investment tax credit, the Treasury cash grant program and ways those incentives can be monetized and harnessed for locally-owned wind power projects.  Perhaps more importantly, though, the paper points out how the recession of 2008-09 may turn out to have been a blessing in disguise for community-owned wind projects.

Wind power grew dramatically during the middle 2000s, but most of these projects were investor-owned.  For-profit developers’ demands for turbines and qualified engineers often resulted in a shortage in those resources for more cash-strapped developers.  The downturn impacted many of these projects and resulted in an excess of supply over demand, allowing community-owned projects to begin to take up the slack.

The expansion of the investment tax credit and the availability of the Treasury cash grant have made it possible for community-based projects to get started with less upfront capital than in the past.

December 14, 2009

Renewable Energy Around the Web: December 14, 2009

Our weekly compilation of renewable energy news and information from around the web.

$600 Million for Biofuels

U.S. DOE Secretary Steven Chu and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack last week announced the selection of 19 biorefinery projects to receive up to $564 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to accelerate the construction and operation of pilot, demonstration, and commercial scale facilities. The projects – in 15 states - should validate refining technologies and help lay the foundation for full commercial-scale development of a biomass industry in the United States. The projects should produce advanced biofuels, biopower, and bioproducts using biomass feedstocks at the pilot, demonstration, and full commercial scale.

Our friends at Biofuels Digest published a lengthy analysis of the awards and the process followed by the DOE.  It makes for interesting reading.  According to the analysis, the DOE published a Funding Opportunity Announcement in May of 2009.  After submitting lengthy written applications, there was a first cut and those who survived were invited to participate in a “GoToMeeting.com” online chat and presentation session.  DOE participants were never identified in the process, and never spoke directly on the conference call, but submitted questions online as they were identified as “Review #1″ and so on. 

As one successful recipient CEO was quoted to say, “what you win is the right to negotiate.”  Winning companies will now be able to negotiate the terms of their grants for a period of several months with the hopes of actually receiving cash in mid-2010.  While the ARRA intended for funds to get put to use in 2009, in this instance it wil have taken more like 1.5 years for the cash to actually be put to use.

EPA Issues GHG Endangerment Finding

Coming on the heels of the ClimateGate scandal, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson last week finalized the EPA’s GHG endangerment finding, ruling that greenhouse gas emissions are an air pollutant under the Clean Air Act and are a threat to public health.   The endangerment finding is an outgrowth of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in EPA v. Massachusetts in which the Supreme Court held that the EPA’s authority to regulate air pollutants under the Clean Air Act extended to greenhouse gas emissions.

Speaking on Fox News Sunday, Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe suggested that the EPA would use the endangerment finding as a means of accomplishing through administrative ruling what it could not accomplish through legislation.  He reasoned that climate change legislation (whether in the form of the Waxman Markey bill or some other form) was unlikely to pass Congress during 2009 and that the Obama administration needed the legal support provided by the endangerment finding in order to make commitments at the Copenhagen talks on climate change.

EPA Delays Decision on E15 Waiver

On Dec. 1 the U.S. EPA announced that it will not make a final determination of the E15 fuel waiver until mid-2010. In March 2009, Growth Energy submitted a waiver to allow for the use of up to 15 percent ethanol in gasoline. Under the Clean Air Act, EPA was required to respond to the waiver request by Dec. 1, 2009.

The EPA has been working to evaluate the waiver request and has received a broad range of public comments as part of the administrative rulemaking process. In a letter sent to Growth Energy on Dec. 1, the agency said that to-date testing has indicated that the engines of newer cars will likely be able to handle ethanol blends higher than the current 10 percent limit. However, the agency will delay making a final decision on the fuel waiver until more testing data is available. On a positive note, the EPA also announced that it has begun the process to craft the labeling requirements that will be necessary if the blending limit is raised.

“As we are evaluating [the] E15 fuel waiver petition, we want to make sure we have all necessary science to make the right decision,” said the EPA in a letter addressed to Growth Energy Co-Chairmen Gen. Wesley Clark and Jeff Broin. “Although all the studies have not been completed, our engineering assessment to date indicates that the robust fuel, engine and emissions control systems on newer vehicles (likely 2001 and newer model years) will likely be able to accommodate higher ethanol blends, such as E15. However, we continue to evaluate the question of component durability when E15 is used over many thousands of miles and there is ongoing study being conducted by [the U.S. DOE] that will provide critical data on this issue.”

New DOE Loan Guarantee Rules

The DOE published its new rules for loan guarantee applications.  The new rules incorporate comments from industry participants and are intended to accelerate the loan guarantee process.   The new rules were effective December 4, 2009. 

American Bar Association Renewable Energy Committee

Our Renewable Energy Committee of the ABA’s Public Utility Section is meeting for the first time today on a conference call.  We’ll be charting a course for the coming year and planning some webinars and other projects.  Membership on the Committee is free to members of both the ABA and the Public Utility Section.  Check with the ABA website for more details.

October 5, 2009

Renewable Energy Around the Web: October 5, 2009

Our weekly compilation of renewable energy news and information around the Web.

Three Cheers for Asset-Backed Securities

We covered a modest proposal from our friends at Biofuels Digest to create a publicly-funded securitization vehicle for buying participations in renewable energy loan pools.  A publicly-funded vehicle would be nice to have but would probably take Congressional action.  In the mean time, a private securitization vehicle would also work if there were enough deep pocket sponsors to get it off the ground.

Biomass Mapping Application

With funding from the DOE and others, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory has developed a biomass mapping application.  Users can select a location on the map, quantify the biomass resources available within a user-defined radius, and then estimate the total thermal energy or power that could be generated by recovering a specific portion of that biomass. While the tool is useful in refining the prospecting process of site identification, it should not replace the need for an on-site biomass evaluation, according to Anelia Milbrandt, NREL senior energy resources analyst.

The tool took about a year to develop, and was made available in August. Biomass resource data are based on an assessment performed by NREL in 2005, which was updated prior to the release of the application. Infrastructure and other pertinent data were provided by the EPA, USDA and other agencies.  The tool is available here

Bio-Char Legislation

A group of senators that includes Majority Leader Harry Reid have introduced a bill that would provide loan guarantees and other incentives for the removal of bio-char from publicly-owned lands. 

The Water Efficiency via Carbon Harvest and Restoration Act of 2009 (S.B. 1713) (introduced September 24, 2009) would establish U.S. Department of Interior and USDA loan guarantee programs to develop biochar demonstration projects, including mobile and fixed biochar production units.

The purpose of the act is restore the natural hydrology of Western landscapes by removing water-intensive plant species, reduce dangerous forest and rangeland fuel loads, develope technologies to convert undesirable invasive plant species to useful materials and to develop markets for those materials, and provide technologies to land managers to continue those processes into the future.

Future Biofuels Imbalance?

Some scientists are wondering whether our supply of biofuels (biodiesel and ethanol) will outstrip demand with some researchers speculating that U.S. biofuel supply could exceed demand as early as 2015. 

Bully for Jatrodiesel

Inc. Magazine featured Jatrodiesel on its list of top performing companies in 2009.  (Coverage in Biodiesel Magazine). 

The magazine placed Jatrodiesel at the 550 slot and ranked it 22 in the energy sector. The selection is evidence that there’s still money to be made in the biodiesel industry.  

“The biodiesel plants that are not doing well basically have two problems,” said Raj Mosali, CEO of Jatrodiesel. “Either they don’t have any cash on hand, or they can’t sell their biodiesel because their price is too high. Right now, there is about 35 cent margin between a producer’s cost and the price of diesel fuel, so a plant that is using multi-feedstock technology and has a pretty lean operation should be able to make money.”

Some biodiesel plants have inefficient technologies and can’t make biodiesel at a reasonable price. In addition, they often don’t have capital to make improvements. “Our growth is coming from our ability to fix issues at existing plants, not from building turn-key operations,” Mosali says. “The plants that do have cash are putting in polishing equipment or adding distillation columns or glycerin recovery, which can really add to the bottom line.”

September 28, 2009

Renewable Energy Around the Web: September 28, 2009

Our weekly compilation of renewable energy news and information from around the Web.

The Saudi Arabia of Biomass

Is North Dakota the Saudi Arabia of Biomass?  It was Shane Goettle, commissioner of the North Dakota Department of Commerce who used this colorful term to describe the state at a the Norther Plains Bioeconomy Conference on September 22 in Fargo, N.D.  Goettle said the state leads the nation in biomass production capacity and is the top producer of 16 different commodities. 

Goettle said that the state has several energy assets, including the largest deposit of lignite coal in the world, the fifth largest oil production state in the nation, and the leader in the nation of wind energy potential. “You would be heavy pressed to find a state that is more readily poised to engage in the country’s energy future,” he said. “The fact that we have such tremendous biomass potential is getting the attention of significant investors, companies and players in the world.”

The North Dakota legislature has created EmPower ND, a statewide energy policy commission to build on a comprehensive energy policy for North Dakota.

The goal of of EmPower ND is to grow all energy industries in the state—renewable and traditional. Goettle said the program is unique in nature. “We’ve got all of the energy industry leaders together to hammer out a policy they we can initially agree on, and go to the legislature and our government leaders to move all of North Dakota’s energy interests forward. It’s not easy work, but I’m very proud of this 14-member commission.”

So far, during 2009 the North Dakota legislature has passed nine pieces of energy legislation supported by EmPower, including tax breaks for renewable energy devices, income tax credits for soybean and canola crushing costs, a combined renewable energy and biomass incentive programs with $3 million in funding, and a biofuels blender pump incentive program with up to $2 million in funding.

Political Favors?

The Wall Street Journal reported last week that Fisker Automotive Inc., a start-up company based in California, will receive a $529 million government loan to build an $89,000 hybrid vehicle in Finland.  The announcement  follows a $465 million government loan to Tesla Motors Inc., which is hoping to manufacture a $109,000 British-built electric Roadster. Tesla is a California startup focusing on all-electric vehicles, with a number of celebrity endorsements that is backed by investors that have contributed to Democratic campaigns.  Fisker is reportedly backed by Al Gore.

The awards to Fisker and Tesla have prompted concern from companies that have had their bids for loans rejected, and criticism from groups that question why vehicles aimed at the wealthiest customers are getting loans subsidized by taxpayers.

“This is not for average Americans,” said Leslie Paige, a spokeswoman for Citizens Against Government Waste, an anti-tax group in Washington. “This is for people to put something in their driveway that is a conversation piece. It’s status symbol thing.”

DOE officials spent months working with Fisker on its application, touring its Irvine, Calif., and Pontiac, Mich., facilities and test-driving prototypes.  Matt Rogers, who oversees the department’s loan programs as a senior adviser to Energy Secretary Steven Chu, said Fisker was awarded the loan after a “detailed technical review” that concluded the company could eventually deliver a highly fuel-efficient hybrid car to a mass audience. Fisker said most of its DOE loan will be used to finance U.S. production of a $40,000 family sedan that has yet to be designed.

Subsidies for Non-Renewable Fuels?

Biodiesel Magazine is reporting that a recent study by the Environmental Law Institute concluded that existing subsidies for fossil fuels provide twice the value in governmental incentives to fossile fuels than to renewable fuels.  The study claims that fossil fuels benefited from approximately $72 billion over the seven-year study period, while subsidies for renewable fuels totaled only $29 billion. More than half the subsidies for renewables—$16.8 billion—were attributable to corn-based ethanol. Of the fossil fuel subsidies, $70.2 billion went to traditional sources—such as coal and oil—and $2.3 billion went to carbon capture and storage, which is designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired power plants. The focus of the study was that these energy subsidies  favored energy sources that emit higher levels of greenhouse gases over sources that emit fewer greenhouse gases.

Cash is King

Popular investing website, Seeking Alpha, carried a lengthy report on the economics of renewable energy investing.  Among its findings:

  • It is a “buyer’s market” for those developing large wind, solar, bioenergy, biofuel, and other renewable energy projects. In 2009, land is less expensive, equipment cost less, deliveries are faster, and warranties longer. It is a buyer’s market if you have cash, yet it continues to be a difficult time to secure debt financing.
  • Demand for renewable energy is at a record high as U.S. utilities in about 30 states struggle to meet renewable portfolio standards (“RPS”).
  • Utilities in RPS states are looking to sign long term PPAs (“power purchase agreements’) for 5 to 20 years.
  • Renewable energy has been an “historic opportunity” for developers who would take projects through 3 to five years of analysis, regulatory approvals, securing equity and debt financing, buying equipment, program management, and operating the plant. Now, few investors and lenders have the appetite for risk, as projects such as ethanol plants have gone bankrupt.
  • Credit worthiness of developers, utilities and end users are scrutinized. For example, major public real estate owners of buildings, hotels, and shopping centers that want MW of solar cannot get the RE because their corporation or REIT has a sub-prime debt rating.
  • Risk is intensified as redundant regulation and NIMBY (not in my backyard) opposition can delay installation of high-voltage lines for 7 to 10 years from wind or solar farm to major cities that need more electricity. Even billionaire Boone Pickens was unwilling to tie-up money for that period of time.
  • Although large-scale RE development in 2009 is beyond the financing capabilities of most entrepreneurs, it is an opportunity for major public companies with investment-grade bond ratings such as FPL Energy (FPL), GE Energy (GE), Iberdrola Renovables (IBR.MC), and EDF Energy Nouvelles (EEN.PA). Wall Street analysts are forecasting record 2009 and 2010 earnings for Iberdrola and EDF.
  • Smaller wind and solar developers find that new developments are possible, though more difficult. Utilities are standardizing RFPs and making conditions more reasonable. Private equity money is available if investors can be convinced of high returns and low risk. David Perlman, Managing Director with investment banker Fieldstone Private Capital Group, reports that, “Liquidity is returning, but with fewer banks than before economic crisis, smaller lending commitments, shorter maturities, and club deals rather than syndications. Bankers might offer construction terms and an operating loan of no more than five years for developments that show little risk.
  • The ARRA (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act) has helped and hurt. More federal bureaucracy and slower release of money is reported. New wind and solar deals are more likely to use ITC than PTC. The cash flow for an ITC is sooner and more predictable. For many projects, the new Treasury Department Grant is even more favorable than ITC. Tax-exempt bonds are another avenue for financing RE projects reported John M. May, Managing Director of investment banker Stern Brothers. He identifies bioenergy and biofuel from solid waste are good targets for tax-exempt bonds.
  • The demand is growing for renewable energy and fuels. The rewards are significant for the patient investor who can moderate risk with a portfolio of RE projects at various stages of approval. In 2009, the year of the Great Recession, cash is king.

September 17, 2009

Live Blogging from the DOE’s Section 48C Webinar

Filed under: American Recovery and Reinvestment Act — Tags: , — Jonathan B. Wilson @ 1:08 pm

Update 3:23

I’m signing off.  Our friends at the DOE did a valiant job but it was clearly a challenge to provide detailed answers to questions where the fundamental basis of the program is unclear.  The premise of the Section 48C program is that it is possible for applicants to identify all of the details and inputs applicable to their projects and all of the energy and GHG-reducing outputs attributable to their projects.  This is a an outrageous task as only the largest and most well-funded project sponsors can expect to have that level of detail available before a project starts. 

The best the average applicant can do is to take a good shot at answering all of the questions, providing the best documentary evidence available and providing a narrative that tells the story well.  Good luck to those who try! 

Update 2:52

If the applicant’s facility is manufacturing an item that is a part of a renewable energy facility, the applicant is supposed to compare the applicant’s device to the total cost of the energy-producing facility (see line 11).  The applicant’s AAMC is basically a percentage that is equal to the applicant’s device in comparison to the total cost of the energy producing-facility.  Again we are reminded the read the Guidance. 

Update 2:51

In response to several questions about how to provide data for the applicant data input sheet, the speaker’s answer is to “use the data that is most reflective” and to explain how the data was selected in the Formal Application narrative. 

Update 2:48

Although it is not stated in the written guidance, when the applicant data sheet refers to “fiscal year” they are referring to the U.S. Government’s fiscal year which ends September 30. 

Update 2:37

The speaker doesn’t like the questions he’s getting and is actually berating the audience for submitting questions that have already been asked before.   He’s reading through questions silently, only to respond that they have already been answered (but without identifying the redundant question or how it has already been asked).

After a few minutes of this, one of the speakers in Golden suggested that they answer the redundant questions anyway.  This seem to be picking up now.

Update: 2:33

The webinar was scheduled to run for 3 hours but it has now concluded and we’re covering questions.  The speakers are deferring all tax questions and only covering items relating to the Formal Application.

The speakers have confirmed that the slides will be available online and the audio is being recorded for later use. 

 

Update 2:27

We’re now walking through the spreadsheets for applicant data input.  The speaker is covering the rules already covered by the guidance without a lot of color on how to apply the rules for specific situations. 

Update 2:17

Go-to-webinar is back online again.  Speakers are now walking through the application process.

Update  2:10

DOE says that the electronic copy of the formal application on CD needs to include an ‘electronic signature.  Unfortunately, they haven’t said what an electronic signature means and they don’t indicate if one is required if the application is submitted by email.

I’ve now given up on seeing the slides.  My session of go-to-webinar crashed and the site won’t let me sign back on again.

Update 2:05

Following ten minutes of some truly ponderous ‘hold’ music we were introduced to a small army of DOE representatives.  Unfortunately the slide show keeps crashing, so I haven’t been able to catch their names.

Live Blogging Today from the DOE Section 48C Webinar

The Department of Energy is hosting a webinar today for  persons who submitted preliminary applications for Section 48C credits prior to yesterday’s deadline.  The webinar does not seem to be open to the general public but I will be live blogging the event from 2 to 5 pm eastern today.

September 14, 2009

Renewable Energy Around the Web: September 14, 2009

Our weekly compilation of renewable energy news and information from around the Web.

Biomass in North Carolina

North Carolina is exploring the potential of biomass energy through the recently created Biofuels Center of North Carolina.  The Center  is investigating the potential for in-state biofuels production from energy crops and forest biomass within the state. Industry leaders, elected officials and others toured the center’s four-acre plot of more than a dozen energy crops and fast-growth trees during the North Carolina Grows Biofuels event at the end of August.

The North Carolina General Assembly established the nonprofit center in 2007 to address strategies outlined in the North Carolina Strategic Plan for Biofuels Leadership, created by policymakers to develop a homegrown industry. The state allocated $5 million to the center to fund research and development in agriculture economics, conversion technologies and workforce development.  Norman Smit, director of communications and education for the center, noted that several companies have received grants.  He said, “The biofuel center’s goal is to replace 10 percent of all fuel used in the state with homegrown and produced biofuels by 2017.  He noted that North Carolina buys 5.6 billion gallons of liquid fuels each year.  

Energy crops have been planted at 20 sites around the state in partnership with the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and North Carolina State University. They include miscanthus, switchgrass, sweet sorghum, grain sorghum, tropical sugar beets and many others, along with fast-growth trees like sweetgum and cottonwood, Smit said. The center will use the data collected to determine which crops grow best in certain types of soil around the state, he said. The center will also determine the markets for the crops, ensuring they are economically sensible for farmers. “We want to be able to talk to farmers and say, ‘This is what you need to look out for,” Smit said. “We want to look for crops that will provide farmers with income.” While the Midwest can sustain one crop per season, North Carolina can support two, he added.

48C Application Deadline

Preliminary applications for Section 48C qualified advanced energy projects are due on September 16, 2009, just two days hence. 

Show Me the Money

Anna  Austin and Lisa Gibson chronicle the challenges of renewable energy promoters in finding cash funding for their projects in the latest issue of Biomass Magazine

They write that, “although a lack of liquidity in the equity and debt markets is currently keeping a lid on project development activity, there are some encouraging signs on the horizon for biomass projects, according to Rob Kurtz, BBI International Engineering and Consulting Group project manager. “Positive signs include the recent USDA issuance of feasibility study grant guidelines for both combined heat and power at biofuels plants and anaerobic digestion systems, and a slight thawing in venture capital/risk investment as evidenced by the Tendril and Gevo investments recently announced, and several other announcements by companies developing combined-heat-and-power systems,” Kurtz says. The Tendril Networks and Gevo investments totaling $70 million were among the top five reported venture-capital deals nationwide for clean energy and environmental technology companies in the second quarter, according to Ernst & Young LLP. Gevo, an Englewood, Colo.-based alternative fuels producer received $40 million and Tendril, a Boulder, Colo.-based smart grid software company received $30 million.

“Biomass project developers need to think big when they are putting together their financial package, says Timothy Baye, bioeconomy and bioenergy business development specialist at the University of Wisconsin-Extension. “Think return on capital, working capital needs, for this type of commodity-related business, you’ll need equal to or up to three times the amount of the capital budget, because you’ve got to secure a feedstock—and that takes money.””

Up in the Air, Junior Birdmen!

Biofuels Digest is reporting that Sustainable Oils been awarded a contract by the Defense Energy Support Center for 40,000 gallons of camelina-based jet fuel.

The fuel will be delivered to the Naval Air Systems Command fuels team in 2009 and will support the Navy’s certification testing program of alternative fuels. The contract includes an option to supply up to an additional 150,000 gallons of camelina-based jet fuel.

Camelina was selected by the DESC because it does not compete with food crops, has been proven to reduce carbon emissions by more than 80 percent, and has already been successfully tested in a commercial airline test flight. In addition, camelina has naturally high oil content, is drought tolerant and requires less fertilizer and herbicides.

It is an excellent rotation crop with wheat, and it can also grow on marginal land. Camelina has also been proven to significantly reduce carbon emissions in aviation fuel. A life cycle analysis (LCA) of jet fuel created from camelina conducted at Michigan Tech University in conjunction with UOP LLC, a Honeywell Company, and Sustainable Oils found that the renewable fuel reduces carbon emissions by 80 percent compared to petroleum jet fuel.

Camelina is the most readily available renewable fuel feedstock that meets the Navy’s criteria, with the ability to scale up acreage to meet demand.  The camelina for the contract was primarily grown in 2009 and harvested recently by farmers in Montana. The company also has several field trials in Washington state.

More Green Jobs

A new study is reporting that shifting to renewable energy will create more jobs than continued dependence on fossil fuels. 

The study, by environmental group Greenpeace and the European Renewable Energy Council (EREC), urged governments to agree a strong new United Nations pact to combat climate change in December in Copenhagen, partly to safeguard employment.

“A switch from coal to renewable electricity generation will not just avoid 10 billion tons of carbon dioxide emissions, but will create 2.7 million more jobs by 2030 than if we continue business as usual,” the report said.

Governments were often wrong to fear that a shift to green energy was a threat to jobs, said Sven Teske, lead author of the report at Greenpeace. He said that the wind turbine industry was already the second largest steel consumer in Germany after cars.

“Renewable power industries can create a lot of jobs,” he told Reuters of the outlook for solar, wind, tidal, biomass — such as wood and crop waste — and other renewable energies in power generation. “This research proves that renewable energy is key to tackling both the climate and economic crises,” said Christine Lins, Secretary General of EREC, which represents clean energy industries.

Assuming strong policies to shift to renewables, the study projected that the number of jobs in power generation would rise by more than 2 million to 11.3 million in 2030, helped by a surge in renewables jobs to 6.9 million from 1.9 million.

While the prospect of more jobs in renewable energy is heartening, the study seems to drive home what would be an obvious (and not terribly meaningful) point.  Shifting energy production from one technoloyg to ANY OTHER TECHNOLOGY would necessarily create more jobs.  The effort and stress of making any kind of change in production would necessarily “create jobs” as facilities were designed, funded, built and staffed.  We won’t criticize green jobs on these pages, but this kind of study runs the risk of prompting a backlash as it touts an economic necessity (that a shift from one technology to another technology creates new employment potential) as if it were a merit of renewble energy per se.  That kind of reasoning will not help the renewable energy industry in the long run.

100 Servants

U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu, in an interview with National Public Radio, called for greater conservation and more sensitive in using energy in America.  Today, he said,  “every person in the United States uses energy as if they had 100 personal servants at their beck and call,” cleaning their carpets, or traveling to the supermarket.  While he won’t ask everyone to “cut” the number of their “servants” in half or by some other fraction, he believes American need to be more aware of how they use energy and to conserve more.

Your Name Here

Does your company have a story of interest to the renewable energy committee?  Drop us a line at “editor” at “renewableenergy” dot com and tell us what’s going on with your company or firm.  We would love to hear from you.

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