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Minnesota state vehicles used 25 percent more E85 in 2009

Minnesota’s state agencies are breaking their “addiction to oil” one tankful at a time, according to a new report from the SmartFleet Committee, a group that tracks fuel use and encourages state employees to use E85 in the 2,500 flex fuel vehicles in the state fleet. In 2009, state agencies used 816,568 gallons of E85, up from 650,036 gallons used in 2008.

Executive Order 04-10, signed by Governor Tim Pawlenty, calls for Minnesota state government to reduce the quantity of petroleum fuels consumed in transportation. Using E85, which contains up to 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline, moves the state closer to that goal. On February 3, President Obama’s Biofuels Interagency Working Group issued a report encouraging federal, state, and local governments to increase their use of biofuels in fleet vehicles.

“Minnesota doesn’t have any fossil fuel resources of our own,” stated Tim Morse, chair of the SmartFleet Committee. “It is important for state government to lead by example as we all look for alternative transportation choices that are cleaner, renewable, and made here at home.”

According to the report, E85 accounted for 15 percent of the total fuel used in 2009 by the state’s light duty vehicles. The state’s Higher Education office topped all other agencies with nearly 79 percent use of cleaner-burning E85. Other top agency users of E85 included Agriculture, the Governor’s Office, Mediation Services, and Revenue.

“I am pleased to see steady progress again this year,” said Kelly Marczak, director for the American Lung Association in Minnesota’s clean fuel and vehicle technologies program and a member of the SmartFleet Committee. “The state’s use of E85 in 2009 prevented more than 3,250 tons of lifecycle carbon dioxide emissions and harmful pollutants from entering our air.”

Cellulosic ethanol demonstration facility opens in Tennessee

On January 29, leaders from DuPont Danisco Cellulosic Ethanol (DDCE), the University of Tennessee, and Genera Energy cut the ribbon on one of the world’s first cellulosic ethanol demonstration facilities, located in Vonore, Tennessee. Leaders say the 74,000-square-foot plant has started producing ethanol and will deliver low-cost, fully-integrated technology for commercial production of ethanol from agricultural residue and bioenergy crops, including corncobs and switchgrass.

“The world should be watching Tennessee,” said DDCE President and CEO Joe Skurla. “Here in Vonore, DDCE and Genera Energy are well ahead of the curve as we develop the entire value chain, from feedstock to production. We delivered on our promise to investors, customers and the industry by initiating start-up at the end of last year and are on track to provide the industry with investment-grade packages that meet demands for low-cost, scalability and sustainability.”

The University of Tennessee’s Biofuels Initiative, championed by Governor Phil Bredesen, established a bioenergy crop research and production basis for the burgeoning industry and attracted second generation biofuels leader DDCE to participate as an industrial partner in the development of the cellulosic ethanol biorefinery. The University of Tennessee Biofuels Initiative (UTBI), with the support of Genera Energy, is establishing a supply chain for the development of fuel.

The state-of-the-art facility in Vonore has capacity to produce 250,000 gallons of ethanol annually, though its focus is on optimizing technologies for large-scale production. It represents an investment of more than $50 million, including funding from UTBI and DDCE. The project also integrates about a $100 million investment in proprietary research by DuPont and Danisco, highly valuable intellectual property platforms and talent pools from both companies and DDCE’s commitment to pay operating costs not covered under UTBI. The Vonore facility currently has a full-time staff of about 20.

Kelly Tiller, CEO of Genera Energy and director of external operations for the UT Office of Bioenergy Programs, said plans are for Tennessee farmers to place an additional 4,000 acres of switchgrass into production this spring, bringing the total production in the state to nearly 7,000 acres of the dedicated energy crop.

CHS to market ethanol from new Mississippi terminal

CHS recently helped celebrate the opening of a new ethanol and biodiesel distribution venture in Collins, Mississippi. CHS Renewable Fuels Marketing has a volume agreement to market the majority of the ethanol supplied by the terminal, which is located on property owned by the CHS Grains Division.

“Strategically located on the CN (Canadian National) Railroad, this new transload terminal allows biofuels to be moved into the nation’s fuel supply more quickly and efficiently. Delivering fuel via rail will mean fewer weather-related delays for customers in Louisiana and Mississippi who are typically supplied by barge,” says John Litterio, director, CHS Renewable Fuels Marketing. “We are excited about this venture and its ability to improve the flow of ethanol from plant to buyer, reduce dependence on foreign oil and add value for grain producers.”

Owned and operated by Blendstar, LLC of The Woodlands, Texas, the Collins facility has storage for 180,000 gallons and throughput capacity of seven million gallons per month. As part of its continued commitment to renewable fuels, CHS collaborated in a similar ethanol distribution venture in Birmingham, Alabama last year.

Iowa approves final grant award for cellulosic project

The Iowa Department of Economic Development has approved an agreement for the final $5.25 million in financial assistance to POET’s Project LIBERTY, a commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol plant that will produce ethanol from corn cobs. The final approval brings Iowa’s total contribution to the project to $20 million.

“The state has shown vision and leadership in helping our nation continue down this important path to eliminate the need for dirty and imported oil,” said Jim Sturdevant, Project LIBERTY Director. “We appreciate the opportunity to partner with Iowa in commercializing cellulosic ethanol.”

Project LIBERTY is a 25 million gallon-per-year cellulosic ethanol plant in Emmetsburg, Iowa that uses corn cobs as feedstock. POET plans to begin construction this year on the plant, which will be co-located with POET’s current grain-ethanol plant at the site. POET’s pilot-scale plant in Scotland, South Dakota is already producing cellulosic ethanol at a rate of approximately 20,000 gallons per year.

Agreement reached on first commercial-scale hybrid cellulosic ethanol and power plant in U.S.

Abengoa Bioenergy and Mid-Kansas Electric Company LLC have announced plans concerning the development of the nation’s first commercial-scale hybrid cellulosic ethanol and power plant – Abengoa Bioenergy Hybrid of Kansas, LLC (ABHK).

An agreement between Abengoa Bioenergy and Mid-Kansas has been signed identifying the terms of a power purchase agreement for 75 megawatts of base load electricity. The electricity will be generated at the electric generation and cellulosic ethanol plant to be constructed in Stevens County, Kansas and will use biomass from crop residue as a fuel source.

“As an international energy company, we believe this project is an important part of our continual growth in bioenergy,” said Javier Salgado Leirado, president and CEO of Abengoa Bioenergy. “Advancing this project required the perfect match of agricultural resources, technology, and a utility partner – all present in our partnership with Mid-Kansas. The agreement terms allow us to move forward with the project and bring significant investment to Kansas.”

The facility will be constructed at a cost of $550 million and have the capability to generate electricity and produce cellulosic ethanol. The cellulosic ethanol facility will produce 15 million gallons of ethanol per year and use corn stover, wheat straw and switchgrass as fuel inputs. The plant will use 2,500 tons of biomass daily to produce ethanol and electricity. Start-up operations are expected in 2012.

Once constructed, the plant will require approximately 90 full-time employees and will purchase $13 million of biomass annually from area farmers and purchase more than $3 million of other goods and services locally. The plant will pay $4.5 million in wages annually when operational, and it is expected that more than 50 additional jobs will be needed for biomass procurement. The plant will consume 10 percent to 12 percent of biomass within a 50 mile radius of the plant.

“The Mid-Kansas board is continually looking for opportunities to develop base load resources to add to the Mid-Kansas generation portfolio,” said L. Earl Watkins, Jr., president and chief executive officer of Mid-Kansas. “This power purchase agreement will generate base load while benefitting area farmers. We are pleased to support this effort and look forward to a successful relationship with Abengoa Bioenergy.”

U.S. increases CBI tariff-free ethanol volumes for 2010

According to a January 18 report from the Oil Price Information Service (OPIS), United States trade officials have announced an increase in the volume of fuel ethanol imports that can enter the country in the coming year under the Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI).

OPIS reports that the International Trade Commission has set a ceiling of 739.8 million gallons on ethanol imports that may enter without the 54 cents per gallon tariff. Under CBI rules, the total level of allowable imports is capped at 7 percent of U.S. domestic consumption of ethanol, determined by the ITC as 10.57 billion gallons for the 12-month period ending September 30, 2009.

As noted by OPIS, CBI-eligible nations have never reached the maximum allowable levels of ethanol exports to the U.S. under this program. In 2008, U.S. ethanol imports from CBI countries reached only 75 percent of that year’s fill-rate set by the Commerce Department.

South Dakota’s largest city welcomes its first ethanol blender pump

Motorists in Sioux Falls, South Dakota now have more fuel choices at the pump, thanks to the installation of four new ethanol blender pumps at the Kings Mart gas station, located at the corner of Cliff Avenue and Benson Road. Through a joint effort of the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) and the South Dakota Corn Utilization Council (SDCUC), the station now offers a variety of fuel blends including unleaded gasoline and E10, and E30 and E85 for Flexible Fuel Vehicles (FFVs).

“This is the first location in Sioux Falls to offer a blend of 30 percent ethanol for FFV owners,” said Ron Lamberty, Vice President / Market Development for ACE. “The important investments made by the owners of King’s Mart, and the South Dakota Corn Utilization Council with the assistance of ACE and the BYO Ethanol campaign, have provided consumers with another ethanol fueling option in Sioux Falls."

“This a huge accomplishment for the corn and ethanol industry to unveil a blender pump in Sioux Falls. Corn farmers take great pride in helping to produce over a billion gallons of ethanol in our great state, and installing infrastructure like this moves our industry in the right direction,” said David Fremark, President of the South Dakota Corn Utilization Council.

ACE is the nation’s largest ethanol advocacy association and has worked with petroleum marketers for 10 years through its nationwide market development program. In 2009, the “Blend Your Own Ethanol” campaign was launched as a partnership between ACE, the Renewable Fuels Association, and leading corn-producing states such as South Dakota, as well as the National Corn Growers Association. The BYO campaign works to show gas station owners the benefits of blending ethanol and using blender pumps to provide choices for motorists.

The Sioux Falls blender pump location joins 40 other locations across South Dakota and around 150 nationwide. A map of blender pump sites can be viewed at www.tinyurl.com/ACEblenderpumpmap.

“Ultimately we need to shift the power to decide what fuels motorists use away from government agencies and oil companies and back to the consumer,” said Brian Jennings, Executive Vice President for ACE. “We support maximum consumer choice for motorists to use their choice of E10, E15, E20, E30, E85, or ethanol-free gasoline, and we believe that when consumers are finally given these meaningful choices they will select the ethanol-blended fuels that work best in their vehicles.”

 
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The American Coalition for Ethanol publishes Ethanol Today magazine each month to cover the biofuels industryís hot topics, including cellulosic ethanol, E85, corn ethanol, food versus fuel, ethanolís carbon footprint, E10, E15, and mid-range ethanol blends.
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