Bioenergy News Archive
  • Ethanol Industry Objects to Rail Safety Rules that Lump Ethanol in with Crude Oil

    by Henry Kaplan | Jul 29, 2014
    Last week the U.S. Department of Transportation proposed sweeping new safety requirements for oil trains. They would that mean that tens of thousands of railroad tank cars would have to be upgraded or replaced in the next few years. These new regulations treat ethanol differently from crude oil, but not that differently. They categorize crude oil and ethanol as the two most hazardous flammable liquids that are transported heavily by rail...
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  • German Parliament Reforms Renewable Energy Law

    by Henry Kaplan | Jul 11, 2014
    Germany’s changes to its renewable energy law passed in the upper house of parliament and is expected to go into effect in August. The law will cut back on renewable energy subsidies, and will change the way the remaining subsidies are funded. Germany has had some of the strongest support for renewable energy of any country, but with this reform, they are rolling that back. The Wall Street Journal explains the rationale...
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  • Washington State Funds Giant Batteries for Renewable Energy

    by Henry Kaplan | Jul 09, 2014
    With a 3.2 million grant from the State of Washington, Avista Corp will be testing out utility scale batteries. They received the grant last week. It comes from a $14 million pool of grant money to integrate renewable energy into Washington’s energy grid...
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  • Some Renewable Energy Companies Fail, but That Doesn’t Mean Much

    by Henry Kaplan | Jul 08, 2014
    Following the Obama administration’s latest round of loan guarantees for renewable energy projects, Michael Grunwald has an essay in Time analyzing the loan guarantee program, and what it means after the Solyndra collapse...
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  • Ethanol Industry Wants Government Intervention to Fix Railroad Issues

    by Henry Kaplan | Jul 08, 2014
    The beleaguered ethanol industry is being squeezed by all sides. The EPA has been talking about cutting back the federal mandate that keeps them afloat. Their recent distribution troubles meant that they couldn’t provide enough ethanol to fulfill that mandate in the first place. And with no clear decision on the future of the federal mandate, despite being well into 2014, it’s very hard to plan for the future. Now, the ethanol industry group Growth Energy is asking for government relief for ethanol shippers...
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  • Commercial Production of Cellulosic Ethanol Comes to Iowa

    by Henry Kaplan | Jul 02, 2014
    In Iowa, the state’s first commercial cellulosic ethanol operation is up and running. In a state rich in corn, Quad County Corn Processors are converting fiber from corn kernels into cellulosic ethanol. This new production of cellulosic ethanol is taking place at a facility that already produces traditional corn ethanol. With a $9 million investment at the existing plant, they added what they needed to produce 2 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol a year...
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  • Halfway Through 2014, and Still Little Sign of an Ethanol Announcement from EPA

    by Henry Kaplan | Jul 01, 2014
    The EPA have been talking about cutting their 2014 support for ethanol since late 2013. Back then, they said that they would make their final decision in late spring or early summer. In May, AP reported that we should expect the decision in June. But it’s now July, halfway through the year, and the EPA is still a long way from issuing their final rule for 2014. They've yet to even submit a proposal with hard numbers. The closest they've come is a statement from last November considering reducing the requirement from 14.4 billion gallons to 13 billion gallons.
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  • How Affordable is Renewable Energy?

    by Henry Kaplan | Jun 26, 2014
    The price of solar power and other renewables is falling. But is renewable energy a good deal for the average ratepayer? A few recent reports from state agencies tried to answer this question.
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  • Nest Opens Up Its Smart Thermostats to Developers

    by Henry Kaplan | Jun 25, 2014
    For a “smart grid” company, Nest isn’t all that interested in updating the power grid itself. It’s really something closer to a smart energy use company. The Google-owned company makes small devices for managing a household or officeplace – devices like computerized thermostats, smoke alarms, and as of last week, security cameras. They promise that their thermostats will increase the energy efficiency of a building by carefully scheduling heating and cooling based on your schedule and automatically adjusting your energy use when you’re not home...
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  • Supreme Court Gives the EPA Most of the Authority it Wants over Greenhouse Gas

    by Henry Kaplan | Jun 24, 2014
    The Supreme Court has issued their opinion on an EPA case originally filed last year. The issue at hand is the way that the EPA interprets the Clean Air Act with regards to greenhouse gas emissions. (That’s an issue that shouldn’t be confused with the EPA’s recent clean power plan, which won’t be affected by this ruling.) The short version of the ruling is that the court just slightly curtailed the EPA’s regulatory reach, an outcome that the EPA and their supporters seem pleased with...
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  • USDA Announces Grants and Support for Bioenergy Companies

    by Henry Kaplan | Jun 23, 2014
    The USDA is putting $14.5 million towards bioenergy grants via two separate programs. Of the total amount, $12 million is going through the Rural Development program, which is taking applications from companies “seeking to offset the costs associated with converting fossil fuel systems to renewable biomass fuel systems.” The USDA describes who is eligible and how to apply...
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  • DOE Launches Renewable Energy Incubator Initiative

    by Henry Kaplan | Jun 23, 2014
    The U.S. Department of Energy just launched what they’re calling a national support network for renewable energy entrepreneurs and small businesses. The National Incubator Initiative for Clean Energy is funding a renewable energy accelerator and is giving awards to technology incubators...
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  • Legislation and Policy News Roundup – June 13, 2014

    by Henry Kaplan | Jun 13, 2014
    As always, renewable energy bills are working their way through legislative bodies around the country and world. Here’s the latest...
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  • Why Tesla Wants Other Companies to Use Their Tech for Free

    by Henry Kaplan | Jun 13, 2014
    Electric car company Tesla announced yesterday that they are making all of their patents available to their competitors. CEO Elon Musk said in a blog post that they are applying “open source philosophy” to their patents. But they're not acting purely altruistically...
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  • Google Wants to Push Into Energy Infrastructure

    by Henry Kaplan | Jun 11, 2014
    Google has already put plenty of time and money into energy infrastructure. Their investment in the Ivanpah solar farm and their acquisition of Nest, a company that makes networked, energy-smart home appliances, comes to mind. Now, Bloomberg is reporting that Google is designing software and hardware to manage power lines and other energy infrastructure...
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