SAN DIEGO (AP) — The Navy is launching a carrier strike group to be powered partly by biofuel, calling it a milestone toward easing the military's reliance on foreign oil.
The maritime branch is touting the warships as the centerpiece of its "Great Green Fleet." Most of the group's ships will be run for now on a mix made up of 90 percent petroleum and only 10 percent biofuels, though that could change in the future. The Navy originally aimed for the ratio to be 50/50.
Meanwhile, critics, including environmentalists, say biofuel production is too costly and on a large scale may do more harm than good.
NEVADA, Iowa (AP) — A refinery designed to make ethanol from cornstalks, leaves and cobs — not the grain itself — opened Friday in central Iowa, the culmination of a $225 million construction project and millions more invested in its engineering and design.
The plant, owned by chemical and biotechnology company DuPont, will use the same bacteria that tequila distillers use to make ethanol instead of yeast, which is most prevalent in the ethanol industry. It's one of the new innovations DuPont said it has incorporated into the plant, touted as the world's largest cellulosic ethanol plant; DuPont expects it to eventually make 30 million gallons of the fuel additive a year.
The Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed blending levels for the Renewable Fuel Standard would undercut necessary investment in advanced biofuels and undermine its climate change goals, a coalition of industry leaders told President Barack Obama on Wednesday.
In a letter, 23 executives from the advanced and cellulosic biofuels sector, including Abengoa, POET-DSM and Novozymes, warned Obama that the proposals for 2014, 2015 and 2016 run contrary to his climate legacy and would reward an oil industry that has chosen not to comply.
The Environmental Protection Agency’s Renewable Fuel Standard proposals for 2014, 2015 and 2016 hit the Federal Register this week, and a supporting document is helping to drive the ethanol industry’s calls for stronger blending requirements.
EPA’s proposals drew fire from all sides when they were unveiled two weeks ago. The ethanol industry said the blending targets were a handout to oil companies and refiners, because it acknowledged a 10-percent biofuel blend wall. Foes of the standard, however, charged that EPA set an unrealistic projection for biofuel growth in its 2016 proposal.
As the Environmental Protection Agency prepares to issue three years’ worth of proposed Renewable Fuel Standard volume levels, both sides of the debate are lobbying the Obama administration on what those proposals should look like. Biofuels groups called for an aggressive standard while oil and refining groups sought a reprieve from the current RFS blending trajectory.
In recent days, the industries have sent correspondence to the White House and EPA seeking to influence the volume requirements for 2014, 2015 and 2016, set to be proposed on June 1.
An industry group representing advanced and cellulosic fuel producers on Wednesday officially shifted its position on the Renewable Fuel Standard, calling for legislative reform to the program that mandates the blending of biofuels in transportation fuels.
The Advanced Biofuels Association's call for action won approval from opponents of the current RFS, who see it as giving a big boost to reform efforts. But supporters of the law said the proposals would only add more uncertainty to the biofuels industry.
The decision last week by the Obama administration to delay a final biofuels rule for 2014 is leading to conflict within the industry over the future of the program.
Mike McAdams, president of the Advanced Biofuels Association, on Tuesday renewed his call for Congress to write new legislation to reform the Renewable Fuel Standard, a stance that put him at odds with other biofuels groups.
He argued that the approach adopted by the Environmental Protection Agency to keep biofuels at about 10 percent of the motor vehicle fuel market, based on the predominant blend of ethanol into gasoline sold to consumers, threatens to kill investment into ethanol made from non-corn cellulosic feedstocks.
"It's time for Congress to step in and do something," McAdams said in an interview.
The Environmental Protection Agency announced Friday that it will not finalize its 2014 Renewable Fuel Standard proposal this year and will set final targets next year, potentially with 2015 requirements.
The agency is more than a year late in finalizing the annual mandate for biofuels use in transportation fuels. Late last year it proposed to cut required use compared to 2013, which prompted intense lobbying from the biofuels industry in an effort to raise the totals in a final rule.
"Due to this delay, and given ongoing consideration of the issues presented by the commenters, EPA is not in a position to finalize the 2014 RFS standards rule before the end of the year," the agency said in a Federal Register notice.
Sources tell Platts that the Renewable Fuel Standard for 2014 biodiesel production will range from 1.28 billion to 1.5 billion gallons, far lower than industry capacity that reached 1.8 billion gallons last year.
Pioneer Natural Resources is the second U.S. firm, after Enterprise Products, to begin exploring how to take advantage of the end of the U.S. oil export ban and could begin shipments by the middle of next year, The Hill reports.
Two competing initiatives designed to give Florida residents a constitutional right to rooftop solar energy are running out of time without enough signatures yet to make next November's ballot, the Naples Daily News reports.
SolarCity CEO Lyndon Rive joined Sen. Charles E. Schumer in Buffalo this week to call the five-year extension of a federal tax subsidy "super important" to the continued growth of the solar power industry, The Buffalo News reports.
Continued concerns about oversupply forced oil prices downward early Wednesday, nearing an 11-year low already reached once this week. London Brent fell 31 cents to $37.05 a barrel while U.S. crude remained unchanged at $37.50, Reuters reports.
A group of researchers at MIT, the University of California-Berkeley, and the University of Colorado have developed a new computer microchip that uses optical technology and creates the potential to make future computer data centers more energy efficient, the journal Science reports.
A Japanese court on Thursday rejected safety concerns and approved letting Kansai Electric Power, the country's second biggest utility, restart four nuclear reactors shuttered since the 2011 Fukushima disaster, Reuters reports.