Archive for October, 2013


Two members of the U.S. House of Representatives — Scott Peters (D-CA) and Matt Salmon (R-AZ) — announced the relaunching of the Congressional Algae Caucus last week. This caucus aims to provide a forum to foster Congressional awareness of the enormous potential now being uncovered in tiny algae plant cells.

Representative Salmon commented: “In my own state we are already seeing the economic development that is possible from a thriving algae sector, from jobs to research and development. High tech jobs will help grow our economy and through this caucus, I hope to draw attention to the great economic and environmental benefits of algae production.”

Representative Peters stated, “My hope is that the Algae Caucus is a place for bipartisan discussion on how to diversify our energy policy, while also informing members of Congress about the jobs and partnerships the algae industry is creating, including at the University of California San Diego with the new California Center for Algae Biotechnology.”

Additional members of the bipartisan Congressional Algae Caucus include: Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), Tom Latham (R-IA), Trey Radel (R-FL), Louise Slaughter (D-NY), Tim Walz (D-MN) , Jackie Speier (D-CA), Susan Davis (D-CA), Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM), Alcee Hastings (D-FL), David Cicilline (D-RI), Ed Perlmutter (D-CO), Jared Polis (D-CO) and Duncan Hunter (R-CA). Hats off to them!

The algae biofuels market is expected to reach $1.6 billion by 2015. Algae also offers additional applications in the food, green chemicals and plastics industries. Algae grows faster and requires fewer resources than other biologically based feedstocks.

My favorite application for algae is its use to clean up wastewater and then used the converted and harvested biomass as an energy source. But there are some really great new developments in algae biofuels that deserve special mention.

For example, the Green Crude Farm in New Mexico is now operational, refining algae into crude oil for transportation. Sapphire Energy raised about $300 million in public and private backing for the project.  Its Series C round was reported to be one of the largest venture capital deals in 2012.

The commercial success of its algae-based crude has enabled Sapphire to pay off the entire $54.5 million in federal loan guarantees the comapny obtained in 2009 from the Biorefinery Assistance Program, administered by the USDA Rural Development-Cooperative Service. “The investments being made in low-carbon biofuel production are paying off and moving technologies forward, which will produce savings at the pump for consumers, and spur sustainable, new-wealth creation here in the United States, and make our land more productive,” says Doug O’Brien, Acting Under Secretary for Rural Development.

Commercial airlines are also now testing and running on fuels that include Solazyme’s algae-based fuel. Solazyme is reportedly the first publicly-traded algae company (Nasdaq: SZYM). The company has signed a $120 million loan agreement with joint venture partner Bunge for a loan from the Brazilian National Development Bank. That loan will be used It will  be used to develop the first commercial-scale renewable oil production facility in Brazil.

The high yield per acre (up to 5,000 gallons of renewable oil per year on a single acre) and minimal environmental impact of algae biofuels make them one of the most viable and attractive biofuels on the market today.

More information:

http://biomassmagazine.com/articles/9613/congressional-caucus-formed-to-support-algae-industry

http://www.sustainablebusiness.com/index.cfm/go/news.display/id/25109

http://news.thomasnet.com/companystory/House-Members-Commended-on-Congressional-Algae-Caucus-re-launch-20016613

REAP Grants (USDA)

The USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) administers grants to rural communities that help to foster biomass projects.

The Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 converted the federal Renewable Energy Systems and Energy Efficiency Improvements Program into the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). Similar to its predecessor, REAP promotes energy efficiency and renewable energy for agricultural producers and rural small businesses through the use of grants and loan guarantees for energy efficiency improvements and renewable energy systems, and grants for energy audits and renewable energy development assistance.

About 88% of REAP funding is devoted to competitive grants and loan guarantees for energy efficiency improvements and renewable energy systems. These incentives are available to agricultural producers and rural small businesses to purchase renewable energy systems (including systems that may be used to produce and sell electricity) and to make energy efficiency improvements.

Funding is also available to conduct relevant feasibility studies, with approximately 2% of total funding being available for feasibility studies.

Eligible renewable energy projects include wind, solar, biomass and geothermal; and hydrogen derived from biomass or water using wind, solar or geothermal energy sources.

These grants are limited to 25% of a proposed project’s cost, and a loan guarantee may not exceed $25 million. The combined amount of a grant and loan guarantee must be at least $5,000 (with the grant portion at least $1,500) and may not exceed 75% of the project’s cost.

In general, a minimum of 20% of the funds available for these incentives will be dedicated to grants of $20,000 or less.

Let’s hope that this program continues through future rounds of budget negotiations!

Contact information:

Public Information – RBS
U.S. Department of Agriculture
Rural Business – Cooperative Service
USDA/RBS, Room 5045-S, Mail Stop 3201
1400 Independence Avenue SW
Washington, DC 20250-3201
Phone: (202) 690-4730
Fax: (202) 690-4737
E-Mail: webmaster@rurdev.usda.gov
Web Site: http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/rb

Kalispell Biomass Bonanza

News was published yesterday on a new state-of-the-art facility utilizing forest-product waste to generate steam for operations and electricity for the power grid. As reported by Ryan Murray in The Daily Inter Lake,  Stoltze Land and Lumber Company near Kalispell, Montana has invested about $22 million and 14 months on the five-story co-generation facility.

The plant itself generates steam to run Stoltze’s lumber-drying kilns, sawmill buildings and electricity-generating turbine.  Sawdust and forest fallings are blended into a mulch-like biomass fed into the boiler system.

Extensive permitting went into getting the plant up and running. The Montana Department of Environmental Quality and Department of Renewable Energy were extremely helpful in the process, according to Stoltze Vice President Chuck Roady.

Flathead Electric and Bonneville Power Administration have signed seven interconnection agreements with Stoltze to put the power on the grid. The company will receive its first check from the energy cooperative in early November. The lumber company is also receiving renewable energy credits as part of the deal.

The plant has the ability to generate 2.5 megawatts of electricity every year, enough to power 2500 homes.

“[Stoltze] has always been leading in green or renewable technology,” Roady said. “So I wouldn’t say this is a new direction for us, but it’s certainly a new step. We’re hoping to pay it off in a little over 10 years.”

More information:

http://www.dailyinterlake.com/news/local_montana/article_49425496-3dcb-11e3-b36a-0019bb2963f4.html


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