Harvest Power Raises $110 Million in Series C Financing
Harvest Power, a leader in harnessing the renewable energy, soil and fertilizer value from organic materials, recently announced a $110 million financing. True North Venture Partners led the investment with American Refining and Biochemical, Inc. participating alongside existing investors including Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB), DAG Ventures and Generation Investment Management among others. Harvest will use the funding to expand its capabilities to meet the growing demand from communities across North America seeking sustainable, economical solutions for managing their organic materials. Goldman, Sachs & Co. GS +3.85% served as the placement agent for the financing.
“The significant investor interest Harvest has received is the result of our dynamic partnerships, innovative approaches, and proven ability to build the first nationwide organics management company,” said Paul Sellew, CEO of Harvest. “By integrating organics recycling, renewable energy and the production of soils, mulches and natural fertilizers, Harvest has shown that we are a leader in a new kind of cleantech — one that lowers costs. We are proud to partner with True North and other investors that want to be part of this disruptive model.” Read the full article: Harvest Power Raises $110 Million in Series C Financing
Air China Launches China’s First Test of Biofuel Flight
Thanks to the successful teamwork by Air China, PetroChina, Boeing and Honeywell UOP, China’s first airplane demonstration test using sustainable aviation biofuel was launched in Beijing Capital International Airport on October 28, 2011, based on the energy cooperation between China and the US. During the perfect test flight launch at this airport, the B747-400 passenger plane which is still in service was driven by aviation biofuel, the teamwork fruit of PetroChina and UOP.
The leader of the crew for this flight was Mr. Zheng Weimin, the Deputy Managing Director of Air China Fleet. With abundant flight experience, he has been awarded for many flight safety honors. Also, Zheng served on the first charter flight for Chinese evacuation in Libya with a B747. Captain Zhang Rongbin is the Deputy Director of the Flight Crew Subdivision IV of Air China Fleet. He made a prominent performance in Chinese evacuation in Libya too, and served on the important charter flight for the Olympic Games twice. Mr. Yuan Hang was the chief copilot, a young airman model in subdivision IV, having twice served in Chinese evacuations in Libya.
The crew made an elaborate preparation before the test flight. They made specific studies in order of the process requirements on fuel ingredients, the differences to traditional fuels, impact possibilities to flight and special occasion management. Through iterative exercises in simulators, the crew was getting more familiar with such circumstances. All of this contributed important information for the success of the test flight. Read the complete article: Air China Launches China’s First Test of Biofuel Flight
Panda poop may be a treasure trove of microbes for making biofuels
Panda poop contains bacteria with potent effects in breaking down plant material in the way needed to tap biomass as a major new source of “biofuels” produced not from corn and other food sources, but from grass, wood chips and crop wastes, scientists reported today at the 242nd National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS).
“Who would have guessed that ‘panda poop’ might help solve one of the major hurdles to producing biofuels, which is optimizing the breakdown of the raw plant materials used to make the fuels?” said study co-author Ashli Brown, Ph.D. “We hope our research will help expand the use of biofuels in the future and help cut dependency on foreign oil. We also hope it will reinforce the importance of wildlife conservation.”
Brown pointed out that bacteria from the giant panda are particularly promising for breaking down the super-tough plant material known as lignocellulose in switch grass, corn stalks and wood chips. That advance could speed the development of so-called cellulosic biofuels made from these tough plant materials in a way that doesn’t rely on precious food crops such as corn, soybeans and sugar now used for making biofuels, she noted.
Scientists have long known that giant pandas — like termites and cattle — have bacteria in their digestive systems to break down the cellulose in plants into nutrients. Bamboo constitutes about 99 percent of the giant panda’s diet in the wild. An adult may eat 20-40 pounds of bamboo daily — leaves stems, shoots and all. Until the energy crunch fostered interest in biofuels, however, scientists never thought to parse out exactly what microbes in the giant panda gastrointestinal system were involved in digestion. Read the full article: Panda poop may be a treasure trove of microbes for making biofuels
Japan to use coffee grounds as biomass fuel
TOKYO (Commodity Online) : Quake hit Japan is trying different things to boost non nuclear energy and the latest to this effect is using coffee grounds to use as biomass fuel in thermal power plants. Japan’s Sumitomo Metal Industries Ltd. is planning to use coffee grounds purchased from beverage companies to use as biomass fuel in a thermal power plant at its Kashima Steel Works in plant in Ibaraki Prefecture, reports Yomiuri Shimbun
Thermal power plants are playing a bigger role in the nation’s energy supply to cope with power generation capacity lost due to the March 11 earthquake and the crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant. Along with helping cope with expected power shortages this summer, Sumitomo Metal’s project will likely attract attention for reducing carbon dioxide emissions.
Sumitomo Metal plans to buy as much as 12,000 tons of coffee grounds a year from beverage makers, the sources said. The spent beans will be mixed with coal at a 1:99 ratio after being delivered to the power plant at the steelworks in Kashima, Ibaraki Prefecture.
Coffee grounds burn easily but give off less heat than coal, which is why so much more coal than coffee is used in the mix.
Coffee grounds are plant matter and emit CO2 when burned. However, since the CO2 released when the grounds are burned was initially absorbed by the plants from the atmosphere, there is no net change in the amount of CO2 in the environment. According to the sources, Sumitomo Metal will reduce its CO2 emissions by 7,000 tons a year by using coffee grounds at the thermal plant, the same as generated annually by about 1,500 households.
Sumitomo Metal sells the electricity generated at its plant to Tokyo Electric Power Co., operator of the stricken nuclear power station. The plant has a capacity of 470 megawatts, enough to supply all the households in Ibaraki Prefecture. Besides compost, there are few other uses for coffee grounds. A beverage maker said the firm basically gives the grounds away. Sumitomo Metal also expects its use of coffee grounds to reduce power generation costs.
According to the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization, Sumitomo Metal’s project will be the first time a large power generation facility has used coffee grounds as fuel.
Biomass Energy To Triple By 2050
by Ducan McQueen
Rising fossil fuel costs and fears about energy security are driving a global search for energy alternatives,
particularly those based on renewable sources that can reduce carbon emissions and help tackle climate change.
Biomass energy — energy from plant or animal matter — fits the bill in many ways. Most biomass energy is
based on wood. It is renewable and can meet rising demands as long as forests are locally controlled and
thereby managed in a way that is sensitive to food security needs. If it is produced sustainably and burnt
efficiently it is also low carbon. And new ways of converting biomass into energy are increasingly cost
competitive with energy alternatives at a range of commercial scales.
There are other advantages too, particularly when it comes to meeting development goals. Biomass is
accessible in even the poorest nations. Indeed, more than two billion people in developing countries already
rely on woody biomass for their energy. Biomass can also be readily converted into all energy carriers (heat,
electricity, liquid and gas), even using basic technologies. It is labour intensive across the whole supply chain,
offering employment options to reduce poverty. And potential health risks can be cheaply and easily solved
with more efficient processing and stove technologies. Biomass energy already makes up ten per cent of the
global energy supply, and more than three-quarters of the world’s renewable energy supply. The International
Energy Agency (IEA) predicts that by 2050, biomass energy’s share of the world’s energy supply will reach
30 per cent. Read More
PetroAlgae and Sky Airline to Collaborate on Offtake Strategy to Bring Green Jet Fuel to Chile
Joint Effort with leading Airline Focuses on Renewable Jet Fuel
MELBOURNE, Fla.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–PetroAlgae Inc., a leading U.S. renewable energy company that licenses its commercial micro-crop technology globally, today announced it has entered into a non-binding offtake supply agreement with Sky Airline, a leading Chilean airline providing passenger, mail, and cargo air transportation services.
“We are excited to be working with PetroAlgae to bring green jet fuel to Chile”
Subject to certain conditions, Sky Airline and PetroAlgae have agreed to collaborate to enable Sky Airline to purchase the fuel feedstock produced by licensees of PetroAlgae’s technology as a feedstock for conversion into renewable jet fuel.
PetroAlgae currently licenses and deploys the leading biomass production platform to address existing and growing unmet needs in the global energy and agriculture markets. Its proprietary technology, consisting of light and environmental management systems, allows its customer licensees to grow aquatic microorganisms at a rate that consistently exceeds four times the natural growth rates. This enables the commercial-scale production of two end-products: a fuel feedstock and a protein. The fuel feedstock is intended to be used principally in existing refineries, resulting in renewable fuels, including renewable jet fuel.
“We are excited to be working with PetroAlgae to bring green jet fuel to Chile,” said Holger Paulmann, Director of Sky Airline. “Our airline has always prided itself on being at the forefront of change that is good for our customers, the economy, and the country. With PetroAlgae’s commercial-scale biomass from micro-crops, we hope to develop clean renewable jet fuel in existing refineries, which will reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and create green jobs in the process.
Mind Boggling Forest-Gobbling Biomass Boondoggle
by Rachel Smolker: Who knew that something as environmentally friendly sounding as “renewable energy” could pose a monumental threat to forests and public health? Burning, of forests and other “biomass” is in fact doing just that: threatening to decimate lands, dump billions of tons of CO2 into the already-overburdened atmosphere, and leave us all breathing particulates and other air pollutants deep into our lungs to wreak havoc with our health.
To understand the magnitude of this assault, consider the recent developments in Ohio: The states’ Public Utilities Commission (aka “PUCO”) is on track to permit a whopping 2442 megawatts of electricity to be generated from burning wood as a substitute for, or in combination with coal. Estimates are that this will require around 26 million tons of wood per year. Just to supply this amount of wood for the first year of operation alone, would require harvesting 5 times the current annual growth of all public and private forests in the state. In fact the plan is to truck in woodchips from surrounding states as well – as far away as Florida.
Ohio’s plans alone will nearly double the total amount of biomass-burning for electricity in the entire United States. Incinerating forests and other “biomass” is already the darling of “renewables” in this and other countries, responsible for more than half of what passes as renewable energy generation. Smokestacks, spewing more CO2 per unit of energy than coal, along with particulates and other pollution, 24/7, not the windmills and solar panels of our imaginations, predominate.
Ironically, even as we are providing incentives to cut and burn forests, both here and abroad, for so-called “renewable energy”, climate negotiations have focused much attention on how to protect forests as one of the easiest and most effective ways to address global warming. This protection option is vanishing with policies and subsidies that reward burning forests for electricity.
Presented as a solution to global warming, biomass electricity is anything but. Science (and common sense) clearly indicate that burning, and the secondary impacts of overharvesting and soil depletion contribute to global warming. The much publicized “Manomet Biomass Sustainability and Carbon Policy Study” – commissioned by the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources – attempted to model CO2 emissions from a lifecycle analysis of the harvesting and burning of wood for electricity. They reported that the “carbon debt” resulting from biomass electricity will take from 20-90 years to “repay”, depending on whether the biomass is replacing coal or natural gas generation. Alarming as these findings are, they seriously underestimate the impact, given assumptions of the Manomet models (and spelled out in the review by Clean Air Task Force).
Ohio apparently hasn’t read the Manomet Study or any of the other burgeoning literature that reveals what a sham biomass electricity is. The state has a long and intimate history with coal. With global warming becoming increasingly tangible, coal miners killed or trapped underground on a near daily basis, and with activists from Appalachia becoming increasingly vocal in their objection to having their mountain homeland blasted to smithereens and their children poisoned – the public perception of coal is shifting. That is not to say we are mining and burning less of it (see “Coal’s Comeback, Oct 31, Washington Post). But there is distinct advantage in cultivating at least an appearance of being more “green”.
Ohio is burdened with a collection of old, dirty and inefficient coal plants, unable to satisfy current Environmental Protection Agency air pollution regulations. Desperately seeking a fresh green makeover and an extended lease on life for these facilities, the quick and easy (so called) “solution” is to substitute “living coal” — biomass that hasn’t yet been around long enough to mineralize and metamorphose into coal — for the old dirty dead variety. Somehow, nonsensically, shoving forests or garbage or manure, sewage sludge –- you name it — into incinerators, is still considered “clean and renewable” and we are subsidizing the practice with billions of taxpayer dollars.
Companies like First Energies who own Ohio’s 312 Burger plant, one of the first to be approved to burn a mix of 80% wood and 20% coal – will be allowed to gorge on public subsidies, including funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Ohio, like other states, rewards the production of renewable energy with Renewable Energy Credits (RECS). Normally one REC is earned per megawatt of renewable electricity produced. But the Burger facility is extra special: this facility will be eligible for so called “Super” or “False” REC’s. This is thanks to a “muliplier” provision, written into Ohio Law, that will allow the Burger facility to artificially inflate the RECs it generates from biomass burning, making it exceedingly profitable for the company. Expectations are that this will have profound impacts – flooding the market with RECs, hence devaluing them, and creating a “death spiral” that will undermine the state’s non-solar REC market. In fact, estimates suggest that the Burger plant will produce nearly enough RECs in June of 2012 alone to satisfy all of the in-state REC requirements through 2024 for all of the utilities in Ohio.
The desktop of my laptop computer is awash in unread and yet to be filed documents. Peaking out through it is an image I have special fondness for: that famous photograph of the earth from space. Like a beautiful marble, the land appears mostly a brilliant green, the oceans deep blue, and all of it partly obscured by the fluffy smudges of cloud cover here and there.
Unfortunately, most of the documents that are strewn across this lovely image are news articles and reports detailing the demise of all that loveliness – global warming, biodiversity loss, hunger and poverty, and now the boondoggle of renewable energy from biomass burning. I imagine that if we were to take the same picture of earth from space today we would see all that brilliant green fading under a brown haze of smoke. And the worst irony is that people are applauding and rewarding all that cutting and burning as “renewable energy”.
Rachel Smolker is codirector of Biofuelwatch , and an organizer with Climate SOS . She has a Ph.D. in behavioral ecology from the University of Michigan and worked as a field biologist before turning to activism. Published by CommonDreams.org