On October 29, 2014, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe (D) announced that Appalachian Biofuels LLC will invest about $3.5 million to establish its headquarters and an enzymatic biodiesel production facility in St. Paul, Virginia. The location is expected to create 40 jobs, which will be filled by former coal miners from the town of St. Paul and surrounding areas. Appalachian Biofuels will be refining waste feedstock materials with an enzyme to create biodiesel. The two organizations mainly responsible for offering financial incentives for Appalachian Biofuels to settle in Virginia are the Governor's Opportunity Fund, which provided a $200,000 grant, and the Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission, which provided a $210,000 grant.
On October 22, 2014, Boeing and the Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC) opened the China-U.S. Aviation Biofuel Pilot Project, a demonstration facility that will turn used cooking oil into aviation biofuel at a rate of 170 gallons per day. This project will assess the feasibility of producing higher volumes of biofuel, as China has enough used cooking oil to make as much as 500 million gallons of biofuel annually. Working together since 2012, Boeing and COMAC support China's commercial aviation, and collaborate with Chinese universities and research institutions to further knowledge on aviation oil and other efficiency improvements. More information can be found in Boeing's press release about the Aviation Biofuel Pilot Project.
During the next state legislative session, which begins in January, Iowa's Economic Development Agency will reportedly seek approximately $20 million in new incentives for companies that use chemicals derived from ethanol production to produce biobased products. The Agency reportedly believes sufficient incentives exist to promote biofuel development in Iowa. This new incentive would be needed to help further the biobased economy in the State. More information on this effort is available in The Des Moines Register news story "Biochem Tax Credit Pitched By Economic Agency."
On October 17, 2014, Abengoa opened -- and DOE Secretary Ernest Moniz dedicated -- the world's largest cellulosic biorefinery in Hugoton, Kansas. This second generation cellulosic ethanol plant will process 1,000 tons of biomass per day and utilize mainly corn stover, as well as wheat straw, milo stubble, and switch grass. This biorefinery will produce up to 25 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol every year. It benefited from a $132.4 million loan guarantee and a $97 million grant, both from DOE. More information about the plant and comments from the opening ceremony are available in a DOE press release, "Secretary Moniz Dedicates Innovative Commercial-Scale Cellulosic Biofuel Plant" and on the Biofuels Digest website.
On September 19, 2014, Representatives Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Dave Loebsack (D-IA) introduced the Bridge to a Clean Energy Future Act of 2014 (H.R. 5559), which was referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means. The bill would extend clean energy tax incentives, including those benefiting the biofuel and bioenergy industries. Among the tax credits being extended are the second generation biofuel producer credit, the $1.00 per gallon tax credit for biodiesel and renewable diesel, and the Section 45 renewable energy production tax credit. More information is available online.
On September 29, 2014, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued an initial notice announcing the timeframes to submit applications for participation in the Advanced Biofuels Payment Program. Applications for participation in fiscal year 2015 will be accepted between October 1, 2014, and October 31, 2014. The Federal Register notice is available online.
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced up to $25 million in funding to reduce the cost of algal biofuels to less than $5 per gasoline gallon equivalent (gge) by 2019. On behalf of the Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO), the DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy posted a notice of a funding opportunity, entitled "Targeted Algal Biofuels and Bioproducts" (TABB). The TABB Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) looks for pathways to overcome the key barriers to commercializing algal biofuels: the high cost of producing algal biomass and the low yield of target biofuel and bioproduct feedstocks produced from algae. Specifically, the TABB FOA will support: (1) the development of algae cultures that produce valuable bioproducts alongside fuels to increase the overall value of the biomass; and (2) the development of crop protection and carbon dioxide utilization technologies to boost culture productivity and yield to reduce the cost of the biomass. There will be an information webinar on October 8, 2014. Information on the webinar is available online.
More information on the TABB FOA and applications is available online.
Researchers from the Centre for Novel Agricultural Products at the University of York worked with colleagues in France to discover variant straw plants whose cell walls are more easily broken down to make biofuels. Straw is an ideal plant to be used as biomass as it does not have food uses and contains a high number of polysaccharides that can be fermented into ethanol. Previously, straw has not been commercially viable as a biofuel feedstock as the cost of breaking down the straw to produce sugars is too high. This research identified 12 straw variants that are easier to digest without negatively affecting the strength of the plant. These findings could lead the way to viable uses for straw in biofuel production in the future. More information is available online.
On September 19, 2014, Secretary Vilsack was joined by Deputy Secretary of Energy, Dan Poneman, and Secretary of the Navy, Ray Mabus, to announce contract awards to three separate companies to produce over one million gallons per year of advanced drop-in jet biofuels to be used by the U.S. Department of Defense and the private transportation sector. The three companies receiving the $210 million in contract awards are Emerald Biofuels, Fulcrum Bioenergy, and Red Rock Biofuels. The announcement was shown via live webcast via the White House website. More information is available here and here.
This announcement comes as part of an ongoing joint, combined $510 million effort among the Departments of Energy, Agriculture, and the Navy to help facilitate the production and use of U.S. advanced drop-in biofuels for military and commercial use.
On September 18, 2014, Representatives Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Dave Loebsack (D-IA), along with 16 other Members of Congress, introduced H.R. 5559, the Bridge to a Clean Energy Future Act of 2014. A copy of Representative Blumenauer's statement on the bill is available online.
H.R. 5559 is the House counterpart to S. 2260, the Expiring Provisions Improvement Reform and Efficiency (EXPIRE) Act. The package of tax extenders was approved by the Senate Finance Committee in April and stalled on the Senate Floor since May. A copy of H.R. 5559 is not yet publicly available. Reportedly it is very similar to the EXPIRE Act, which would extend key biofuels incentives, including: the Alternative Fuel Refueling Property Credit; the Second Generation Biofuel Producer Tax Credit; the Special Depreciation Allowance for Second Generation Biofuel Plant Property; the Biodiesel and Renewable Diesel Fuels Credit; and the Alternative Fuel and Alternative Fuel Mixture Excise Tax Credit.
A copy of the most recent report by the Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG®) on the EXPIRE Act is available online.