Resources Institute (WRI) issued a working paper, "Avoiding
Bioenergy Competition for Food Crops and Land," as part of its
series on "Creating
a Sustainable Food Future." The paper concludes that using
land for bioenergy purposes results in that land not being available for
growing food or animal feed, and, as such, urges policy changes that would
phase-out bioenergy and biofuel from crops. According
to a New York Times article, the WRI report urges governments to
reconsider their reliance on biofuels. The Renewable
Fuels Association issued a press
release in response to the WRI report, stating that the report
makes hypothetical predictions but fails to substantiate its claims on
competition with food crops and land.
Hills Resources has completed the acquisition of an ethanol plant near Camilla,
Georgia, from Southwest Georgia Ethanol, LLC. Flint Hills
Resources' biofuels business now includes seven ethanol plants with a combined
annual capacity of 820 million gallons, a biodiesel plant, and investments in
biofuels technology and feedstock development. Camilla is the Company's first
ethanol plant located outside of the Midwest.
On December 12, 2014, the Senate passed a House amendment to the Carl Levin
and Howard P. "Buck" McKeon National Defense Authorization Act for
Fiscal Year 2015 (NDAA FY15). The final version of the NDAA FY15
places restrictions on how the military is able to acquire biofuels by
prohibiting funding from being used for bulk purchase of drop-in biofuels where
the fully burdened cost of the biofuels is not cost competitive with the fully
burdened cost of available traditional fuels. The bill defines a fully burdened
cost as "the commodity price of the fuel plus the total cost of all
personnel and assets required to move and, when necessary, protect the fuel
from the point at which the fuel is received from the commercial supplier to
the point of use."
In addition, the NDAA FY15 requires the Secretary of Defense, or
the Secretary of the relevant military department, to submit a business case
analysis to the Congressional defense committees at least 30 days before
entering contracts for the "planning, design, refurbishment, or
construction of a biofuels refinery, or of any other facility or infrastructure
used to refine biofuels." The Congressional Budget Office
has completed a review of the effect that the bill would have on direct
spending and revenue and has determined that NDAA FY15 would result in a
decrease in direct spending by $1.9 billion from 2015 to 2024.
On December 16, 2014, the Senate followed the House of
Representatives and passed tax extender legislation that is expected to be
signed by the President. The final package that passed would retroactively
extend incentives that expired on December 31, 2013, through the end of 2014.
It does not extend the incentives through the end of 2015, as Senate Finance
Committee Chair Ron Wyden (D-OR) and other leaders would have liked.
The final tax extender package includes important incentives for
the biofuels industry, including the dollar-per-gallon biodiesel tax credit, as
well as the biofuel production tax credit for cellulosic and algae-based
biofuels and the special allowance for second generation biofuel plant
Kingdom (UK) Department for Transport (DfT) announced the launch of a £25
million competition for funding to build advanced biofuel plants.
The funding will eventually lead to the construction of up to three
demonstration level advanced biofuel plants in the UK. In order to qualify for
funding, the biofuels being produced need to have at least 60 percent
reductions in greenhouse gas emissions compared to fossil fuels and be made
from waste materials. Potential bidders have until February 13, 2015, to
provide a detailed expression of interest, with full proposals due in June 2015. The
demonstration plants that are constructed as a result of this competition are
expected to produce one million liters or more of biofuel per year and be
operational by December
information for the Advanced Biofuels Demonstration Competition is available
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.