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On December 11, 2013, the U.S. Departments of Agriculture (USDA) and Navy announced that as part of their joint "Farm-to-Fleet" initiative, the acquisition of biofuel blends will be included into regular Department of Defense domestic solicitations for jet engine and marine diesel fuels. The Navy will seek to purchase JP-5 and F-76 advanced drop-in biofuels blended from 10 to 50 percent with conventional fuels. Funds from USDA's Commodity Credit Corporation will assist the effort.


The Navy and USDA plan to hold an "Industry Day" to explain the effort on January 30, 2014. A copy of the USDA press release on the announcement is available online.


In 2011, DOE, USDA, and the Navy announced a joint $510 million effort to help promote the commercialization of domestic advanced drop-in biofuels for military and commercial use. The Navy and DOE have been challenged with securing their portion of the funding through the appropriations process. Several in Congress have criticized the cost of the biofuels compared to traditional sources of energy. Under the initiative announced this week, the Navy will expect that drop-in biofuels will be available for less than $4 per gallon by 2016, making them competitive with traditional sources of fuel.
 


 

On Thursday, November 7, 2013, the Department of Energy (DOE) and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory released the Alternative Fueling Station Locator App for iPhone or iPad that provides up-to-date information to potential consumers on the closest fueling stations that offer various alternative fuels, including biodiesel (B20), compressed and liquefied natural gas, and ethanol (E85), among others. More information, including a link to the App, may be found on DOE's website.


This new App is a significant new tool in the effort to increase the amount of renewable fuels developed, distributed, and used in the United States.
 


 

RFA sponsored a study released this month by the Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). The study is available online. In the study, NREL analyzed various studies on the effects of E15 use in Model Year 2001 and newer cars and found no meaningful difference in the use of E10 and E15 in those vehicles. This is a significant finding because many in the oil and gas industries, among others, have warned of potentially harmful effects of using E15 in cars. EPA has approved E15 for use in Model Year 2001 and newer vehicles. Many in the biofuels industry have argued that, if more widely used, E15 could be one potential way to overcome the E10 blend wall, because it would allow for greater blending of ethanol in the U.S. fuel supply.


 

On Monday, September 30, 2013, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced that it intends to award $100 million for cutting edge energy research in areas including biofuels as part of its Energy Frontier Research Centers (EFRC). In 2009, DOE granted five-year awards ranging from $2 million to $5 million per year to each of 46 EFRCs throughout the country. The current Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) is available online. Under the FOA, applicants must submit a letter of intent to apply by November 13, 2013, and applications are due by January 9, 2014. Existing and new EFRCs may apply.


The $100 million for this program is part of DOE's Fiscal Year 2014 funding request. Whether DOE is provided the funds is uncertain, especially given the government shutdown and standstill in Congress on passing a Fiscal Year 2014 budget.
 


 

Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz has announced the selection of 19 individuals to serve on the Secretary of Energy Advisory Board (SEAB). The press release on the announcement is available online.


The SEAB will meet at least four times a year and will be broken into four subcommittees to focus on science, energy, nuclear security, and environmental stewardship. The group may also serve to provide advice to Secretary Moniz on an ad hoc basis to address specific issues. The 19 members of the SEAB are:

 

  • Frances Beinecke: President, Natural Resources Defense Council
  • Rafael Bras: Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs, Georgia Institute of Technology
  • Albert Carnesale: Chancellor Emeritus and Professor, University of California, Los Angeles
  • John Deutch (CO-CHAIR): MIT Chemist and Former Under Secretary of Energy
  • Persis Drell (CO-CHAIR): Professor of Physics, Stanford University and Former Director, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory
  • Shirley Ann Jackson: President, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
  • Deborah Jin: Physicist, National Institute of Standards and Technology and Professor Adjoint for Physics at the University of Colorado, Boulder
  • Paul Joskow: President, Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and MIT Professor of Economics, Emeritus
  • Steve Koonin: Director, Center for Urban Science and Progress, New York University and Former Under Secretary for Science
  • Michael McQuade: Senior Vice President for Science and Technology, United Technologies Corporation
  • Richard Meserve: President, Carnegie Institution for Science and Former Chairman of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission
  • Cherry Murray: Dean, Harvard University School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
  • John Podesta: Chair, Center for American Progress and Former White House Chief of Staff
  • Dan Reicher: Executive Director, Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance, Professor, Stanford University and Former Assistant Secretary for Energy
  • Carmichael Roberts: General Partner, North Bridge Venture Partners
  • Martha Schlicher: Renewables and Sustainability Technology Lead, Monsanto Company
  • Brent Scowcroft: Retired U.S. Lieutenant General, Former National Security Advisor and President and Founder, Scowcroft Group
  • Ram Shenoy: Chief Technology Officer, ConocoPhillips
  • Daniel Yergin: Vice Chairman, IHS and Founder of IHS Cambridge Energy Research Associates
     

 

While in Brazil last week, U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz stressed the importance of biofuels as part of President Obama's Climate Action Plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. To this end, Secretary Moniz called for greater partnership between the U.S. and Brazil on biofuels. Significantly, it was reported that Secretary Moniz stated that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has the authority and ability, and will continue to consider imports when EPA sets the annual renewable volume obligations (RVO) under the federal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). This statement is important and signifies that EPA could continue to allow imported Brazilian sugarcane ethanol to meet annual RFS requirements.


As we recently reported, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Export Green Initiative continues plans for an upcoming trip to Brazil September 30-October 2, 2013, to encourage an increased relationship between that country and the U.S. on biofuels. Representatives from the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), the trade association representing the Brazilian sugarcane industry (UNICA), and the Advanced Biofuels Association, along with 15 companies that produce biofuels in the U.S., are expected to attend the trip. More information is available online.
 


 
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