The Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG) helps members develop and bring to market their innovative biobased and renewable chemical products through insightful policy and regulatory advocacy. BRAG is managed by B&C® Consortia Management, L.L.C., an affiliate of Bergeson & Campbell, P.C.

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Ligia Duarte Botelho, M.A.

On February 26, 2020, the city of Helsinki announced the opening of applications for the Helsinki Energy Challenge (HEC), which aims to address challenges associated with urban heating produced with coal. According to its press release, Helsinki is one of the leading cities in the transition toward a sustainable future. Its aim is to achieve carbon neutrality by 2035. Currently, however, Helsinki needs solutions to meet its heat demand. Given Finland’s coal ban starting in 2029, Helsinki is seeking heating solutions that go beyond coal and beyond burning biomass. Helsinki Mayor, Jan Vapaavuori, stated that “[s]olving the urban heating challenge is crucial to reach global climate goals. Cities have a key role to play in the transition to a low carbon economy, and Helsinki is now taking an initiative to lead the way.” The city is inviting innovators from around the world to use Helsinki as a test bed to develop fossil-free and sustainable solutions in the fight against global warming.

Proposed solutions will be evaluated based on:

  • Climate impact;
  • Impact on natural resources;
  • Implementation schedule and feasibility;
  • Reliability and security of supply; and
  • Capacity.

HEC is open globally to consortiums, start-ups, established companies, research institutions, universities, research groups, and individual experts. Applications will be accepted until May 31, 2020. Finalists will be invited to a co-creation phase in early July 2020, which will include a 3-day boot camp, where they will be provided support to develop their proposals. After the boot camp, finalists will present their proposals to an international jury of experts, who will name the winner or winners. To be presented in November 2020, the winning solution will be awarded one million euros.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On December 9, 2019, 22 Senate Democrats released a letter supporting the expansion of green energy tax credits. This letter was drafted in response to the Growing Renewable Energy and Efficiency Now (GREEN) Act discussion draft that was circulated in the U.S. House of Representatives on November 19, 2019. The Senators agree with the priorities of the GREEN Act and pledge to similarly prioritize and include:

  • Offshore Wind Investment Tax Credit,
     
  • Storage Investment Tax Credit,
     
  • Solar and Clean Energy Investment Tax Credit Extension,
     
  • Energy Efficiency Tax Credit,
     
  • Clean Vehicles, and
     
  • Onshore Wind.
     

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On October 1, 2019, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced that 35 projects have been selected to receive funding for bioenergy research and development (R&D). Totaling $73 million in funding provided by DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), the selected projects aim to:

  • Reduce the price of drop-in biofuels;
  • Lower the cost of biopower; and
  • Enable high-value products from biomass or waste resources.

According to DOE, the United States has the potential to produce 1 billion dry tons of non-food biomass without the disruption of agricultural markets for food and animal feed. These domestic resources, however, are currently underutilized. Given these circumstances, the main goal of the 35 selected projects will be to produce affordable biofuels that are compatible with the existing fueling infrastructure and vehicles in a range of transportation modes.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On September 18, 2019, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced a $3 million prize competition to power ocean observing platforms with marine renewable energy. To generate innovation, the Powering the Blue Economy Ocean Observing Prize will offer a series of contests to demonstrate marine renewable energy use for observing platforms. DOE hopes that this prize will help spur technological innovation through a path from concept to design to construction. Part of DOE’s Powering the Blue Economy initiative, the prize consists of two competitions. The first competition, “Discovery,” calls for novel concepts that pair ocean observing technologies with marine energy systems in five broad themes:

  • Charging unmanned systems;
  • Communications and underwater navigation;
  • Extreme environments;
  • Buoys, floats, and tags; and
  • Innovative ideas.

Following the first competition, will be the “Build” competition to bring innovators’ ideas to reality. The prize is led by DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) Water Power Technologies Office (WPTO) and NOAA’s Integrated Ocean Observing System Program.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

The U.S. Green Building Council Massachusetts (USGBC) recently published its 2019 Report titled Zero Energy Buildings in Massachusetts: Saving Money from the Start. The report assesses zero energy (ZE) upfront building costs, model performance, and life-cycle costs in Massachusetts (MA). Local MA leaders have been working to curb greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and reduce energy use in the built environment. This work has been done by retrofitting existing buildings and constructing new buildings to achieve ZE standards. Although many stakeholders and decision-makers cite high costs as the primary barrier for ZE buildings, USGBC reports that many types of ZE buildings can be constructed without an upfront cost. Also according to the report, some commercial buildings may even see return on investment in as little as one year. Key findings and policy recommendations are outlined, accompanied by examples that can be used as a template to overcome the ZE building barriers often encountered. The full report can be accessed here.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On September 17, 2019, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) announced the selection of the Pacific Ocean Energy Trust (POET) as Network Director for the U.S. Testing Expertise and Access for Marine Energy Research Team (TEAMER) Program. TEAMER is a three-year program that supports testing and research for marine energy technologies. It provides access to test facilities and technical expertise to assist technology developers with designing devices that save energy. In a collaborative effort, universities, established DOE National Laboratories, and National Marine Renewable Energy Centers will engage in the TEAMER Program’s efforts. The TEAMER Program is an EERE Water Power Technologies Office (WPTO) project to strengthen U.S. water power research and development (R&D) and testing. WPTO aims to increase competitiveness while promoting economic prosperity and energy security.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Ligia Duarte Botelho, M.A.

On September 16, 2019, Governor of Virginia, Ralph S. Northam (D), signed Executive Order Forty-Three, establishing statewide objectives for clean energy production expansion. The target goals outlined in the Executive Order include a 30 percent increase of electricity powered by renewable energy resources by 2030, and achieving 100 percent of energy by carbon-neutral resources by 2050. Directing the Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy (DMME) to develop a plan of action to meet the renewable energy goals, the plan should address issues related to storage, energy efficiency, equity, and environmental justice. Governor Northam emphasizes in his Executive Order how advancements in clean energy can offer Virginia an opportunity to address inequities for Virginia’s vulnerable populations. DMME is advised to work in consultation with the Secretary of Commerce and Trade, the Secretary of Natural Resources, and the Director of the Department of Environmental Quality to develop this plan. Governor Northam’s concerns related to this imperative issue clearly stand out in his Executive Order. The Executive Order was effective upon its signing.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On September 9, 2019, the House of Representatives returned to work after a six-week August recess and passed a package of energy-related bills. By a roll call vote of 295 to 114, the House approved a bill (H.R. 1768) that would extend the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act through 2024. The vote would keep alive an EPA program that takes older diesel-powered equipment off the market. House lawmakers also approved: H.R. 1420 to improve energy efficiency in federal buildings; H.R. 2114 to provide states with financial and technical support on energy security; and H.R. 1760 that would require the Department of Energy (DOE) to create a uranium program.

Tags: Energy

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On September 10, 2019, the House Small Business Subcommittee on Rural Development, Agriculture, Trade, and Entrepreneurship held a hearing on the clean energy economy. In a notice, the Subcommittee stated that there are growing opportunities for small companies, including farmers, to respond to energy challenges through new and innovative solutions. The clean energy economy covers many industries that are dominated by small businesses, including construction, agriculture, and renewable energy sectors. The Committee explored the economic opportunities for small businesses that come through efforts to address unpredictable weather patterns, reduce fossil fuel consumption, cut greenhouse gas emissions, and increase energy efficiency. Witnesses shared how small businesses are growing and creating well-paying jobs within clean energy sectors, as well as what they need to continue to succeed. Testifying before the committee were Lynn Abramson, President, Clean Energy Business Network; Thomas Brooks, General Manager, Western Dubuque Biodiesel LLC; Michael Williams, Deputy Director, BlueGreen Alliance; and David Spigelmyer, President, Marcellus Shale Coalition. Hearing information, witness testimony, and an archived webcast of the hearing are available online.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Ligia Duarte Botelho, M.A.

On September 3, 2019, Medium published an article by U.S. Senator and 2020 Presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren where she outlines her plan for achieving 100 percent clean energy. Highlighting the fact that the United States is the world’s largest historical carbon polluter, Warren claims that the United States has a “special responsibility to lead the way” in the clean energy movement. As an original supporter of the Green New Deal, which outlines a plan to achieve zero-net domestic greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2030, Warren continues her public campaign calling for large and sustainable structural changes to decarbonize key sectors of the U.S. economy. In her article, Warren challenges other Presidential candidates to do the same in demonstrating commitment to clean energy through the decarbonization of electricity, vehicles, and buildings. Warren expands her argument by stating that a federal investment of $3 trillion will leverage additional trillions in private investment and create millions of jobs in addition to achieving:

  • 100 percent zero-carbon pollution for all new commercial and residential buildings by 2028;
     
  • 100 percent zero emissions for all new light-duty passenger vehicles, medium-duty trucks, and all buses by 2030; and
     
  • 100 percent renewable and zero-emission energy in electricity generation by 2030.

To achieve the goals outlined above, Warren states that there is no time to waste and that changes must begin now, including the readjustment of the U.S. economic approach to assure communities of color and other underserved populations are not left behind. As part of her campaign, Warren further delves into measures she would take as President to achieve these goals. Among these measures are the establishment of high standards for utilities; the creation of a Federal Renewable Energy Commission; federal subsidies to speed clean energy adoption; greater interstate and regional coordination; and the use of federal investment and policy to accelerate the transition. Warren further outlines her plan in her article, concluding by stating that should she win the election, she will “take bold action to confront the climate change crisis, starting on day one.”


 
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