By Kathleen M. Roberts
The Maryland Energy Administration (MEA) issued a $3,500,000 funding opportunity for projects that use animal waste to generate electricity while reducing the environmental impacts that animal wastes can have on Maryland’s natural resources. The Animal Waste to Energy Grant Program (AWE Grant Program) will target on-farm or pilot scale projects with capacities of less than 2 MW and community or regional scale projects with capacities of greater than 2 MW. To be eligible for the grant, projects must use animal waste, through any proven process, to generate electricity, reduce the volume of animal waste, and address the fate of the byproduct. The AWE Grant Program is open to all businesses, government agencies, and non-profits in Maryland. Applications are due by February 28, 2018.
By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.
On November 30, 2016, Neste, a member of the Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG®), released a statement in response to the publication of the European Commission’s (EC) proposal on the revised Renewable Energy Directive (Directive) for 2021 to 2030. The aim of the Directive is to raise renewable energy usage in Europe to 27 percent by 2030. In the revised Directive, the EC introduced a mandate requiring fuel suppliers to include a minimum share of advanced biofuels in their offering, which will increase steadily between 2021 and 2030. Neste highlighted the fact that for the first time renewable solutions from the aviation and marine sectors are included in the biofuels blending mandate. Neste stated the proposal would support biofuels use and development in Europe, and provide predictability that would allow companies to plan their long-term operations and investments. The proposal requires approval from the European Council and the European Parliament before it becomes official.
On May 26, 2016, Poland was referred to the European Union (EU) Court of Justice for establishing restrictions for certain imported biofuels and raw materials used for the production of biofuel. The EU's Renewable Energy Directive requires sustainable biofuels and their raw materials be treated equally by Member States regardless of origin. Polish law provides preferential treatment for fuel operators sourcing at least 70 percent of their biofuels from Polish manufacturers, and for biofuel production from raw materials originating in certain countries. Poland also lacks fuel requirements for hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO), despite EU law preventing fuels from being marketed without the requirements. The European Commission first sent Poland a formal notice in February 2014, with Polish authorities disagreeing with the Commission's interpretation of the Renewable Energy Directive.
On July 29, 2015, a bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to provide credits for the production of renewable chemicals and investments in renewable chemical production facilities, and for other purposes (H.R. 3390) was introduced in the House. The bill would expand production and investment tax credits that are currently available to renewable energy producers to apply also to renewable chemical manufacturers. The program allows manufactures to choose either: (1) a 15 cents per pound production credit for eligible renewable chemicals; or (2) a 30 percent investment tax credit for the construction of renewable chemical production facilities. The credits will be in effect for five years after the bill is enacted, and will be capped at $500 million over the life of the program. The Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) has expressed its support for H.R. 3390, restating the need to create a level playing field in the U.S. for industrial biotech companies to innovate and develop new renewable chemicals and biobased products.
On June 24, 2015, the Master Limited Partnership Parity Act (S. 1656) was reintroduced in the House and the Senate. The legislation would provide investors in renewable energy projects with tax breaks that are currently available to investors in fossil fuel-based energy projects. A master limited partnership is taxed as a partnership, but ownership interests are traded like corporate stock, thus avoiding the double taxation that can occur with traditional corporate structures when both profits and dividends are taxed. "Renewable energy technologies have made tremendous progress in the last several decades, and they deserve the same shot at success in the market as traditional energy projects," stated co-sponsor of the bill Senator Chris Coons (D-DE). This legislation would extend the benefits of a master limited partnership to biomass, municipal solid waste, solar, cellulosic fuels, biodiesel, algae-based fuels, and other renewable energy technologies.
On May 20, 2015, the House voted to pass the
COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2015 (H.R. 1806)
(COMPETES), a research funding bill that was originally
enacted in 2007 to further U.S. scientific and
technological advantages. The new version of COMPETES
increases funding for nuclear energy and fossil fuel
research programs, while cutting clean and renewable
energy programs. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)
Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy will have
funding reduced by 30 percent, or nearly $500 million,
while the DOE's Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy
will see funding cut by 50 percent. The
Administration has threatened to veto the bill, stating
that "the Administration believes that H.R. 1806 would be
damaging to the Administration's actions to move American
competitiveness, innovation and job growth forward through
a world-leading science, technology and innovation
On April 22, 2015, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack celebrated Earth Day by announcing that USDA "is providing more than $112 million in loans and grants to help rural communities build and upgrade their water and energy infrastructure systems." The funding for the energy infrastructure programs is provided through the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), and funds a total of 25 renewable energy projects. The grants support government bodies, utilities, and institutions of higher education that help agricultural producers and rural small businesses evaluate energy efficiency systems in order to incorporate renewable energy technology into their operations.
February 2, 2015, the
White House released the 2016 fiscal year budget request for the U.S.
Department of Energy (DOE). Under this proposed plan, DOE
would receive $29.9 billion, an increase of $2.6 billion from the
2015 fiscal year. The increase in funding for DOE would focus on renewable
energy, energy efficiency, and clean power technology with some of the
additional money coming from DOE's fossil fuel programs. A total of $7.4
billion of the funding would go specifically towards clean energy technology,
including renewable and biobased developments. The budget request would also
make the renewable energy production and investment tax credits permanent. In
addition to making the existing tax credits permanent, new credits were
proposed that will focus on carbon capture, utilization, and storage
technologies. In contrast to the proposed additional tax credits for
renewables, existing tax incentives for the oil, gas, and coal industries would
be repealed. The current budget request is unlikely to pass in the House of
Representatives, but shows the focus on renewable energy that the current