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
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 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.