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

On November 15, 2018, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) announced the latest open funding opportunity for 40 new projects (OPEN 2018).  The funds add up to $98 million and are designed to support research and development (R&D) innovators’ projects to transform the U.S. energy system.  Solicitations for ARPA-E OPEN funding are available for scientists and engineers focused on transformational technologies across ARPA-E’s mission.  The projects fall into nine categories:

  • Centralized Generation;
  • Distributed Generation;
  • Electrical Efficiency;
  • Grid;
  • Grid Storage;
  • Manufacturing Efficiency;
  • Transportation Energy Conversion;
  • Transportation Fuels; and
  • Transportation Vehicles.

Of those selected, approximately 43 percent of OPEN 2018 projects will be led by universities, 35 percent by small businesses, and the remainder by large businesses, non-profit organizations, or federally funded R&D centers.  The 40 projects announced will take place in 21 different states and ARPA-E will announce other new program areas.  A list of winners can be found here.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On November 27, 2018, DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy (EERE) announced the discovery of a new process that uses biomass gasification.  Developed by the Bioenergy Technologies Office and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), the process converts solid biomass into gas under high temperatures, creating a new blendstock that is low on aromatic compounds.  The blendstock consists of high-octane gasoline that can be produced in a few efficient and accelerated steps.  “This success provides a path for industry to scale up this novel breakthrough technology in the near term,” writes Zia Abdullah, NREL Program Manager.  Additionally, NREL’s research has contributed to DOE’s Co-Optimization of Fuels and Engines initiative.  NREL’s new technology aims at increasing the market penetration for biofuels and advancing U.S. energy security.

Tags: DOE, EERE, Biofuel

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On November 30, 2018, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the final renewable fuels volumes under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) for 2019 and the biomass-based diesel volumes for 2020.  The final rule establishes that the 15-billion gallon targets originally set by Congress for 2019 will be maintained and primarily met by corn ethanol.  Additionally, in 2019, advanced biofuel volumes will increase by 630 million gallons and cellulosic biofuel volumes by 130 million gallons over the 2018 standard.  The biomass-based diesel volumes for 2020 will increase by 330 million gallons over the 2019 standard of 2.1 billion gallons.

Tags: EPA, RFS, Biofuel

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On November 28, 2018, the European Commission (EC) published a document called “A Clean Planet for all: A European strategic long-term vision for a prosperous, modern, competitive and climate neutral economy.”  Due to EC’s expressed concerns about climate change, part of this new long-term vision includes new rulings that facilitate the production of bio-fertilizers, encourage the production of biogas from manure treatment, and increase biomass imports.  Emphasizing the crucial role of biomass in a world with a 30 percent higher population in 2050, the report states that “biomass can directly supply heat.  It can be transformed into biofuels and biogas and when cleaned can be transported through the gas grid substituting natural gas … And it can substitute for carbon intensive materials, particularly in the building sector but also through new and sustainable bio-based products such as biochemicals.”  The report also analyzes the economic and social impacts of these new rulings, and highlights the critical role of the European Union (EU) in leading a low-carbon transition at the global level.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On November 29, 2018, the Government of Ontario, Canada, submitted for public comment the Made-in-Ontario Environment Plan (Plan).  The Plan outlines the government’s commitment to addressing climate change through the protection of land, air, water, and reduction of waste and greenhouse gas emissions.  Posted by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks, the Plan would increase ethanol use in gasoline by 15 percent in 2025, increase the use of renewable gas and fuels, establish emission performance standards for large emitters, and provide financial assistance for emissions reduction initiatives.  As part of the work on the plan, the next steps to make the actions outlined final include continued engagement with Indigenous communities, the establishment of a climate change advisory panel, the implementation of priority initiatives, and monitoring progress.  The Plan is open for comment until January 28, 2019.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On November 16, 2018, scientists at the Israeli Ben-Gurion University (BGU) of the Negev announced the discovery of a new technique to produce biofuel from human excrement. In an attempt to reduce carbon footprint and address poor sanitation in Global South countries, scientists at BGU developed a technique called hydrothermal carbonization. By hydrothermally carbonizing raw solid human waste biomass, hydrochar, a coal-like sterilized substance, can be produced and used for household cooking and heating. Given energy scarcity and lack of basic sanitation in parts of the world, this new technique “could potentially serve as a sustainable sanitation technology with a closed-loop cycle approach while recovering energy and nutrients.” In addition to hydrochar, the newly developed technique also produces a liquid that is nutrient rich and can, consequently, be used as a fertilizer.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On November 13, 2018, Neste, a member of the Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG®), announced that the Finish airport operator Finavia has decided to adopt Neste’s MY Renewable Diesel in its vehicles at four airports. Neste MY Renewable Diesel is a low-carbon biofuel produced 100 percent from renewable raw materials. Finavia’s switch to this renewable biofuel is part of its goal to reach carbon neutrality within its airports by 2020. The use of Neste’s MY Renewable Diesel is not new in Finland. The biofuel has been in use at Helsinki airport for over a year now in Apron buses, reducing Finavia’s greenhouse gas emissions by 610 metric tons. Neste’s Vice President of Marketing and Services in Finland, Sam Holmberg, stated that Neste is pleased to cooperate with Finavia and has plans to extend the biofuel’s availability to Northern Finland in the near future.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On November 13, 2018, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the submission for review of an information collection request (ICR) on the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) Program to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).  83 Fed. Reg. 56319.  The Federal Register notice states that purpose of this submission is to obtain OMB approval of an ICR that consolidates some existing collections.  By consolidating the existing collections and recordkeeping updates, EPA is aiming to create a new, consistent, and easily understandable format to report burden and cost estimates related to the RFS program.  Additionally, the ICR requests approval of updates to the recordkeeping and reporting burden along with cost estimated in December 2017.  EPA requested comments on this ICR for a 60-day period.  The November 13, 2018, notice extends the request for public comments by an additional 30 days.  Additional comments may be submitted on or before December 13, 2018.  The estimated burden approximates 566,665 hours per year, with a total estimated cost of $57,457,330 per year.  The cost estimate includes $0 of annualized capital or operation and maintenance costs.

Tags: EPA, RFS, OMB, Biofuel

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On November 13, 2018, the European Parliament (EP) announced its approval of new targets for renewables and energy efficiency rates to be achieved by 2030.  According to the press release, “by 2030, energy efficiency in the [European Union (EU)] has to have improved by 32.5%, whereas the share of energy from renewables should be at least 32% of the EU’s gross final consumption.”  Highlighting the crucial role of second generation biofuels rather than first generation biofuels which lead to land use changes, the EP declared that the latter will no longer count towards the EU energy goals from 2030.  Starting in 2019, the plan is to phase out first generation biofuels gradually until it reaches zero.  By December 31, 2019, member states will be required to present a ten-year national energy and climate plan, which outlines the national measures that will be taken.

Tags: Biofuel, EU

 

 
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