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 March 2, 2020, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) announced open meetings of the Biomass Research and Development (R&D) Technical Advisory Committee. Occurring on March 24, 2020, from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (EDT) and March 25, 2020, from 1:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. (EDT), both meetings will take place in Arlington, VA. The purpose of the meetings is to develop advice and guidance that promotes R&D leading to the production of biobased fuels and biobased products. Parties interested in participating in the meeting and/or making oral statements must contact .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) five days prior to the meetings.

Tags: DOE, EERE, Biofuel

 

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 February 10, 2020, the Governor of Wyoming, Mark Gordon, delivered his 2020 State of the State Address, which included a request to lawmakers of a $25 million investment to establish the Energy Commercialization Program. The program is designed to provide a coordinated approach to support research on technologies that advance zero or net-negative carbon uses for coal and other fossil fuels. Gordon stated: “Wyoming will always advocate for our industries, whether it be to protect against unconstitutional restraint of trade, or in their endeavors to deliver cleaner, more dependable, more affordable, and safer energy to our nation.” While supporting coal mines and preventing them from closing, Gordon seeks to build a carbon capture and sequestration facility in Wyoming. Criticizing states such as California, Oregon, and Washington, Gordon went as far as stating that Wyoming will require true carbon dioxide sequestration and “not just some artificial notion that wind and solar can cure climate change all by themselves.” The Wyoming Governor also urged lawmakers to support legislation that would require all new electric generation capacity in the state to be reliable, consistent, and reasonably net carbon negative.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On February 6, 2020, EPA issued its final rule setting 2020 renewable fuel percentage standards under its Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) Program. The final rule established the annual percentage standards for cellulosic biofuel, biomass-based diesel, advanced biofuel, and total renewable fuel that apply to gasoline and diesel transportation fuel produced or imported in 2020. The volume requirements set are below the statutory volume targets. In addition to the 2020 annual percentage standards, the final rule establishes the applicable volume of biomass-based diesel for 2021. Other changes include the percentage standard calculations to account for fuel volumes exempted from the renewable volume obligation (RVO). Effective on April 6, 2020, this rule finalizes regulatory changes to the RFS Program, including clarifications of existing regulations, new pathways, and flexibilities for regulated parties.

Tags: RFS, Biofuel

 

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

On January 30, 2020, the National Biodiesel Board (NBB) submitted comments to USDA in response to its request for information (RFI) on the Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program (HBIIP). A new USDA Rural Development project, HBIIP is designed to expand the availability of domestic ethanol and biodiesel by incentivizing the expansion of sales of renewable fuels. USDA’s RFI solicited information on options for fuel ethanol and biodiesel infrastructure, innovation, products, technology, and data derived from all HBIIP processes and/or science that drive economic growth, promote health, and increase public benefit. A total of 56 comments were submitted in response to USDA’s RFI. NBB’s comments included a request for USDA to focus the program on opportunities that would invest in facilitating the greatest additional volumes of biodiesel (including bioheat and sustainable aviation fuel) to enter the marketplace. NBB also calls for direct investment in infrastructure instead of federal funding that incentivizes sales. According to NBB, infrastructure investments should include heated storage tanks, transfer stations, large-scale national retail chains, increased rail capabilities to move and store biodiesel, and pipeline terminals to blend biodiesel. Urging USDA to make HBIIP a multi-year program, NBB Vice President of Federal Affairs, Kurt Kovarik, expresses NBB’s optimism that HBIIP will facilitate biodiesel industry growth.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On January 23, 2020, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced the availability of more than $96 million in funding for bioenergy research and development (R&D) in support of the U.S. bioeconomy. DOE’s funding efforts also align with its own goal to provide secure, affordable, and reliable domestic energy options for consumers and business. This funding opportunity announcement (FOA) aims to advance DOE’s Bioenergy and Technology Office’s (BETO) objectives of: (1) reducing the price of drop-in biofuels; (2) enabling high-value products from biomass or waste resources; and (3) lowering the cost of biopower. Topic areas within this FOA include:

  • Up to $8 million for scalable carbon dioxide (CO2) electrocatalysis technologies for generating chemical building blocks;
  • Up to $14 million for algae bioproducts and CO2 direct-air-capture and efficiency;
  • Up to $28 million for scale-up of bench applications of biofuel and bioproduct processes;
  • Up to $5 million for low-emission, high-efficiency residential wood heaters;
  • Up to $18 million for waste to energy strategies for a bioeconomy, including strategies for municipal solid waste, wet wastes, and municipal wastewater treatment;
  • Up to $15 million for biopower and products from urban and suburban wastes (North American Multi-University Partnership for Research and Education), with a focus on using plastic waste to make recycled products and to produce low-cost biopower; and
  • Up to $8 million for bio-restore -- biomass to restore natural resources -- to quantify the economic and environmental benefits associated with growing energy crops, with a focus on restoring water quality and soil health.

According to DOE’s FOA, the application process will consist of two phases: a concept paper and a full application. Phase one of the process (the concept papers) are due on March 5, 2020, and phase two (full applications) are due on April 30, 2020. Further details are available here.

Tags: DOE, FOA, BETO, Biofuel

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On January 24, 2020, as part of its sustainable transportation efforts, DOE announced a collaborative project with the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) to encourage the development of advanced fuels and efficient technologies in motorsports. Focused on vehicles at the racetrack, the collaboration was formalized by a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that names the combined effort the Green Racing Program (GRP). GRP aims to emphasize the importance of promoting reduced greenhouse gases (GHG); clean, fast, and efficient vehicle technologies in motorsports competition; the improvement of vehicle performance; reduced exhaust pollutants; and improved fuel economy. DOE plans to contribute and showcase technologies developed by its Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE). In its announcement, EERE explains that despite GRP’s focus on racetrack vehicles, this collaborative project presents an opportunity for the aforementioned technologies to take center stage, preparing to (soon) meet the needs of vehicles driven by the fans themselves.

Tags: DOE, Biofuel

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On January 22, 2020, three trade associations announced the launch of a strategy to tackle the transition into 100 percent biofuels for heating oil in English and Irish homes. A United Kingdom (UK) based trade association, the Oil Firing Technical Association (OFTEC) has partnered with the Tank Storage Association (TSA) and the UK and Ireland Fuel Distributors Association (UKIFDA) to launch a future vision for liquid fuels, titled “Supply Chain Strategy for Liquid Fuels.” Detailing the necessary steps to achieve 100 percent biofuel use to replace heating oil in 1.5 million UK homes and 686,000 Irish homes, this liquid fuels strategy sets five key challenges to be addressed by the government in the following order:

  1. Encourage and support energy-efficient measures in the immediate term to improve the performance of buildings and their services. This method will reduce energy demand and cost for households’ use of technology.
  1. Support supply chain preparations to accept a 30 percent fatty acid methyl ester (FAME) and 70 percent kerosene blend fuel into existing installations by 2027, including an industry-led field trial built on work previously undertaken by OFTEC and the University of East Anglia.
  1. Support supply chain preparations to accept a low-carbon (0 percent fossil) liquid fuel by 2035 following a full evaluation of boiler and tank fleet and successful field trials of all possible future products that may come from the UK or European sources.
  1. Be actively involved in transitional communication work with consumers utilizing the relationships that the trade association members already have with consumers.
  1. Encourage UK-based and European suppliers to evaluate all new low-carbon/GHG fuels and technologies that are already being developed and coming to market, including gas to liquid (GTL), hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO), e-fuels, and other liquid fuels made from waste materials.

Calling for support, the three associations stated: “Our industry is committed to creating a supply chain capable of distributing a 30% biofuel 70% kerosene blend from 2027 and 100% low-carbon liquid fuel by 2035. We are therefore calling on the Government to work together with industry to support and benefit rural communities across the country and set out a clear roadmap to the decarbonisation of heat, with regulation that will provide confidence to the market by providing a clear trajectory to work towards realising our future vision.”

Tags: Biofuel, UK

 

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

On January 16, 2020, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the issuance of a Request for Information (RFI) to assist with the creation of its new program called Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program (HBIIP). A USDA Rural Development project, HBIIP is designed to expand the availability of domestic ethanol and biodiesel by incentivizing the expansion of sales of renewable fuels. Requesting feedback from all interested parties, this RFI solicits information on options for fuel ethanol and biodiesel infrastructure, innovation, products, technology, and data derived from all HBIIP processes and/or science that drive economic growth, promote health, and increase public benefit. With an approaching deadline for comment submissions by January 30, 2020, thus far, only three parties have submitted comments to USDA.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson 

On January 23, 2020, DOE announced that up to $133 million will be available for new and innovative advanced vehicle technologies research designed to increase affordable, efficient, and secure transportation energy. This Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 opportunity will be funded by DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) and supports priorities in: (1) advanced engine and fuel technologies; (2) lightweight materials; (3) new energy efficient mobility systems; and (4) alternative fuels technology demonstrations. Topic areas and funding amounts include:

  • Up to $40 million for batteries and electrification;
     
  • Up to $27.5 million for advanced combustion engines and fuels;
     
  • Up to $15 million for materials technology;
     
  • Up to $13.5 million for energy efficient mobility systems;
     
  • Up to $36 million for technology integration; and
     
  • Up to $1.2 million for transportation and energy analysis.
     

Concept papers for this funding opportunity are due on February 21, 2020, and full applications are due on April 14, 2020.


 
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