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 Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

On June 6, 2017, AkzoNobel, a member of the Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG®), announced the winners of its Imagine Chemistry challenge.  The following winners have been awarded joint development agreements with AkzoNobel’s Specialty Chemicals business to help bring their ideas to market:

  • Ecovia Renewables was awarded for its fermentation technology to make polyglutamic acid, which can be used to make thickeners for personal care products and other uses;
  • Industrial Microbes was awarded for its solution to use genetically modified microorganisms to turn CO2 and natural gas into key chemical building blocks, such as ethylene oxide; and
  • Renmatix was awarded for its technology to use pressurized water to break down plant biomass into cellulosic products with a range of end-use applications.
The awardees were selected from a group of 20 finalists that participated in a three-day event at AkzoNobel’s Deventer Open Innovation Center.  In addition to the winners, seven other finalists were awarded prizes, such as a research agreement with AkzoNobel, chemical research support from AkzoNobel, a rent voucher for the Deventer Open Innovation Center, partner support by Icos Capital and KPMG, and partner support by Icos Capital and KPMG.  More information on the Imagine Chemistry Challenge is available in the BRAG blog post “AkzoNobel Launches Global Chemicals Start-Up Challenge.”

 

By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

On May 30, 2017, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s (DOC) International Trade Association announced in the Federal Register a public meeting of the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Advisory Committee (REEEAC).  The meeting will take place in Washington, D.C. on July 27, 2017.  REEEAC is focused on export promotion for the renewable energy and energy efficiency sectors.  During the meeting, REEEAC will discuss next steps for each sub-committee, consider recommendations for approval, and hear from officials from DOC and other agencies on major issues impacting the competitiveness of the U.S. renewable energy and energy efficiency industries.  Stakeholders interested in attending are required to register with Victoria Gunderson (.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)) by 5:00 p.m. (EDT) on July 21, 2017.  To be considered during the meeting, comments must also be submitted by 5:00 p.m. (EDT) on July 21, 2017


 

By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

On April 19, 2017, DOE announced an open teleconference of the State Energy Advisory Board (STEAB) in the Federal Register.  STEAB advises DOE and EERE on the operation of its energy efficiency programs, renewable energy programs, and grant programs for research and deployment in energy efficiency and renewable energy fields.  The tentative agenda includes:

  • STEAB Task Force updates and objectives for fiscal year (FY) 2017;        
  • Follow-up opportunities and engagement with EERE and other DOE staff as needed to keep Task Force work moving forward;                  
  • Continued engagement with DOE, EERE, and DOE’s Office of Energy Policy and Systems Analysis (EPSA) staff regarding energy efficiency and renewable energy projects and initiatives; and     
  • Updates on member activities within their states.
The meeting will occur on May 18, 2017, from 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. (EDT).  To receive call-in information or to submit a request to make oral comments, contact Michael Li, Policy Advisor, EERE, at 202-287-5718 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) by May 11, 2016.

 

By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

On April 12, 2017, the nova-Institute announced the publication of its commentary on the European Commission’s proposal for a revised Renewable Energy Directive (RED).  The proposal, which is referred to as RED II, aims to raise renewable energy usage in Europe to 27 percent by 2030 and to require fuel suppliers to include a minimum share of advanced biofuels in their offering, which will increase steadily between 2021 and 2030.  In its commentary, the nova-Institute analyzed how the revisions presented in RED II would impact the biobased materials sector.  According to the report, the inclusion of CO2-biobased fuels in RED II indicates that the available support will be spread across more forms of energy supply than before, which may improve competition and access to biomass.  The report also states that the cap on biofuels produced from food or feed crops will likely allow an increase of biomass demand by biobased materials, which can be expected to contribute to an upswing of the biobased materials sector.


 

By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

On April 3, 2017, the European Environment Agency (EEA) announced the publication of the report titled “Renewable Energy in Europe 2017:  Recent Growth and Knock-On Effects,” which demonstrates that renewables have been a major contributor to the energy transition in Europe.  An analysis of the compound annual growth rate demonstrated that the use of biofuels in transport grew fastest between 2005 and 2014 at 18 percent per year.  Renewables provided six percent of the energy used for the European Union’s (EU) transportation sector in 2014, with biofuels accounting for nearly 90 percent of renewable energy.  According to the report, a plateau in first-generation biofuel capacity and delays in overcoming technical and financial obstacles related to second-generation biofuel technologies resulted in fewer investments in biofuels in 2015, compared to 2005.  The report also stated that electricity from solid biomass increased seven percent from 2005 to 2014, but the implementation of sustainability criteria could influence future growth in solid biomass fuel.  The full report is available on the EEA website.


 

By Kathleen M. Roberts

On April 4, 2017, the Hawaii State Senate Committee on Ways and Means passed HB 1580, which sets a goal of having all ground transportation in Hawaii run on renewable fuel by 2045.  The bill, which does not contain an enforcement mechanism, provides a benchmark framework for achieving the ambitious target and establishes an intermediate target to reduce the sale of imported fuels by five percent in 2025.  The Senate Committee introduced amendments that clarify the bill does not create a mandate to move to 100 percent clean ground transportation, but it outlines a path to achieve such a goal.  According to the bill, clean ground transportation includes all transportation that avoids the consumption of fossil fuels.


 

On March 9, 2017, Neste, a member of the Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG®), announced that its My Renewable Diesel helped reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 6.7 million tons in 2016.  The reduction of carbon emissions from MY Renewable Diesel is equivalent to the removal of 2.4 million passenger cars from the road for one full year.  The low-carbon diesel, which is refined from renewable raw materials, is suitable for all diesel-powered passenger cars and heavy transport vehicles, including buses, garbage trucks, and emergency vehicles, without the need for vehicle-related investments or modifications.  Neste aims to increase the total annual GHG emission reduction volume to seven million tons in 2017


 
■  Biotechnology Innovation Organization, “BIO Submits Comments on EPA Renewables Enhancement and Growth Support Rule
 
■  EPA, “Draft Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1990-2015
 
■  International Energy Agency, “New Bioenergy Roadmap Guide Released Jointly by IEA and FAO

 

On February 9, 2017, Illinois State Senators Andy Manar and Chapin Rose introduced legislation aimed at growing Illinois’ biobased economy by providing incentives under the Renewable Chemical Production Tax Credit Program Act.  The program would provide credit against taxes for eligible Illinois businesses that produce renewable chemicals within the state using biomass feedstock and other renewable sources.  The legislation defines a renewable chemical as a building block with a biobased content of at least 50 percent.  According to the legislation, eligible businesses will be required to submit to the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity an application for the tax credit that includes the amount of renewable chemical produced during the calendar year and any other information needed to verify eligibility as identified by the Department.  The proposed tax credit will not exceed $1 million for businesses that have been in operation in Illinois for five years or less, and $500,000 for businesses that have been in operation longer than five years.


 

On December 6, 2016, EPA held a hearing on its proposed Renewables Enhancement and Growth Support rule.  The proposed rule would update the regulatory structure to allow biofuel producers to process and convert biomass at different facilities, update fuel regulations to allow for more high-ethanol fuel blends in flex fuel vehicles, and permit cellulosic biofuels to be produced from new feedstock sources.  Testimony provided by Growth Energy and the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) focused on the impact of the proposed rule on the development of the E15 market and strengthening ethanol flex-fuel provisions.  Geoff Cooper, the senior vice president of RFA, stated that RFA was opposed to EPA establishing a quality survey program to collect and analyze ethanol flex-fuel samples, and highlighted the different treatment between E10 and E15 regarding volatility. Chris Bliley, the director of regulatory affairs for Growth Energy, also pushed EPA to resolve the vapor pressure relief issue, stating that the proposal would isolate E15 as the only ethanol-blended fuel without Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) relief in conventional areas.  Bliley supported the development of cellulosic biofuels through the use of biointermediates and new pathways, as well.  More information on the proposed rule is available in the BRAG blog post EPA Announces Public Hearing For Proposed Renewables Enhancement and Growth Support Rule.   The proposed rule was published in the Federal Register on November 16, 2016.  Comments are due by January 17, 2017, at 5:00 p.m. (EST).


 
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