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Weekly REsource February 2, 2018

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Last week, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue laid out USDA's Farm Bill and Legislative Principles for 2018. USDA would like to see Congress address and adopt their list of priorities in 2018 as lawmakers deliberate over the five-year measure to guide farm policy through 2022. The legislative objectives are broken down under nine categories, each covering USDA's major program functions – from farm production and conservation, to trade and foreign agricultural affairs, to rural development, for example. It's important to stress – as Perdue did when he announced the list last week – that ultimately Congress will write the 2018 Farm Bill. So, the principles, though widely accepted and supported by most agricultural, forestry and rural constituencies, will likely undergo some changes before the farm legislation is adopted. That's an important point, given the omission of any reference in the principles to renewable energy and the farm energy programs that have contributed so much to rural America.

News of Note  

 
Wind Energy Sector Enjoys Strong Q4, Forecast Robust 2018

The U.S. wind power industry closed 2017 strong, delivering 7,017 megawatts (MW) of new wind power capacity representing $11 billion in new private investment, according to the U.S. Wind Industry Fourth Quarter 2017 Market Report released this week.

 
Twenty-nine new wind farms totaling 4,125 MW came online across 16 states in the fourth quarter.
 
The wind industry's growth is poised to continue strongly in 2018 and beyond, delivering jobs and private investment to rural areas and factory towns, the AWEA report says, noting that the pipeline of wind farms under construction or in advanced development totals 28,668 MW, a 34 percent increase compared to the end of 2016.
 
"Wind delivered big results for the U.S. economy in 2017," said Tom Kiernan, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA). "Building new wind farms keeps American factory and construction workers busy, while breathing new life into farming and ranching communities. This American success story will continue, with the wind project construction and advanced development pipeline four times greater than the amount installed in 2017. That means tens of billions in additional infrastructure investment is on its way to the United States of America."
 
There are now 89,077 MW of wind power installed across 41 states, enough to power 26 million American homes.
 
Oklahoma surpassed Iowa in the fourth quarter to rank second in the nation for total installed wind capacity, illustrating continued strong development activity throughout the American heartland from Texas north to the Dakotas.
 
Texas remains the national leader for installed wind capacity and would be ranked sixth in the world if it were a country. Texas also led the quarter for new wind capacity, with 1,179 MW installed, followed by Oklahoma (851 MW), Iowa (334 MW), Illinois (306 MW), and Missouri (300 MW).
 
New long-term contracts signed for wind energy, known as power purchase agreements (PPAs), totaled 710 MW during the fourth quarter and 5,496 MW for the year, a higher PPA volume than any year since 2013. All of the new PPAs in the fourth quarter were signed by non-utility customers, including first-time buyer Bay Area Rapid Transit, as well as repeat customers Google Energy, Facebook, and Digital Realty.
 
Non-utility customers have become a large and steady source of demand for wind power, but utilities continued to be the biggest overall customers, signing roughly 60 percent of the contracted wind capacity in 2017.
 
Utilities and Fortune 500 brands are buying wind power because it makes business sense and it's clean, AWEA says. Investment firm Lazard recently reported the cost of wind energy fell another four percent over the last year, on top of a two-thirds cost decline from 2009-2016.
 
American ingenuity and technological improvements allow modern wind turbines to reach stronger, steadier winds, while big data helps cut operations and maintenance costs. Lazard also confirms that in many parts of the country, wind is cheaper than conventional energy sources without incentives.
 
Performance-boosting technological improvements spurred an increase in partial wind farm repowerings in 2017. AWEA defines partial repowerings as either a nacelle replacement, meaning the replacement of all major turbine components other than the tower and foundation, or a major retrofit, which entails the replacement of the rotor and blades and at least one major internal nacelle component.
 
In total, the U.S. wind industry completed 2,136 MW of partial repowerings across 15 project phases during 2017. Partial repowering activity is expected to accelerate in the near term.
 
Momentum to scale up the offshore wind industry continued to build in 2017. There are now five offshore wind projects currently in advanced development, representing over 490 MW of future offshore wind capacity.
 
In the fourth quarter, MHI Vestas invested $35 million in a testing facility at Clemson University in South Carolina for its 9.5-megawatt offshore turbine, one of the biggest in the world. Just more than a year has passed since the Block Island Wind Farm, America's first offshore wind project, began operating. Its five turbines are delivering lower electricity rates, better quality electricity, increased tourism, and high-speed internet to Block Island.
 
State and federal policy remain critical factors as the offshore wind industry seeks the scale needed to grow a domestic supply chain and further cut costs. Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York have advanced nation-leading policies as they compete for the first large-scale offshore wind project. At the federal level, the Department of the Interior's decision to allow design envelope planning for offshore wind projects streamlines the permitting process and will allow greater flexibility for developers.
 
An interactive map that provides information on every wind farm and factory across the United States is available here.
 
Repercussions, Outcomes of Solar Tariffs Continue to Emerge
 
Repercussions continue from the Trump administration's imposition of tariffs on solar cell and module imports coming into the United States.
 
A new analysis released this week by GTM Research shows that higher panel prices brought about by the tariffs will diminish solar installations in all 50 states, hitting California and Texas the most.
 
Meanwhile, interests supporting the tariffs point to strong indications that two Asian solar manufacturers will build plants in the United States, adding to solar jobs numbers here.
 
California has the nation's largest solar market and is expected to see a decline of more than 1,000 megawatts (MW) over the four-year life of the tariffs. (The tariffs start at 30 percent this year, then decline by five percent each succeeding year before closing out at 15 percent in 2022,) Texas (674 MW) and Florida (513 megawatts) are projected by GTM Research to take the next biggest hits among states.
 
GTM forecasts an 11-percent reduction nationwide in solar installation capacity. Utility-scale solar is expected to absorb 65 percent of that drop.
 
Montana will see the biggest percentage drop over the next four years, falling nearly 50 percent. Idaho will experience the next biggest drops at 34 percent. Another eight states will see a decline of at least 15 percent or more, all well above the national average.
 
Much of that drop will not be seen until next year, attributable to U.S. installers procuring up to 2 GW of tariff-free modules in the months leading up to the president's order last month.
 
A recurring theme showing up in the views expressed by many analysts view is that the tariffs, which came in considerably lower than the level requested by the two foreign-owned, financially stressed manufacturers who filed the petition in the trade case – Suniva and SolarWorld – and are unlikely to be sufficient to save the two firms.
 
"Overall, the tariffs will not materially stimulate U.S. manufacturing output or employment, and domestic production will remain a rounding error compared with the scale of Asian production," Varun Sivaram, the Philip D. Reed fellow for science and technology at the Council on Foreign Relations, says in an analysis posted on the council's website last week. "As for the two companies that sought the tariffs in the first place, the halfway remedy they secured will likely be a pyrrhic victory, a measure too small to pull them out of insolvency."
 
Sivaram also expressed fear the tariffs may dampen innovation.
 
"U.S. industries are world-beaters and enjoy handsome profits when they relentlessly innovate," he writes. "Unfortunately, these tariffs will do little to protect firms developing emerging solar technologies that need some insulation from the global solar commodity market to scale up their innovations.
 
"On top of this," Sivaram says, "the tariffs might curtail even the limited research and development (R&D) investments made today by U.S. innovators."
 
Still, those arguing the tariffs will add jobs here cite the two Asian solar component manufacturers who say they are preparing to build new factories in the United States. The announcements would seem to be among the outcomes predicted by some analysts, who said foreign manufacturers may choose to move some operations to this country to avoid the tariffs.
 
Shanghai-based JinkoSolar Holding Co. Ltd said its board of directors has authorized final planning for the construction of an advanced, solar module manufacturing facility in the United States.
 
"JinkoSolar continues to closely monitor treatment of imports of solar cells and modules under the U.S. trade laws," the Chinese firm said.
 
The announcement follows a vote last week by the Jacksonville, FL, city council, which has been negotiating with JinkoSolar's U.S. subsidiary, that confirmed the location of the new module plant. Jacksonville City Council approved an offer of $23 million in incentives, the city's part of a total $54 million incentive package. Other incentives are expected to come from the state. The $410-million plant will reportedly bring 800 new jobs to the city.
 
While the company has not officially said what would be manufactured at the Jacksonville site, the news of its go-ahead with the facility was buried in a wider JinkoSolar press release announcing the company also has signed a major supply agreement to provide an unidentified "U.S. counterparty" around 1.75 gigawatts (GW) of high efficiency solar modules over some three years – presumably the output of the new plant.
 
Elsewhere, the chairman of United Renewable Energy (URE) – the anticipated name of a newly formed enterprise resulting from the merger of three Taiwanese cell-making companies, Neo Solar Power, Gintech and Solartech – announced plans to build a module factory in the United States with production capacity of up to 1,000 megawatts (MW) annually.
 
By locating some operations in the United States, the two firms are expected to take advantage of a provision in the White House levy order that excludes the first 2.5 GW of imported solar cells from the tariffs. Given that there is little demand for cells among existing U.S. solar module manufacturers, the newer plants are expected to snap up much of that tariff-free cell capacity.
 
However, JinkoSolar's caution about monitoring the treatment of solar cell imports stems from the fact that the rules regarding how that 2.5 GW of solar cell capacity will be identified have yet to be finalized.
 
If built, the plants can be expected to contribute to the creation of what Bloomberg New Energy Finance says could be as many as 6,400 solar manufacturing jobs. But of the well more than 260,000 people employed in the overall solar sector, only 15 percent of those are manufacturing workers, and the vast majority of those make something other than solar panels. The remaining 85 percent of solar sector jobs are nonmanufacturing and include installers, electricians, welders and engineers.
 
The Solar Energy Industries Association says the tariffs will ultimately cost the sector an estimated 23,000 jobs, far more than the levies might help create.
 
'50 States of Solar': 45 States, DC Took 249 Solar Policy Actions in 2017
 
Action on community solar policies and residential fixed charges continued to climb in 2017, while net metering discussions spread to new states, according to the 2017 annual review and fourth quarter edition of "The 50 States of Solar" released this week by the N.C. Clean Energy Technology Center (NCCETC).
 
The quarterly series provides insights on state regulatory and legislative discussions and actions on distributed solar policy, with a focus on net metering, distributed solar valuation, community solar, residential fixed charges, residential demand and solar charges, third-party ownership and utility-led rooftop solar programs.
 
2017 Policy Action on Net Metering, Rate Design, and Solar Ownership 
 

 

Some analysts say the latest update shows state-level discussions on distributed energy deployment tended to dig deeper than the usual data-free debates over limits on retail-scale net metering compensation that have dominated regulatory meetings for the past several years.
 
"Deeper, more nuanced and granular discussions" are now about rate design, market analysis and how both utilities and the private sector can benefit from meeting customer demand for solar, lead author Autumn Proudlove told Utility Dive. "The options are often more complex, involving locational and time-based factors."
 
The report finds that 45 states and the District of Columbia took some type of solar policy action during 2017. Specifically, the report finds that:
  • 84 utility requests in 35 states plus D.C. to increase monthly fixed charges or minimum bills on all residential customers by at least 10% were pending or decided.
  • 31 states plus D.C. considered or enacted changes to distributed generation compensation policies.
  • 21 states plus D.C. formally examined or resolved to examine some element of the value of distributed generation or the costs and benefits of net metering.
  • 21 states took policy action on community solar.
  • 19 utility requests in 10 states to add new or increase existing charges specific to rooftop solar customers were pending or decided.
  • 8 states had policy action on third-party solar ownership laws or regulations.
  • 6 states had action on utility-owned rooftop solar policies or programs.
   
Forty-four utility requests to increase residential fixed charges were decided in 2017, with 86 percent receiving either a portion of the requested increase or no increase at all. Only six utilities were granted their full requested increases. Of those utilities receiving a partial increase, the average was 26 percent of the utility's original request.
 
"There has been a steady increase in activity across the country since we started tracking this information in 2015," observed Brian Lips, Senior Policy Project Manager at NCCETC. "As the solar industry continues to grow and mature, we are seeing historic levels of activity with state policymakers working hard to adapt existing regulatory frameworks to new paradigms."
 
A total of 249 state and utility level distributed solar policy and rate changes were proposed, pending, or decided in 2017. The figure represents an increase in activity over both 2016 (212 actions) and 2015 (175 actions).
 
The report notes the top ten most active states in 2017 for solar policy developments were:
  • Nevada, where the state legislature restored retail rate net metering, and regulators ordered a decrease in Nevada Power's residential fixed charge;
  • North Carolina, where comprehensive solar policy legislation initiated net metering reforms and a DG cost-benefit study, adopted a community solar policy, and authorized solar leasing;
  • New York, where a value of distributed energy resources tariff was approved, with working groups continuing to work on the tariff;
  • Hawaii, where a new smart export tariff was adopted, community solar rules were approved, and all three investor-owned utilities had pending fixed charge increases.
  • Maine, where a net metering successor tariff was adopted, while legislation calling for changes to the tariff and a study was vetoed;
  • Arizona, where proceedings to determine DG rate design and excess generation credit rates were underway, and a settlement for Arizona Public Service was approved;
  • New Hampshire, where a net metering successor decision was issued, a value of DERs study was initiated, and two rate cases were decided;
  • Virginia, where the state legislature enacted net metering changes, a community solar pilot program, and a third-party PPA pilot program;
  • Michigan, where a net metering study and successor tariff proceeding were underway, in addition to several utility requests to increase residential fixed charges; and
  • Utah, where regulators issued a net metering successor tariff decision and initiated a new proceeding to determine a more permanent export credit rate.
 
"While 2017 was marked by greater uncertainty than usual at the federal level, state-level action continued to increase, with major solar policy reforms under consideration in a growing number of states," said Autumn Proudlove, lead author of the report and Manager of Policy Research at NCCETC. "We expect this trend to continue, as part of a broader shift in the country's energy system."
 
In the fourth quarter of last year, 42 states and D.C. took some type of action on distributed solar policy or rate design. A total of 141 actions were tracked in the quarter alone.
 
An executive summary of the report is available HERE at no charge.
 
To purchase and view the full version of the 2017 Annual Review and Q4 Update Report, click HERE.
 
State Roundup: AZ Regulator Offers Major Clean Energy, Storage Plan
 
In Arizona, Corporation Commissioner Andy Tobin presented a plan he said will help the state lead the nation in clean energy usage, energy storage, forest health and innovation.
 
The plan calls for 80 percent of Arizona's electricity generation to come from clean energy by 2050, along with the goal of having 3,000 megawatts (MW) of energy storage deployed by 2030.
 
"This plan establishes Arizona as a nationwide leader in clean energy," Tobin said. "Living in a desert like we do, our goal has to be to address peak demand. Reducing usage in these peak windows will save Arizonans millions of dollars, but we also think we can do it in a way that is clean and maintains grid reliability."
 
Arizona's Energy Modernization Plan sets a path to clean energy by reviewing Arizona's current energy policies, including the Renewable Energy Standard and Tariff (REST). Tobin credits the state's REST for making Arizona a national leader in the adoption of renewable energy. But, he says it's time for an update.
 
"It's been over a decade since the Corporation Commission passed the REST and the energy landscape in Arizona and across the country is drastically different today," said Commissioner Tobin. "It's no longer enough to just install solar panels as quickly as possible. We need to pair these resources with new technology to maximize their effectiveness and maintain stability."
 
The plan calls for a new "Clean Peak" focus in the REST to encourage dispatchable clean energy with energy storage. Tobin says expanding energy storage gives Arizona the opportunity to capture low priced energy during non-peak hours and reinject that energy back into the grid during on-peak rate periods.
 
The 3,000-megawatt target laid out in this policy is, by far, the largest such goal in the United States made possible by storage markets which have recently seen drastic improvements in technology along with falling costs.
 
Tobin said he will bring his plan to the Corporation Commission next week.
 
In Michigan, a poll shows more than 80 percent of the state's voters, with majority support among both Republicans and Democrats, favor increasing the state's use of solar energy.
 
The poll conducted by the advocacy group, Vote Solar, support reached eighty-six percent in the Southeast region, an area largely comprised of DTE Energy customers. The polling comes as public interest groups urge DTE Energy to rethink its proposal to build a billion-dollar gas plant in light of new evidence that clean energy, including solar power, is a more affordable option.
 
"Across every region, every party, every gender, Michiganders are ready for a solar economy," said Becky Stanfield, Vote Solar's senior director of Western States. "Instead of burdening residents with expensive fossil fuels for decades to come, Michigan lawmakers, regulators, and utilities should get to work building the clean energy economy that Michiganders want. Solar and clean energy options will create thousands of local jobs while saving families and business owners money."
 
Solar energy currently represents less than one percent of the state's energy portfolio. As Michigan's largest electric utility, DTE Energy's decisions impact 2.2 million residents and set the course for the entire state's energy trajectory, Vote Solar says.
 
"Lawmakers are sometimes surprised when they see such overwhelming, bipartisan support for solar power," said Elizabeth Sena, partner at GQR, which conducted the polling. "Our latest poll found that in Michigan 66 percent of Republican voters, 78 percent of independents and a whopping 95 percent of Democrats, want more solar energy. Simply put, the vast majority of voters agree that it's important for the Great Lakes State to increase its use of solar."
 
Women in Michigan responded overwhelmingly in favor of more solar at 87 percent, with support from men trailing closely at 74 percent.
 
T-Mobile Commits to 100% Renewables, Challenges Competitors to Follow
 
T-Mobile announced this week it will move to 100-percent renewable electricity by 2021, and the carrier has joined RE100, a collaborative, global initiative uniting more than 100 influential businesses committed to 100-percent renewable electricity.
 
The carrier also issued a challenged to competitors AT&T and Verizon to follow suit.
 
T-Mobile also took a step toward their clean energy commitment by unveiling a second wind farm project backed by the carrier.
 
"It's the Un-carrier way to do the right thing by our customers, and moving to renewable energy is just a natural part of that," said T-Mobile President and CEO John Legere, using a marketing term the company has adopted. "And it's not just the right thing to do – it's smart business. We expect to cut T-Mobile's energy costs by around $100 million in the next 15 years, thanks to this move. Imagine the awesome things we can do for our customers with that."
 
T-Mobile also announced it has finalized a contract for 160 megawatts (MW) from Infinity Renewables' Solomon Forks Wind Project in Kansas, with power generation slated to begin in early 2019.
 
The Solomon Forks project marks T-Mobile's second major wind power project. The first, the Red Dirt Wind Project, operated by Enel Green Power in Oklahoma, went online in December. Combined, the two will generate 320 MW for T-Mobile, enough to meet an estimated 60 percent of the carrier's total energy needs nationwide.
 
To reach 100 percent, T-Mobile says it will buy enough wind power annually to account for every unit of electricity the company consumes. The carrier says it is focused on creating new energy from renewable sources, buying only from projects that wouldn't exist without T-Mobile's involvement.
 
Formalizing its commitment to go 100 percent renewable, T-Mobile U.S. also joined Nike, Google, Microsoft and Facebook as part of RE100.
 
Founded by The Climate Group, RE100 works with leading businesses around the world to switch private sector electricity demand to renewables and accelerate the transformation of the global energy market and the transition to a low carbon economy. T-Mobile will report electricity data annually to RE100, who will report on the carrier's progress.
 
Sam Kimmins, head of RE100 at The Climate Group applauded T-Mobile US' shift to renewables for its power consumption.
 
"As a large electricity consumer in the U.S., they can truly transform energy systems by bringing significant renewable capacity online – all of that while delivering real value to their customers," Kimmins said. "I congratulate them for a great commitment"
 
T-Mobile Legere released a video challenging AT&T and Verizon to match his company's commitment to 100 percent renewable energy.
 
He also called viewers to support the "Hang Up on Fossil Fuels" campaign, an initiative started last year by the sustainable economy advocacy group, Green America. The organization says the campaign focuses attention on the "enormous amount energy used by the telecom sector and the fact that the biggest companies get the vast majority of their energy from fossil fuels."
 
Green America says the U.S. telecom sector uses as much energy as 3 million households.
 
T-Mobile's commitment to renewables "is a game-changer within the telecom industry, which has lagged behind other sectors in making commitments to clean energy," said Todd Larsen, executive co-director of consumer and corporate engagement at Green America. "T-Mobile is making it clear that it is entirely possible for telecom companies, with their massive energy use, to make a 100 percent clean energy commitment. AT&T, Verizon and Sprint should all make similar commitments."
 
"Consumers who care about the climate now have an environmentally conscious option when choosing a cell phone provider," said Beth Porter, program director for Green America. "They can support a company that is making an unprecedented 100 percent clean energy commitment. People should not have to choose between using their phones to text and tweet, and protecting the planet. If T-Mobile's announcement helps move the entire industry to 100% renewable energy, we won't have to make that choice."
 
Green America will be issuing a report next month on the telecom industry that that will track the progress of the four largest companies in the sector – AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile – in adopting clean energy and energy efficiency measures, and reducing their greenhouse gasses overall.
 
EU Power Transition Reaches Renewables 'Tipping Point' in 2017: Analysis
 
A Brussel-based climate change think tank says wind, sun and biomass overtook coal in supplying electricity across Europe in 2017.
 
The EU Power Sector Review 2017, issued this week by the policy group Sandbag, also highlights some of the failings of the current electricity transition.
 
Sandbag and Agora Energiewende

 In a statement issued with the analysis, Sandbag says the study gives a very mixed picture.

 
"EU renewables have been increasingly reliant on the success story of wind in Germany, the UK and Denmark, which has been inspiring. But other countries need to do more. Solar deployment is surprisingly low and needs to respond to the massive falls in costs. And with electricity consumption rising for the third year, countries need to reassess their efforts on energy efficiency."
 
The think tank says that to gain the biggest reduction on carbon emissions, countries need to retire coal plants. Analysts found that Europe's 258 operational coal plants emitted 38 percent of all EU emissions recorded on the Emissions Trading Scheme, a key pillar of European climate policy that sets a cap on the maximum level of emissions for the sectors covered and establishes an installation-level market for emission permits. The coal plant emissions also represent 15 percent of total EU greenhouse gases.
 
Acknowledging the plans adopted last year by the Netherlands, Italy and Portugal join other nations in phasing out coal, the think tanks says more is needed
 
"We need a fast and complete coal phase-out in Europe: the thought of charging electric cars in the 2030's with coal just doesn't compute," the group says. "A 35-percent renewables target would make a 2030 coal phaseout possible."
 
The analysis notes the rise of renewable-generated power over coal for the first time last year stems from the surge of wind, solar and biomass past Europe's hydropower potential, which has largely tapped out. The three renewable energy sources rose by 12 percent in 2017, to 679 Terawatt hours. Coal generation was more than twice that of wind, solar and biomass just five years ago.
 
But the analysis also found that the growth of renewables has become even more uneven, with Germany and the UK alone contributing 56 percent of that expansion over the past three years. The report also cites a bias toward wind, noting the sector grew a "massive" 19-percent increase last year due to good wind conditions and huge investment in wind plants.
 
The analysts say a recent biomass boom is over, due to "sustainability concerns," but also found growth in solar was stagnant, despite record low costs, increasing only by 14 percent from 2014 through 2017.
 
Electricity consumption in the EU and UK rose by 0.7 percent in 2017, the third consecutive year of growth. The analysts say that with Europe's economy being on a growth path again, power demand is rising as well. That, they say, suggests Europe's efficiency efforts are not sufficient and that the EU's efficiency policy needs further strengthening.
 
Low hydro and nuclear generation coupled with increasing demand led to increasing fossil generation, so, despite the large rise in wind generation, power sector carbon dioxide emissions remained unchanged at just more than 1,000 million metric tons. However, the analysis shows, overall stationary emissions in the EU emissions trading sectors rose slightly, from 1,750 to 1,756 million metric ton because of stronger industrial production especially in rising steel production. Together, with additional increases in non-ETS gas and oil demand, the analysis shows that overall EU greenhouse gas emissions rose by around 1 percent in 2017.
 
Analysts said three more Member States announced coal phase-outs in 2017 – Netherlands, Italy and Portugal, joining France and the UK in making the commitment. However, Eastern European countries are sticking to coal. The debate in Germany, Europe's largest coal and lignite consumer, is ongoing and will only be decided in 2019, they say.
 
World First U.S-Australia Biofuel Flight Takes Off
 
The world's first dedicated biofuel flight between the United States and Australia, QF96 from Los Angeles to Melbourne, took place this week.
 
The historic trans-Pacific, 15-hour flight operated with approximately 26.5 tons of blended biofuel, saving almost 20 tons in carbon emissions.
 
The flight used biofuel processed from Brassica Carinata, a non-food, industrial type of mustard seed, developed by Canadian-based agricultural-technology company, Agrisoma Biosciences (Agrisoma).
 
The flight was part of a 2017 partnership, which will also see the companies work with Australian farmers to grow the country's first commercial aviation biofuel seed crop by 2020.
 
Qantas International CEO Alison Webster said it was fitting that the airline's game-changing Dreamliner 787-9 will showcase the future of sustainable aviation.
 
"The Qantas Dreamliner marks an exciting new era of innovation and travel," Webster said. "The aircraft is more fuel efficient and generates fewer greenhouse emissions than similarly sized-aircraft and today's flight will see a further reduction on this route.
 
"Our partnership with Agrisoma marks a big step in the development of a renewable jet fuel industry in Australia," he continued. "[It] is a project we are really proud to be part of as we look at ways to reduce carbon emissions across our operations."
 
Across its lifecycle, using Carinata-derived biofuel can reduce carbon emissions by eighty percent compared to traditional jet fuel.
 
The ten percent biofuel blend used on today's flight represented a seven percent reduction in emissions on the route compared to normal operations.
 
Carinita requires no specialized production or processing techniques. It is water efficient and The University of Queensland field trials in Gatton, Queensland, and in Bordertown, South Australia, have demonstrated it should do very well in the Australian climate.
 
It is sown in either fallow areas where food crops fail or in between regular crop cycles, known as "cover cropping." Rotational or break-crops can improve soil quality, reduce erosion for food crops and provide farmers with additional income.
 
Agrisoma CEO Steve Fabijanski, said biofuel produced from Carinata provides wide ranging benefits.
 
"Biojet fuel made from Carinata delivers both oil for biofuel and protein for animal nutrition while also enhancing the soil its grown in," he said. "We are excited about the potential of the crop in Australia and look forward to working with local farmers and Qantas to develop a clean energy source for the local aviation industry."
 
Qantas' first trans-Pacific biofuel flight was made possible with the support of AltAir Fuels and World Fuel Services.
 
QF96 departed LAX on Sunday, Jan. 28 and arrived in Melbourne Jan. 30 (local time).
 
In 2012 Qantas and Jetstar operated Australia's first biofuel trial flights. Qantas' A330 Sydney-Adelaide return service and Jetstar's A320 Melbourne-Hobart return service were both powered with biofuel derived from used cooking oil – split with 50/50 conventional jet fuel – certified for use in commercial aviation.
 
Argonne Model Analyzes Water Footprint of Biofuels
 
A new version of an online tool created by the DOE's Argonne National Laboratory will help developers gain a detailed understanding of water consumption of various types of biofuel feedstocks, aiding the development of sustainable fuels that can reduce impact on limited water resources.
 
The newest version of the Water Assessment for Transportation Energy Resources (WATER) for the first time allows biofuels manufacturers to analyze water consumption associated with use of cellulosic feedstocks such as residue left from lumber production and other wood-based resources.
 
The new tool also provides analysis down to the county level in the U.S. for the first time.
 
"Forest wood resources are some of the highest potential non-food biofuel feedstocks in terms of availability," said May Wu, Water Analysis Team lead and principal environmental system analyst at Argonne. "That availability has started to attract global attention to these types of cellulosic resources for biofuels."
 
WATER was launched in 2013 to provide an in-depth analysis of water consumption used in the development of biofuel production, from cultivation to the conversion of the feedstock into fuel. By analyzing the amount of water used in the process, the tool allows industry to make informed decisions about what types of feedstock are most appropriate for use in water-limited areas.
 
The tool can assist stakeholders and developers as they consider water sustainability in proposed projects. It also can help state and local governments estimating possible water consumption and its impact on water quality.
 
"As industry seeks to address the future need for new fuel sources, it is important to consider all the resources that go into that process" Wu said. "Water scarcity is a serious issue in many parts of the world and it should be considered when developing new types of fuel."
 
Version 3.0 analyzes the impacts of producing hydrocarbon fuel from wood resources on water supplies in the United States. An open-access online model, WATER creates a measurement of how much water is required to generate a gallon of fuel using multiple variables, including pathway comparison, scenario development and region-specific feedstock and biorefinery analysis.
 
The tool analyzes multiple biofuel pathways, including corn grain ethanol, soybean biodiesel and agricultural residue-based ethanol produced from corn stover and wheat straw, as well as perennial grass-based ethanol produced from switchgrass and Miscanthus, and hydrocarbon fuel produced from hard wood, soft wood and short-rotating woody crops. It includes the conversion process – specific parameters address fermentation, pyrolysis, gasification and transesterification, among other processes.
 
The tool will allow producers to understand the water-energy-food nexus, enabling them to find ways to create biofuels that do not use food sources. For example, using forest wood waste generated from lumber production would allow the creation of cellulosic biofuels without consuming food stocks.
 
WATER is designed to support biofuel industry development and planning. Conventional biofuel production requires water inputs, such as irrigation water, that vary substantially from region to region, depending on the climate, soil conditions and the types of feedstock. The conversion process requires process water input and generates water to be discharged.
 
More information on the research that enables the WATER model is available online.
 
Supported by the Bioenergy Technologies Office in DOE's Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy section, WATER is developed by Argonne National Laboratory.
 
USDA Announces Support for Biomass Genomics Research
 
USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), in partnership with DOE's Office of Biological and Environmental Research, have jointly announced up to $6 million in support for research in plant feedstock genomics for bioenergy.
 
NIFA's support is funded through the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI), which aims to address challenges in food and agricultural sciences through research, extension, and education.
 
The Plant Feedstock Genomics for Bioenergy program aims to improve the use of biomass and plant feed stocks for the production of fuels such as ethanol or renewable chemical feedstocks.
 
Research to overcome biological barriers, like resistance and tolerance to disease and weather, to the low-cost, high-quality, scalable, and sustainable production of dedicated bioenergy biomass feedstocks using the tools of genetics and genomics is encouraged.
 
Eligible applicants include state agricultural experiment stations, colleges and universities, university research foundations, individuals, non-profit organizations, and for-profit organizations.
 
NIFA reviews all proposals accepted in NIFA's competitive grant programs through an external peer review process in which a panel of experts from within the respective field in question takes part. Specific details on panel meetings, review formats, and evaluation criteria may vary among programs.
 
For details on the funding opportunity, click HERE. The deadline for applications is Friday, April 20, 2018.
 
NIFA officials say the agency's mission is to invest in and advance agricultural research, education, and extension to solve societal challenges. They add that NIFA's investments in transformative science directly support the long-term prosperity and global preeminence of U.S. agriculture.
 
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Editor's Note: We here at 25x'25 welcome companies and organizations with a major stake in the continued growth and development of renewable energy across America. We invite those interests to increase visibility and demonstrate a commitment to a clean and economically vibrant energy future by taking advantage of opportunities to sponsor The 25x'25 Weekly REsource, a highly acclaimed newsletter distributed to key state and federal policy makers, their staff and a wide range of stakeholder organizations. For sponsorship information, click HERE.
 
 

 


Headlines of Note

News of interest to our 25x'25 Partners and advocates for a clean energy future: 

 

State Regulators Now Aim at Building Better Distribution System 

 

Boost for Renewables Transmission: DOE Transmission Siting Authority Upheld 

 

EPA Agrees to Extend Troubled Philly Refinery's Biofuel Compliance Deadline 

 

EPA Chief Riles Ethanol Advocates with Call for Biofuels Policy Reform 

 

EPA Hopes to Decide Soon on E-15 Summer Waiver: Pruitt 

 

IA and MN Governors to Head Biofuels Coalition 

 

New Hampshire Rejects Northern Pass Transmission, Throwing Project into Doubt 

 

New Leadership Appointed to Governors' Biofuel Coalition 

 

Powering Ahead with Solar, Despite Trump Tariffs 

 

Pruitt: No Decision Yet on Carbon Endangerment Finding Challenge 

 

Texas Regulator Proposes to Deny AEP Storage Plan 

 

Trump: 'We Have Ended the War on American Energy' 

 

Utility CEO: New Renewables Cheaper than Existing Coal Plants by Early 2020s 

 

'Year of the Grid': DER Management Takes Center Stage at DistribuTECH 

 

Upcoming Events

Energy Independence Summit 2018 Set for Feb. 11-14
Energy Independence Summit 2018, the nation's premier clean transportation policy summit, is set for Feb. 11-14 in Washington, D.C.
The event will be staged by Transportation Energy Partners (TEP) is a national non-profit organization that brings Clean Cities coalition leaders together with the clean transportation industry to advance policies that will reduce American dependence on petroleum-based fuels.

TEP officials say the summit provides a unique opportunity for Clean Cities Coalitions and leaders in the clean transportation industry to network and build partnerships with each other, and with key congressional and Trump administration policymakers in Washington.

Attendees will have the opportunity to:
  • Meet with leaders of the new administration and key congressional leaders.
  • Learn the latest on how you can benefit from investments from the Volkswagen settlement.
  • Network with the nation's Clean Cities Coalitions and top industry leaders.
  • Participate in roundtable discussions with DOE, EPA, USDA, Department of Transportation and Department of Defense.
  • Learn about new technologies and market developments that are driving the alternative fuels industry forward.
  • Participate in Capitol Hill Day meetings and educate members of Congress about successful projects achieved in partnership with government and industry.
  • Attend the Capitol Hill Day reception hosted by UPS.
  • Attend the Salute to Clean Cities reception.
The summit will take place at the Renaissance Dupont Circle Hotel in downtown Washington.
For more information and registration, click HERE.
ACORE Sets Renewable Energy Forum for March 14
The American Council on Renewable Energy is staging a forum on the many federal policy challenges the renewable sector has faced in the last year and how best to respond to them in the year ahead.
The forum is set for March 14 at the Washington Marriott at Metro Center.
ACORE says there is no better venue to convene public sector, private sector and power sector meet to advance renewables than the forum, where participants will look ahead to further defend and promote a range of policies that will expand the renewable energy marketplace.
A featured session will be "American Renewable Energy Competitiveness: The Impact of Solar Tariffs. High levels of U.S. investment in the renewables sector is important to maintaining our leadership role in a booming industry sector that was pioneered by American scientists and engineers. This session will evaluate the scope of the global business opportunity for renewable energy and the positioning of U.S. companies to compete.
As the Trump administration responds to international trade concerns with new tariffs, panelists will discuss strategies to stimulate the continued growth of the American renewable energy sector. Topics will include:
  • Solar tariffs and international trade
  • Stimulating development and investment in the U.S.
  • Size of the global market; opportunities for export
  • Supporting advanced technologies that grow our footprint
Other agenda highlights include Andy Ott, CEO of PJM as keynote speaker, and sessions on:
  • Renewable Energy Finance in the New Tax Law
  • Boosting America's Renewable Energy Dominance
  • A Resilient, Reliable and Renewable Grid
  • The New Renewables Alliance: Cities, States and Businesses
To view the forum agenda, click HERE.
To register, click HERE.
Interested in Sponsoring?
Showcase your business to investors, developers, manufacturers, utilities, policymakers, and other influencers. For information on sponsorship opportunities, please contact Cindi Eck at [email protected].
Save the Date
On the eve of the forum, ACORE is hosting the American Renewable Energy Gala, an annual networking dinner and award ceremony. The 2018 American Renewable Energy Gala will be held on Tuesday, March 13, at the Reagan Building and International Trade Center, where more than 400 financial, corporate, industry leaders and policymakers will gather to reflect on the achievements, challenges and growth opportunities for the renewables sector.
Table sponsorships for the event are now available. Please contact Cindi Eck at [email protected]
Registration Available for ACE's 10th Annual D.C. Fly-In
The American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) formally announces the organization's 10th annual Washington, D.C. fly-in will take place March 21-22. Registration for this event and ACE's 2018 advertising and sponsorship guide for this opportunity and others are available at ethanol.org/events/fly-in.
"The purpose of our fly-ins is to put a human face on the ethanol industry and to communicate our policy priorities to Members of Congress and Executive Branch decision makers," said Brian Jennings, ACE CEO. "The most effective lobbyists aren't lobbyists at all, but rather farmers, ethanol producers, Main Street business leaders, retailers selling higher ethanol blends, and other grassroots individuals whose daily lives benefit from ethanol."
This past spring, 75 ethanol advocates met with more than 120 Members of Congress from 35 states. Participants included ethanol company investors and management, corn farmers, scientists, fuel marketers and gas station owners, with representation from Jetz, Cresco Fast Stop, Midway Service, Good & Quick, Sheetz, and Propel Fuels.
"In ACE's 10 years of hosting D.C. fly-ins, we've found that the most successful ones strike a balance between Hill visits with our champions and those with Members of Congress who may be new, opponents of our policy priorities, or live outside the Corn Belt," said Shannon Gustafson, ACE senior director of Operations and Programming. "We encourage participants to share personal stories – Members of Congress and their staff hear from lobbyists and association staff regularly, but a deeply personal perspective of how the ethanol industry has directly benefitted a participant may help them view a topic with fresh eyes."
During Capitol Hill meetings, ACE and its fly-in attendees have emphasized the need to maintain support for the Renewable Fuel Standard, urged Members of Congress to cosponsor legislation to extend Reid vapor pressure (RVP) relief to E15 (S. 517 and H.R. 1311), and discussed the importance of the biofuels sector to a robust rural economy.
"While we are pleased the statutory 15-billion-gallon volume for conventional biofuel will be maintained in 2018 and EPA rejected pleas to change the point of obligation, more can and should be done to overcome regulatory hurdles which prevent market access to higher ethanol blends," Jennings said. "We encourage people from all walks of life who support ethanol to register for this important opportunity to tell this industry's success story."
The meetings will take place at the Liaison Capitol Hill hotel and on Capitol Hill. To register and find out more information about the event, please contact Shannon Gustafson at [email protected].
ACE's Ethanol Today magazine released its lineup of themes and sponsorship opportunities for 2018. The editorial calendar and media kit are available at ethanoltoday.com. The newly released sponsorship and advertising guide offers bundled Ethanol Today advertising opportunities with ACE event sponsorships. Contact Chuck Beck at [email protected] to find out how you can maximize your reach while minimizing the expense.
Other events of interest to 25x'25 partners and other renewable energy stakeholders can be found by clicking here.