The bold vision created by a renewable energy advocacy coalition calling for 25x’25 is becoming a reality. A new report titled, “Meeting the 25x’25 Goal: A Progress Report,” shows that between 2004 and 2009, renewable energy produced in the U.S. increased by 23 percent. In May of 2009, 11.5% of all energy produced in the U.S. came from renewable sources, a record for the clean energy sector. Those numbers and the influence of the vision don’t appear to be shrinking.
The report summarizes the role several energy sources will play in the future including: biofuels, biodiesel, biogas, biopower, wind, solar, geothermal and hydro.The report also comments on the numerous constraints to progress: policy constraints, insufficient infrastructure and variances in biofuels blending are just a few named differences.
“The 25x’25 progress report demonstrates the tremendous progress that has been made by the renewable fuel sector to create a cleaner, more energy independent nation,” Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy, told EPM.
Formed in 2004, the 25×25 alliance initially aimed at meeting 25 percent of the nation’s energy needs with renewable energy by 2025.
USDA research shows corn ethanol is showing a better energy balance mainly because of increased efficiencies in growing corn, but also because of improvements in the distilleries.
The USDA report, 2008 Energy Balance for the Corn Ethanol Industry, reveals that corn ethanol supplies twice the amount of energy it takes to produce the fuel.
With such positive reports, its no wonder Senators are asking for action. Republican Sens. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, John Thune of South Dakota, Mike Johanns of Nebraska and Kit Bond of Missouri are pressing President Barack Obama on his administration’s decision to further delay the entry of E15 blends of gasoline into the market. The senators asked the president for prompt action on the waiver petition and immediate consideration of an interim blend of E12.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack wants the Environmental Protection Agency to quickly make a decision on raising the ethanol blend rate in gasoline from the current level of 10 percent.
On Wednesday, Vilsack and other USDA officials said unless the rate is increased soon, production growth ethanol could halt because demand for it won’t be able to expand. The American Farm Bureau Federation supports raising the ethanol blend level to up to 15 percent.
USDA Chief Economist Joe Glauber said he expects ethanol production this year to reach about 13 billion gallons, and there is not much room for expansion beyond that. Glauber said the “blend wall,” or the maximum amount of ethanol that can be produced to meet demand, will be about 15 billion gallons per year.
Growth Energy’s new television ads for ethanol received positive reviews at a “commercial premiere” event in Denver this week.
CFB’s Crystal Korrey attended the event and is excited about the ad campaign.
“This is the first ever national TV ad campaign for the ethanol industry. With simple encouraging messaging Growth Energy is helping to show the nation the need for this sensible fuel,” she said.
The campaign is entitled “America’s Fuel”. Six different 15-second commercials focus on ethanol’s benefits, including job creation, cleaner air and the strengthening of America’s national and economic security.
Growth Energy is spending two-point-five million dollars on the six month campaign, which includes major cable networks such as Fox News, CNN, HLN and MSNBC.
You can also view all the ads on You Tube.
Colorado’s first ethanol blender pump dispensed 512 gallons of fuel April 8 during its inaugural day of operation at the Stratton Equity Coop in Burlington.
During a grand opening event for the pump, Colorado Commissioner of Agriculture John Stulp said the annual U.S. consumption of nearly 10 billion gallons of ethanol has reduced crude oil needs by seven percent. He said home-grown ethanol has a positive impact on America’s economy while reducing the need for U.S. troops to defend the nation’s oil import supplies.
Ethanol is getting very close to hitting the blend wall, according to economists with the Agriculture Department.
With four months in a row of record ethanol production and stagnant gasoline demand, ethanol stocks are increasing. “Margins have weakened a lot over the last few weeks,” said Joe Glauber, USDA chief economist.
“We’ve seen a sharp drop in ethanol prices,” Gerry Bange, USDA economist said. This has cut returns for ethanol producers dramatically.
The future for the ethanol industry may very well hinge on the decision the Environmental Protection Agency has yet to make—moving the allowable blend level for ethanol in gasoline up to 15 percent from the current 10 percent level.
“Given the fact that gasoline consumption in this country simply is not growing very rapidly and has essentially been flat for some time now, we are getting to the point where we simply have absorbed as much ethanol as we can under the current E10 legislation,” said Bange.
Ethanol industry reaction to the much delayed promulgation of rules and standards for the expanded Renewable Fuels Standard was mostly positive yesterday. Industry groups were mostly satisfied with the EPA’s new set of standards and benchmarks for the renewable fuels industry.
Among other provisions, the RFS will set mandatory blend levels for renewable fuels while implementing a framework for carbon emissions calculations that will be the basis for future carbon reductions from fuel. Disappointingly, however, EPA continues to rely on oft-challenged and unproven theories such as international indirect land use change (ILUC) to penalize U.S. biofuels to the advantage of imported ethanol and petroleum.
Despite the inclusion of ILUC in the final rule, grain based biofuels will qualify as a low-carbon fuel for the entire 36 billion gallon benchmark under the newly expanded RFS2.
“EPA was right to recognize that ethanol from all sources provides significant carbon benefits compared to gasoline,” said Renewable Fuels Association President Bob Dinneen. “As structured, the RFS is a workable program that will achieve the stated policy goals of reduced oil dependence, economic opportunity, and environmental stewardship.”