Landmark EPA Decision on Ethanol

Posted on January 24th, 2011 by

EPA approves E15 fuel, the DOE approves a bio-fuel loan and Arizona home to world’s largest solar project.

EPA Approves E15

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced a landmark decision in regard to ethanol fuel blends. The agency raised the amount from 10 percent to 15 percent (E15) for all vehicles built in the last ten years. In October, the EPA decided to allow E15 in models 2007 and newer; their newest announcement permits cars as old as 2001. This shift creates a bigger market for American ethanol and is expected to create up to 100,000 new jobs while weaning us off our dependency on foreign oil imports. A few weeks back, we wrote about the petition from the National Petrochemical &Refiners Association (NPRA) against E15. The agency remains unsatisfied with the new proposal. “It’s unfortunate that EPA has rushed to judgment to put protection of the ethanol industry ahead of protection of the American people,” said Charles Drevna, president of NPRA.

DOE Approves Biofuel Loan

Energy Secretary Steven Chu has offered a loan guarantee to Diamond Green Diesel to support the construction of a renewable diesel facility in Louisiana. The company is a collaboration between Valero Energy Corp. and Darling International where the former will direct the design and operation of the project and the latter will supply feedstock. The $241 million DOE loan will aid in building the facility, which is expected to produce 137 million gallons of renewable diesel annually. Upon completion, the project is expected to reduce greenhouse gas emission by 80 percent and triple the amount of biomass diesel produced in the United States. Fuel will be produced primarily from animal fats used in cooking oil and waste grease streams.

Arizona Home to World’s Largest Solar Project

Agua Caliente, an Arizona solar project, is ready to begin construction. The 290-megawatt PV facility is located in Yuma County, AZ. The project will use thin film solar panels constructed by First Solar Inc. and aims to be among the largest PV generation facilities in the world upon completion. The project has received a nod of approval from Energy Secretary Steven Chu, who has granted a $967 million loan guarantee. The project will use fault-ride through and dynamic voltage regulation to improve the reliability and predictability of the electricity generated by the power plants. Such technologies are uncommon in current U.S. solar power plants. The project estimates the plants can provide clean energy to 100,000 homes.

Nautilus Solar Sets Eyes on Florida Market

Nautilus Solar Energy is entering the Florida solar market with three projects under its belt. The company acquired two distributed generation projects and is developing a third greenfield utility scale project. Already, Nautilus Solar is constructing a 131-kW project at the Regional Airport in Gainesville and another project, double the power of the former, on the roof of The Exchange Shopping Center in the same city. For both Gainesville projects, Nautilus entered a purchase agreement with the Gainesville Regional Utility under its feed-in tariff program. Additionally, in Taylor County, the company is constructing a 10-MW project using a single-axis solar tracking system.

Computers: Next Frontier of Energy Efficiency

Computer servers and data centers are responsible for a large chunk of power usage in our country making energy efficient computers a top priority. Researchers at North Carolina State University have designed a memory device that can help make computers greener. There are two kinds of memory devices in a traditional computer: one that stores data even when the machine if off and another that can perform tasks that stores data while the computer is running. Researchers have created the “Double Floating-gate Effect Transistor” that can combine both functions. This allows computers to boot up instantly and power down during lower use periods, saving a tremendous amount of energy.

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