This week I had the pleasure of meeting with representatives from eight German companies who are in Iowa to learn more the approach to biofuels in the US, and specifically in Iowa. Read more »
Posts tagged: Biofuel
There is an excitement at USDA with respect to bioenergy and biofuels and much is going on – a BIOFRENZY if you will – not in a sense of chaos – but rather many challenges and much to do. The Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS2) provisions of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 will be implemented July 1, 2010. The RFS2 calls for 36 billion gallons of renewable fuels to be used in the US transportation fuel supply by 2022 – and the majority of this total must be advanced biofuels. Read more »
Secretary Vilsack Meets Farmers, Tours Biofuel Facility and Discusses Recovery Act Business Support During Pennsylvania VisitBy
Friday, a beautiful spring day in Pennsylvania, it was my pleasure to welcome Secretary Vilsack and his wife Christy to Pennsylvania for a tour and rural discussion. We started the day at Middletown Biofuels for a facility tour along with Congressman Tim Holden and other local and state officials. Middletown Biofuels recently received over $17,000 from USDA for producing biodiesel fuel from soybean oil. The facility is located in the heart of Pennsylvania’s agricultural industry, providing ready access to soybean and other vegetable oil feedstocks. We then traveled to the state capitol in Harrisburg where the Secretary announced that in Pennsylvania, the Recovery Act has guaranteed $35.6 million in business loans that are expected to save or create more than 450 jobs. In total, USDA has provided loan guarantees to 350 U.S. businesses in the last seven months that will create or save nearly 23,500 jobs. Read more »
Cross-posted from the White House Blog written by Katelyn Sabochik
Today, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will host a Clean Energy Economy Forum. The forum will bring together stakeholders from rural communities across the country to discuss bio-energy and energy opportunities for rural economic development.
You can watch the event live on WhiteHouse.gov/live starting at 2:30 PM EDT. Each of the panels will take questions from our online audience. You can submit questions during the event via Facebook, or submit a question in advance on Facebook or Twitter.
Council on Environmental Quality Chair Nancy Sutely will kick off the event with opening remarks. Next up, Secretary Vilsack will discuss the progress achieved on the one year anniversary of President Obama’s Biofuels Directive and moderate a panel on bio-energy with Joe Glauber, Chief Economist from USDA, Dr. Roger Beachy, Chief Scientist at USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Dr. Jose Olivares of the Bioscience Division of Los Alamos National Laboratory, and Ben Larson from the Union of Concerned Scientists.
Secretary Vilsack will then moderate a second panel on energy opportunities for rural economic development with Neil Hamilton of Drake University, Dallas Tonsager, Agriculture Under Secretary for Rural Development, Ken Moss, CEO of Piedmont Bioproducts, and Dr. Dennis Beck of the University of Minnesota.
This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from the USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.
Hawaii, most people would agree, is pretty close to being paradise – and the same things that make Hawaii a great place for a vacation also make it a great place to grow things. The natural capacity of land to produce crops depends on the amount and distribution of sunlight, temperature, and precipitation. Hawaii has a greater natural production capacity than anywhere else in the U.S. At one time, sugarcane was planted on over 100,000 acres of Hawaii farmland, and there were nine major sugar producers in the state. Now there is only one producer, and the sugarcane acreage has shrunk to 37,000.
One way to revive the sugar industry in Hawaii is to diversify its products so that Hawaiians earn more per acre, and have their own sustainable supply of energy. The USDA has partnered with the University of Hawaii and the Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Company (the “last man standing” in Hawaii’s sugarcane industry) to develop new ways to grow and use sugarcane as a source of biomass (the organic material used to create biofuels).
In Hawaii, sugarcane has the greatest near-term potential as a biomass feedstock for producing biofuels—it’s perennial and non-invasive, it’s already been grown in Hawaii for over a hundred years, and there is room to improve the existing yields by using newer varieties and harvesting other parts of the plant. Sugarcane yields more energy per acre than other existing crops– it produces both cellulosic biomass (that can be converted into sugars) as well as the sugar itself.
In January, the Secretaries of Agriculture and the Navy got together and signed an agreement to work together on developing new biofuels and renewable energy sources. Why is the Navy interested? The Navy has also been looking into ways to “green” its large fleet of ships stationed in Hawaii, and it costs $10.6 million per year (at a price per gallon of $2.81) to keep one fueled and ready to move. Right now all of that fuel has to be imported, too.
It has a 270-megawatt geothermal power plant in California, a wind farm at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and solar photovoltaic panels at its facilities in San Diego. Using biofuels in its fleet is a logical next step. The USDA, the Department of the Navy, the University of Hawaii, and the Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar are now working together on this project.
Harvesting sugarcane in south Florida, where scientists in the ARS Sugarcane Production Research Unit are identifying research to help sustain both agriculture and natural Everglades ecosystems.
An experimental ARS sugarcane field near Canal Point, Florida.
Bar-coded tags identify experimental varieties of sugarcane.
Under Secretary Tonsager Talks About USDA Renewable Energy Development Support at the Department of Energy’s Biomass ConferenceBy
Yesterday it was my privilege to address those attending the Biomass 2010 Conference, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy. The Obama Administration is committed to fighting the effects of climate change while supporting farmers and ranchers, and promoting sustainable economic growth. My speech centered on opportunities available to farmers and ranchers as a result of biofuel production.
Our budget at USDA contains billions of dollars allocated to build on new energy and environmental opportunities. As part of this effort, President Obama issued the “Growing America’s Fuel” report, which lays out the Administration’s strategy to advance development and commercialization of a sustainable industry which grows and produces second and third generation biofuels while continuing to support first generation producers. Congress has mandated that the U.S. produce 36 billion gallons of biofuel annually by 2022 and we estimate that by then farmer’s incomes will increase by $13 billion annually. The caveat is that only 15 billion gallons of the yearly quota can come from corn ethanol.
Much of the new biofuel will be produced from an array of sources including grasses, cane, sorghum, oil seeds, algae and woody biomass. To encourage production from these new sources, we are working to mitigate risk and get capital flowing. One model that shows great promise is the so called “New Generation Cooperative” which is financed through sale of delivery rights: a member’s right to deliver a specific amount of a commodity to the cooperative.
As I said to conference members, we must continue to support development of new technology and demonstrate to lenders the importance of transitioning to advanced biofuels. Our responsibility is clear: We will support the entrepreneurs that have the drive to compete in the marketplace and build a new energy future for America.
To read more about the Under Secretary’s views on renewable energy, see the article on page 2 of Rural Cooperatives Magazine.
Dallas Tonsager is Under Secretary for Rural Development
USDA Under Secretary for Rural Development Dallas Tonsager addresses a biomass conference sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy
Photos by Stephen Thompson, USDA