How Will Utilities Deal with Electric-Vehicle Charging and Stressed Electric Grids?

California and other states are scrambling to find electricity this summer amid record heat, with a growing risk of blackouts. The Texas power grid that failed in February winter storms, leaving millions of homes and business without power and resulting in more than 100 deaths, has already had 1,280 summer outages. If our power grids already can’t handle the extremes being caused by climate change, how are they going to handle the addition of battery-electric vehicles?

A 2019 study by the U.S. Department of Energy estimated that increased demand for electricity — much of that for electric vehicles — could see a 38% increase in energy demand by 2050. And the Biden administration wants to build 500,000 EV chargers and “electrify thousands of school and transit buses across the country.” As Reuters recently reported, the city of Austin, Texas, has budgeted $650 million over 20 years for electric buses and a charging facility for 187 such vehicles.

PERC Gives Propane a New Identity

The Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) launched a new brand – PROPANE Energy for Everyone – that the organization says “highlights propane’s role in ensuring energy equity and reducing carbon emissions.”

“Americans are beginning to appreciate the value of propane in a wider energy mix after seeing the vulnerabilities of the electric grid in Texas and California and around the country,” says PERC President and CEO Tucker Perkins. “Propane is clean, affordable and available right now. Unlike the electric grid, it does not require trillions of dollars in infrastructure investment that will create a burden on those who can least afford it. Propane offers solutions for climate, health, and equity.”

The PROPANE Energy for Everyone brand was created by PERC’s newly selected creative agency of record, Elevation Advertising. It is rolling out to propane industry partners in anticipation of consumer and market-specific campaigns this fall.

DOE awards $45.5M for projects to advance biotechnology research

The U.S. Department of Energy on June 30 awarded $45.5 million for research projects geared towards understanding and harnessing nature’s biological processes to produce clean biofuels and bioproducts. This research will push the boundaries of biology and biotechnology research, while helping to enhance America’s energy security and build its clean energy economy.

“Biofuels that can power planes and ships, and bioproducts made from renewable resources will play a critical role in decarbonizing our economy—and today’s awardees will help us understand, predict, and even design them at the cellular level, so that we can unlock their full potential,” said Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “Led by the unparalleled scientific capabilities at DOE’s National Labs and America’s world-leading research universities, these projects will help us develop low-carbon products that drive economic growth while building a more sustainable world for our children and grandchildren.”

Novozymes launches new yeast, fiber products

Novozymes is launching two new yeast and fiber products that aim to boost ethanol plant efficiency, counteract production challenges, and allow facilities to further diversify their product offerings. The company will introduce the new products at the 2021 International Fuel Ethanol & Workshop in Des Moines, Iowa, on July 13-15.

Innova Element is the latest addition to Novozymes’ Innova yeast platform. Element specifically targets ethanol plants seeking the highest level of starch and glucose conversion.

Brian Brazeau, Novozymes president for North American and vice president of agricultural and industrial solutions, Americas, explains that Element increases ethanol yields by 2 percent on when compared to an industry-wide average without sacrificing any of the robustness that producers can come to appreciate about the Innova yeast platform.

Xebec to Deliver 18 Units of RNG Production Platform

Xebec Adsorption Inc. has signed a master service agreement (MSA) with a U.S.-based renewable natural gas (RNG) dairy farm project developer for the purchase of BGX Biostream units.

The MSA will support the order of an initial 18 units, with the potential for additional orders under the same service agreement. This agreement represents the single largest unit order the company has received to date for Biostream.

As a result of the MSA and additional expected orders, Xebec has also started the production of 30 Biostream units for delivery over the next year. The company’s increased manufacturing requirements are in part supported by the recently announced acquisition of Tennessee-based Nortec. Xebec’s Canadian manufacturing facility is being modified and is expected to allow for the annual production of approximately 30 to 40 Biostream units. In addition, the company is exploring new capacity in the U.S. as more purchase orders are signed.

US biodiesel exports up in May

The U.S. exported 82,320.3 metric tons of biodiesel and biodiesel blends of B30 or greater in May, up from 69,488.5 metric tons in April and 69,973 metric tons in May 2020, according to data released by the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service on July 2.

The U.S. exported biodiesel to seven countries in May. Canada was the top destination at 70,496.6 metric tons, followed by Peru at 6,460.6 metric tons and the Netherlands at 5,000 metric tons.

The value of U.S. biodiesel exports reached $94.22 million in May, up from $74.53 million in April and $57.26 million in May 2020.

Propane council launches national brand for propane

The Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) launched a new identity for propane that signals a change in how the nation should view the energy source.

The new brand, “PROPANE Energy for Everyone,” highlights propane’s role in ensuring energy equity and reducing carbon emissions. It replaces the “PROPANE Clean American Energy” logo and tagline that had been in place since 2014.

“Americans are beginning to appreciate the value of propane in a wider energy mix after seeing the vulnerabilities of the electric grid in Texas and California and around the country,” says PERC President and CEO Tucker Perkins in a press release announcing the launch. “Propane is clean, affordable and available right now. Unlike the electric grid, it does not require trillions of dollars in infrastructure investment that will create a burden on those who can least afford it. Propane offers solutions for climate, health and equity.”

Tesla Delivers Record 201,250 Cars in Second Quarter

Tesla Inc. delivered 201,250 cars worldwide in the second quarter, a record for the electric-car maker led by CEO Elon Musk.

While the company doesn’t break out sales by region, business appeared healthy in China. The bulk of the period’s sales were of the Model 3 sedan and the Model Y crossover, which are produced in Shanghai and Fremont, Calif. The Model S sedan and Model X sport utility vehicle are made only in Fremont. The countries are Tesla’s biggest markets.

“Our teams have done an outstanding job navigating through global supply chain and logistics challenges,” Tesla said in a statement July 2.

Recent Growth, Adoption Shows Natural Gas Vehicles Are a Proven, Cost-Effective Option

Even with 2020 being an extreme outlier year, the growth of both natural gas fuel and natural gas vehicles (NGVs) showed no sign of slowing. As confirmed by the latest independent industry report, the State of Sustainable Fleets, and backed up by hundreds of survey responses from real-world fleets across the U.S., NGVs continue to demonstrate both superior environmental and economic performance — even when measured against gasoline and diesel.

The notion that significant emission reductions can be accomplished only by sacrificing vehicle performance or paying more for clean fuels does not hold true. This year’s findings confirm that when mature clean vehicle technologies, including natural gas, are matched to the best-equipped sectors for those technologies, fleets really can have it all.

Nikola invests $50M to produce clean hydrogen

Nikola Corporation is investing $50 million in a clean hydrogen project being developed by Wabash Valley Resources (WVR)  in West Terre Haute, Indiana. The investment, which represents a 20% equity stake in the project, aims to use solid waste byproducts, such as petroleum coke combined with biomass, to produce clean, sustainable hydrogen for transportation fuel and base-load electricity generation while also capturing the carbon dioxide emissions for permanent underground sequestration.

This investment is anticipated to build a hydrogen hub with the ability to offtake about 50 tons a day to supply its future dispensing stations across the Midwest. Exercising its offtake right will likely require significant additional investment by Nikola to build liquefaction, storage, and transportation services.