California lawmakers pass bill to phase out fossil fuels by 2045

Lawmakers in California have strengthened the state's commitment to clean energy by passing a bill to stop using fossil fuels entirely by 2045. The legislature passed S.B. 100 by 43 votes to 32, making California the second state to take such a step, following Hawaii. The bill now moves to a procedural vote in the Senate, and then to Governor Jerry Brown to sign it into law. Around 72 percent of the state's residents were in support of the move, according to polls cited by CBS.

There's a lot of work ahead for California to meet its goal, though it's on track to meet previous clean energy goals a decade sooner than expected.The state gets around a third of its current energy needs from renewable sources, according to US Energy Information Administration data. Natural gas accounts for about 49 percent, and nuclear energy makes up nine percent of the total.

THE IMO’S 2020 GLOBAL SULFUR CAP WHAT A 2020 SULFUR-CONSTRAINED WORLD MEANS FOR SHIPPING LINES, REFINERIES AND BUNKER SUPPLIERS

The International Maritime Organization on October 27 announced it was going ahead with a global sulfur cap of 0.5% on marine fuels starting from January 1, 2020, ending years of uncertainty.

Under the terms of the IMO’s MARPOL Annex VI regulation, the 2020 date was “subject to a review, to be completed by 2018, as to the availability of the required fuel oil. Depending on the outcome of the review, this date could be deferred to 1 January 2025.”

Dirty Reality Catching Up With Fossil Fuel Vehicles

This week marks an important transitional step away from the obsolete technology of dirty fossil fuel vehicles and in favor of electric vehicles that can run on clean energy. The Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP) has come into force in the EU from 1st of September 2018, leading to much hand-wringing by the traditional fossil fuel vehicle OEMs, whose cars have always been highly polluting, and are now running out of road. The old fig leaf of the 1990s NEDC (New European Driving Cycle) testing regime is being replaced by the updated, more realistic WLTP testing regime, along with its onroad-emissions-testing counterpart, the Real Driving Emissions test (RDE). While still imperfect, these new testing regimes do track real world emissions performance much more closely.

As a consequence, the current generation of fossil fueled vehicles (FFVs) are now officially earmarked by lawmakers as being more polluting in particulates, carbon dioxide, and other harmful emissions. A higher bar is set for their entry on to the market, which will require expensive and complex technology to achieve. They will also be taxed at higher levels than before, and will cost consumers more to purchase.

Fading Power in N.H.

Chuck Theall, with a burly woodsman’s physique and white Santa Clause beard, stands on the ground near a pile of wood chips piled higher than a house.

The warm scent of pine lingers in the air.

“I worked 10 years in nuclear power in the Navy. Got out, interviewed at a trash plant,” recalled Theall, sweat stains soaking through his Carhartt T-shirt under a warm afternoon sun. “I didn’t like that.”

He heard that a new wood-burning electrical power generation facility in rural New Hampshire was looking for a steam plant operator. That was 30 years ago. Theall said he stayed because the work and small town life suits him — and there’s something really pleasant about being around freshly cut wood.

“It smells like Christmas trees all the time here,” he said.

$10 Gas? The Obscure Maritime Rule That Could Make it a Reality

A little-noticed rule requiring large ships to soon slash the air pollution they produce threatens to drive benchmark oil prices as high as $200 a barrel, send prices at the pump soaring to $6 or even $10 a gallon and crash the global economy just 17 months from now.

The doomsday scenario was described in a paper last week by Philip Verleger, an economist who advised two presidents and correctly forecast in 2007 that oil prices would sharply rise to levels that could trigger a financial crisis – a development experts saycontributed to the Great Recession. And in his latest prediction, he's not alone.

Shell's Starship Initiative semi truck looks crazy, is crazy efficient

Would it sound weird if we told you that Shell (yes, the petrochemical company) is building a starship? Probably. It would probably be less weird if we said that the Starship was actually a hyper-efficient bespoke semi truck that just did a coast-to-coast run from San Diego, California, to Jacksonville, Florida. 

The oil market problem no one it talking about – yet

At the moment, the world has more than enough oil to meet its needs. In fact, it has too much, which is why OPEC is holding back some of its production to drain off a portion of the excess crude sitting in storage depots around the world. Furthermore, according to an estimate from the International Energy Agency (IEA), the oil market will remain well supplied through at least 2020 even though demand should continue expanding at a brisk pace.

It's a different story post-2020, where there's a growing concern that the oil industry might not be able to keep up with continued demand growth because it's not reinvesting enough money into longer-term projects. That could result in a big shortfall in supplies, potentially fueling a significant spike in oil prices in the coming years. 

Loosely regulated market for biofuel credits spurs speculators and swindlers

Andre Bernard made a killing selling a mirage.

As oil refineries struggled to comply with federal mandates for blending renewable fuels into the nation’s gasoline and diesel supply, Bernard offered a solution: millions of dollars’ worth of biofuel credits they could buy to help meet their obligation. The credits were ostensibly generated by biofuel companies Bernard and his partners owned.

The only problem is they weren’t making the fuel. They were faking it, generating at least $42 million worth of phony credits. Bernard was sent to prison last month.

Mazda's 'Skyactiv-3' Engine Could Be As Clean As Some Electrics With 56% Thermal Efficiency

Mazda has been vocal about its plan to continue developing internal combustion engines despite a major industry push towards electrification and EVs. The company displayed its innovative Skyactiv-X engine last year, and now Automotive News reports that a next-generation motor—called Skyactiv 3—will offer efficiency levels that could yield overall CO2 output similar to that of some EVs. 

With Mazda’s Skyactiv-G engine having been out for a while now, and Skyactiv-X coming soon—that’s the one with the innovative Spark Controlled Compression Ignition technology—the company is apparently working to further increase internal combustion engine efficiency with a new generation of Skyactiv called “Skyactiv-3.”

What’s the real story behind Philadelphia Energy Solutions’ bankruptcy, crude oil, and the Renewable Fuel Standard?

On Jan 21st 2018, Carlyle-backed Philadelphia Energy Solutions (PES), the largest refinery complex on the U.S. east coast at 335,000 barrels per day, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, blaming Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) compliance costs. In the week since the filing, the Washington Examiner reports several other small refiners have piled on, asking the Environmental Protection Agency to waive the Renewable Volume Obligations under the RFS.

The governors of Pennsylvania and Delaware weighed in as well, writing letters to the EPA requesting to have the refineries in their states receive hardship exemptions from RFS obligations “The whole reason we’re filing for Chapter 11 is that this is a massive expense,” said CEO Gregory Gatta in telephone interview with Bloomberg on Jan 22nd.  He went on to state that in 2017, meeting the amended federal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS2) regulatory burden cost Philadelphia Energy Solutions more than twice as much as payroll and about 1.5 times more than its average annual capital expenditures. Since 2012 the refinery has accrued $832 million in credits.
 

Kimberly-Clark closing 2 Wisconsin plants, cutting 600 jobs

Kimberly-Clark is planning to close plants in Neenah and nearby Fox Crossing, resulting in the loss of about 600 jobs, a company spokeswoman said Wednesday. 

“As part of the recently announced global restructuring program, which is occurring within the next three years, Kimberly-Clark has today confirmed it has informed employees at the Neenah (WI) Cold Spring Facility, (located in Fox Crossing) and the United Steelworkers Local 2-482 leadership, of its proposed plan to close this facility," spokeswoman Brook Smith said in an email.

Research challenges the popular belief that biofuels are better for the environment

The European Union is raising the bar for renewable energy goals, but some climate change experts say the new targets could do more harm than good.


A new report from MIT Sloan professor John Sterman supports the growing argument that burning wood pellets for power is worse for the climate than burning coal, because of the short-term effects and the "potentially irreversible impacts that may arise before the long-run benefits are realized."

The Sun Also Ryzes: Ryze Renewable secures financing, heads for commercial-scale advanced biofuels in Nevada

Today, we’d like to share news that a new biorefinery for diesel and jet fuel has finalized $112.6 million loan, backed by a USDA loan guarantee.

This is Ryze Renewables, which will construct its biorefinery in Storey County, Nevada. The  new refinery is scheduled to open in the second quarter of 2019. Production capacity has not been confirmed, but latest reports based on permitting applications pegged the capacity at 40 million gallons per year

Wood Is Not a Carbon-Neutral Energy Source

Treating it as such – and supporting it with subsidies, as the UK and many other EU member states do – is a flawed path to climate action.

Chatham House’s recent paper, Woody Biomass for Power and Heat: Impacts on the Global Climate, highlights how the use of wood for electricity generation and heat in modern (non-traditional) technologies has grown rapidly in recent years, and has the potential to continue to do so. EU member states’ national targets for renewable energy generation agreed in 2009 have helped ensure that the EU is now the world’s largest producer and consumer of wood for energy. And although other member states use wood more extensively for heat, the UK is the EU’s largest user for electricity generation, mostly sourced from the US and Canada.

The wildfires in California just keep shattering records this year

(CNN)This year's rash of catastrophic wildfires didn't just destroy neighborhood and livelihoods -- they also annihilated records. And the destruction's not over. The Thomas Fire, which has torched the equivalent of Dallas and Miami combined, is still raging in Southern California.

The Biggest Texas Oil Fields Producing Today

Texas is the nation's largest oil-producing state, accounting for about 25% of the total. Fueling that output is a combination of legacy oil fields and new shale discoveries, especially those in the Permian Basin of west Texas, which alone contributes 14% of the total U.S. oil output.

While there are thousands of oil fields spread across the state, many don't produce that many barrels of oil each month. Instead, the bulk of the state's production comes from just two monster oil fields: the Permian Basin and the Eagle Ford shale. Here's a closer look at why these are the two largest oil-producing fields in the Lone Star state.

EIA revises 2017, 2018 bioenergy, wood heating forecasts

The U.S. Energy Information Administration has released the December edition of its Short-Term Energy Outlook, revising its 2017 and 2018 forecasts for bioenergy production and residential wood heating.

The EIA currently predicts wood biomass will be used to generate 117,000 MWh per day of electricity this year, falling to 114,000 MWh per day next year. Generation from waste biomass is expected to increase, from 57,000 MWh per day this year, to 60,000 MWh per day next year.

SynSel Energy, Inc. Partners With a Private Lender to Fund 2 Biorefineries

August 19, 2017 – SynSel Energy, Inc. announced that they have executed a Term Sheet and Commitment Letter from a private lender to provide $600M in construction funding to build two $300M SynSel Biorefineries.  One plant will be located in Ontonagon, Michigan and one plant will be located in Grand Rapids, Minnesota.  SynSel CEO Tim Tawoda described the private lender's structure as a “non-traditional construction loan that requires the creation of a $75M Good Faith Account (GFA) for each biorefinery to meet lending covenants.”  Mr. Tawoda further stated that the private lender has voiced an interest in funding 100 SynSel plants across the US and that the initial $600M construction loan will close 60 days after the GFA is funded. The loan covers all pre-construction and construction activities.

The GFA is like a letter of credit, except there is no scenario in which the funds can be surrendered to anyone but the owner of the account. The GFA is not collateral or security, but it does carry a fixed return to the GFA owner. The private lender is a true business partner in that SynSel will be splitting plant profits with the lender – hence the lender is motivated to provide funds at favorable terms for as many projects as SynSel can develop. These plants are going to have a dramatic impact to the economic viability of these 2 very distressed rural communities.”