Biofuels Blog Posts
Thu, 01/26/2017 - 11:30am
Cities across Minnesota and the country are working to reduce costs and fuel consumption by greening and electrifying their vehicle fleets. The City of Elk River recently produced a Green City Fleet Guide as part of a Metro CERT Seed Grant funded project that can guide other cities in taking action. The goal of the guide is to provide communities with some tools needed to create greener city fleets. The guide provides information about alternative fuel vehicles, suggestions for efficient fleets, benefits of electric vehicles, a list of electric vehicles on the market, financial incentives, global trends in fleets and additional resources. The guide also shares results of short fleet survey in some Minnesota cities. The...
Wed, 10/26/2016 - 12:13pm
On September 26, over twenty five people joined the Southeast CERT tour of the City of Red Wing’s clean energy projects. Maintenance Shop: The tour began at Red Wing Public Works Maintenance Shop, where participants learned about Red Wing’s recycled waste oil from fleet vehicles used to partially heat the public works building, LED street lighting, and production of 87,800 kW/h from two solar arrays. The maintenance shop is net negative energy, as the electricity is provided by solar and they use waste oil from other projects to heat the shop. City Hall: Folks then carpooled downtown to see the solar installation over the City Hall Car Port, which not only generates power but has the added benefit of shading parked cars in the summer and providing cover from the snow in the winter. “People love it and try to get here early to park to the winter,” said Jay McCleary, retired Public...
Tue, 07/19/2016 - 10:24am
USDA Rural Development offers an array of programs to help improve the economy and quality of life in rural Minnesota. A new Program Summary guide offers an overview of all programs—it’s a must-read resource for learning about how your goals and projects could be supported. What exactly does USDA Rural Development do in Minnesota? Offer loans, grants and loan guarantees to support essential services such as housing, economic development, health care, first responder services and equipment, and water, electric and communications infrastructure. Promote economic development by supporting loans to businesses through banks, credit unions and community-managed lending pools. Offer technical assistance and information to help agricultural producers and cooperatives get started and improve the effectiveness of their operations. Provide technical assistance to help...
Wed, 03/09/2016 - 4:28pm
Minnesota’s ethanol industry contributed $2.13 billion to the state’s gross domestic product in 2015, according to a new study by ABF Economics out this week. The study, commissioned by the Minnesota Bio-Fuels Association, said the industry generated $7.37 billion in gross sales in 2015 for Minnesota businesses. This, in turn, generated $1.6 billion worth of income for Minnesota households, supported 18,116 full-time jobs in the state and contributed $93 million to state and local taxes last year. “The ethanol industry continues to be a significant contributor to Minnesota’s economy and is vital to continued economic growth in the state,” said Tim Rudnicki, executive director of the Minnesota...
Tue, 11/17/2015 - 12:39pm
During the month of October, 2015, folks in Mankato, Staples, and Grand Rapids had a chance to share their input on the Minnesota 2025 Energy Action Plan. CERTs hosted these three events (as well as an event in St. Paul) to gather feedback, with attendees participating in small group discussions on two of these five topics: Energy planning Industry & agriculture Buildings & energy efficiency Mobility, transportation & fuels Energy supply & grid modernization “It was great getting input from such diverse stakeholders across the state,” said Lissa Pawlisch, CERTs Director. “Folks in every region noted the need to scale up energy efficiency in existing buildings, and there was real interest in distributed energy systems with the recent boom in solar, continued growth in wind energy, and opportunities for greater use of biomass.” We want your input, too...
Wed, 03/25/2015 - 3:07pm
The Midwest Farm Energy Conference and Renewable Energy Tour is coming up in Morris, MN on June 17-19, 2015! To learn more we interviewed Michael Reese, Renewable Energy Director at the University of Minnesota West Central Research and Outreach Center in Morris. Joel Haskard, CERTs: Tell us a little bit about the Midwest Farm Energy Conference. Mike Reese: The Midwest Farm Energy Conference will showcase renewable energy and energy efficient technologies in a production agriculture setting. In addition to presentations on a wide variety of agriculture energy-related topics, attendees will tour innovative energy systems including solar electric, solar thermal, wind energy, and renewable hydrogen and ammonia production. This is an opportunity to see the systems in use, and learn about some...
Wed, 06/18/2014 - 4:21pm
The Minnesota Department of Agriculture has named five in-state bioenergy projects as recipients of NextGen Energy grants. The five projects were selected out of a pool of 35, according to MDA Commissioner Dave Frederickson. All projects underwent consideration by a technical team made up of members from five state departments – agriculture, commerce, natural resources, pollution control, and employment and economic development. Projects were scored separately according to NextGen grant guidelines, and all are required at least a 50 percent match from the grantee. Grant recipients include: Easy Energy Systems, Welcome, Minn. – $500,000 – The project builds a showplace biofuel production facility capable of testing multiple feedstocks, verifying economic data, and confirming conversion rates in Welcome. Central Minnesota Renewables LLC, Little Falls, Minn....
Tue, 05/06/2014 - 10:00am
USDA Rural Development State Director Colleen Landkamer today announced that USDA is seeking applications from rural small businesses and agricultural producers for funding to make energy efficiency improvements or to install renewable energy systems. “Developing renewable energy presents an enormous economic opportunity for rural America,” Landkamer said. “This funding will help rural small business owners, farmers and ranchers incorporate renewable energy and energy efficiency technology into their operations, create jobs and help America become more energy independent. When small rural businesses and farmers cut their energy costs with cleaner and more efficient energy, we are both helping their bottom lines and reducing the amount of greenhouse gas pollution that affects our climate.” The funding announced today is being provided through USDA’s Rural Energy for America Program...
Wed, 03/19/2014 - 4:26pm
Tesla Motors is building a SuperCharging network that enables long distance driving with an all-electric Tesla Model S. This week the project reached an important milestone-there are now enough stations in place to allow all-American road trips from coast to coast by using these stations to charge your car along the way. To celebrate this milestone, three members of the Minnesota Plug-in Vehicle Owners’ Circle are going to drive from the Twin Cities to Los Angeles and then along the coast to San Francisco, culminating in a visit to the Tesla Motors factory in Freemont, CA. Lee Bakewell, Jukka Kukkonen and Pavel Zhuravlev left the Twin Cities on Monday February 3rd to head to the open road. It turned out that the weather stayed bitterly cold for the first part of the trip putting the Tesla Model S and the crew to a real test. Preparations: We started to plan for this trip in the...
Rural Energy for America Program funding available for MN farmers and rural small businesses in 2014
Mon, 03/17/2014 - 6:37pm
The Rural Energy for American Program (REAP) from USDA Rural Development is a funding opportunity for renewable energy and energy efficiency programs for farmers and rural small businesses. We recently held a webinar to walk participants through the 2014 USDA Rural Development REAP funding cycle and example project ideas. The webinar recording and PowerPoint slides are available here for you to review. In the webinar: Ron Omann, the State Energy & Environmental Coordinator of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development reviews key changes to REAP, eligibility to seek funds, filling out the application, and how projects are scored. Download slides >> Fritz Ebinger, the Energy Program Manager of The Minnesota Project, a partner of...
New reports address Minnesota's Energy Future, the Value of Solar Thermal, and Utility Energy Storage
Dept. of Commerce
Tue, 02/04/2014 - 2:54pm
The Minnesota Department of Commerce (DOC) has posted three reports as required by state legislation passed in 2013. The three reports are available as PDFs on the Energy Reports section of the Division of Energy Resources website, or can be accessed using the links below. The three reports, commissioned by DOC, include: Scoping an Energy Future Study for Minnesota – The Scoping an Energy Future Study for Minnesota develops a scope for a study of how Minnesota can achieve a sustainable energy system that does not rely on fossil fuels. The report identifies potential approaches and considerations to assess cross-sector opportunities in electrical, transportation, thermal, industrial, and agricultural sectors....
Thu, 12/12/2013 - 5:20pm
The Clean Energy Resource Teams are excited to announce the projects awarded Seed Grants in each of the seven Minnesota CERTs regions. Most regions awarded $20,000 worth of seed grants, catalyzing energy efficiency and renewable energy projects across the state. The funding is provided by the Minnesota Department of Commerce, Division of Energy Resources. There were 34 seed grants awarded in total, across a broad spectrum of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies. Many projects also include components of education, outreach and community building, and research. Read on for all of the details! Thanks to everyone who submitted a proposal. Since 2006, CERTs has awarded $922,500 to more than 223 projects. To learn more about past funded projects, visit our CERTs-Supported Projects page....
Tue, 12/10/2013 - 1:46pm
The market share of condensing boilers, sometimes called high-efficiency boilers, has increased dramatically over the last several years, thanks in part to utility programs that provide rebates. Unfortunately, many of these newly installed condensing boilers only achieve a fraction of their expected ideal case energy savings. Center for Energy and Environment’s Senior Mechanical Engineer Russ Landry explains why, and offers solutions to optimize their performance. When a boiler burns natural gas to heat water, it produces both carbon dioxide and water vapor—which is really just diluted steam. In a conventional boiler all of this steam goes right out the chimney with most of its potential heating energy wasted: The lost heat up the flue results in an annual fuel utilization efficiency of about 80 percent for conventional boilers. In order to increase boiler...
Tue, 10/15/2013 - 4:13pm
The Redwood Area Development Corporation (RADC) developed a new website with a renewable energy portal on the homepage. Julie Rath with RADC is excited about the new site and content: “Having the portal right on the homepage will open up opportunities for citizens and businesses to find easier access to the tool they need for their own projects, energy rebates, funding sources, etc.” Posting of actual stories and the energy portal have helped to increase the awareness of CERTs, the GreenStep Cities Program, and other energy-related programs that communities and residents may not have been aware of. Along with the energy portal, postings on Facebook and Twitter have been highlighting energy projects in Redwood County. This marketing of information will help to spark interest in these initiatives and help to promote energy conservation in southwest Minnesota. “I know the website is...
Mon, 09/30/2013 - 8:00am
For students like Kimberly Colgan, participating in the Youth Energy Summit (YES!) program is a life-changing experience. “YES! has definitely impacted my college and career plans. I am now pursuing a degree in industrial process engineering (looking at processes to reduce waste) and I hope to work in a recycling facility to help improve cost and efficiency so that we can recycle as much as possible,” says Colgan, a YES! student and recent graduate from Apollo High School in St. Cloud, Minnesota. One of the goals of the YES! program is to increase awareness of career, economic, and entrepreneurial opportunities. YES!, a program partnership between Southwest Initiative Foundation (SWIF) and Prairie Woods Environmental Learning Center (PWELC), is a team-oriented youth program that uses hands-on, experiential learning and energy action projects to address energy opportunities and...
Thu, 08/22/2013 - 8:15am
Alexis Madrigal, senior editor at The Atlantic, has been looking at all things energy in a series of videos and reports on energy use. He and other reporters have been trying to break down how and where different types of energy are employed in the U.S. As it stands, renewable energy makes up only about 10 percent of what we use in the United States. But as energy from fossil fuels declines, renewable energy will likely be asked to shoulder more of the load. Listen to the discussion on MPR’s Daily Circuit among Alexis Madrigal, Kerri Miller, and listeners. See the post on the MPR website >>
Tue, 08/06/2013 - 1:57pm
A plant once thought of as only a weed is being investigated as a potential biofuel. Camelina, a two-foot tall plant described as “spindly,” packs a mighty punch. The seeds are 30-32% oil and can withstand temperatures down to 20 degrees Fahrenheit. A 24 acre plot is currently being utilized for testing camelina alongside soybeans at Anoka-Ramsey Community College in Cambridge, Minnesota. Get the full story on the Minnesota Public Radio’s website
Mon, 06/24/2013 - 2:35pm
The term “wastewater” may become a misnomer—or at least the “waste” part. The City of Brainerd investigated the possibility of using its wastewater as a resource to produce energy for municipal buildings. With the help of an Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) of $45,000 to conduct research on the topic of untapped energy in wastewater streams, Brainerd is now at the forefront in this field of renewable energy research. In 2010, a research partnership between the City of Brainerd, Brainerd Public Utilities, the Brainerd School District and an area firm called Hidden Fuels looked into the potential to heat and cool schools and other public buildings by extracting energy from the wastewater stream. Hidden Fuels is a renewable energy company providing services and products to efficiently capture and distribute unused energy from waste...