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Robert Byrnes and the mobile oilseed press at Husker Harvest Days

Ethanol Activist Kevin Kenney at Husker Harvest Days

NRES Renewable Energy Exhibit at 2006 Nebraska State Fair

NRES booth at 2006 Nebraska State Fair

Sen. Ben Nelson and Robert Byrnes discuss renewable energy at the 2006 Nebraska State Fair.

Sen. Ben Nelson & Robert review Nebraska renewable energy facility map

Robert Byrnes and Senator Ben Nelson discuss locally grown oilseed crops at 2006 State Fair

State Fair - 385lb butter pig
H O T   T O P I C S
  • Economics for the production of biodiesel seem to be improving with soybean oil prices softening after their spike to $0.70/lb. Because so many producers were forced off line, the price for B-100 has also gone up to over $5/gallon. For some plants with refineries, the opportunity to turn the lights back on may be on the horizon. With $0.54/lb oil, most facilities can produce biodiesel in the mid $4/gallon range. Lets hope this industry is given a chance to catch its' breath.

    Wind energy in Nebraska got some news with the announcement of an 80MW wind farm to be developed by the out of state Midwest Wind Energy company. Midwest was able to somehow modify its ownership structure to be able to be defined as a C-BED project and gain the advantages granted to such citizen based projects last legislative session. Other Nebraska based C-BED projects are still waiting for power purchase agreements from NPPD. With 73MW of current nameplate capacity and 80MW of nameplate capacity announced, Nebraska is still a long way off from the 1,520MW that would be required to meet a likely 15% inclusion rate for renewables as will be likely mandated by the federal government. Wind remains Nebraska's best option for renewable electricity, but some groups are promoting back up systems to the wind that would be fuelled by natural gas. That is about the same mentality that would use coal to power an ethanol plant. Some folks just can't get out of their love affair with nasty old carbon energy!

  • March 5, 2008 - The REA's are continuing to spearhead Public Powers' attempt to undermine small wind energy in Nebraska with LB 1065. The REA lobby and Sen. Louden are not responding to citizens' calls for amendments to this bill which would make it more realistic for them, but of course that is not the goal. The goal is an obvious attempt to get any old bill through so they can say they have one. As usual, the citizens have no voice in the process and no one pulling for their interests. The only groups pulling for the people are the Farmers Union, Sierra Club, Nebraska Renewable Energy Association and activist citizens. These groups have thus far been unable to stop the power lobby juggernaut determined to force their will on Nebraskans.

    With crude oil at $104/barrel this week, Nebraska opts to continue to keep its head in the sand and pretend that skyrocketing energy costs will just pass them by. Where is our leadership? Who will champion these causes as not one piece of renewable legislation has come out of the Legislature? There is a small number of forward thinking senators out there, but not nearly enough to make a difference. The power lobby rules in Nebraska and seems too content with keeping renewable energy in the Stone Age. This is a sad situation and can only be remedied by citizens that are aware of what is going on. If we wait until the energy situation becomes a crisis, it will be too late.

  • Well it looks like hopes for a fair net metering program will be snubbed again with the utility lobby shoving LB 1065 down our throats. It is unbelievable how much influence the NPA and REA lobbyists have over the process. Many senators seem resigned to do their will despite the fact that it is not in the best interest of Nebraskans. It will be absolutely shameful if LB 1065 goes into law. Luckily, there is an amendment for monitoring of the development that occurs after the new law is in effect. I predict it will be little to none. With little participation, Public Power will say it wasn't really needed. On the good side, NPPD seems to have better ideas with a 25KW cap and other goodies. Let's hope they can influence the REA's that seem determined to fight the future indefinitely.

  • The Ethanol Development Act revisions are picking up steam as well. Imagine being able to buy denatured ethanol from the local ethanol plant! This alcohol can be used as a safer, cheaper alternative for the toxic, nasty, non-renewable methanol we are forced to use. How many folks will need to develop liver damage from methanol before we can utilize the ethanol being produced all around us. Plus, the alcohol recovered from glycerine does not pose a HAP/VOC hazard and can be re-used as a motor fuel. It is a no brainer.

    Please contact your senator and encourage them to get on board with this legislation!!

  • News for Home-brewers! We are undertaking studies for alternative glycerine uses. Our initial research has found a home for any glycerine that you may generate from your home based production. I know I was sure pleased to load up the glycerine I was accumulating. Glycerine with methanol is hazardous and cannot be used until the alcohol is removed, which is dangerous to do unless trained. Contact us if you need a good home for your crude glycerine.

  • One of the weaknesses of centralized power is being felt across the plains as thousands remain without power. Some of those wise enough to have prepared for these eventualities are running generators on home made fuels! Power lines strung all over creation are expensive, exposed and are responsible for a loss of 27% of the 90 quads of power that go into our nations energy pool annually. Distributed generation is the answer, with renewable sources of course!

  • Gary Kuester, a great leader in renewable energy, from Stanton, Nebraska passed away after a long struggle with cancer. Gary built an on farm ethanol facility in Stanton and was a founding member of the Husker Ag ethanol facility in Plainview. NRES salutes Gary and thanks him for his decades of service in developing ethanol in Nebraska. God Bless You.

  • Lots of equipment moving in from India. Process modules are coming in for the Scribner biodiesel facility, NRES presses are arriving in NY on the 18th, and a 20TPD sunflower crush system is arriving soon after that. Tremendous interest was seen in sunflower as an oilseed crop at the recent RC&D biofuels workshops on the 12th/13th. Plenty of interest as people realize energy is a long term problem. We crushed the first grape seed in Nebraska the other day, another one for the record books.

  • A closed loop farm energy system has been developed, marrying the synergies of different renewable energy production processes. Such an on farm system would truly free the farm from its' outside energy dependence and upgrade the farm to a viable value added processor, not a wholesale commodity supplier. If you are interested in this research, contact us.

  • NRES offers the most experienced consulting and design service in the state covering all aspects of renewable energy. From the garage to the farm to commercial facilities, NRES can provide project technical support.

Citizens need to get involved in their own future

Your senator is visited by lobbyists every day. When was the last time you gave them your view? Whether it is RE (renewable energy) related or not, Nebraskans need to get involved in sharing their views with senators, testifying where they have a strong opinion and be informed. Our DUTIES as citizens is not limited to election day. Get involved in your future by getting to know the issues and sharing your views with your elected representatives. Although survey after survey clearly shows Nebraskans want more RE in the mix, the lack of involvement of the citizenry has resulted in the status quo lobbyists prevailing year after year. As a result, Nebraska is lagging in all areas of RE development outside of large, commercial ethanol production. Get in there and make a difference this legislative session, you'll feel good about it, I promise.

Northeast Nebraska Biodiesel (NNB) gaining ground

One of the first NRES projects, NNB in Scribner is moving ahead in several areas. While some areas are stalled waiting on  an NDEQ construction permit, others are moving ahead. Seeing the equipment after 18 months of meetings was extremely gratifying. We are still shooting for a March start-up.

Momentum Building in the Legislature for renewable energy

Pressure is mounting on the legislature to effect real change in Nebraska regarding renewable energy. People realize that there is a reason why only ethanol seems to be thriving at the moment in Nebraska. While biodiesel has gotten a start, development has stalled with regulatory burdens, high vegetable oil prices and 'low' diesel prices.

Winds of change blowing in Nebraska for wind energy

It is not news to anyone that the growth of renewable electricity in Nebraska is being held back by Public Power. There are several bills that will be introduced this session to forward the development of our wind resources. I strongly suggest you contact your state senators and urge them to sign on to these initiatives. NRES is a fan of the Public Power system as are the Nebraska Renewable Energy Coalition Partners. They have and will continue to be a source of strength for this state, HOWEVER, we hope they give up their resistance to decentralized generation. Continued undermining of these efforts WILL result in a serious impact on the public perception of our system which must be avoided. I was astounded at the level of awareness of these issues in a recent forum at Wayne State College, wonderful to see!


The Struggle to Advance Renewables in Nebraska (ongoing)

I speak with people on a daily basis regarding the underdeveloped condition of our renewable energy resources. There are many reasons for this condition, but only one way I can see to fix the problem. Citizens must get involved. They must become aware of the opportunities and inform the system that they need to git 'er done! There are a number of fantastic organizations out there to support in this struggle or you can use your influence as an individual. Support the cause and let your Unicameral representative or utility know you want renewables! This will continue to be a struggle if only undertaken by a few, it will be a light load if undertaken by many.

Renewable Energy Trip to India 15 Sep 06 - 29 Sep 06

What a trip it was. We visited a biodiesel facility under construction in a factory in Pune, west of Mumbai. It was a longer than anticipated stay, but very productive. I got to sightsee in Mumbai a little bit but then headed to the North to visit oilseed press manufacturers, canola crushers and a wind turbine manufacturer. I was also able to see the Golden Temple in Amritsar, Taj Mahal/Agra by train, Delhi and Ludhiana.

India left me with many deep impressions. This is a much different place and we need to be sure we appreciate all that we have in this great nation. I was very impressed by the faith and character of the Indian people.

Husker Harvest Days and Pierce Threshing Bee 2006

These were just fantastic shows. HH was mobbed and we met about every male farmer in Nebraska I thought! Many politicians came by and most seemed genuinely interested. Teaming up with Kevin Kenney was a blast and I am thankful to our sponsors. We had a good turn out and greatly enjoyed the opportunity to discuss these things with fellow Nebraskans.

Tremendous interest continues to grow in the oilseed presses. We had the mobile unit crushing at both locations.

Nebraska State Fair report:26 Aug - 4 Sep 06

  NRES exhibited the mobile press trailer in the marketplace throughout the entire state fair. We had a tremendous amount of interest and spoke with hundreds of Nebraskans about renewable energy.

  We worked with the state fair board and vendors in disposing of 150 gallons of hot oil safely and efficiently the last night of the fair. Vendors were pleased and we'll use the oil for our projects. They were able to load up more quickly and appreciated the door to drum service as I cruised up the Midway in the old farm truck and a couple of empty 55 gallon, steel drums.

  A large, life sized butter sculpture was made in Ag Hall for the fair. Typically this butter is thrown away as solid waste. This year NRES worked with the sculptor Jim Victor of Pennsylvania and the butter donor, the Farm Bureau to recycle the butter into biodiesel, estimated at over 75 gallons from the 600lbs committed to the project. Bench testing using ethanol efficiently trans-esterified the butter into good looking fuel. No clouding noted down to 50 degrees so far.

   Everyone involved was very pleased to know the materials used were recycled and it was a great opportunity to help broaden our definition of where energy can be found. While not economically practical at a $15/gallon butter biodiesel represents the production of fuels from a dairy source, not a fat or vegetable feedstock. Kind of neat to think about milking diesel for the truck from old Bessy!

   I am not sure which tailpipe I want to sniff first, the butter biodiesel or the fryer oil from the fried Twinkie stand!

   Thanks to all those who stopped and shared your thoughts about these topics in Nebraska. Senator Nelson came over to the stand and recognized the opportunity farm scale energy systems represent to the state. I was very pleased he took time out to see the only renewable energy exhibit at the Fair. Thanks also to the NeREA volunteers who donated their time to visit with citizens and share their knowledge of these opportunities.

   This was our fourth show, so we are developing a nice booth. are looking forward to getting to Husker Harvest Days and squeezing more beans. We mashed a bushel the last day of the fair to get a souvenir State Fair Crude for the sample boxes.

Summer 2006

The newest project is our mobile oilseed press unit. This was a long time planning and is scheduled to get across the eastern portion of the state this summer. The unit is also available to come to your farm to convert your seeds into feed and fuel! This works extremely well for organic producers.

The Nebraska Renewable Energy Association launched in July.  This organization will fill a tremendous need in the state and look to serve individual Nebraskans in assessing renewable energy opportunities in their lives.

NRES has gone to B-100 in the F-250 and a rare 1986 Ford Escort DIESEL! We have had tremendous success so far and love the smell of the exhaust! Remember all biodiesel produced in Nebraska needs to be reported with Motor Fuels and road taxes paid as appropriate. As the first licensed producer I know the ropes to registration and would be glad to assist. The Motor Fuels Division has been extremely supportive of small scale licensing.

The commercial biodiesel wave is getting ready to hit the beach, please call us if you think you have an opportunity in your area, we will be glad to assist in quantifying the potential. NRES is providing the technical guidance to Northeast Nebraska Biodiesel in Scribner and two other future commercial plants in the state.