I just got back from Growing the Margins, a conference and trade show focused on the bio-mass/gas/energy/products sectors with a focus on the farm and food industries. These are not sectors I have traditionally paid a great deal of attention to, despite the fact that there are very interesting things happening in both.
The most notable contribution to alt energy from farm industry over the past five years has been corn ethanol, an enterprise I have long believed to be economically and environmentally unsustainable. To be sure, ethanol, but especially second-generation ethanol, got a fair bit of attention, as current US targets are expected to trigger significant demand over the next couple of decades. But there was also a lot of talk about a number of other lesser-known topics that gave me article ideas. Here are the three main ones:
- Farm-based and other small- and mid-scale biogas projects related to green power incentive programs and the ever widening search for carbon offsets. Although there are no direct ways for investors to play this, there may be some interesting lateral opportunities in firms providing equipment ranging from geomembranes for emissions capture to small-scale turbines.
- The emerging wood pellets for power generation industry, something Tom touched on somewhat a while back.
- The carbon offsets industry. Although I won’t limit my discussion to farm- or biomass-based offset projects, I got the idea from a workshop there.
I’m happy to entertain other ideas so feel free to send suggestions. The first of this series will be published on Monday, and I will add links to the list as articles are published.