28 big balance sheets deploying capital into commercial-scale
Who’s writing the checks, and for what, and when?
It’s become an article of faith among the unenlightened that
advanced biofuels are always five years away, and the chief
investors are the US Department of Energy and a gaggle of key Obama
The Wall Street Journal, last
“Congress subsidized a product that didn’t exist, mandated its
purchase though it still didn’t exist, is punishing oil companies
for not buying the product that doesn’t exist, and is now doubling
down on the subsidies in the hope that someday it might exist. We’d
call this the march of folly, but that’s unfair to fools.”
Well, as we do here in Digestville, let’s look at the facts on the
ground. Typically, we typically look at advanced biofuels sector
through the lens of the processing technologies, feedstock
developers or downstream customers. Today, we’ll look at the bigger
balance sheets to see who is investing what, and when, with whom,
We’ve added in a few bonus smaller balance sheets that are financing
commercial scale projects off the balance sheet – like Solazyme (SZYM
and Gevo (GEVO
– but our primary focus here are the elephants rather than the
We’ve also focused here, for the sake of brevity, on those financing
commercial scale projects. So, Exxon’s $300 million commitment into
algae biofuels R&D is not here, nor are activities at Bayer,
BASF, Dow and elsewhere which are still in the joint development
agreement stage. Also, we have not reported investments by sovereign
wealth funds, family offices or VCs, although they can be in the
tens of millions.
What do we see? If it is indeed a march of folly, it is a popular
parade. Oil & gas companies, major chemical companies,
steelmakers, airlines, Big Ag, enzyme producers and food companies –
from 14 countries in all. There are upstream feedstock aggregators,
technology developers, and downstream customers. It’s a varied lot,
not known for folly, or light-hearted investing strategies.
Building a 23 million gallon cellulosic ethanol plant in Hugoton,
Kansas – off its own balance sheet – opening in 2013. The company is
reported to be looking at developing a second commercial plant for
Investing, with LanzaTech, in deploying gas fermentation technology,
in China, utilizing steel mill off-gases. Bao financed a 100,000
gallon demonstration and the next stage is the construction of a 40
milion gallon project. Indian Oil Corp., LCY Chemical Corp, Posco,
Mitsui & Co., Petronas, Shougang Group and Harsco Corp are among
those who have also begun discussions or development projects with
Building and financing, off its balance sheet, a 20 million gallon
first commercial cellulosic ethanol project in Crescentino, Italy –
and is aiming to build another on its own dime in North Carolina.
There are now more than 4,000 employees in BP Biofuels – the unit
has grown immensely with the acquisition of Tropical Bioenergia in
Brazil. The company is financing, off its balance sheet, a first
commercial (36 million gallon) cellulosic ethanol plant in Florida,
expected to open in 2014.
The company is moving forward on the construction, contributing
equity from its balance sheet, of a first commercial project
producing aviation biofuels from municipal solid waste, located east
of London. The plant is expected to open by 2014.
The company has formed a JV with Solazyme to build a commercial
scale renewable oils production facility in Moema, Brazil – 26
million gallons in capacity, expected to open in 2013.
Cargill is financing, through its NatureWorks subsidiary, in a
venture with PTT Chemical, the construction of a second Ingeo
biopolymer facility, in Thailand. The 18 million gallon facility is
expected to open in 2015.
Chesapeake Energy (CHK)
Chesapeake is financing, off its balance sheet, a 50 million gallon
facility expected to open in 2014, using Sundrop Fuels technology
including methanol synthesis and the Mobil MTG process to produce
COFO is financing, off its own balance sheet, the construction of a
26 million gallon cellulosic ethanol facility in Singapore – first
phase of 13 million gallons is expected to open in 2013.
In a JV with Valero, is financing off its balance sheet a 135
million gallons renewable diesel project, Diamond Green Diesel,
scheduled to open by 2013.
Financing, off its balance sheet, a first commercial Inbicon
cellulosic ethanol in Maabjerg, Denmark, expected to open in 2014
with an 18 million gallons capacity. DONG (Danish Oil and Natural
Gas), which is the parent of Inbicon, previously financed a
demonstration-scale plant off its balance sheet.
Financing, off its balance sheet, a first commercial Dupont
Cellulosic Ethanol plant in Nevada, Iowa – capacity of 27.5 million
Just bought a 155 million gallon corn ethanol plant this week in
Nebraska from Advanced Bioenergy. Has invested in advanced jatropha
via SG Biofuels, advanced biodiesel via Benefuel, and cellulosic
ethanol via EdeniQ.
Financing, off its balance sheet, construction of a 21 million
gallon cellulosic ethanol plant in Alagoas, Brazil. Expected to open
in 2013 – technology from Beta Renewables.
Financing, off its balance sheet, a first commercial (8 million
gallon) cellulosic ethanol plant in Vero Beach, FL – for which
construction is complete and commissioning is underway.
Financing off its balance sheet, through its MCC Biochem JV with PTT
Chemical, a 13 million gallon succinic acid plant in Thailand –
project expected to come online in 2014.
Neste Oil (NEF.F)
Financed, off its balance sheet, the construction 572 million
gallons of renewable diesel capacity in Finland, the Netherlands and
Singapore. ALl projects complete, commissioned and producing.
Financing, off its balance sheet, a 4 million gallon demonstration
of its cellulosic ethanol technology developed in partnership with
Blue Sugars. Expected to open in 2013.
Jointly financed a $250 million JV, POET-DSM, to complete a 23
million gallon first commercial cellulosic ethanol plant in
Emmetsburg, Iowa – opening in 2013. The JV expects to deploy
numerous additional plants.
Financing off its balance sheet, through its MCC Biochem JV with
Mitsubishi Chemical, a 13 million gallon succinic acid plant in
Thailand – project expected to come online in 2014. PTT is
financing, through its in a venture with NatureWorks, the
construction of a second Ingeo biopolymer facility, in Thailand. The
18 million gallon facility is expected to open in 2015.
Raizen (Royal Dutch Shell-Cosan)
Financing, off its balance sheet, a first commercial cellulosic
ethanol plant in Brazil, in partnership with Iogen.
Financed, through a 50/50 joint venture with Solzayme, a first small
commercial renewable oils plant in Lestrem, France.Subject to
approval of the board of directors of the JV, Roquette has also
agreed to fund an approximately 50,000 metric ton per year facility
that is expected to be sited at a Roquette wet mill and owned by the
Invested more than $175 million in Amyris, and has also invested in
Gevo and Coskata.
Financed, off its balance sheet, through a JV with Syntroleum, the
75 million Dynamic Fuels renewable diesel plant in Geismar,
Louisiana – which is commissioned and operating.
In addition to operating numerous corn ethanol plants, Valero has
invested in Algenol, Enerkem and Mascoma, and is proving major
financing for Mascoma’s first commercial cellulosic ethanol plant in
Michigan, scheduled to open in 2013-14.
Waste Management (WM)
Invested in Enerkem, Fulcrum Bioenergy and Renmatix – and is proving
financing, off its balance sheet, for Fulcrum Bioenergy’s first
commercial cellulosic ethanol project near Reno, Nevada.
Financing off its balance sheet, in a JV with Elevance, a 52 million
gallon first commercial integrrated biorefinery in Gresik,
Indonesia, scheduled to open in 2012-13.
Zhejiang Hisun Biomaterials
Financing off its balance sheet a 16 million gallon first commercial
project to produce polylactic acid (PLA) from cassava, in Zhejiang
province in China, scheduled to open in 2013.
Smaller balance sheets financing projects
Financed, off its balance sheet, the acquisition of the Luverne
Ethanol plant in Luverne, Minnesota and conversion to isobutanol
Financing, off its balance sheet, its first commercial (13 million
gallon) biocrude project, in Columbus, Mississippi. Construction is
complete and the plant is now in commissioning.
See the JVs with Roquette and Bunge. Financed, off its balance
sheet, a demonstration of its technology, now commissioned and
operating in Peoria, Illinois.
More data and project details: a free download
For more data, see the Advanced Biofuels Project Datanbase, a free Digest download available here
Jim Lane is editor and
publisher of Biofuels Digest where this
article was originally published. Biofuels Digest is the most widely read Biofuels
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