Elephant herd running photo via Bigstock
28 big balance sheets deploying capital into commercial-scale advanced biofuels.
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 campaign donors.
The Wall Street Journal, last December, opined:
“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, and why.
We’ve added in a few bonus smaller balance sheets that are financing commercial scale projects off the balance sheet – like Solazyme (SZYM), KiOR (KIOR) and Gevo (GEVO) – but our primary focus here are the elephants rather than the antelope.
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 mid-decade.
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 LanzaTech.
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 renewable gasoline.
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 gallons.
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, t
hrough 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 JV.
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 production.
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 daily read by 14,000+ organizations. Subscribe here.