Voices from VODville: Lessons learned in the journey towards advanced biofuels

Jim Lane Mud/salt formations on the Badwater, Death Valley plain. Image by Daniel Mayer. What makes a winner in advanced biofuels? Five companies – Abengoa (ABGOY), INEOS Bio, Mascoma, Gevo (GEVO), and American Process reflect on the essential ingredients for success. “We are industrial technology businesses, making a commodity, we have to control costs everywhere and learn, learn, learn.” – American Process CEO Theodora Retsina You could call it VODville, VOD for valley of death that is – a stretch of hard desert that...

The Collapse of KiOR

The Inside True Story of a Company Gone Wrong, Part 5 by Jim Lane In 2011, KiOR raised $150 million in its June IPO, claiming that it was generating yields of 67 gallons per ton in its Demo unit operations. But it was miles short of that. In our previous installments, we have charted how KiOR moved from a promising early-stage technology to a public company with serious technological flaws that could have been fixed, but were ignored in what a senior team member speaking for the record, Dennis Stamires, characterized as a “reckless rush to commercial”. By 2012, numerous KiOR staffers of...

The Ginsu Knife of Biofuel Litgation: Butamax vs Gevo

Jim Lane  It’s like the selling of Ginsu knives, the legal dispute between these two companies. No matter how much you hear….but wait, there’s more! This week, we heard from Butamax that the District Court of Delaware has issued an order scheduling two further rounds of patent infringement actions pending between Butamax and Gevo (GEVO) for resolution. The next phase of litigation, involving three Butamax patents asserted against Gevo, will begin in September 2014 with the discovery process and trial is scheduled for August 2015. Thereafter the remaining cases, involving three other Butamax patents asserted against Gevo,...

The Farm Bill: 5-Minute Guide to the Energy Title

  Jim Lane Only 5 min BigStock Photo What’s in that Durn-tootin’ US Farm Bill, anyhow? For the harried taxpayer, some relief. For energy security and rural economic development, targeted investments that now head to the legislative floor. Here are the need-to-knows. In Washington, the House and Senate Agricultural committees have now passed their respective versions of the proposed 2013 farm bill, which would take effect for fiscal 2014 through fiscal 2018. Both bills have energy titles meaning that, should they find passage, as expected this summer,...

Biofuels Industry Reacts To The New RVO Requirements

by Jim Lane What a whirlwind weekend after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced their final renewable volume obligations (RVO) under the Renewable Fuel Standard program for 2019. “It’s just numbers,” some say, but oh no, not in the biofuels world. It’s never just numbers. This time it’s about waivers, fixing the damage done, and ensuring a bright future for biofuels. It’s about hollow chocolate bunnies and two steps back for some. French mathematician Rene Descartes is best known for “I think, therefore I am,” but he also said “Perfect numbers, like perfect men, are rare.” So true in this case as not...

Biofuels M&A: 2017 Review and Outlook

by Bruce Comer, Ocean Park Advisors More industry players chose to develop and build new capacity rather than buy plants The North American biofuels industry experienced the fewest merger and acquisition transactions in recent history in 2017. There were only six M&A transactions, with a total estimated value of more than $100 million. They involved eight plants with 297 million gallons per year (MGPY) of production capacity. Half of these deals were for non-operating plants. A fourth deal was for a sub-scale demonstration plant. Contributing to the limited deal flow, two historically active acquirers, Green Plains and REG, did not close...

Fiberight: A Deep-Dive Into Trash To Find Cash

by Jim Lane. Biofuels Digest This week Fiberight secured $70 million for a municipal solid waste center that should be in operation by this May. The high-tech facility will convert 180,000 tons of trash each year from more than 100 Maine towns into biofuel at a 144,000-square-foot steel frame facility that began construction last July. We visually profile the technology and company in our Multi-Slide Guide here. The underlying facility is what’s known as a Dirty MRF, or materials recovery facility. That’s where the receiving happens and the sortation begins — and the process of recovering value back from the waste stream begins. The bottom line...

Neste Oil: a 5-Minute Guide

Jim Lane Company description: Neste Oil is a refining and marketing company, with a production focus on premium-quality, lower-emission traffic fuels. The company produces a comprehensive range of major petroleum products and is the world’s leading supplier of renewable diesel. The company has operations in 15 countries. Its growth strategy is focused on producing premium- quality renewable diesel fuel. The company had net sales of EUR 11.9 billion in 2010 and employs around 5,000 people. Address: Keilaranta
 P.O. Box 95 00095 NESTE OIL Year founded Established in 1948 Annual Revenues: Around EUR 11.9 billion in 2010 Major Investors Neste Oil’s share is listed on the NASDAQ OMX Helsinki with the...

EPA increases US Renewable Fuel Standard Volumes, But Only Slightly

Jim Lane In Washington, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced final volume requirements under the Renewable Fuel Standard program today for the years 2014, 2015 and 2016, and final volume requirements for biomass-based diesel for 2014 to 2017. This rule finalizes higher volumes of renewable fuel than the levels EPA proposed in June, boosting renewable production and providing support for robust, achievable growth of the biofuels industry. “The biofuel industry is an incredible American success story, and the RFS program has been an important driver of that successcutting carbon pollution, reducing our dependence on foreign oil, and sparking...

A Decade Of Unexpected Curves In The Bioeconomy

By Jim Lane Over the years we’ve all seen a lot of curveballs in the advanced bioeconomy. You see companies like Valero, which lobby the United States Congress with unbridled intensity to get rid of the Renewable Fuel Standard, on the verge of becoming the single-biggest producer of RINs in the United States (with news that they might take capacity at Diamond Green Diesel up to 540 million gallons). You see companies like Solazyme which love the Renewable Fuel Standard and drive up to nearly a billion-dollar post-IPO valuation based on delivering fuels at volume, then announcing that there are even...

Renewable Energy Group Acquires LS9

Jim Lane A stunner at NBB. Renewable Energy Group (REGI) deploys its balance sheet and takes aim at renewable chemicals as it acquires the storied LS9. In Iowa, Renewable Energy Group (REGI) announced it has acquired LS9 for a purchase price of up to $61.5 million, consisting of up front and earnout payments, in stock and cash. Most of the LS9 team, including the entire R&D leadership group, will join the newly named REG Life Sciences, LLC, which will operate out of LS9’s headquarters in South San Francisco, CA. Under the terms of the agreement between REG...

The Performance of Biofuel IPOs

Jim Lane  In this two-part series, we look at the IPO market for industrial biotech stocks. Who’s up, who’s down, who’s in the queue, and where might all this take us? Plus, an important update from Coskata. In Part I, today, we look at the performance of the six IPOs to date in the aftermarket, the Ceres IPO which is ready to price its IPO tonight, and look towards the IPO queue at important changes in Coskata’s recent filings. In Part II, tomorrow, we look at how Ceres performed, we’ll have an update on Amyris (AMRS), and...

EPA Agrees To Timeline For Ethanol And Advanced Biofuel Targets Through 2016

Jim Lane Proposed consent decree offers timelines for ethanol, advanced fuels through 2016, biobased diesel through 2017. In Washington, the EPA released a proposed consent decree in litigation brought against EPA by, the American Petroleum Institute (API) and the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM), that would establish the following schedule for issuing Renewable Fuel Standards for 2014 and 2015: •By June 1, the agency will propose volume requirements for 2015; •By November 30, EPA will finalize volume requirements for 2014 and 2015 and resolve a pending waiver petition for 2014. Outside the scope of the consent...

Gevo and Los Alamos To Collaborate on High Energy Denisity Biofuels

by Jim Lane News has emerged from Gevo (GEVO) in Colorado and New Mexico’s Los Alamos National Lab that the two will collaborate to improve the energy density of Gevo hydrocarbon products to meet product specifications for tactical fuels for specialized military applications such as RJ-4, RJ-6 and JP-10, which are currently purchased by the US Department of Defense (DoD). High energy-density fuels are currently used in air and sea-launched cruise missiles used by the US military forces. If this project is successful in scaling the fuels cost-effectively, there may be an even broader application in the general aviation sector, enabling higher energy density jet...

Europe’s New Renewable Energy Directive

by Helena Tavares Kennedy You may have heard that the European Parliament voted in favor of the RED II (Renewable Energy Directive) proposal in January. Probably the most notable (or at least covered in the news the most) was their decision to remove biodiesel made from palm oil from its list of biofuels that can count towards the EU’s renewables target from 2021. It also voted that “biomass fuels consumed in transport, if produced from food or feed crops, shall be no more than the contribution from those to the gross final consumption of energy from renewable energy sources in 2017 in that Member...

Emissions Standards Driving Algae Aviation Fuel Sourcing…or not

by Debra Fiakas CFA Algae in the River Wate photo via BigStock My post “Algae Takes Flight” featured Algae-Tec (ALGXY:  OTC/PK),  Lufthansa’s new biofuel partner.  Algae-Tec has agreed to operate an algae-based biofuel plant in Europe to supply Lufthansa with jet fuel.  Lufthansa is footing the capital costs of the plant, which is to be located in Europe near a carbon source.  Algae thrive on carbon so industrial plants and power plants using fossil fuels make the best neighbors.  Lufthansa has agreed to purchase a...