Why Have Ceres’ Sorghum Plans Soured?

Jim Lane Sorghum Bicolor photo by Matt Lavin As Ceres points towards minimal plantings of its sweet sorghum hybrids in its key market of Brazil for next year, investors ask two questions. Will sweet sorghum realize its vast potential, and when? Just when many observers hoped that Ceres, Inc. (CERE) would dramatically expand hectares planted with its Blade hybrid sweet sorghum, the 2014 planting outlook was released last week and the total hectares crashed from 3000 in 2013 to 1000 in 2014. It’s a far cry...

Ethanol and Biodiesel: Production Cost and Profitability

For a number of years, this (now old and outdated, but) very useful chart has been in circulation in energy circles, mapping the supply of energy to the world by looking not at prices, but at production costs. For one thing, it goes a long way to explaining why the price of oil can tumble so quickly when there is a fall off in demand, and explains why OPEC is troubled by unconventional oil in a way it is not so bothered by other energy sources such as renewable fuels. Renewables not only have been traditionally at the...

10,000+ Miles per Acre on Cellulosic Biogas

Biopact reports that Salzburg AG has opened its first biomethane gas station, allowing owners of Compressed Natural Gas vehicles to use their blend of 20%.  This is the first retail station I have heard of selling a cellulosic-derived fuel to retail customers (are there others?) Prospective Cellulosic Ethanol investors should take note... while cellulosic feedstocks are likely to supply much of our liquid fuels in the future (although not as much as we currently use), cellulosic ethanol is unlikely to have the field (so to speak) to itself.  Ethanol's low energy density and difficulty of transport will...

Neste Renewable Diesel Capacity Hits 2 Million Tons But Feedstock Constraints Loom

Finland’s Neste Oil Corporation (NEF: F) brought its fourth renewable diesel plant on-line in September 2011, earning bragging rights to the world’s largest facility of its kind.  Located at the Port of Rotterdam, the plant has the capacity to produce 800,000 metric tons of renewable diesel that Neste brands NExBTL and claims is the “cleanest and highest-quality renewable diesel on the market today.”  Along with Neste’s three other plants already in operation in Finland and Singapore the fourth plant in Denmark brings Neste’s total production capacity to 2.0 million metric tons per year.
American Coalition for ethanol logo

US Ethanol Industry Upset With 2019 Renewable Fuel Standard Proposal

The 2019 proposed US Renewable Fuel Standard proposed volumes attracted a major raspberry from the ethanol industry. As the American Coalition for Ethanol noted: “Unfortunately, EPA continues to take actions which undermine the letter and spirit of the statute and harm the rural economy. While refiners are reporting double-digit profits, the heart of America is being left behind. Farmers are losing money while refiners have the best of both worlds: fat profit margins and minimal RFS compliance costs. EPA needs to discard its refiner-win-at-all-costs mentality and get the RFS back on track.” “While the proposed rule purports to maintain the 15-billion-gallon conventional...

The Biogas Rush

Jim Lane  51 percent? Could renewable natural gas get that big? The rationale behind the Eureka!, and some Caveats for all you Emptors. A few years back we lived in the era of the National Energy Solution Summed Up in One Word: it was gasoline, then diesel, then ethanol, or biodiesel. Then there was the Two-Word Era: in p[art because of an Inconvenient Truth, the craze was on for cellulosic ethanol, algae biofuels, aviation biofuels, and there was the Hydrogen Economy or the Glucose Economy, depending on who you were talking to. We seem...

The Brew Barons: Masters of advanced fermentation, driving the redefinition of biofuels: Pt ...

Jim Lane Will the new fermentation technologies completely shatter preconceptions about biofuels and bio-based products – and redefine the way in which Western Civ approaches the production of fuel, food, feed, and fiber? The new Brew Barons are working hard to make that so. See part 1 of  'Brew Barons', here. LanzaTech The LanzaTech process increases industrial energy efficiency by capturing waste gases (CO, CO2) and converting them to valuable fuels and chemicals. LanzaTech provides an opportunity to produce large volumes of low carbon fuel and chemicals at low costs using a countries own resources, reducing dependence on...

Insider View on REGI

by Debra Fiakas CFA Insider buying is not one of my regular screening criteria in selecting long plays in the small cap sector.  However, to learn a chief executive officer has taken out his/her check book to buy shares in their company is influential.  In November 2016, the CEO of biofuel producer Renewable Energy Group (REGI:  Nasdaq) reported an increase in his stake in the company in recent months. With REGI shares just above the prices paid by the CEO just three months ago, it is timely to look more closely from the outside. In...

War With Iran? Buy Alternative Energy Stocks.

September is starting out as the month of speculation about a massive three day air strike on Iran.  Is Bush ready to attack Iran while our troops are still trying to stabilize both Afghanistan and Iraq?  In February, administration officials were denying it.   The preparations now going on could simply be the stick part of a negotiating strategy; the bad cop to Russia's good cop.  But Bush's chances of successful cooperation with Putin could be better. What if? If Bush does launch a massive three day air strike on Iran, what will that mean for alternative energy stocks?  I...

Amyris Aims For Huge Second Half

Jim Lane The Pharaohs of Farnesene continue to pick up momentum. In California, Amyris (AMRS) reported a net loss of $35.5M for the second quarter of 2014 on sales of $9.3M, with a 5.4 percent increase in sales over Q2 2013. Renewable product sales were $4.4M for the quarter, while “Recognized grants and collaborations revenues” reached $4.9M. In announcing results, the company highlighted: • End of quarter cash, cash equivalents and short-term investments balance of $90.2 million. • Lowest farnesene production costs to date and successful start of fragrance molecule production. • Addition of Braskem as a...

DowDuPont To Exit Cellulosic Biofuels

by Jim Lane In Delaware, DowDuPont (DWDP) announced that it intends to sell its cellulosic biofuels business and its first commercial project, a 30 million gallon per year cellulosic ethanol plant in Nevada, Iowa. The Nevada project is still going through start-up. In an official statement, the company said: As part of DowDuPont’s intent to create a leading Specialty Products Company, we are making a strategic shift in how we participate in the cellulosic biofuels market. While we still believe in the future of cellulosic biofuels we have concluded it is in our long-term interest to find a strategic buyer for our...

REG Enters Renewable Diesel With Syntroleum Purchase

Jim Lane In Oklahoma, and Iowa, Renewable Energy Group (REG; NASD:REGI) announced that it would acquire substantially all of the assets of Syntroleum Corporation (NASD:SYNM), and assume substantially all of the material liabilities of Syntroleum, for 3,796,000 shares of REG common stock worth $40.08 million at today’s market close. The purchase price subject to reduction in the event that the aggregate market value of the REG common stock to be issued would exceed $49 million or if the cash transferred to REG is less than $3.2 million). “This will help us grow our advanced biofuel business, enhance our intellectual...

Why We Can’t Take Our Eyes Off Gevo

Jim Lane  So, feel the bioeconomy backbeat and let the music flow. AY-YI YI-YA AAAY, Gevo (GEVO) just can’t stop dancin’. (Whoops, that was Becky G‘s Can’t Stop Dancin’, not Gevo’s.) But there’s something so cool in that technology that we can’t take our eyes off the company and its progress, even though looking at the balance sheet can feel like watching a car crash in slow motion. This week, Gevo executed a series of moves including signing up its first direct customer for hydrocarbons for the proposed expansion of its Luverne, Minnesota plant. The highlight was a...

Solazyme’s Parity-Cost, Algae-Based Biodiesel on Sale to Public

Jim Lane $27 per gallon? $15 per gallon? Fooey! Try algae-based fuels at “the same cost as regular diesel.” Month-long pilot program kicks off in the San Francisco Bay Area. In California, Propel Fuels and Solazyme (SZYM) are bringing algae-derived fuel to retail pumps for what we believe to be the first time in history. The two leading renewable fuel brands have come together to offer Solazyme’s algae-based SoladieselBD to drivers through Propel’s Bay Area network of retail renewable fuel locations. The month-long pilot program provides the industry’s first opportunity to test consumer response to this advanced...

Energy Destiny? Try Energy Density

By Jim Lane ARPA-E has been working hard on feedstock diversity — so much so that we kid them about changing their name to ARPA-Agriculture — yes, from time to time they work on fuels, but not so much on energy density. Too bad — because a moonshot-oriented mission aimed at transforming energy density sets up really well for revolutionizing the way we do lots of things. Like moonshots. And other ways we use transport fuels, all of us back here on the good Earth. Density matters, that’s how we see it. Super-dense fuels are superfuels and they have a real place in our economy...

Solazyme’s Hybrid Vigor

Jim Lane Solazyme lands monster capacity expansion agreements with Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) and Bunge (BG)– what’s the sector’s hottest company up to now? Wednesday, Solazyme (SZYM) announced two landmark capacity expansion agreements with Bunge and ADM, respectively. The Bunge agreement will expand joint venture-owned oil production capacity at Solazyme Bunge Renewable Oils from the current 100,000 metric tons under construction in Brazil to 300,000 metric tons by 2016 at select Bunge owned and operated processing facilities worldwide. Under the terms of the ADM agreement, Solazyme will initially target the production of 20,000 metric tons of...