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...

Amyris hits the comeback trail

Jim Lane Biofene production starts up in Paraiso, Brazil – sales expected to commence in Q1 2013 – Total, Temasek, Biolding inject fresh capital. What’s next for biofuels’ “Comeback Kid”? By now, most of the “smart set” that found itself excited about Amyris (AMRS), and about advanced synthetic biofuels during the IPO fever, have moved on. They read Dan Grushkin’s “The Rise And Fall Of The Company That Was Going To Have Us All Using Biofuels” in Fast Company, wrote off Amyris and possibly the entire sector, and presumably migrated their enthusiasm to low-cost natural gas, battery...

Biodiesel’s Nightmare: Renewable Diesel

Until algae farms move from the research and demonstration stage, biodiesel usage is going to be tightly constrained by available feedstock.  The feedstocks for biodiesel are oils and fats, which naturally occur in quantity only in animals or the seeds of plants.  As such, the quantity of oil available is much smaller than the sugars, starches, and cellulose which occur not only in the seeds and fruits of plants, but also in the stems and leaves, and can be used to make ethanol.  Because sugarcane contains the best ethanol feedstock, sugar in the stem (not just the...

EPA Reneges on Trump’s Biofuels Deal

by Jim Lane “EPA Reneges on Trump’s Biofuels Deal”, said the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association in reacting to the US Environmental Protection Agency’s new plans for fulfilling federal renewable fuel requirements. EPA released a proposed supplemental rule for the Renewable Fuel Standard today, and the bioeconomy is up in arms, and the outrage is centered in farm country, once a Trump bastion of support. “IRFA members continue to stand by President Trump’s strong biofuels deal announced on Oct. 4, which was worked out with our elected champions and provided the necessary certainty that 15 billion gallons would mean 15 billion gallons, even after...

3 Alternative Energy Stocks You Need to Know

In the face of a declining overall energy market today, three of our favorite alternative energy stocks posted strong gains on high volume. The Oil Services HOLDRs ETF (OIH) was down 2% and the PowerShares WilderHill Clean Energy ETF (PBW) was down 1.7%. Indeed, the vast majority of the energy stocks that we track were in the red. But bucking the trend were two energy stocks that we have profiled in the recent past and a third company that we will begin covering today. First on the list is our favorite wind energy play, Welwind Energy International...

Future Fuel’s Enticing Earnings

by Debra Fiakas CFA Who doesn’t like a bargain?  FutureFuel Corporation (FF:  NYSE) is trading near $13.15 per share, below nine times net earnings.  Yet, the enticing earnings multiple might be only part of the story. The stock has gapped down in price twice in the last six months, trailing off after each leg down.  The stock now appears oversold. Based in Missouri, FutureFuel produces biodiesel and biobased speciality chemical products.  In the twelve months ending June 2014, the company reported $396.9 million in sales, providing $53.5 million in net income or $1.52 per share. ...

Methes: The McDonald’s of Biofuel

by Debra Fiakas CFA   Few would make the connection, so Methes Energies International (MEIL: Nasdaq) chief executive office explains his company’s unusual business model in McDonald’s terms.  Methes, which is a contraction of ‘methyl ester,’ has developed a biodiesel system that accommodates various feedstocks that yield methyl esters.  The system is a handsome, compact configuration of stainless steel tanks and piping that are all capable of automated operation. The company operates its own commercial-scale facilities in Ontario, Canada.  Sales of biodiesel represent the majority of Methes revenue, which totaled $10.3 million in the twelve months ending...

REG Buys Imperium Renewables

Jim Lane The biggest US biodiesel, renewable diesel producer Renewable Energy Group (REGI), or "REG" buys the biggest US facility in asset deal. The fully-operational 100-million gallon nameplate capacity biorefinery will be renamed REG Grays Harbor. The facility includes 18 million gallons of storage capacity and a terminal that can accommodate feedstock intake and fuel delivery on deep-water PANAMAX class vessels as well as possessing significant rail and truck transport capability. REG will pay Imperium $15M in cash and issue 1.5 million shares of REG common stock in exchange for substantially all of Imperium’s assets. In addition to...
biodiesel operating margins

Renewable Energy Group’s New CEO: C.J. Warner

by Jim Lane In Iowa, white smoke has emerged from the Renewable Energy Group (REGI) conclave: Tesoro EVP and former Sapphire Energy CEO C.J. Warner has been named chief exec of Renewable Energy Group, at a pivotal moment for biodiesel in Washington and around the world and amidst a boom for renewable diesel like the world has never seen. REG has been making good progress with Wall Street under interim CEO Randy Howard and its share price has been on the rise, and the plants have been humming along nicely churning out hundreds of millions of gallons of biodiesel and the liquid gold...

Oh, No! Renewable Energy Group CEO Departs

Oh, No! Renewable Energy Group CEO Departs Intirim CEO plans no strategy change Jim Lane In Iowa, Renewable Energy Group (REGI) announced that Dan Oh has resigned as President and Chief Executive Officer and as a member of the Company’s Board of Directors. The resignation was effective July 3, 2017. The Board of Directors appointed long-time director Randolph (Randy) L. Howard as Interim President and Chief Executive Officer. Howard is a 33-year veteran of Unocal, has been on the REG board since 2007 so, a familiar face at 67, may not be in the job for the long-haul, but a strong interim pick. Oh...

Ten Solid Clean Energy Companies to Buy on the Cheap: #7 Deere & Co....

The first and last word in any discussion of biofuels should always be "Feedstock."  Feedstock is the "Bio" out of which biofuels will eventually be made, whether it be corn, sugar, jatropha, algae, palm oil, switchgrass, forestry waste, or municipal solid waste.   Before the era of peak oil, we lived in a world of plenty, which meant that we could squander energy, not only by driving Hummers, but by feeding energy intensive products such as corn crops to livestock, and by dumping "free" sources of energy such as garden waste and used cooking oil into landfills. The era of...
low-sulfur Diesel Crisis

The Low Sulfur Diesel Crisis of 2020 And How To Prevent It

“The global economy likely faces an economic crash of horrible proportions in 2020, not for want of a nail but want of low-sulfur diesel fuel,” writes renowned energy analyst Phil Verleger in a note this month titled “$200 Crude, the Economic Crisis of 2020, and Policies to Prevent Catastrophe”. Not good timing for a White House re-election effort if, as expected, the blame falls on lack of preparedness in the 2017-2020 run-up to the projected crisis.. It’s a dire scenario but there’s hard data behind it, and though few go as far as Verleger, almost every expert is warning of a...

Waste Vegetable Oil: A Slick Way to Biofuel Your Portfolio

In August, I argued that Biodiesel stocks could be in trouble from more efficient ways to turn the oils and fats they use as feedstock into fuel, and concluded the article by saying that the likely winners are suppliers of oils and fats, not the processors.  James Kingsdale, of Energy Investment Strategies has been thinking along the same lines.  Last week he wrote an excellent overview of the major biofuels industries, including some stock picks.   One of those stock picks was the diamond in the rough I wish I had known about when I wrote Biodiesel's Nightmare: Renewable Diesel...

What I Sold: Nova Biosource Fuels (NBF)

Preparing for a world in which financing will be much more difficult to come by, I have been selling companies which are likely to need financing in the next couple of years.  A listing of the companies I've discussed so far is at the end of this entry. My sale of Nova Biosource Fuels (AMEX:NBF) continues my general moves out of biofuels, also discussed in my entries on Pacific Ethanol and Dynamotive Energy Systems.  I have long argued that electric propulsion is a superior way to power ground transport than even "Second Generation" biofuels such as cellulosic ethanol.  My...

Biobased and Biofuel Investments: A System

Jim Lane A Biofuels and Biobased investment primer: An 18-combination, 8-character system for classifying bio investments Here’s our investment primer on how to size up the risks and the rewards and tune them to meet your goals. And, a system for organizing opportunities. So, you’re thinking about investing in bio? Here’s the good news – you’re not alone. Here’s the bad news – you’re not alone. There are retail, private equity, hedge fund, sovereign wealth, strategic, grower, VC and institutional investors snooping around too, and making active investments. For one thing, carbon’s making a comeback as the...
lump of coal

Biofuel Industry Reacts To EPA New Renewable Fuel Standard

Yay or Nay for EPA? RFS Volumes out for 2020, Biodiesel for 2021 – What’s the reaction from industry? by Jim Lane What’s the reaction from industry? Coal for Christmas? Should Santa bring coal for EPA’s stocking this year? Do the biofuels and agriculture industries think the EPA just put coal in their stocking? Is it thumbs up or thumbs down from biofuel industry advocates on last week’s U.S. Environmental Protection Agency renewable fuel volumes? What about the exempted volumes? The Ruling – Rotten or Respectable? First, a bit on the EPA ruling that establishes the required renewable volumes under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program for...
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