Visual Comparison of Alternative Transportation Fuels

I've recently agreed to do a of couple presentations on "Investing In Green Energy" at conferences this October, and so I've decided it's time to update and expand on some graphs I constructed this spring: I created a pair of graphs which give an overview of how different electricity generation technologies compare.  These are not precise graphs with anything resembling scientific accuracy, but I think they're a useful too for understanding the strengths and weaknesses of various technologies.   This is my attempt to do the same for transportation fuels.  Note that I'm really only talking about cars and trucks...

The Energy Balance of Snake Oil

It's no secret that money is flooding into the alternative energy sector, but not all of this money comes from sophisticated, investors. Unsophisticated investment is a lighting rod for the scam artists. Because there is both an urgent need to deal with the the problems posed by global warming, energy security, and resource depletion, and the new money is rapidly accelerating the advance of technology in renewable energy, new innovations are very plausible. There are many ways to lose money in alternative energy, even without being taken by a scam. The current emotional...
ethanol ups and downs

Fortunately, Unfortunately: The Spring Saga of American Ethanol

by Jim Lane The ethanol signals from Washington DC are more inexplicably mixed than cocktails with names like Sex on the Beach. Let’s parse through the wigwagging over the future of American biofuels supply and demand — ethanol and otherwise. Fortunately: Trump backs year-round E15 ethanol blends In Washington, President Trump endorsed year-round E15 ethanol availability as an emerging compromise between oil refiners and US farm sector. The Renewable Fuel Standard is a federal program that requires transportation fuel sold in the United States to contain a minimum volume of renewable fuels. The RFS originated in a bi-partisan Congress with the Energy Policy Act...

What A Portfolio Approach To Climate Policy Means for Your Stock Portfolio

Portfolio theory can lend insights into which carbon abatement strategies policymakers should pursue.  If policymakers listen, what will it mean for green investors? Tom Konrad, Ph.D., CFA Good Info, Not Enough Analysis I've now read most of my review copy of Investment Opportunities for a Low Carbon World.  The quality of the information is generally excellent, as Charles has described in his reviews of the Wind and Solar and Efficiency and Geothermal chapters.  As a resource on the state of Cleantech industries, it's generally excellent.  As an investing resource, however, it leaves something to be desired.  Each chapter is written...
fractionation of corn

Corn Fractionation Improving Ethanol Production

Ethanol and isobutanol producer Gevo, Inc. (GEVO:  Nasdaq) is installing equipment in its Luverne, Minnesota plant to improve efficiency in corn processing.  The company is leasing a proprietary corn fractionation or slicing process developed Shockwave, LLC based in DesMoines, Iowa.  The new equipment is intended to increase by-product output, including feed protein products and food-grade corn oil.  With sales of more valuable by-products Gevo expects to improve overall profit margins.  Shareholders can expect to see results after the first quarter 2019, when the equipment installation is expected to be complete. Shockwave keeps a low profile with no corporate website and no one to answer phone calls.  However,...

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...

Biochar’s Likely Market Impacts

Biochar is still mostly a research and cottage industry, yet it has the potential to impact returns for a broad range of investors. Tom Konrad, Ph.D., CFA Biochar, or amending soil with biomass-derived carbon, shows great potential to improve the productivity of soils, as well as to increase the utilization of fertilizers by plants, while sequestering carbon to reduce the drivers of climate change.  On August 10, I went to the 2009 North American Biochar Conference to look at the potential for investors.  Before I went, I took a look at the publicly traded companies...
CAFE LCFS CAA RFS braid

Low Carbon Fuel Rules: From CAFE to LCFS and Everything In Between

The Whole Darn Low Carbon Landscape. How they Work, How they Work Together, and How they Might Work Better by Joanne Ivancic, executive director, Advanced Biofuels USA The Trump Administration is taking a new look at Obama Administration era Co2 regulations.  On the transportation side, these include reviewing Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards; threatening to take away California’s authority to set their own mileage and pollution controls, including CO2 (carbon dioxide) emission reduction standards; and quarreling with the petroleum and biofuels industries over implementation and enforcement of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). Thus, the Clean Air Act (CAA), California’s unique authority...

KiOR: The Inside Story Of A Company Gone Wrong

Jim Lane Not long ago, KiOR quietly re-named itself Inaeris Technologies and launched a modest website which discussed the technology and management in little detail, but focused to an extraordinary extent on a declaration of values. Empowerment, honesty, fairness, “lessons learned from our collective experience” and so on. Warm, kindly Hallmark Card sentiments, universally popular, admired and vague. Not the bold, We-Are-Black-Swans, detailed descriptions of yields, costs, downstream partners, brand-name board members and timelines to commercial scale that had been the style of the Old KiOR. Old KiOR was exciting, dramatic,...

10 Clean Energy Stocks for 2020: Updates on GPP, HASI, CVA

by Tom Konrad, Ph.D., CFA Market Decline Last week I warned "The risks in today's stock market outweigh the possibility of future potential gains."  Looks like we're seeing those risks manifest in short order.  The last couple days' decline have me looking at a few stocks to start adding to my positions again, especially MiX Telematics (MIXT) discussed on June 2nd and Green Plain Partners (GPP), discussed below. Note that this pullback could easily be very early days of a much larger market decline.  We might even see the market fall far enough to test the March lows... any of my buying...
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...
Steve Hartiq

North American Outlook on Biofuels Challenges and Opportunities

Challenges and Opportunities in Biofuels By Steve Hartig, Former VP of Technology Development at ICM The North American biofuels market can be split into three main segments all of which have major dynamics.  What I would like to do is give a high-level overview of what I see as some of both the challenges and opportunities across these. Ethanol which is a produced from corn and sorghum in about 200 plants mainly across the Midwest and blended at about 10% with gas.  Majors such as POET, Green Plains, Flint Hills, Valero, ADM and Cargill do a bit more than half of the 16...
Neste renewable diesel

Neste Sells 1 Billionth Gallon of Renewable Diesel

Neste reaches 1B gallons renewable diesel sale, runs in fire trucks, ambulances and school vehicles In Texas, Neste U.S., Inc. (NEF.F, NESTE.HE, NTOIF, NTOIY) is celebrating its 1 billionth gallon of Neste MY Renewable Diesel sold in North America which has effectively helped reduce more than seven million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions in the Earth’s atmosphere. This is the equivalent of removing 1.6 million passenger vehicles from the road for one year. “There’s never been a better time to take a closer look at the steps we’re taking to ensure we’re leaving our planet in a healthier state for future generations,”...

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...
Refinery exemptions RFS

Did Trump’s EPA Cost Corn Growers $3.65 Billion In 2017?

by Jim LaneIn Washington, new evidence has appeared that a Trump Administration shift on US low carbon fuel policy may have cost US corn growers an estimated $3.65 billion. The mechanism? A secretive effort by Administration officials installed at the US Environmental Protection Agency that destroyed an estimated 1.37 billion gallons of annual demand for low-carbon renewable fuels, in favor of fossil fuels. Officials at the agency exploited a loophole in US low carbon fuel legislation that allows small oil refineries to gain hardship waivers in cases of severe distress from complying in full with US low carbon fuel laws.  Now, evidence...

Trump Administration Flip-Flops On Oil Refinery Waivers Again, Farm Groups Protest Again

by Jim Lane In Washington, what must have become a weary if vigilant posse of the nation’s biofuel and farm advocates are out on the hustings again this week, over a fresh attack on the US Renewable Fuel Standard, this one led by officials in the Trump Administration, if a story reported by Bloomberg stands up against scrutiny. What has been described as a “misinformation campaign spearheaded by Senator Ted Cruz” is seeking to overturn a unanimous court decision that would halt the Environmental Protection Agency’s abuse of Small Refinery Exemptions (SREs) under the Renewable Fuel Standard.   The backstory In a unanimous panel, the...