Amyris drops the biofuels bomb

Management shake-up en route to execution, profit Jim Lane The hammer drops in Emeryville. Company president Portela, CTO Renninger, general counsel Tompkins out; new CFO, reshuffle and promotions within. After an 90% stock plunge, Amyris responds. We look at the drama of who’s in and who’s out – but also beyond – to execution and profitable production. In California, Amyris (AMRS)  announced a major management reshuffle as the company contends with its ambitions for growth, difficulties in ramping up production to meet the goals originally set after its IPO, and a share price that has dropped...

Third Quarter Earnings: Biofuels: Gevo, Solazyme, and Amyris

Jim Lane SZYM, AMRS, GEVO check in with Q3 results. What’s heavenly, what’s hellish? In years gone by, it was not too hard to write up a summary of Gevo (GEVO), Solazyme (SZYM) and Amyris (AMRS) all aimed at fuels, all in the development stage, all used synthetic biology in closed fermenters, all had big backers ranging from brand-name equity partners to big-time strategics, all went public in the same 2010-11 IPO window. These days, much more complex. It’s a jungle of production costs, average selling prices, offtake deals, LOIs, and MOUs. Following them...

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...

Advanced Biofuels: I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Scale

Jim Lane Codexis (CDXS) and Mascoma show that low-cost sugar is the key, as advanced biofuels moves from R&D into industrial era. There used to be a restaurant in lower Manhattan called Exterminator Chili. Decorated in Elvis garb, it served world-class chili for the enlightened chow hound, in three grades of heat: residential (hot), commercial (blistering), and industrial (melt steel in your mouth). The proprietors would have understood little about advanced biofuels and nothing about the importance therein of low-cost sugars. But they did understand that the bigger the scale, the hotter you were. And that the highest...

Green Plains Renewable Energy, Inc. Announces Commencement of Construction of Its 50 Million...

Green Plains Renewable Energy Inc. (GPRE) announced that its project in Shenandoah, Iowa is progressing as planned. The Company received its air permit from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources late last week. Fagen Inc. has set up their on-site construction offices and anticipates construction of the plant to begin early next week. The Company anticipates that the Shenandoah plant will begin producing ethanol in the Spring of 2007.

The 10-minute guide to Dupont and advanced biofuels

Jim Lane The Wilmington Express Dupont (DD) is accelerating, after acquiring Danisco in a $6B 2011 takeover. Next stop – expansion in cellulosic biofuels and biobutanol. They’re bullish on biofuels and getting more so as their technology and vertically integrated strategy comes together. More than a year ago now, Dupont took a giant additional leap into industrial biotechnology with the acquisition of Danisco and its star subsidiary, Genencor. Immediately on the bioenergy front, the Dupont Danisco joint venture in cellulosic ethanol, memorably named Dupont Danisco Cellulosic Ethanol, dropped the “Danisco” in its moniker. ...

The API Bushwhacks Ethanol

Jim Lane Who’s right, in the fight of their lives over E15 ethanol blending? Whose data’s a Looney Tune, whose is from the real-world? Yesterday the American Petroleum Institute, in an apparent impression of Yosemite Sam, held a press conference in DC to highlight a new report from the Coordinating Research Council on E15 ethanol blends. The report is here. The API: Blast your scuppers, now I gotcha, ya’ flea-ridden riff-raff! Use of the ethanol gasoline blend E15 may endanger fuel systems in millions of 2001 and newer vehicles,...

Renewable Fuel Producers Score A Win

Despite Trump’s vow to roll back all measures endorsed by Obama, his Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt is backing off plans to scuttle the U.S. biofuel policy.  The Trump administration had planned to change regulatory standards to reduce the amount of renewable fuel that must be blended with conventional fossil fuel for gasoline and diesel supplies.  In the third week in October 2017, Pruitt sent a letter to Congressional leadership indicating the renewable fuel volume mandates for 2018 would remain unchanged. Most analysts saw the about face as a win for ethanol and renewable diesel producers such as Green Plains (GPRE:  Nasdaq), FutureFuel...

Cosan’s Crush

by Debra Fiakas CFA Last week Cosan Limited (CZZ:  NYSE) revealed a decision to delay the spin-off and recapitalization of its natural gas distribution network, COMGAS.  Management cited unfavorable capital market decisions.  Cosan has a mix of businesses, of which we have been most interested in its Raisen Energia sugar cane agriculture and ethanol production.  Raisen is a joint venture with Royal Dutch Shell that was initiated in 2011.  The operation squeezes over four million tons of sugar from cane grown in its fields and two billion liters of ethanol each year. The ethanol is sold through Shell’s...

Bunge: Now Less Sugar

Jim Lane In New York, in the wake of a $37 million Q1 loss in its sugar unit, Bunge CEO Soren Schroder, who took the reins of the company in June, announced yesterday that the trading giant is commencing what he termed a “thoughtful comprehensive review” for its sugar business, including a potential sale of all the assets. The company, which announced a $137 million overall quarterly loss, after posting a Q4 loss of $599 million in June. The Q4 loss included write-downs and charges of $683 million, including a $327 million write-down in its sugar...

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...

Praj Licenses Gevo’s Isobutanol Technology

Jim Lane In Colorado, Gevo (GEVO) announced that Praj Industries Limited has signed a memorandum of understanding to become a Gevo licensee for producing renewable isobutanol at sugar-based ethanol plants. Under the MOU, Praj will undertake to license up to 250 million gallons of isobutanol capacity for sugar-based ethanol plants over the next ten years. Gevo will market the isobutanol produced by Praj’s sub-licensees. Praj will also contribute process engineering and equipment services to expand isobutanol capacity at Gevo’s plant in Luverne, Minn, as well as to improve yields and optimize energy consumption at the facility. “Praj has...

Ethanol Missed The Boat; Isobutanol May Not

Jim Lane  E-Zero – ethanol-free gas, has been popular with boaters, but here comes isobutanol, with Gevo leading the pack. Are the economics a slam-dunk? Here’s the hard data. One of the more interesting trends in recent years has been the rise of ethanol-free gasoline. Overall, Pure-gas.com reports 9915 stations offering ethanol-free gas in the US and Canada although it is a crowd-sourced site and may have missed stations adding or dropping E0 fuels. The site does not include stations in Alaska because “all gasoline is ethanol-free.” 314 of those are in Canada. That’s around three...

Baron’s Thinks Archer Daniels Stock to Rise on Ethanol Harvest

Barons profiles Archer-Daniels-Midland Co. (ADM) in the April 3rd edition. They feel that ADM shares are poised to climb further, literally fueled by its dominance of the ethanol market as investors seek alternative energy investments. Archer Daniels was believed to have secured a 50-cent per gallon increase in ethanol contract pricing to $1.85 per gallon in recent negotiations. Given ethanol price rises seen in the commodities market, Archer Daniels could reap significant further increases in its next round of talks for October contracts.

Q2 2007 Biofuels Country Attractiveness Indices

Ernst & Young recently came out with its quarterly rankings of the investment attractiveness of the main national biofuel markets (PDF file). The report contains three indices: the All Biofuels Index, the Ethanol Index and the Biodiesel Index. No big surprise with most of the results. The report also outlines some of main deals to have occured in the global biofuels space in Q2, and notes two worrying developments. First, the German biodiesel market appears less than healthy at the moment, with many refiners operating at below...

Solar Headwinds, Part I

How Solar PV is like Ethanol Tom Konrad, CFA High levels of competition in the the solar photovoltaic (PV) industry mean that buy-and-hold investors should look elsewhere. In May 2007, I published a competitive analysis of the corn Ethanol industry based on Michael Porter's classic Five Competitive Forces model.  At the time, Ethanol stocks were flying high, but my conclusion was that "the prospective ethanol investor should be very careful about investing in corn ethanol producers at random."  If anything, I understated the case. This chart shows three ethanol stocks that have survived since 2007.  As...