As KiOR Stumbles, Aemetis Soars: What Made The Difference?

Jim Lane Is it just coincidence that KiOR’s stock is down sharply as Aemetis has been on a tear?  Just a lucky break for ethanol based on attractive “crush spreads”? Or something important about the strategy and how it has played out? On a clear morning last October at ABLCNext in San Francisco, two companies joined us on stage to discuss their technologies, and their pathway to commercialization. They had a lot in common. Both companies produce advanced biofuels for the American domestic market. Both utilize advanced technologies deployed at commercial-scale in the past 24 months. Both...

KiOR and the Compression Spread

Jim Lane You’ve heard about the crack spread, and the crush spread as means to value oil refining and crop refining. Let’s think about biomass densification and compression, and in that context, a little about KiOR. You might have heard a little or a lot about KiOR, Inc. (Nasdaq: KIOR) which is currently commissioning its first commercial-scale (11 million gallon) biofuels plant in Columbus, Mississippi. Now, the oil industry might, via the American Petroleum Institute, be currently talking down the validity of the Renewable Fuel Standard but it is not entirely...

Algae Takes Flight

by Debra Fiakas CFA Algae powered plane photo via BigStock No one has been more disappointed than me in the failure of algae-based biofuel operations to achieve commercial production  -  at least so far.  The model is beguiling:  feedstock for biofuel production in the form of oils produced by simple and widely available algae that can thrive on carbon dioxide, an otherwise be a toxic emission.  However, scale seems to have eluded algae-base biofuel producers. GreenShift Corp. (GERS:  OTC/BB) recently shifted its focus...

Velocys Thinking Big with Microreactors

by Debra Fiakas CFA Keep the applause down!  Contain your enthusiasm for yet another biomass- or gas-to-liquids company.  Over the past several weeks I have written about a number of privately-held developers of one technology or another intended to produce a drop-in renewable fuel from biomass or natural gas.  There are more,  In this post we check in on Velocys (VCL:  London), which stands out from the rest as a public company.  No matter that it's technology looks like that of the very next renewable fuel company, it is accessible to minority investors. Until recently Velocys was...
rice straw

Making Cash From Rice Trash

by Jim Lane In our three-part series this month on utilizing waste resources, we’ll turn to rice straw, which is a major headache for Chinese and Indian emissions. Praj and Gevo are working hard on perfecting a technology to address this. Specifically, in the past month, Gevo (GEVO) also executed an agreement with Praj to develop jet fuel and isooctane from rice straw and other feedstocks. Gruber noted that “we believe this second-generation technology combination has great potential to address India’s rice straw burning problem and related air pollution, while generating low-carbon hydrocarbons for jet fuel and gasoline. Praj is a leader...

Amyris’ “Fene Economy”

by Debra Fiakas CFA There are not many companies with the courage to stage an initial public offering, but renewable chemicals and materials producer Amyris, Inc. (AMRS:  Nasdaq) was undaunted.  The company sold 5.3 million shares at $16.00 earlier this month, raising $78.8 million in net proceeds.  Amyris has done fairly well in raising capital.  In December 2009, the Department of Energy awarded Amyris a $25.0 million grant to build a pilot plant that will produce diesel and petrochemical substitutes through the fermentation of sweet sorghum.  Then Temasek Holdings invested $47.8 million into the company. The Amyris vision...

REG: A Little ADM With Better Growth Prospects

Jim Lane At 8:30am, there’s a standing daily meeting of the key traders in Gary Haer’s sales group at Renewable Eenergy Group's (NASD:REGI aka REG) headquarters in Ames, Iowa. And they’re not kidding. Everyone stands. For 15 minutes there’s the rat-a-tat-tat of rumor, fact, competitors, pricing, spreads, the who’s selling what and where, the buying and selling of diesel, renewable diesel and biodiesel across North America. On most minds this Friday morning, what’s going to happen with corn prices? The USDA late on Thursday released its annual spring plantings report and it was a shocker. Corn acres...
gevo logo

Biofuels & Biobased Earnings Roundup: Gevo

by Jim Lane The Top Line. In Colorado, Gevo (GEVO) reported Q2 revenues of $9.4 million compared with $7.5 million in the same period in 2017. During the second quarter of 2018, revenues derived at the Luverne Facility related to ethanol sales and related products were $8.8 million, an increase of approximately $2.0 million from the same period in 2017. This was primarily a result of increased ethanol production and distiller grain prices in the second quarter of 2018 versus the same period in 2017. Non-GAAP cash EBITDA loss in the three months ended June 30, 2018 was $2.6 million, compared...

Will Petrosun’s Algae Biodiesel Grow on Investors?

by Tom Konrad Celluslosic Ethanol is all the rage.  A less noticed, but significant "Biofuel 2.0" is biofuel based on algae. Follow the Biomass As I have consistently argued (see these recent articles on John Deere, Biogas, Cellulosic Ethanol vs Biomass Electricity, and Renewable or Green Diesel)  the people most likely to make money from biofuel are not the processors and distributors (who compete directly with petroleum or other fossil fuel-based products, and so have little pricing power), but the producers of feedstock, which, like oil, is in very limited supply, and so they will have pricing power....

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...

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...

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...
earnings roundup

Living Endangeredly- Q2 Biobased Earnings Roundup

by Jim Lane In hand we now have the latest earnings reports from what you might call the 8 Pathfinders – eight publicly traded stocks whose second quarter results offer insights into the health and performance of the advanced bioeconomy as 2019 heads towards its closing crescendos. Our 8 Pathfinders – In the world of global renewable diesel at scale, Neste (Neste.HE); pure-play enzymes, Novozymes (NVMB); In pharma and synbio, Codexis (CDXS); as a hybrid play in advanced fuels, Aemetis (AMTX); in advanced marine and jet fuels, Gevo (GEVO); for biodiesel and hydrocarbons, Renewable Energy Group (REGI); in advanced began foods,...

Earnings Round-Up: ADM, Green Plains, Syngenta

Jim Lane Green Plains In Nebraska, Green Plains (GPRE) announced net income for the quarter was $42.2 million compared to net income of $25.5 million for the same period in 2013. Revenues were $829.9 million for the fourth quarter of 2014 compared to $712.9 million for the same period in 2013. Net income for the full year was $159.5 million compared to $43.4 million for the same period in 2013. Revenues were $3.2 billion for the full year of 2014 compared to $3.0 billion for the same period in 2013. Fourth quarter 2014 EBITDA was $90.7 million compared to...

Advanced biofuels pioneer Terrabon files for chapter 7 bankruptcy: One-off or trend?

Jim Lane Closely-watched green gasoline producer collapses as Waste Management (WM) declines next financing round. What does it mean for companies like Fulcrum Bioenergy, Enerkem, Agilyx, Agnion, Renmatix, Genomatica, and InEnTec? The Digest looks at the inside story. In Texas, Terrabon filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection; the company’s operations will cease and a trustee will be tasked with liquidating the company’s assets for the benefit of creditors. The complete Chapter 7 announcement is here. In a statement, Terrabon’s leadership said that company could not obtain additional corporate funding to finish developing and engineering its...