Abengoa Bioenergy files for Chapter 11

In Missouri, Abengoa (ABGB) Bioenergy US Holding, LLC filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy relief in the US Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Missouri on behalf of itself and 5 of its US bioenergy subsidiaries. The companies involved in the filings include the US holding company; companies that own and operate four of Abengoa Bioenergy’s six US starch ethanol plants; as well as various support/service companies for Abengoa’s US bioenergy operations. This action follows the filing of two separate involuntary bankruptcy proceedings in Nebraska and Kansas earlier this month concerning the company’s starch ethanol facilities located in Ravenna and...

Gevo Switches Refinery Back to Ethanol: Amyris Redux?

Jim Lane Amyris redux, or fiscal caution in the ramp-up process? We look at the data, as the advanced isobutanol pioneer switches Luverne from isobutanol to ethanol amidst production shortfalls. In Colorado, Gevo (GEVO) announced that, while making significant progress towards economic production levels, the company does not now expect to achieve its desired year-end run rate – instead it has delayed hitting that target into 2013. “While we have made significant progress towards economic production levels,” said Gevo CEO Pat Gruber, “we have decided to optimize certain specific parts of our technology to further enhance bio-isobutanol...

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...

KiOR: The Inside Story Of A Company Gone Wrong, Part 2

by Jim Lane Note. This is Part 2 of our series on the inside true story of KiOR. In part 1 of our series, here, we explored: the formation of BIOeCON and KiOR, the problem of too much oxygen and coke, the entry of Khosla Ventures, and the loss of a CEO. Also, “a recipe for technical failure”, disastrous pilot scale results, culture clashes, catalyst development, reactor design trouble and the departure of a key scientist. Two KiOR scientific wings emerge No one was more emphatic about the pilot plant results than scientist Robert Bartek, who sent an email ‘More Math on...
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Rapidly Growing Alternative Energy Companies

The last post highlighted several companies in the alternative energy, conservation and environment technology fields that have delivered exceptional price performance over the last year.  Prospects for growth in sales or earnings appeared to be key drivers of the price movement.  It makes sense to seek indicators of growth as cues for those companies that may become tomorrow’s price movers. Crystal Equity Research’s novel alternative energy indices were a good place to go on a ‘quest for growth.’ Beach Boys Index  -  Biodiesel The two analysts who publish estimates for Renewable Energy Group (REGI:  Nasdaq)apparently expect a surge in growth in the current year followed by a leveling...

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...

Gevo To Supply Lufhansa With Renewable Jet Fuel

Jim Lane   In Colorado, Gevo (GEVO) has entered into a heads of agreement with Lufthansa to supply Gevo’s alcohol-to-jet fuel from its first commercial hydrocarbon facility, intended to be built in Luverne, MN. The terms of the agreement contemplate Lufthansa purchasing up to 8 million gallons per year of ATJ from Gevo, or up to 40 million gallons over the 5 year life of the off-take agreement. Gevo utilized the enthusiasm generated in financial markets yesterday to raise $15.6M in cash and to convert $11M in debt to equity. What the deal means in the short term...

KiOR: Too Early to Jump In

by Debra Fiakas CFA Kior's Columbus Facility Last week cellulosic ethanol producer Kior, Inc. (KIOR:  Nasdaq)reported its strongest quarter production and financial results since the company first started commercial operations at its Columbus, Mississippi facility.  Kior turned out 323,841 gallons of ethanol fuel in the three months ending September 2013, bringing total production for the year to 508,975 gallons.  Along with the third quarter report, management did a bit of boasting over record production of 167,087 gallons in the month of October.  That represents a 2.0...

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...

Gevo and Butamax Make Peace

Jim Lane In Delaware and Colorado, Gevo (GEVO) and Butamax have entered into worldwide patent cross-license and settlement agreements, ending a patent dispute related to technologies for the production of bio-based isobutanol. This settlement ends all of the lawsuits and creates a new relationship between the companies, aimed at leveraging each other’s strengths and accelerating development of competitive supply for bio-based isobutanol. The cross-license agreement grants both parties patent licenses to all fields for isobutanol and is structured to develop robust and sustainable isobutanol markets. The license will be royalty bearing for Butamax in certain fields...
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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...

Three Keys to Advanced Biofuels at Commercial Scale

Jim Lane Is your team ready for the summit run? Take our 3-question, 6 point quiz, and compare your route to the established routes that others have pioneered. It’s become an cliché of late that “financing is tough” and that “the US is slowing” while “China is speeding up” on advanced biofuels. It’s also become a cliché that “cellulosic biofuels are slow, the economics are unworkable” and that “the next wav of investment will wait until 2015 or 2016, especially for commercial-scale.” Like all clichés, they have their origin in real experience, but are generally over-broadened to...

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.

Icahn’s Pig in a Poke

By Brent Erickson, Biotechnology Innovation Organization Members of the U.S. Senate are questioning whether Carl Icahn’s lobbying to change the Renewable Fuel Standard creates an ethics conflict with his role as advisor in the Trump administration. In addition to the ethics question, Members of Congress and some in the biofuels industry should examine whether Icahn could even deliver on the purported quid-pro-quo even if he wanted to. In late February 2017, Icahn and a biofuel trade association reportedly discussed a presidential executive order to make Icahn’s desired change to the RFS Point of Obligation (the so-called POO) in...

Fly the Bio Skies: 10 Milestones in the Summer of Aviation Biofuels

Jim Lane Algae powered plane photo via BigStock We look back on a big summer for biofuels development: There have been many recent algae biofuel developments, the drought, and the policy fight over the Renewable Fuel Standard. But in many respects, its been a summer about aviation biofuels – starting with the demonstration of the US Navy’s Green Strike Group and continuing to announcements of projects right through the summer. The story has internationalized, the technologies are broadening, and more and more blue-chip players are making...

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...