The 10 Hottest Trends in Algae

Jim Lane  Algae has been touted as the ultimate platform for fuels, chemicals, nutraceuticals, proteins even cancer therapies. There’s been a rate of progress that would impress any devotee of Moore’s Law and a series of wacky claims that would impress any devotee of P.T. Barnun. So, what are the real trends? We’ve traveled several years now since the “Summer of Algae” when it seemed like half the venture capitalists in life sciences were forming algae ventures, or thinking about them. Since then a cluster of research projects and proto-companies have been...

Solid Play in Solid Waste

by Debra Fiakas CFA The last article “Advanced Disposal Services:  Hauling a Heavy Load” on July 18th inspired a closer look at the solid waste management sector in which it competes.   The solid waste industry is growing at a good pace between 1.6% and 2.0% per year, largely on population growth and the human penchant for consumption and waste.  In the U.S. solid waste collection is still populated by many localized, family-owned businesses, despite the emergence of several large consolidators that now command as much as 55% of the revenue in waste handling and disposal.  Fragmentation creates...

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...

List of Biomass Stocks

Biomass stocks are publicly traded companies whose business involves growing, collecting, or using biological matter (biomass) which can be used to make some other form of energy. Biomass includes human waste, municipal solid waste, sewage sludge, as well as industrial wastes such leftover wood from logging operations. 4energy Invest (ENINV.BR) Andritz Group (ADRZF) Arcadia Biosciences, Inc. (RKDA) BioAmber (BIOA) Bion Environmental Technologies, Inc. (BNET) Bunge, Ltd. (BG) Claymore/Clear Global Timber Index (CUT) Darling Ingredients (DAR) Deltic Timber Corp. (DEL) EcoSynthetix, Inc. (ECO.TO) Enviva Partners, LP (EVA) IQ Global Agribusiness Small Cap (CROP) iShares Global Timber & Forestry Index Fund (WOOD) John Deere (DE) Market Vectors® Environmental Services ETF (EVX) Pinnacle Renewable Holdings Inc. (PL.TO) Plum Creek...

Biomass Takes Center Stage in Renewable Energy Industry

Green Energy Resources, Inc. (NYIL) announces it has agreed in principle to merge with Italiana Commissionaria Legnami (ICL) of Monza , Italy. ICL has offices in New York and Brazil. The terms of the merger have not been disclosed. ICL is the largest importer of woodfiber fuel in Italy. In 2003 ICL supplied approximately 80,000 tons of woodchips per month to the Italian market. The proposed merger will seek to capture the vertical market from procurement, to transportation, to power generation plants and would create one of the largest international biomass/ renewable energy companies in the world today....

Aviation Biofuels: The Year of the Tree

by Jim Lane When the world’s leaders for sustainable aviation fuels have a general meeting the week before the COP24 global climate sessions (this year in Poland), you can bet that the focus will be breaking the “You Can Have Two out of Three Conundrum” of aviation fuels. Which is to say: affordable, available at scale, and sustainable, pick any two of the three. Fossil fuels are (usually) affordable and always available at scale. Sustainable jet fuels that are available at scale have generally not been affordable to date, and affordable sustainable fuels have been mostly explored at bench scale, so...

Biochar Investing

Tom Konrad, Ph.D., CFA BioChar, or using black carbon directly as a soil amendment holds the promise of both increasing agricultural yields and locking up carbon in the soil for centuries or millennia.  Are there ways for stock market investors to benefit? The technology is simple, but the results are potentially quite profound.  By pyrolyizing (heating in the absence of oxygen) biomass, and mixing the resulting char into the soil, it is possible to produce  Energy, in the form of heat, electricity, and or liquid fuel Carbon sequestration More productive agricultural land. Key to producing both energy...

Newsweek Special Report

"Experts generally agree that our current reliance on fossil fuels is unsustainable. Already oil is near $50 per barrel, and the great millions of Chinese and Indians destined to take to the road in the next decades have not yet gotten behind the wheel." This week Newsweek has written several special reports about alternative energy in all its forms. All of these reports can be found at the following link.

Biochar and Activated Carbon Markets

Biochar and Activated Carbon Markets by Hugh McLaughlin, PhD., PE Biochar is an emerging market; growing rapidly, still in its infancy, but with gigaton market potential when we, as in humanity, start addressing the climate crisis. Activated carbons are a mature market of about one million tons annual production, which is growing slowly. They are basically like fraternal twins; they have a lot in common, they share the same world, and they are different. First, let’s explain the basic difference between THREE materials: activated carbon, charcoal and biochar. Activated carbon, also known as activated charcoal and several...

Investing In Wood Pellets, Part II – A Stock

Two weeks ago, I wrote about the emerging wood pellets industry and how this form of biomass was experiencing rapid growth as a coal substitute in power generation, mostly in Europe as a result of renewable energy and climate regulations. In the time since I wrote that article, I have been looking for ways to invest in the global wood pellets sector. Unfortunately, my search came up mostly empty (except for 1 stock discussed below). In response to my previous post, a reader pointed me to an article Joe Romm at Climate Progress had recently written...

Trash Stocks Trashed: An Income Opportunity?

Tom Konrad CFA Dumpster diving for high yielding gems. An earlier version of this article was written at the end of July and published on my Forbes blog, before the August market implosion. I've updated it here to reflect the new stock prices and some recent company news. Renewable energy has many advantages over fossil energy.  One of the most important is that it's renewable.  As supplies of Oil and other fossil fuels are used up, they become harder and more expensive to extract, while renewable energy is generally getting cheaper over time,...

Biodiesel B2 Blend Selling Below Average Diesel Cost at Salt Lake City Pumps

Green Star Products Inc (GSPI) announced today that according to an article published in the Salt Lake Tribune (September 17, 2004) B2 biodiesel blend is now selling at 3 cents below average diesel price in Salt Lake City, Utah. The article states, "Alternative fuel enthusiasts have a new place to fill up. The first biodiesel fuel pump in Utah opened Thursday at Dal Soglio Sinclair, 7398 S. 700 West, in Midvale. The station now sells diesel fuel that is a 2 percent biodiesel blend (B2), along with conventional unleaded gasoline. The B2 blend costs $1.94 per gallon, which...

Cellulosic Ethanol and Advanced Biofuels Investments

There's much excitement about second generation biofuels made from cellulosic feedstocks and algae, be they cellulosic ethanol, biodiesel, biocrude, or electricity from biomass.  There will be winners, but they may not be the technology companies. Tom Konrad, Ph.D., CFA At the 2009 Advanced Biofuels Workshop, there were two major themes: developing new feedstocks, especially algae, and the development of new pathways to take biomass into products such as biocrude, which can be used in exiting oil refineries.   Big Market, Many Competitors The current federal Renewable Fuel Standard requires the use of 36 million gallons of biofuels, including at...

Cellulosic Electricity: Stock Analysts v. Venture Capitalists

Romm v. Kholsa In a persuasive series of articles, entitled "Pragmatists vs. Environmentalists" (Parts I, II, and III) on Gristmill, Vinod Khosla provides the reasoning behind his "dissing" of plug-in hybrids, which drew the ire of Joeseph Romm.  Neither seems to think the argument is settled, and Joeseph Romm returns fire here. As someone who knows as much about investing as Joe Romm and has written as much about Climate Change and Energy Policy as Vinod Khosla, I feel the need to jump into the debate and settle the matter.  (Will either of them will notice?)...

Investing In Wood Pellets, Part I

Last week, I mentioned that I had attended a conference focused on opportunities in the biomass and bioenergy sectors. One of the article ideas I got from this conference was on the emerging market for wood pellets (tightly packed sawdust and other wood shavings) for heat and electricity. How interesting that, over the weekend, the magazine Science published an article suggesting that the US should ramp up its use of wood for small-scale heat and electricity production (the article is not available free of charge but you can find a summary here). The Wood (Pellet) Advantage It...

Change Winds Blow for Renewable Energy Income Trusts

Renewable energy is still very much in its infancy, which means that companies in the space are either profitless or high-multiple startups, or divisions of much larger companies (GE Wind (NYSE:GE), or utilities such as FPL Group (NYSE:FPL) and Xcel (NYSE:XEL) which get much of their power from conventional generation.) This presents a dilemma for investors who understand the compelling drivers for the sector, but whose risk tolerance or financial needs indicate an income-based investing strategy. Canadian Income Trusts in Renewable Energy A few Canadian Income Trusts have historically gone some way towards filling this niche....