Cosan: Brazillian Sweetheart

by Debra Fiakas CFA The first thing we think about Brazil in the context of alternative energy is sugar cane and ethanol. In the last growing season Brazil producer 596 million tons of sugar cane, a feat that secured Brazil’s position as the largest sugar cane grower in the world.  About 55% of the crop was used to producer ethanol and the balance ended up as sugar.  Brazil’s sugar cane industry association has predicted that despite a severe drought, the 2014-2015 growing season will be even more productive with expected sugar cane production in the range 632...

The Farm Bill: 5-Minute Guide to the Energy Title

  Jim Lane Only 5 min BigStock Photo What’s in that Durn-tootin’ US Farm Bill, anyhow? For the harried taxpayer, some relief. For energy security and rural economic development, targeted investments that now head to the legislative floor. Here are the need-to-knows. In Washington, the House and Senate Agricultural committees have now passed their respective versions of the proposed 2013 farm bill, which would take effect for fiscal 2014 through fiscal 2018. Both bills have energy titles meaning that, should they find passage, as expected this summer,...

Covanta Tackles the Biofuel Front-End

Jim Lane Making good, affordable syngas from municipal solid waste to unlock 9 billion gallons of low-cost fuel? Covanta’s (CVA) hot new gasification technology makes a big dent in the big challenge. Just after mealtimes, in the hours after mail delivery, and occasionally when the world’s youth resolve certain unhygienic conditions prevalent in the science experiments known as teenage rooms, we as a species make that materials-or-waste decision known as tossing the garbage. The MSW opportunity Here in the US, “Americans generate about 4.3 pounds of municipal solid waste per person per day, or 260 million tons...

Veridium Updates License for Exclusive Rights to CO2 Bioreactor

Veridium Corp. (VRDM.OB) announced its execution of an amended license agreement with Ohio University ("Ohio") for its patented bioreactor process for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from fossil-fuelled combustion processes. Veridium's original license with Ohio provided for non-exclusive rights to the technology for the purpose of processing exhaust gas streams from electrical utility power generation facilities, and exclusive rights to the technology for applications involving all other sources. The amended license agreement increases the scope of Veridium's license to provide for exclusivity in all applications, including electrical utility power generation facilities.

Ceres Focuses On Food & Feed After Bioenergy Disappoints

Jim Lane In California, Ceres (CERE) announced the a realignment of its business to focus on food and forage opportunities and biotechnology traits for sugarcane and other crops. As part of the realignment, the company will restructure its Brazilian seed operations and is exploring discussions with additional local partners and collaborators to support the continued development and commercialization of its technology in Brazil. Earlier, the Company announced that due to the economic challenges faced by the Brazilian ethanol industry as well as changes in the global energy market, it had expanded the number of market opportunities available for...

Bagasse – the Big Prize

Jim Lane Like MSW? You’ll love bagasse. Lot of the advantages of waste, and there’s a lot more available.  Heaps of bagasse, covered with blue plastic, outside of a sugar mill in Proserpine, Queensland.  Image via Wikipedia. Sugar’s the new oil, DOE Secretary Steven Chu is fond of saying. Codexis agrees, but argues that sugarcane residue (instead of competing for cane syrup) is the path to the real riches. Petroleum – we all know what it is, but what does...

Enviva: Wood Pellets Into Dividends

by Debra Fiakas CFA Last week Enviva Partners, LP (EVA:  NYSE) reported financial performance for its wood pellets business in its quarter ending September 2015.  Sales totaled a whopping $116.6 million, representing a 53% increase compared to $40.5 million in the same quarter last year.  The big jump in revenue resulted from higher volumes to larger customers.  Distributable cash flow totaled $12.6 million compared to $8.2 million in the year ago period.  Quarter performance made possible a declared cash distribution of $0.44 per common unit, which is 7% higher than the minimum quarterly distribution. At its...

Cellulosic Feedstock: The Gap Between Switchgrass And High Yield Corn

Jim Lane  As the first wave of cellulosic biorefineries launch is there really enough affordable feedstock for the next wave? Can growers make enough money to justify the switch…and risk? For several years, the questions that have perplexed actors in the advanced bioeconomy have revolved around policy stability and the effectiveness of the new technology: can new advanced fuels be affordably produced and will there be a market for them? Years ago, these were the same questions that were asked about petroleum. Today, when people talk about petroleum and long-term availability (when they choose not to...

Ceres and Syngenta to Promote Sorghum in Brazil

Jim Lane Ceres, Inc. (CERE) and Syngenta sign a major deal to stimulate sweet sorghum adoption. Brazilian producers seek paths for expanding ethanol production. What are sorghum’s chances of being the darling of the expansion story? In California, Ceres, Inc. (CERE) announced that it has signed a sweet sorghum market development agreement with Syngenta. The companies will work together to support the introduction of sweet sorghum as a source of fermentable sugars at Brazil’s 400 or more ethanol mills. Under the agreement, Syngenta and Ceres intend to collaborate on small-scale trials as well as larger demonstration-scale...

The Great Algae Flour Fight: Solazyme Wins Again

Jim Lane After the bizarre attempted heist detailed in The Great Algae Robbery, Roquette tries the US courts but comes up short, in its quest to get a hold of Solazyme’s (SZYM) algae tech. On a slow news day just before Christmas, those of us on the industrial biotechnology beat have no need to stop by the firehouse to ask if there is a breaking story to report, because we always have the lively docket of Judge Sue Robinson, Federal District Judge for the District of Delaware. This Christmas she did not fail us, for in our Christmas news...
rebecca white

Algae On The Cusp

By Dr. Rebecca White, Vice President of Operations, iWi (Qualitas Health, Inc.) for Biofuels Digest This Wednesday marks a major milestone in the history of the American algae industry: the first meeting in which the Biomass R&D Board Technical Advisory Committee officials will discuss algae as an agricultural crop. Up until now, the vast majority of governmental funding and support has gone to one particular application of algae: biofuels. The success of biofuels is extremely important. But so is the success of algae in other applications, such as protein, omega-3s and fish and animal feed, which all have the potential to...

King of the Cow Pats

by Debra Fiakas CFA Last week Bion Environmental Technologies, Inc. (BNET: OTC/QB) announced that the company has applied for patent protection of a process to recover nitrogen from livestock waste.  The process yields a crystalline, water-soluble fertilizer product that is about 12% to 15% nitrogen.  Since the nitrogen is extracted from the livestock waste without the use of chemicals and leaves behind potentially toxic salts, metals and minerals, the company is also applying for certification as an organic material. The company believes there will be a strong demand in the agriculture sector for its products. ...

Capstone Introduces a New Generation of MicroTurbine Energy Systems

Capstone Turbine Corp (CPTC) announced that next month the company will begin shipping an enhanced line of 65-kilowatt microturbine models that will replace its popular C60 series of power and heat generators. The new natural gas fueled C65 and C65-ICHP (with factory-integrated heat recovery) will deliver higher electrical and thermal output without any change to the product's weight and dimensions, which are much lighter and more compact than similar capacity generators. This reduces footprint requirements and enables greater flexibility in indoor, outdoor and rooftop setting. Capstone also released news that the new C65 model will also...

Darling Ingredients: At the Margin

by Debra Fiakas CFA This week Darling Ingredients (DAR:  NYSE) reported earnings of $100,000 on net sales of $874.7 million in the first quarter ending March 2015.  Darling is a recycler of sorts, collecting by-products of the food production industry and recycling the left-overs and waste into proteins, fats and leathers.  Nothing goes to waste.  Every last chicken feather, hide, gallon of used cooking grease and cake crumb gets up-cycled to a usable material for feed, food, fuel or clothing.  Its customers include pet food producers, personal care manufacturers and textile users, among others. Darling used...

The Best Peak Oil Investments, Part V: Algae

Tom Konrad CFA There are many proposed solutions to the liquid fuels scarcity caused be stagnating (and eventually falling) oil supplies combined with growing demand in emerging economies.  Some will be good investments, others won't.  Here is where I'm putting my money, and why.  This fifth part takes a look at the growing consensus that our biofuels should come from non-food crops grown on land that is not otherwise productive, and the one crop that shows promise of delivering the high yields needed to satisfy our enormous thirst for fuel is algae. In part I of...

Casella Waste Systems: Cheap Enough to Recycle?

by Debra Fiakas CFA Solid waste has been one of the business types that has a natural hedge against macroeconomic distress.  No matter how bad things get, as long as our neighbors draw breath there will be trash to handle.  Casella Waste Systems, Inc. (CWST:  Nasdaq) sits in the shadow of larger waste handlers such as Waste Management (WM:  NYSE) and Republic Services (RSG:  NYSE).  Consequently, it is often passed over by investors despite a significantly better profit margin. One of the reasons investors might not take Casella seriously is its history of net losses.  However, the...