A Modest Proposal: Cellulosic Beef

The Future is Cellulosic It is now widely accepted that the future of ethanol is cellulosic: Rather than distilling corn for ethanol to fuel our cars, accepted wisdom is now that we will be able to replace a large fraction of our current fuel consumption with ethanol distilled from agricultural and forestry waste, as well as dedicated energy crops, such as switchgrass and hybrid poplar.  Cellulosic ethanol also has the potential to alleviate the greatest stumbling block of corn ethanol as a potential replacement of gasoline: that there is simply not enough of it.  Corn ethanol will only be...

Are Ethanol Companies Risky Investments?

By Neal Dikeman, Partner, Jane Capital Partners LLC, and Founding Contributor, Cleantechblog.com. He has no investments in or financial incentive related to ethanol or ethanol stocks. Are ethanol stocks risky long-term investments? We think they are. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of ethanol blended fuels for a whole host of reasons, I just don’t like ethanol as an investment. Here are six solid reasons to be very, very cautious. 1. Demand vs. supply – As with most regulatory driven markets, the demand has come on very fast behind the advent of renewable...

Novozymes Ignites Yeast Wars

Novozymes (Copenhagen:NZYM-B; OTC:NVZMY) moved into yeast this week with a new organism, Innova Drive. It’s saccharomyces cerevisae — the workhouse yeast that has been powering wine fermentation since the days of Noah and the Ark. But here’s a new strain engineered to cut fermentation times up to two hours, and yield boosts of up to two percent. A 2% yield increase and a 5% faster rate of production — let’s illustrate it — would mean something like 7.1 million gallons per year of more ethanol from the same standard 100 million gallon nameplate plant. Retailing at up to $10 million dollars, per year (yes,...

Ethanol and Biodiesel: Production Cost and Profitability

For a number of years, this (now old and outdated, but) very useful chart has been in circulation in energy circles, mapping the supply of energy to the world by looking not at prices, but at production costs. For one thing, it goes a long way to explaining why the price of oil can tumble so quickly when there is a fall off in demand, and explains why OPEC is troubled by unconventional oil in a way it is not so bothered by other energy sources such as renewable fuels. Renewables not only have been traditionally at the...
ethanol ups and downs

Fortunately, Unfortunately: The Spring Saga of American Ethanol

by Jim Lane The ethanol signals from Washington DC are more inexplicably mixed than cocktails with names like Sex on the Beach. Let’s parse through the wigwagging over the future of American biofuels supply and demand — ethanol and otherwise. Fortunately: Trump backs year-round E15 ethanol blends In Washington, President Trump endorsed year-round E15 ethanol availability as an emerging compromise between oil refiners and US farm sector. The Renewable Fuel Standard is a federal program that requires transportation fuel sold in the United States to contain a minimum volume of renewable fuels. The RFS originated in a bi-partisan Congress with the Energy Policy Act...
Ethanol Plant

List of Ethanol Stoccks

Ethanol stocks are publicly traded companies whose business involves producing ethanol alcohol (C2H5OH) made from biomass for use as a fuel in gasoline blends. Common feedstocks include corn and sugar cane.  Ethanol is the most widely produced and used biofuel, and all ethanol stocks are also biofuel stocks. Aemetis, Inc. (AMTX) Andersons Inc (ANDE) Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) Bluefire Renewables (BFRE) Cosan Ltd (CZZ) Dyadic International (DYAI) Green Plains Partners LP (GPP) Green Plains Renewable Energy (GPRE) MGP Ingredients (MGPI) Pacific Ethanol (PEIX) REX American Resources Corp. (REX) SunOpta (STKL) If you know of any ethanol stock that is not listed here and should be, please let us know by leaving a comment. Also...
fractionation of corn

Corn Fractionation Improving Ethanol Production

Ethanol and isobutanol producer Gevo, Inc. (GEVO:  Nasdaq) is installing equipment in its Luverne, Minnesota plant to improve efficiency in corn processing.  The company is leasing a proprietary corn fractionation or slicing process developed Shockwave, LLC based in DesMoines, Iowa.  The new equipment is intended to increase by-product output, including feed protein products and food-grade corn oil.  With sales of more valuable by-products Gevo expects to improve overall profit margins.  Shareholders can expect to see results after the first quarter 2019, when the equipment installation is expected to be complete. Shockwave keeps a low profile with no corporate website and no one to answer phone calls.  However,...
American Coalition for ethanol logo

US Ethanol Industry Upset With 2019 Renewable Fuel Standard Proposal

The 2019 proposed US Renewable Fuel Standard proposed volumes attracted a major raspberry from the ethanol industry. As the American Coalition for Ethanol noted: “Unfortunately, EPA continues to take actions which undermine the letter and spirit of the statute and harm the rural economy. While refiners are reporting double-digit profits, the heart of America is being left behind. Farmers are losing money while refiners have the best of both worlds: fat profit margins and minimal RFS compliance costs. EPA needs to discard its refiner-win-at-all-costs mentality and get the RFS back on track.” “While the proposed rule purports to maintain the 15-billion-gallon conventional...
Refinery exemptions RFS

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...

Ethanol Blends: High Octane, Low Carbon, High Controversy

by Jim Lane, Biofuels Digest For every ethanol blend everywhere these days, there seems to be a war on. A war in India over 22% blends. A war in Brazil over exactly what baseline blend ratio (somewhere int he 20s) is ideal. A war on in Europe to roll back first-gen ethanol to around 2% blending. A war in New South Wales, Australia over whether there should be any ethanol mandating at all. A war in the US as conservatives aim to haul belnding down to 9.7% while ethanol producers have clearly aimed at a 15% baseline blend. And so on and...

DowDuPont To Exit Cellulosic Biofuels

by Jim Lane In Delaware, DowDuPont (DWDP) announced that it intends to sell its cellulosic biofuels business and its first commercial project, a 30 million gallon per year cellulosic ethanol plant in Nevada, Iowa. The Nevada project is still going through start-up. In an official statement, the company said: As part of DowDuPont’s intent to create a leading Specialty Products Company, we are making a strategic shift in how we participate in the cellulosic biofuels market. While we still believe in the future of cellulosic biofuels we have concluded it is in our long-term interest to find a strategic buyer for our...

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...

Aemetis’ Cellulosic Ethanol From Orchard Waste Project

by Jim Lane There were more than 100 presentations at ABLC last week and not a clunker amongst them, but if I were to point the reader’s attention at one or two that stood out from the rest because of the short-term or long-term implications, I’d start with the news from Aemetis (AMTX) that they are embarking now on a $158 million cellulosic ethanol plant — to be built in Riverbank, California, in partnership with LanzaTech. Cellulosic ethanol is selling for such a high price in California right now — the value jumps north of $4.00 per gallon at times —...
corn pile

A Simple Fix To Farmer’s Tariff Woes?

by Jim Lane As most know by now, the US and China have fired opening salvos in a trade war, with the US targeting a range of commodities including steel and aluminum, and China retaliating with, to date, stiff tariffs on a range of agricultural products, but primarily hitting soybeans and corn because of the volume of trade in those agricultural goods. Overall, China imports $24 billion of agricultural goods from the US and is a leading export market for the US. The trade wars prompted North Dakota farmer Kevin Skunes, president of the National Corn Growers Association, to state: “Farmers are...

Green Plains to Adopt Syngenta’s Enogen Corn Ethanol Tech Across Fleet

by Jim LaneGood news arrives from Minnesota that Syngenta has partnered with Green Plains (GPRE) to expand its use of Enogen corn enzyme technology across GPRE’s 1.5 billion gallon production platform. The Enogen backstory Enogen corn enzyme technology is an in-seed innovation available exclusively from Syngenta and features the first biotech corn output trait designed specifically to enhance ethanol production. Using modern biotechnology to deliver best-in-class alpha amylase enzyme directly in the grain, Enogen corn eliminates the need to add liquid alpha amylase and creates a win-win-win scenario by adding value for ethanol plants, corn growers and rural communities. We reported in January that Syngenta had reached...

REX American: Culturally Frugal

by Debra Fiakas CFA Among the surviving public ethanol producers in the U.S. is REX American Resources (REX:  NYSE).  Based in Ohio, REX American is an ethanol fuel producer with owned nameplate capacity near 215 million gallons per year.  Additionally, the company distributes by-products of the ethanol production process, including distiller grains and non-food grade corn oil.  REX has full or partial ownership in six ethanol production plants located in the Ohio, South Dakota, Illinois and Minnesota. The company relies on corn feed stock for its dry milling ethanol production process.  Like any other ethanol...