Amyris hits the comeback trail

Jim Lane Biofene production starts up in Paraiso, Brazil – sales expected to commence in Q1 2013 – Total, Temasek, Biolding inject fresh capital. What’s next for biofuels’ “Comeback Kid”? By now, most of the “smart set” that found itself excited about Amyris (AMRS), and about advanced synthetic biofuels during the IPO fever, have moved on. They read Dan Grushkin’s “The Rise And Fall Of The Company That Was Going To Have Us All Using Biofuels” in Fast Company, wrote off Amyris and possibly the entire sector, and presumably migrated their enthusiasm to low-cost natural gas, battery...

Biodiesel Tax Credit Back In US Budget Deal

by Jim Lane In Washington, the US Congress passed its budget deal, and among the items in the deal was a retroactive restoration of the $1 per gallon biodiesel tax credit for 2017. The bill did not include a provision for 2018 and future years. The budget compromise had run into headwinds in the Senate, in the form of a voting delay imposed by Rand Paul of Kentucky, while opposition in the House from a group of Democrats and hardline conservatives had put the bill into some degree of jeopardy.Renewable Energy Group CEO Randy Howard said “We are pleased that Congress recognized...

Linc Energy: Making Synthetic Crude From Coal Downunderground

by Debra Fiakas CFA Gas-to-liquids is back on my radar screen after an article appearing in early March 2015 on Biofuels Digest described progress Emerging Fuels Technology (EFT) has made in perfecting the Fischer-Tropsch process to convert carbon-based feedstock to liquid fuel, otherwise called Gas-to-Liquids.  Fischer-Tropsch often referred to as FT for short is a series of chemical reactions to convert carbon monoxide and hydrogen into liquid hydrocarbons.  The reactions are triggered by a catalyst, usually cobalt or iron, and managed under high temperatures in a chamber or reactor.  Some might consider it a neat trick...

Giant Appeals Court Victory For Biofuels

Jim Lane As DuPont’s (DD) Jan Koninckx put it in his understated way, July 28th was “a good day for biofuels.” But it was the biggest victory in the courts for biofuels, ever. Specifically, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled in favor of Americans for Clean Energy and other renewable fuels advocates, agreeing with the petitioners that the Environmental Protection Agency erred in how it interpreted and used the “inadequate domestic supply” waiver in the Renewable Fuel Standard law in setting low renewable fuel volumes for 2014-2016. In Americans for Clean Energy et al v. Environmental Protection...

Cosan’s Crush

by Debra Fiakas CFA Last week Cosan Limited (CZZ:  NYSE) revealed a decision to delay the spin-off and recapitalization of its natural gas distribution network, COMGAS.  Management cited unfavorable capital market decisions.  Cosan has a mix of businesses, of which we have been most interested in its Raisen Energia sugar cane agriculture and ethanol production.  Raisen is a joint venture with Royal Dutch Shell that was initiated in 2011.  The operation squeezes over four million tons of sugar from cane grown in its fields and two billion liters of ethanol each year. The ethanol is sold through Shell’s...

The Best Peak Oil Investments, Part VIII: Alternative Fuel Report Card

Tom Konrad CFA There are two types of solution to the liquid fuels scarcity caused by stagnating (and eventually falling) oil supplies combined with growing demand in emerging economies.  The most obvious is to find a substitute to replace oil.  Each potential substitute has barriers to its use which stand in the way of it from becoming a complete substitute for petroleum based fuel.  Understanding those barriers also leads us to the investment opportunities that arise from these substitutes.  In the last two articles of this series, I looked at barriers to adoption for alternative...

KiOR: a 5-Minute Guide

Jim Lane KiOR, Inc. is a next-generation renewable fuels company that has developed a proprietary technology platform to convert sustainable non-food biomass into cellulosic gasoline, diesel and fuel oil. Using standard refinery equipment, KiOR’s products are compatible with the existing fuel infrastructure. KiOR strives to ease dependence on foreign oil, reduce lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions and create high-quality jobs and economic benefit across rural communities. Address: 13001 Bay Park Road, Pasadena, TX 77507 Year founded: 2007 Stock: Nasdaq: KIOR. As of 8/31/12 Khosla Ventures, Artis Capital, Alberta Investment Management Corporation and other major...

The Ethanol Industry’s Persecution Complex

If the Ethanol industry is going to rehabilitate its image, it needs to understand the issues. Tom Konrad, Ph.D., CFA In his opening remarks at the 25th annual, 2009 Fuel Ethanol Workshop, Mike Bryan, the CEO of BBI International called on the attendees to "Take back control of the industry's image."   It's no secret that the ethanol industry is having problems, mostly, in my mind, due to a classic commodity squeeze: the industry has no pricing power either for its inputs (corn and natural gas,) or its products (ethanol, with a price which closely tracks gasoline.) ...

The Performance of Biofuel IPOs

Jim Lane  In this two-part series, we look at the IPO market for industrial biotech stocks. Who’s up, who’s down, who’s in the queue, and where might all this take us? Plus, an important update from Coskata. In Part I, today, we look at the performance of the six IPOs to date in the aftermarket, the Ceres IPO which is ready to price its IPO tonight, and look towards the IPO queue at important changes in Coskata’s recent filings. In Part II, tomorrow, we look at how Ceres performed, we’ll have an update on Amyris (AMRS), and...

The Year Of Living Disingenuously: KiOR

The Inside True Story of a Company Gone Wrong, Part 4 by Jim Lane In 2011, KiOR raised $150 million in its June IPO, claiming that it was generating yields of 67 gallons per ton in its Demo unit operations. But it was miles short of that. In our previous installments, we have charted how KiOR moved from a promising early-stage technology to a public company with serious technological flaws that could have been fixed, but were ignored in what a senior team member speaking for the record, Dennis Stamires, characterized as a “reckless rush to commercial”. But so far, the company and...

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...

Playing Defense: Contamination and the jitter effect in advanced biofuels

Jim Lane Is evidence mounting that advanced biofuels companies need to tout their defensive schemes as much as their offense? Markets jitters suggest so. Kevin Quon wrote recently in Seeking Alpha, “the most essential attribute to the fuels market is the ability to scale the technology to the desired level needed.” Well put. In biofuels terms, that’s playing offense. Now, making sure that you are making an environment that’s safe for your target molecules and organisms, and as hostile as possible for everything else? That’s playing defense. Meanwhile, some evidence is piling up that...

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...

Gevo: Are We There Yet?

by Debra Fiakas CFA The renewable chemicals and biofuel company Gevo, Inc. (GEVO:  Nasdaq) is scheduled to report fourth quarter 2013 financial results on March 25th.  Analysts have a couple of weeks to prepare questions for management during the earnings conference call.  Top on the list has to be got to be about Gevo’s recent agreement to license its novel isobutanol technology to Porta Hnos of Argentina.  Porta Hnos is a well established ethanol producer so if the license is consummated, it is expected that this partner has the ability to execute on plans to produce isobutanol for...

Brew-ha-ha: Is Amyris’ Brazillian JV Over?

Jim Lane In a Brazilian securities filing, with respect to the Joint Venture between São Martinho and Amyris (AMRS), Sao Martinho reports “the non-achievement of certain contractual targets by Amyris, impacting the viability of the project. Thus, Sao Martinho decides not to approve the continuation of the Joint Venture Plant construction with the US company Amyris Inc. and its Brazilian subsidiary Amyris Brazil Ltda.” The company did not elaborate as to which contractural targets were not achieved by Amyris. In the filing, Sao Martinho added: “Amyris may provide new information regarding the project feasibility in...

Renewable Fuel Producers Score A Win

Despite Trump’s vow to roll back all measures endorsed by Obama, his Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt is backing off plans to scuttle the U.S. biofuel policy.  The Trump administration had planned to change regulatory standards to reduce the amount of renewable fuel that must be blended with conventional fossil fuel for gasoline and diesel supplies.  In the third week in October 2017, Pruitt sent a letter to Congressional leadership indicating the renewable fuel volume mandates for 2018 would remain unchanged. Most analysts saw the about face as a win for ethanol and renewable diesel producers such as Green Plains (GPRE:  Nasdaq), FutureFuel...
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