Lessons From Tesla: Building An Ethanol Market

Jim Lane  E85 ethanol? Been stuck with low sales for years – with producers pointing to “no market access”.  Yet, Tesla was faced with “no market access” and built its own market. What lessons can be learned? Last week, Tesla Motors (NASD:TSLA) announced the completion of its transcontinental US Supercharger Corridor, a network of stations that enable Model S owners to (somewhat) rapidly recharge their Teslas on a cross-country drove. And intrepid Tesla blgger Hamish McKenzie relayed the news last week that two Tesla Model S sedans completed a 76-hour coast-to-coast all-electric crossing. The news follows...

What I Sold: Pacific Ethanol (NASD:PEIX)

This entry continues a series on companies I sold as part of a portfolio cleanup prompted by the mess on Wall Street.  In the first entry I describe what I plan to do with the cash, and the second was about Carmanah Technologies.   UQM Technologies was one I didn't sell. In May of last year, I took a look at competitive forces in the corn ethanol industry.  While I was rather negative on the industry at the time, when ethanol stocks fell in the summer and fall of 2007, I called the bottom much too soon, and...

Sketches of DuPont’s Cellulosic Ethanol Project in Nevada, Iowa

Jim Lane  It towers above the surrounding Iowa countryside like the Launch Assembly Building lords it over Cape Canaveral it’s the new DuPont (DD) cellulosic ethanol project, on the outskirts of the town of Nevada. Functional yet inspiring, imposing yet accessible when it opens before year end 2014 it is sure to be a monumental addition to the cellulosic biofuels landscape. Last week we wrote: “There are strategic reasons to develop this new industrial bioscience business in central Iowa not just the “we’d love to have you, wages are low, cost of...

Biofuels Industry Reacts To The New RVO Requirements

by Jim Lane What a whirlwind weekend after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced their final renewable volume obligations (RVO) under the Renewable Fuel Standard program for 2019. “It’s just numbers,” some say, but oh no, not in the biofuels world. It’s never just numbers. This time it’s about waivers, fixing the damage done, and ensuring a bright future for biofuels. It’s about hollow chocolate bunnies and two steps back for some. French mathematician Rene Descartes is best known for “I think, therefore I am,” but he also said “Perfect numbers, like perfect men, are rare.” So true in this case as not...

The API Bushwhacks Ethanol

Jim Lane Who’s right, in the fight of their lives over E15 ethanol blending? Whose data’s a Looney Tune, whose is from the real-world? Yesterday the American Petroleum Institute, in an apparent impression of Yosemite Sam, held a press conference in DC to highlight a new report from the Coordinating Research Council on E15 ethanol blends. The report is here. The API: Blast your scuppers, now I gotcha, ya’ flea-ridden riff-raff! Use of the ethanol gasoline blend E15 may endanger fuel systems in millions of 2001 and newer vehicles,...
yeast feast

Enzyme Breakthroughs From The Majors

by Jim Lane Three big product announcements just in… DSM (e) breaks through on yield, efficiency with new yeast, enzyme offerings for corn fiber conversion. Novozymes (Copenhagen:NZYM-B; OTC:NVZMY) launches breakthrough techs “Fortiva” and “Innova Force”. DuPont (DD) extends with corn oil extraction tech. In Indiana, DSM leads the news out of the Fuel Ethanol Workshops with their latest yeast and enzyme offerings, eBOOST GT and eBREAK 1000F. Up to 60 percent GA reduction We’ve seen the eBOOST brand over the past year — so here’s a significant cost savings opportunity in the form of a line extension. eBOOST GT, which has been tested and qualified at commercial...
GPP

Covanta and Green Plains Partners Don’t Let A Crisis Go To Waste

by Tom Konrad, Ph.D., CFA Last week, two of the stocks in my Ten Clean Energy Stocks model portfolio cut their dividends.  Covanta Holding Corp (CVA) dropped its quarterly payout from $0.25 to $0.08 (a 68% cut) while Green Plains Partners (GPP) slashed its quarterly distribution from $0.475 to $0.12, a drop of 74.75%. Before reducing their dividends, both companies had payout ratios near 100%, meaning that substantially all of their free cash flow was going to pay dividends.  In general, companies are very reluctant to cut their dividends because it is a signal that their management thinks they cannot grow...

Ethanol, NAFTA, Tortillas and Walmart?

Author Neal Dikeman is a founding partner at Jane Capital Partners LLC, a boutique merchant bank advising strategic investors and startups in cleantech. He is the founding contributor of Cleantech Blog, and a Contributing Editor to AltEnergyStocks.com. Quick, what do Ethanol, NAFTA, Mexican Tortillas and Walmart have in common? Don't know? Well here's the story. I am fascinated by the discussion about ethanol feedstocks issues. There has been a lot of talk about corn production for ethanol either crowding out beef or food production, or driving up the price of food, or failing to supply the demand...

Ethanol Stocks Reviewed On Seeking Alpha

With oil and gasoline prices rising ever higher, investors are shifting attention to alternative energy stocks as a promising high-growth sector. A particular area of interest is ethanol stocks and forthcoming ethanol IPOs. Here are companies recently reviewed on Seeking Alpha Archers Daniels Midland Company (NYSE: ADM) Pacific Ethanol (PEIX) Xethanol (XTHN) VeraSun (VSE) MGP Ingredients (MGPI) Aventine Renewable Energy (AVR) Green Plains Renewable Energy (GPRE) Andersons Inc. (Nasdaq: ANDE) Veridium Corporation (VRDM)

ADM Selects Columbus, Nebraska as First Location for Ethanol Expansion

Archer-Daniels-Midland Co. (ADM) announced that it has selected Columbus, Nebraska as the first location for its ethanol capacity expansion. The Company will build a dry corn milling plant with an initial annual capacity of 275 million gallons adjacent to the existing ethanol plant in Columbus. In September, ADM previously announced that it planned to expand ethanol capacity by 500 million gallons through the addition of two dry milling plants at existing ADM ethanol facilities. Construction, expected to be complete in early 2008, is subject to applicable governmental approvals.

EPA Reneges on Trump’s Biofuels Deal

by Jim Lane “EPA Reneges on Trump’s Biofuels Deal”, said the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association in reacting to the US Environmental Protection Agency’s new plans for fulfilling federal renewable fuel requirements. EPA released a proposed supplemental rule for the Renewable Fuel Standard today, and the bioeconomy is up in arms, and the outrage is centered in farm country, once a Trump bastion of support. “IRFA members continue to stand by President Trump’s strong biofuels deal announced on Oct. 4, which was worked out with our elected champions and provided the necessary certainty that 15 billion gallons would mean 15 billion gallons, even after...

Ethanol Sector Consolidation or Salvation?

by Debra Fiakas CFA The drumbeat of deals in the ethanol industry is sounding louder, or so it seems from the proliferation of notices in my e-mail inbox.  I received no less than four messages in one morning from ethanol producer Green Plains, Inc. (GPRE: Nasdaq) heralding the purchase of the Hopewell Ethanol plant in Virginia from FutureFuel, Inc. (FF:  NYSE).  The acquisition represents the ninth transaction for Green Plains in the last five years, adding another 60 million gallons in annual production capacity to Green Plains’ existing total capacity of 1.02 billion gallons.   Indeed, Green...

Another Sign of Ethanol Oversupply in the Midwest

Priming the E85 Pump This Sunday, I had dinner with my aunt, who lives in Chicago.  She recently bought an Impala LT (she's a loyal GM customer), and was surprised when she received a $1000 debit card with which to buy E-85, the 85% Ethanol, 15% gasoline blend used in flex-fuel vehicles.   I was not able to find any web reference to this offer (including on the GM website), but Google still had a cached article from HowStuffWorks.com which explained: To help defray fuel costs, GM, as part of its "Live Green, Go Yellow" E85 ethanol...

Throwing Corn off the Green Bus

Dana Blankenhorn I am a big booster of alternative energy. Harvesting the wind, the Sun, the heat of the Earth, the tides – I'm there and NIMBYs be damned. But I am increasingly having second thoughts about one type of green energy. Corn-based ethanol. (I would toss in sugar cane, too, but America doesn't grow enough to matter here.) Corn ethanol was one of the first biofuels to find a market. Pushed by companies like Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) and Cargill, corn ethanol is now an integral ingredient in many blends of gasoline. It is...

Xethanol to Acquire Plant in Georgia

Xethanol Corporation (XTHN.OB) announced that its CoastalXethanol subsidiary has signed a letter of intent with Pfizer, Inc. to purchase Pfizer's pharmaceutical manufacturing complex located in Augusta, Georgia. While details are yet to be finalized, CoastalXethanol and Pfizer are working together to complete the transaction. The state of the art, 40 acre site includes: an 89,100 square foot manufacturing facility, a 25,000 square foot warehouse facility, 7,300 square feet of laboratory space, and 16,000 square feet of offices and conference rooms. CoastalXethanol intends to retrofit the site to produce 35 million gallons per year of ethanol. The facility will...
for and against oil refinery bailouts

Billionaire Bailouts v. Biofuels

Trump in a pickle: support his beleaguered EPA Administrator over oil refinery bailouts, or rally his Midwestern farm-state base? In Washington, Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa tweeted: “I’ve supported Pruitt but if he pushes changes to RFS that permanently cut ethanol by billions of gallons he will have broken Trump promise & he should step down & let someone else do the job of implementing Trump agenda if he refuses.” Grassley explicitly called on Pruitt to back a key campaign pledge from 2016 that helped unlock farm state support and propel Trump into the White House. 1/19/16 Trump at IA Renewable fuels summit: EPA...
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