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For a number of years, this (now old and outdated, but) very useful chart has been in circulation in energy circles, mapping the supply of energy to the world by looking not at prices, but at production costs.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...

Coskata’s $100 million IPO: The 10-Minute Version

Jim Lane The first gas fermentation technology to come to the public markets: Coskata files its $100 million IPO. Here’s our 10-minute version of the filing, with a translation of the risks into English. In Illinois, Coskata has filed an S-1 registration statement for a proposed $100 million initial public offering. The number of shares to be offered in the proposed offering and the price range for the offering have not yet been determined. The lead book-running managers for the offering are Citigroup, Barclays and Piper Jaffray. The company is currently ranked #17 in the world...

7 Bleeding-Edge Technologies Reinventing First-gen Ethanol Plants

Jim Lane The US Ethanol Fleet reinvents as super-advanced technologies target the old fleet for new purposes. Ethanol Plant Photo via BigStock For some time, perhaps one of the toughest assets to manage in the Western World possibly the Milky Way Galaxy or even the local galaxy group has been a starch ethanol plant. They’ve been through it all, just about. Food vs fuel, indirect land-use change, the ethanol blend wall, attacks on the RFS from cattle and dairy interests, attacked on ethanol tax credits,...

10 Clean Energy Stocks for 2020: Updates on GPP, HASI, CVA

by Tom Konrad, Ph.D., CFA Market Decline Last week I warned "The risks in today's stock market outweigh the possibility of future potential gains."  Looks like we're seeing those risks manifest in short order.  The last couple days' decline have me looking at a few stocks to start adding to my positions again, especially MiX Telematics (MIXT) discussed on June 2nd and Green Plain Partners (GPP), discussed below. Note that this pullback could easily be very early days of a much larger market decline.  We might even see the market fall far enough to test the March lows... any of my buying...

Ethanol shortage could up gas prices

USA Today Money comments about a potential for future increases in gas prices and also shortages in Ethanol. "Gasoline prices will be unusually high and shortages might occur this summer, because the U.S. ethanol industry can't keep up with the demand for fuel-grade alcohol to mix with gasoline, the head of the U.S. Energy Information Administration told a Senate committee Wednesday." On Wednesday of this week the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee met to discuss ethanol as a substitute for MTBE, a clean-air additive in gasoline. This potential change will increase the cost of refining...

An Interesting Way To Play Cellulosic Ethanol

Last Friday (Feb. 2), the Globe & Mail's business section (the G&M is Canada's top national newspaper) ran an interesting piece by a senior business writer on cellulosic ethanol. I wish there was a way to view this article for free, but, unfortunately, the G&M charges for access to certain of its articles, and this is one of them. The gist of the argument is as follows: (a) forget corn-based ethanol, the future lies with cellulosic (yyaawwnn...); (b) deep down inside, Bush knows this; (c) to make cellulosic ethanol competitive, you need super-enzymes that speed up the process...

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...

New York, New York!

While New York's Mayor Michael Bloomberg was busy unveiling a package of measures aimed at making NYC green (including reducing CO2 emissions by 30% by 2030), the state's Governor, Eliot Spitzer, was making his reservations about corn ethanol known, as reported in the Globe & Mail. This adds yet one more (powerful) voice to the chorus of those skeptical about the viability of the corn ethanol industry. The article also notes that Dr. Dan Kammen, an influential Berkeley academic and advisor on climate change to California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, is also among those who doubt that corn...

Aemetis acquires Edeniq for $23.7M

Jim Lane In California, Aemetis (AMTX) will acquire all of Edeniq’s outstanding shares in a stock plus cash merger transaction. In 2015, Edeniq generated approximately $20 million in revenue and $6 million in positive EBITDA. Headquartered in Visalia, California, Edeniq has 30 employees working at advanced research and development facilities, as well as pilot plants funded through grants from the DOE and the California Energy Commission. Under the terms of the agreement, Aemetis expects to issue between one and two million shares of its common stock (depending on whether Edeniq stockholders elect to receive part of their consideration...

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...

Sweetwater and Pacific Ethanol Strike Supply Deal

Jim Lane In New York, Sweetwater Energy and Pacific Ethanol (PEIX) announced a project to supply customized industrial sugars for the production of cellulosic ethanol. The agreement supports the construction of a cellulosic biorefinery, contingent upon Sweetwater Energy obtaining the necessary financing and permits, at the Pacific Ethanol Stockton facility capable of producing up to 3.6 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol annually. Pacific Ethanol operates and manages four ethanol production facilities, which have a combined annual production capacity of 200 million gallons in Boardman, Oregon, Burley, Idaho and Stockton, California, and one idled facility is located in Madera, California....

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...

EPA Makes Sorghum an Advanced Biofuel Feedstock

by Debra Fiakas CFA Sorghum Bicolor photo by Matt Lavin    Like the Fairy Godmother in Cinderella, the Environmental Protection Agency has waved a wand and given sorghum a new dress and slippers.  Sorghum has been designated as an eligible feedstock under the Renewable Fuels Standards for production of advanced biofuel.  Only biofuels produced from non-corn starch, sugar, or lingo-cellulosic biomass, which reduces carbon intensity by 50% or more from a gasoline baseline, qualify as ‘advanced.’ Sorghum qualifies for advanced fuel status as the result of a 53%...

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.) ...

EPA’s 2018 Renewable Fuel Targets Disappoint Producers

In Washington, the Environmental Protection Agency released its final Renewable Fuel Standard renewable volume obligations for 2018. The agency finalized a total renewable fuel volume of 19.29 billion gallons , of which 4.29 BG is advanced biofuel, including 288 million gallons of cellulosic biofuel. As the Renewable Fuels Association explained: “That leaves a 15 BG requirement for conventional renewable fuels like corn ethanol, consistent with the levels envisioned by Congress in the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act. The 2018 total RFS volume finalized today represents a minor increase (10  million gallons) over the 2017 standards, and a modest increase...

Baron’s Thinks Archer Daniels Stock to Rise on Ethanol Harvest

Barons profiles Archer-Daniels-Midland Co. (ADM) in the April 3rd edition. They feel that ADM shares are poised to climb further, literally fueled by its dominance of the ethanol market as investors seek alternative energy investments. Archer Daniels was believed to have secured a 50-cent per gallon increase in ethanol contract pricing to $1.85 per gallon in recent negotiations. Given ethanol price rises seen in the commodities market, Archer Daniels could reap significant further increases in its next round of talks for October contracts.
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