Which Biofuels Players Are Getting Traction Now? The Diamond Dozen
by Jim Lane (Biofuels Digest) …But the 80/20 rule generally applies. 85 percent of the projects we expect to see by 2017 will be developed by 20 percent of the companies tracked in the Advanced Biofuels Project Database.
(W)e can still see some clarity emerging in terms of which companies are expected to reach large scale by 2017. Primarily, we see five technology platforms moving in to the leading capacity positions by then: retrofit isobutanol conversions, cellulosic ethanol bolt-ons, natural gas plays, renewable diesel project utilizing hydrotreating of animal residues, and thermocatalytic conversion of woodchips into drop-in fuels, and advanced fermentation using engineered microorganisms.
Of the top 12 companies, by capacity, representing 3.9 billion gallons of capacity (or, 65 percent of all planned capacity tracked by the database through 2017), we see the breakdown as follows:
Isobutanol conversions: 1.07 billion gallons (Butamax, Gevo)
Thermocatalytic conversion of woodchips: 833 million gallons (KiOR, Rentech, Ensyn/Envergent)
Renewable diesel; 709 million gallons (Neste Oil, Diamond Green Diesel)
Natural gas plays 631 million gallons (Sundrop Fuels, Coskata)
Advanced fermentation: 460 million gallons (LS9, Algenol)
Cellulosic ethanol: 225 million gallons (POET-DSM)
…Overwhelmingly, one trend is clear: all of the projects expected to reach significant scale by 2017 features a feedstock that is already aggregated, or already in existence and easy to aggregate. Novel feedstocks such as energy grasses or canes – that’s a sure ticket to small-scale or the very long term.
…The message is clear. The bottleneck in advanced biofuels – the underlying problem in the “Where are the gallons?” equation – lies in the feedstocks. There are. these days, plenty of technologies available that can generate 70-130 gallons per ton of biomass at what, according to their analysis, will be at competitive prices to $100 oil.
Available, aggregated $55 per ton biomass – now, that’s a different story. There not only appears to be a shortage of it, but there are formidable competitors in the form of power companies that are available to bid the price up. READ MORE