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The Band Wagon: Investors, First Gen Biofuels, Oil Companies Join the Advanced Biofuels Parade

Submitted by on April 5, 2011 – 9:19 amNo Comment

by Jim Lane (Biofuels Digest)  “Coming out of graduate school at MIT in the late 1990s,” Biofuel Energy CEO Scott Pearce recalls, “everyone was flooding into technology companies, dot coms, and I went back into the boring energy space. I mean, there was nobody going that way in the late 90s; there wasn’t even an energy club. And when I switched a few years later into renewables, I was warned, if you go into that funny land you’re never going to be able to come back. Solar, biofuels, , they said, why would you do that with your career?”

He pauses, then describes a return to the campus a few weeks back. “When I went back there, today the biggest club on campus is there energy club. You look at the energy and passion of this generation as they put their careers into cleantech. It’s astonishing, it’s inspiring, as we begin to sort through our problems.”

What Pearce is describing, of course, is the bandwagon effect, which has brought so many into cleantech, and lately into advanced biofuels.

…Let’s look at the trend. Why Amyris and Gevo are rising…which first-generation companies have spotted the trend and are pushing the hardest to move into advanced biofuels.

…specific target markets in the chemicals arena, ranging from ultra-premium “niche” products (cosmetics and flavors/fragrances) to more mainstream, high-volume products (polymers/plastics, consumer chemicals and lubricants)…

…unique market niche and a distinct value proposition…reaffirmed start-up of commercial isobutanol production…

…it’s less about the price, than the margin…

…it looks as if cellulosic ethanol could be a long way off, and there are two or three things more in the forefront today that are no longer science projects. …

…produce ethanol and ethyl acrylate, a compound used to make a variety of materials, and also recover minerals and salts from the biomass that can then be returned to the soil. …

…if [first generation doesn’t] succeed, there’s no hope for advanced biofuels. For one, the co-locate opportunity, the $30-$40 million in storage, utilities and so on already invested. And investor confidence. Those factors will drive us to unify…    READ MORE

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