10 Biofuels Predictions for 2010

Monday, March 01, 2010

Yesterday is history, but is tomorrow really a mystery? Some biofuels trends are becoming increasingly clear. Here are 10 Biofuels Predictions for 2010 – beginning with the most predictable (#10) to the most surprising (#1).

#10. Low Carbon Fuel Standards. Increasing action from the states in establishing fuel-neutral Low Carbon Fuel Standards based on the California LCFS model – which will likely create a checkerboard of allowable biofuels, and prompt a series of lawsuits by trade associations such as Growth Energy that address the ultimate question: Can individual states ban corn ethanol in terms of qualifying towards state renewable fuels mandates, when the fuel is approved under the federal Renewable Fuel Standard? Look for this one to reach the Supreme Court.

#9. Cellulosic ethanol “happens”. In the US, ZeaChem’s semi works facility will be completed, POET will near completion at its 25 Mgy project in Iowa, and Range Fuels’ will open a 20 Mgy facility in Soperton, Georgia. Internationally, look for LanzaTech’s 500,000 gallon project to open, the first cellulosic ethanol deal in China, and announcements that Brazilian, Vietnamese and Australian sugarcane bagasse will be utilized in advanced biofuels projects. Overall, 102 million gallons of advanced biofuels capacity by the end of the year, with 25 Mgy of it cellulosic ethanol at 17 facilities.

#8. Aviation biofuels surge. Certification complete for Bio-SPK as an aviation biofuel. Major deals struck by British Airways, Qantas, Continental Airlines and Northwest Airlines for biofuels. Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Galactic will also announce new paths to increased use of renewables.

#7. More ethanol capacity acquired by oil companies. For 2010, look for a major acquisition of 200-800 Mgy in ethanol capacity, at discounted rates of around $0.70 per gallon of capacity, by a major oil refiner in the US.

#6. Green chemicals and plastics boom. In 2010, look for: Major strategic investment from chemicals and plastics firms – likely Dupont, Monsanto, or India’s Reliance – in a renewable chemicals platform.

#5. The jatropha revival. In 2010, look for a major investment announcement from SG Biofuels, outlining their capital strategy. Look for potential reorganization of GEM Biofuels.

#4. US Congress revises Renewable Fuel Standard. Congress will take up the Renewable Fuel Standard with a goal of setting new targets and timelines, and making the language more fuel and feedstock neutral. Look for the 36 billion gallon target established in 2007 to be extended towards 2025, or reduced. Look for drop-in fuels and microcrops to be added to the legislation. Look for indirect land use change to be dropped as a criteria for biofuels until 2015

#3. Lemna, cyanobacteria and heterotrophic algae gain traction as microcrops begin transition from R&D to commercialization. In 2010, look for a major customer for the lemna platform via PetroAlgae; reorganization at Biolight Harvesting. Open ponds to be reconsidered in favor of partially closed environments to reduce the impact of soot on pond development.

#2. Long range marine biofuels/green port deals. Two major port based orders for renewable marine fuel (bunker fuel from pyrolysis, or marine diesel).

#1. Alternative financing: REITs move in. The formation of at least one, major $2B+ bioenergy investment fund that will acquire assets on a build-leaseback or buy-leaseback basis. Possibly the fund will replenish its capital through the sales of securities based on the underlying pool of assets.

Biofuels Digest