As the alternative fuels space continues to mature and evolve, many technology developers are ramping up to commercial scale, while others are floundering financially. With many “next-generation” commercial fuel projects coming online in 2014 and 2015, 2015 will be a crucial year for market growth of alternative fuels. Combining the expectation of commercial expansion with the reality of low oil prices, processes that were feasible at $100 per barrel of oil now must now compete with $50 per barrel of oil. First-generation feedstocks, such as corn, sugarcane, rapeseed, and soybean, still represent nearly 95% of the alternative fuels space, but feedstock economics and the ever-continuing food vs. fuel debate has led developers to tap into novel feedstocks.
One key category of companies are those looking to leverage the 1.5 billion MT of cellulosic feedstock currently available around the globe (excluding municipal solid waste). Forty-two companies are actively pursuing cellulosic feedstocks, of which, the 26 companies pursuing biomass-to-sugars dominate. Assessing these on both a business execution and a technical value basis, industry leaders like Novozymes, POET, Dyadic International, and Beta Renewables rise to the top of the pile. These are the companies making the most commercial progress, leading the way as the cellulosic sugars industry matures.
What should cellulosic feedstock industry participants and observers watch for in 2015? American Process, at a critical juncture with GranBio’s Bioflex 2 facility scheduled for construction and a choice between American Process and Beta Renewables pretreatment process. Meanwhile, Beta Renewables themselves will be looking to reduce production costs through improved feedstock aggregation, and moving forward with potential projects targeting chemicals with its existing strategic partners. BTG-BTL will be looking for production at Empyro facility at claimed costs between $33 per barrel and $35 per barrel. That said, it may not all be plain sailing for the strong to get stronger. POET’s ethanol production volume at Project Liberty will be interesting to observe as 2014 RIN data indicates a slower ramp up than expected.
Source: Lux Research report “Key Alternative Fuel Companies and Developments in 2015” — client registration required.