Five major biofuels companies around the world
Australian Renewable Fuels Limited
According to Australian Renewable Fuels (ARF), world production of biodiesel is around five billion litres annually; and biodiesel is considered an attractive fuel source due to its low emission levels. ARF was established in 2001 by Amadeus Energy Limited. In 2006, the company completed construction of its biodiesel plants, which currently produce 44.5 million litres of biodiesel annually. The Adelaide and Picton facilities utilize various feedstocks, such as used cooking oils, tallow and vegetable oils, which are considered to be extremely cheap materials.
ARF utilizes the proven Energea process in its plant facilities. The company holds an exclusive agreement with Energea for the use of its technology within the Australasian region and particular areas of North America, including manufacturing rights. ARF’s vision is, “to become the pre-eminent Australian biodiesel producer by managing a planned roll-out of biodiesel plants within Australia.” ARF’s expansion program will involve establishing biodiesel plants overseas as well.
BlueFire Ethanol Fuels, Inc
BlueFire Ethanol utilizes the Arkenol patented process for producing ethanol from wood wastes, rice, wheat straws and other agricultural residues. The company is the only viable, world-wide cellulose-to-ethanol producer, having demonstrated production experience.
According to CEO, Arnold Klann, BlueFire’s combination of flexibility and experience has allowed the company to become successful.
Klann says, “BlueFire has the unique ability to produce various cellulosic biofuels and chemicals, allowing for a lot of synergistic opportunities. Our technology has been demonstrated by a third party, which has not only validated the technology, but also allowed for BlueFire to be in its unique position as being capable of deploying on a commercial scale.”
“BlueFire has accumulated thousands of hours of continuous operation in delivering cellulosic ethanol,” Klann explains. “BlueFire's process enables us to use mixed cellulosic waste streams to create pure and clean cellulosic sugars, which can then be converted into a wide array of different biofuels.”
Due to BlueFire’s advantage, it has recently partnered with Solazyme, Inc to act as its sugar supplier. BlueFire will be producing cellulosic sugars that Solazyme uses within its algae process to produce biodiesel.
BlueFire is currently seeking financing in order to build the first commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol facility in the United States. Klann says, “We are looking to have that financing completed this year.”
Cosan produces clean energy from sugar cane, a renewable and high-performance resource. The largest sugarcane producer and processing company in Brazil, Cosan was founded in 1936 and currently possesses 23 production facilities, 21 of which are located in São Paulo State. Two additional plants are also underway, one of which is being constructed in the city of Jataí in Goiás State, and the other in Caarapó in Mato Grosso do Sul State. Additionally, the company owns and operates four refineries and two port terminals. Cosan produces amorphous liquid sucrose, crystal sugar (VHP), inverted liquid sugar, granulated refined sugar, organic sugar, ethanol and electric energy produced from sugarcane. The company is the third largest sugar producer, and the fifth largest ethanol producer in the world, as well as being the world’s single largest ethanol exporter. During its 2008 and 2009 harvests, the company crushed a record 44.2 million tons of sugarcane. Combined with NovAmérica, its overall crushing capacity is currently approximately 60 million tons.
Coskata, Inc. is a biology-based renewable energy business, with facilities located in the U.S. The company was established in July of 2006 by GreatPoint Ventures. After recently scaling up its technology to a semi-commercial scale, Coskata is now in the process of completing designs for its first commercial facility.
Wesley Bolsen, Chief Marketing Officer for Coskata, explains, “Coskata will continue to produce ethanol and demonstrate its commercial viability at its integrated biorefinery in Pennsylvania. General Motors will continue to test the fuel at their Milford Proving Grounds, in Michigan. We also completed the engineering for a 55 million gallon per year wood biomass facility to be located in the south-eastern United States.”
The company maintains a low-cost platform technology, allowing for the production of fuels from a variety of source materials, such as agriculture, biomass and municipal wastes and various other carbonaceous materials.
“Coskata’s affordable, flexible and efficient process makes us a leader in the advanced biofuels industry. We have one of the lowest production costs in the industry and one of the highest ethanol yields-per-ton of biomass. The technology is highly feedstock flexible and has the ability to utilize various sources of feedstock or raw materials,” Bolsen says. “We are one of the few companies that have successfully scaled our technology.”
Bolsen adds, “Coskata’s continued success can be attributed to our industry leading technology, a talented and dedicated leadership team and strong partners.”
Sapphire Energy is a critical element to the biofuels industry. The company has been responsible for the development of breakthrough technologies for producing fungible, drop-in transportation fuels. The company produces 91-octane gasoline, 89-cetane diesel and jet fuel—all from a mixture of algae, sunlight and carbon dioxide (CO2)—known as, “Green Crude.” According to a statement made by Sapphire Energy, “Our approach leverages the same industrial refining processes as current crude oil, yielding ‘drop-in’ replacement transportation fuels that meet ASTM standards for gasoline, jet fuel and diesel and that are environmentally sound, cost effective and scalable.”
Sapphire Energy has been in existence since 2007 and now operates in San Diego and Orange County, California, as well as in Las Cruces, New Mexico. The company believes, “From the start, our goal has been ambitious: to become the world’s leading producer of renewable fuels and petrochemical products. We’re on the right track and all indications support that. We believe that through the application of vision and technology, we have found a better way to achieve energy independence and minimize greenhouse gas emissions.”
Octopus Renewables buys Eclipse Power
The deal, which was completed with funds managed by Octopus, furthers Octopus’ involvement in the electricity distribution sector, having worked with Eclipse since 2018. It will allow Eclipse to continue the expansion of its team, while also investing in its systems, technology, and pipeline, with the ambition of making it one of UK’s leading IDNOs.
Eclipse has secured a portfolio of more than 10,000 connections across residential, industrial, commercial, battery storage and electric vehicle charging customers. Given the focus on electrification of heat, transport and industry in the UK, Eclipse is expected to play an important role in facilitating the UK’s energy transition.
Octopus Renewables is the largest investor of utility scale solar power in Europe, as well as a leading investor in onshore wind and biomass, managing a global portfolio valued at more than £3.5 billion. Institutional investor Nest partnered with the company in March.
Peter Dias, Investment Director, Octopus Renewables, said: “Having worked with Eclipse since 2018 and seeing their exciting growth, we’re thrilled to be able to make this acquisition and support the team to maintain this momentum.
“The acquisition of Eclipse is part of our strategy to identify and back great management teams that are supporting the energy transition. With ongoing support and investment, our investee businesses will have access to the expertise, business networks and financing to be able to scale faster and help contribute towards the UK’s net-zero goals.
“High-quality management of the distribution networks is going to be critical for the UK, and we are very pleased to be directly supporting the decarbonisation of heat, transport, and industry through this acquisition of Eclipse.”
Gary Gay, Managing Director, Eclipse, added Octopus shares a clear understanding of the important role that electricity distribution networks will play in the UK’s drive towards net-zero, and importance of a customer-focussed approach for building future smart distribution networks.
“With that, we are excited to now be part of the Octopus Group, with this investment helping us to reach the next stage of our growth journey and contribute to a greener, more efficient electricity network in the UK.”
Global renewables updates
ReNew Power recently won a 200MW/ac Interstate Transmission System (ISTS) solar generation project in an auction conducted by the Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company. ReNew Power expects to sign a 25-Year Power Purchase Agreement with the utility by the third fiscal quarter of 2022 to supply clean energy to Maharashtra at a tariff of Rs 2.43/ kWh (~US$0.033).
Natel Energy, a supplier of sustainable hydropower solutions, has announced a $20M funding round led by Breakthrough Energy Ventures and supported by Chevron Technology Ventures.
The company will use the funding to deploy its Restoration Hydro Turbine (RHT), which enables cost-effective production of distributed reliable renewable energy.
Duke Energy Florida plans to invest an estimated $1 billion in 10 new solar power plants across Florida, including the construction of four new sites, which will begin in early 2022 and will take approximately 9 to 12 months to complete. Construction of all 10 sites is projected to be finished by late 2024.
LG Electronics has made public its commitment to transition completely to renewable energy by 2050 as a key component of its sustainability strategy.