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The Top 10 Biofuels Stories of the Year

| July 27, 2011

Today (July 27) marks the fourth anniversary of Biofuels Digest, which launched July 27. 2007 with a goal to provide a condensed, daily service that provided “the news you can use”. Thank you to our readers and sponsors who have supported us through these four exciting years – the best is yet to come!

We celebrate today’s anniversary with the release of the 30 Hottest Companies in Renewable Chemicals and Materials, and with our annual look back at the 10 Top Stories of the Year.

1. Obama comes out swinging for advanced biofuels

In our most-read story of the year, and a vitally important one too, Obama set a US goal of cutting US oil imports one-third by 2025; outlines vision, targets, support for advanced biofuels, renewables, fossil fuel production in Blueprint for a Secure Energy Future.

2. The Rush for the Exit: Industry IPOs

The Great Green Bull Market in public equities opened up in early 2010 with the Codexis IPO, but gained momentum throughout 2010-11. Our IPO stories, generally styled The Complete Digest Analysis,” looked at the S-1 IPO registration statements and looked for the story underneath all the SEC gobbledygook. Our coverage of
the Amyris, Solazyme, and KiOR IPOs were the most-read of the year.

3. Senate votes to end US ethanol tax credits on July 1, rejects McCain amendment against blender pumps

When the US Senate voted 73-27 to sunset the 45-cent per gallon VEETC ethanol tax credit as of July 1st on ethanol and the 54-cent tariff on Brazilian ethanol, readers flocked to find the details on a “very scary” story that opened eyes as to the kind of new realities in DC that debuted in the summer.

4. Shell exits algae as it commences “Year of Choices”

In another shocker, readers dialed in to this story to find out why Shell was getting out of algae with an exit of the Cellana business, and what the petrochem giant was focusing its strategy on now.

5. The Biorefinery Project of the Future:

In a ten-part series, we looked at the impact of new technologies and feedstocks, and how that would affect the design of integrated biorefineries in the future. Outr effort was based on dozens of interviews on the future of technology, policy, rural communities, finance, and the demand for bio-based products and renewable fuels. “We have spoken to farmers, local business owners, environmentalists, community development officials, engine developers, scientists, policy makers, producers, investors, lenders, blenders, wholesalers, retailers, and end users. We have visited development projects on four continents. We have given it our all,” we wrote at the time.

6. Solazyme: They Might Be Giants

In this popular read, we told more of the backstory of Solazyme, and considered what the company had really become as it neared what would ultimately become a massively successful IPO.

7. Joule Unlimited: ‘Fuel from thin air’ comes closer, clearer

Readers are endlessly fascinated with the story of Joule, and why not? It has Four Horsemen of a Market Apocalyse that everyone loves: disruptive, scalable, competitive, protected technology. A magic bug that synthesize hydrocarbon fuels from sunlight, CO2 and water (with some nutrients), and an engineering system that bypasses biomass and looks more like a solar panel system. In this update, we looked at the latest from Joule as it constructs a demonstration of the technology at scale.

8. Brazilian renewable energy: Attitude before altitude

In a popular three part series, we looked at the question “why are so many renewable fuel companies heading for Brazil?” Positive economic indicators? Possibly. Positive attitude? Absolutely.

“We think there’s something special going on in Brazil well worth your attention, a genuinely intriguing social experiment in reinventing the country from the ground up, disguised as a renewable energy policy,” we wrote. “We see it already in place in the certain regions, spreading from the small farm to the large farm, and into the regional city, and ultimately into the major city. Reviving the countryside itself with an integrated vision of how sustainable agriculture, biomass, renewable energy can work together in harmony to produce better food, better fuels, and better lives.  And a completely different idea of the proper role of the public sector in fostering a new economy.”

9. The Big Build-out: Paying for Biofuels at Scale

In this widely-read story, we noted that “the USDA tells us that more than 500 biorefineries will be need to be built between now and 2022 in the United States to meet the added requirements for advanced biofuels. With those refineries costing somewhere around $8 per gallon of capacity, or north of $300 million each, the total price tag for bioenergy expansion will be in the region of $150 billion.” In the article, we looked at strategies to build all that capacity.

10. Awards and Recognition.

Three popular awards and recognition series, in the Digest, attracted lots of eyeballs this year. The Top 100 People in Bioenergy, The Biofuels Digest Awards, and the 50 Hottest Companies in Bioenergy for 2010-11.

Other we liked, and just missed

The Brew Barons: the new Masters of advanced fermentation, driving the redefinition of biofuels

The Corn Ethanol War: the Wall Street Journal and Newt Gingrich get out the Slingblades

Why Make a $2 fuel when you can make a $5 chemical: Cobalt CEO Rick Wilson

It’s a Magoo Congress, peering at the headlines, intending well, heading up the wrong way on a one-way street.

Algae Keep on Rockin’ in the Free World

Mind Bending Microbes

Go West, Young Biofuels Entrepreneur

Algstralia, the Land of Gold from Green

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Category: News Analysis, Top Stories

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