50 Hottest Companies in Bioenergy and Hottest 30 Companies in Renewable Chemicals and Biobased Materials to open for nominations;
Special iPad release: “Sugar Rush”.
Five years ago today, Biofuels Digest debuted with two subscribers and a hunch that a daily, 5-minute news summary, combined with original journalism and news analysis, would find a place in the fast-growing world of industrial biotechnology.
Some 1300 editions and 20,000 stories later, we continue to be mesmerized here in Digestville by the innovations that you, the readers, come up with every day. Though companies, trends and people have come and gone, the technology continues to drive a controversial conversation about the purpose and growth of the biobased economy – not to mention national security, rural development, climate change, health, poverty, water, neo-colonialism and sustainability.
Throughout this week we will be celebrating our special day with lots and lots of bonus content for you and recognition opportunities.
Advanced Biofuels Project Database
Today, we are releasing our latest version of the Advanced Biofuels Project Database, now tracking more than 280 projects and more than 5.8 billion gallons in planned capacity.
50 Hottest Companies in Bioenergy; 30 Hottest Companies in Renewable Chemicals and Biobased Materials
Next week, nominations open for the 50 Hottest Companies in Bioenergy and Hottest 30 Companies in Renewable Chemicals and Biobased Materials. Nominations will remain open through August 31. Voting will begin September 4th and continue through October 19th. Rankings will be announced in conjunction with Advanced Biofuels Markets in San Francisco.
“Sugar Rush”; plus “Inside the Biofuels Digest Index”
Also next week, we will release “Sugar Rush”, a Digest retrospective and look at things to come, to our subscribers in iBook and PDF formats. And, a special update and look at the Biofuels Digest Index and company performance.
Ten trends we have seen rise above the others:
1. The expansion of a biofuels initiative into the platform for a diversified bioeconomy.
2. Rising rural incomes and opportunities for transformation out of poverty for billions of rural workers – as well as opportunities in the beautiful countryside for high-paying jobs.
3. The rise in drop-in, infrastructure compatible fuels, chemicals and materials, as technology options blossom.
4. The blossoming of the integrated biorefinery as a source for food, feed, fuel, fiber, flavors, and fragrance – producing for higher-margin small markets as well as lower-margin large markets.
5. The continuing race between thermocatalytic and fermentation technologies to deliver the highest yields, open up the most compelling feedstocks, and drive down the capital and operating costs of the underlying facilities.
6. The rise of bolt-on, co-located and symbiotic technolgies to drive down the capital expense and risk of greenfield projects.
7. The entry of 30 of the Fortune 100 into the sector as investors, technology partners, feedstock providers, distributors, or customers for the new generation of companies.
8. The emergence of urgent demand signals from future customers- military, aviation, chemical.
9. The transformation of a generation of small, entreprenurial start-ups into maturing industrial organizations.
10. A shift from an industry powered by mandates, incentives, subsidies, tariffs, tax credits and loan guarantees and the hope for a “green premium” — to an industry powered by transformational economics for its feedstock partners and biobased customers, based on the emergence of a “green discount”.
Biofuels have remained controversial to many observers for reasons that have little to do with fuels or processing technologies. It has become a convenient proxy in a larger conversation about land use, rationing vs abundance, and monoculture agriculture. Above, all, a proxy in a heated debate about the competition for scarce resources such as arable land, water.
Two minds, 3 regrets and a cornucopia of blessings
We live in a two-minded age.
On the one hand, we crave growth and the jobs, prosperity, human dignity, access to education and health, and projectable national power that growth brings.
On the other hand, we regret the resource depletion and competition, waste streams, disruption, unequal sharing of benefits, infrastructure needs, investment requirements and general shredding of :business as usual” that growth brings in its creative, destructive wake.
The conversation has been going on since before the Visigoths sacked Rome in seeking to redress what they felt was a poor sharing of the spoils of the Roman Empire — and though we expect industrial biotechnology to change the terminology of the debate, we little expect that it will fully resolve it.
We regret that some of our friends in the environmental community do not share the view that weak national policies on land use, rather than biofuels as a technology class, are at the heart of land use changes that they find appalling. We also regret that they do not see that a strong rural economy in every country, and broad-based prosperity – is the surest path to ensuring sustainable industry and protection of Planet Earth.
We regret that some of our friends that power their businesses from fossil fuels do not share the view that a robust bioeconomy helps to drive prosperity that increases demand for their products. No US state (excepting Alaska) that had achieved liquid energy independence through fossil- or biofuel development experienced recession in 2008-09 – prosperity is the only path towards driving demand, supporting strong commodity prices, balancing federal and state budgets, and ensuring that there are sufficient social and resource protections that help drive the “freedom to operate” that industrial companies must have.
We regret that a discussion about where the economy must go, and the energy platforms it must have — has diminished into a squabble about the means of that transformation — which tax credits for whom are just, which a waste; which mandates and monopolies are natural and just, which are odious; and which balance between public and private sector is right for building new industries. We seem to have remembered all too little from the rise of the railroads, the automobile industry, and the transition from whale oil to petroleum.
But we have more to be excited about than to be troubled about. Whether it is old residues or new energy crops – industrial biotechnology is offering new options that will transform the companies that use or make these products, the communities they operate in, and the markets they serve.
During the short life of the Digest, hundreds of companies have been formed and thousands of new bio-based products have come to market.. Billions of gallons in new capacity have been built. Sustainability of biofuel technologies old and new has been increased. Stability has improved. More than 5 billion gallons in new advanced biofuels capacity is on the drawing board.
The industry has much to be proud of, and much to be thankful for.
Five Thank Yous
We have reason, here at Biofuels Digest, to be thankful too. We have five thank you’s to share today.
First, to the 3,000 or so readers we have met in person at various industry events around the globe – thank you for your honesty, drive and friendship.
2nd: To the 6,000 or so readers we have met via phone or email, thank you for your suggestions, scoop, trust, corrections, and friendship.
3rd: To the 90,000 or so regular readers — via our newsletters, the web or social media — who we have not yet had a chance to meet: thank you for reading, sharing, commenting on, and supporting the Digest – and for holding us always to a high standard.
4th: To the Digest’s great semi-regular contributors – Tom Buis, Wes Clark, Brooke Coleman, Bob Dinneen, Brent Erickson, Doug Faulkner, Mackinnon Lawrence, Mike McAdams, Mary Rosenthal, Sam Rushing, Tim Sklar and Will Thurmond – plus the many CEOs that have penned great op-eds over the years. Thank you for your original insights and
5th: To our hardworking colleagues here in Digestville – Dave Clark, Isabel Lane, Bill Lundberg, Flavia Marples, Tom Saidak, Lucas Santucci, Briana Sapp, Meghan Sapp – plus our valued partners at Green Power Conferences and our conference staffers and volunteers, and our great roster of sponsors without whom none of this would be possible. Thank you for every day of your support.
The best is yet to come
Happy birthday, we say immodestly, to own own little Biofuels Digest — we look forward to serving you for many years to come.
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