The 14 hottest slides from ABLC on financing biofuels, from early-stage to commercial projects

April 23, 2014 |

Experts from Citi, Heartland Bank, Braemar Energy Ventures, Wilson, Sonsini, Kreig DeVault, Stern Brothers, Kilpatrick Townsend were among the highlight presenters at the 3rd annual Biofuels Financing and Investment Summit, an integrated part of ABLC, the annual bioeconomy conference week now underway in Washington, DC.

The Summit this year looked at the complete range of financing — from the earliest “breakthrough technology” grants available from agencies such as ARPA-E, to venture stage financing, first commercial projects structures on the debt and equity side, the IPO market and post-IPO financing.

Here are selections from the hottest slides presented at the Summit and ABLC.

1. Stern Brothers on project finance criteria.

John May of Stern Brothers, in an extensive presentation that ranged over a host of topics relating to bond financing of biofuels and chemicals projects — had this effective summary slide on the basic project elements that have to be in place.


2. Gatto on “borrower’s beware”.

Former Myriant CEO Steve Gatto returned to the ABLC stage with an incisive look at financing — from the borrower’s POV. We especially liked this slide – which warned of the “traps” in the covenants and restrictions that borrower’s should be aware of and prepared for.



3.  Stone picks Solazyme as the best of the 2010-12 IPO wave.

In a look at the current market for bioeconomy tech stocks, Cowen & Company’s Rob Stone highlighted his reasons for naming Solazyme as his “top pick” — focusing especially on the company’s ramp-up progress and the fact that it appears to be funded through to break-even.


4. Navy to make phase 2 commercial-scale awards for cost-competitive, drop-in fuels in 2014.

The Navy’s Director for Operational Energy, Chris Tindal, gave a detailed update on the Navy’s efforts to establish biofuels as a viable alternative to petroleum in its supply chain. In this slide, he summarized the key timelines and milestones related to awards and key fuel RFPs.



6. How the Buy-Side evaluates Biofuels IPOs

Raymond James’ Pavel Molchanov, in his thoughtful overview on biofuels tech stocks, gave this highly useful overview of the criteria that investors generally have in ind when evaluating upcoming IPOs.


7. What to be thinking about in 2014.

Wilson, Sonsini’s Chris Groobey provided a succinct and on-point summary of the realities of financing in today’s market. We especially liked this one – giving a lucid and brief overview of the most important opportunities for the year ahead.


8-10. Opportunities and more opportunities at ARPA-E: Project REMOTE

With so much discussion of natural gas these days — and the challenges in finding financing for projects — ARPA-E has been investing heavily in the methane-conversion pathway. In this case, bioconversion of methane to higher value fuels and chemicals. In this slide, ARPA-E’s Ramon Gonzalez highlighted the $2.00 per gallon goal for fuels produced from natural gas.


In addition, ARPA-E’s Jonathan Burbaum highlighted Project PETRO, and offered this key slide on ARPA-E’s project criteria.





11. The world prepares to act on carbon

Citi’s Michael Eckhart was back on stage this year with a broad look at carbon-related financing — looking at the broad sweep of renewables and bio’s place in that spectrum. In this slide, he dramatically demonstrates the reason that the world is looking at carbon financing with increasing urgency: daunting carbon scenarios based on current policy. It’s a reason for bio to be well-focused on demonstrating its emission-reducing potential.


12. Venture capital — the criteria

In this slide, Bill Lese of Braemar Energy Ventures took us through the venture criteria — including thoughts on market size, risk, team and timing.


13. Highlights from Heartland on financing structure for projects north of $20 million.

How do the big projects get structured – what role for bonds, equity, and who buys what and why? Here. Heartland Bank’s Phil Thomas takes us through the highlights.


14. What’s in the Farm Bill related to finance?

Loan guarantees and other financial assistance — recently, an important aspect of the Farm Bill as the USDA takes the lead on commercializing bio-related technologies. Here, Kreig DeVault’s John Kirkwood takes us through the key need to knowns for the 2014 Farm Bill just signed into law.


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