Posts tagged “range fuels”
What 60 Minutes Got Right
Following the recent 60 Minutes story The Cleantech Crash, Katie Fehrenbacher at Gigaom wrote a very good article called What 60 Minutes got right and wrong in its story on the “cleantech crash”.
In contrast to some who reacted with righteous indignation against the notion of any troubles in the world of cleantech, Katie noted, “60 Minutes got some key things right in the story”, notably that cleantech HAS crashed from a venture capital (VC) perspective.
Cleantech often requires much longer time horizons and higher capital expenditures before a VC has a chance of seeing a return on the investment. And as I have explained in the past, you can’t really afford to have a 10 percent success rate if that entails building 10 capital intensive biofuel plants before achieving success. It’s a very different model than a couple of guys starting an Internet company in their garage. You run out of money pretty quickly when building plants that fail to perform. CONTINUE»
Newly released documents show that government officials ignored repeated warnings from U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) overseers concerning the feasibility of a south Georgia ethanol fuel plant, a debacle that eventually led to $75 million in lost taxpayer money – and not a single drop of usable ethanol produced.
With the recently announced foreclosure of Vinod Khosla venture Range Fuels, followed by the fire sale of Range Fuels’ assets to Vinod Khosla venture LanzaTech, I have been getting a lot of calls from reporters wanting to discuss exactly what happened here. After all, well over $300 million was invested into Range Fuels — including tens of millions of taxpayer dollars — and what resulted were assets that were ultimately bought by LanzaTech for about $5 million. Two articles were published over the weekend by journalists I spoke with last week: Georgia failure not the only ethanol misadventure Range Fuels fiasco: Finding renewal energy in Georgia forests didn’t work out This quote caught my eye from one of the articles:… Continue»
In my list of Top 10 Energy Related Stories of 2010, I made three predictions for 2011. Those predictions were: I believe high oil prices will continue to put a strain on the economies of oil-importing nations. I expect that we will see oil prices once again head above $100 per barrel, although I expect the annual average for 2011 to be below $100 because of sluggish economies. I also expect that the bills are going to start coming due for some of the high profile ‘next generation’ biofuel producers, and that we will see bankruptcies from some of the companies I have discussed in this column. In hindsight, those predictions look pretty tame. However, bear in mind that oil… Continue»
Recently it was announced that Range Fuels has gone into foreclosure, thus marking the official end of their story. For all practical purposes, the company has been finished since early 2011, but the foreclosure puts an end to the notion that they will yet rise triumphant from the ashes. Last week, Heather Duncan — a reporter for The Telegraph in Macon, Georgia — called me to discuss the Range story. She has just published an excellent summary of what went wrong at Range Fuels, and what lessons might be learned from their failure: Range Fuels failure raises the question: How much risk should the government take with taxpayer dollars? Here I want to excerpt some of the highlights from her… Continue»
This Week in Energy is a weekly round-up of news making headlines in the world of energy. Many of these stories are posted throughout the week to our Energy Ticker page. The purpose is to stimulate discussion on energy issues. Community members should feel free to turn these into open thread energy discussions. Suggestions and news tips are welcome. I (Sam) can be reached at editor [at] consumerenergyreport [dot] com. Note: Robert Rapier is currently in Washington, D.C. and will be presenting at the ASPO-USA conference over the next few days. If you’re attending the conference or in the area be sure to hit him up. Range Fuels Saga Coming to a Close? Regular readers of this blog are familiar… Continue»
In a recent column on the metric of “success” in Cleantech, I wrote that the measure of success that will matter to most people is whether the company sells energy at an affordable price: I simply don’t think that the fact that one can talk up a company and then IPO it at a profit is the proper metric for success. Some of those companies that have been IPO’d are grossly overvalued. Many of them won’t be around for long. (In fact, I wrestled hard this week with a decision to short one of them; I ultimately decided not to — but not because I don’t think the company is grossly overvalued). So is a company that is IPO’d, makes… Continue»
If you have not heard by now, Choren Industries has begun bankruptcy proceedings. For those who don’t know, since 2009 I have worked as the technology advisor for the major investor and primary funding source for Choren’s day-to-day operations. I have just returned from a visit to their plant in Freiberg, Germany. Due to the nature of my relationships with my employer and with Choren, I have to be guarded about what I say. To be clear, I do not work for Choren, and thus am not writing this as a Choren spokesman of any sort. But I do want to shed a bit more light on the situation. First of all, to give a bit of background on Choren,… Continue»
Now that it seems that the mainstream media has finally caught on to the fact that something went terribly awry at Range Fuels, it is time for me to close the book on them. This will be my last Range Fuels story, but I think there is a lesson to be learned here. Waiting Until The Fat Lady Sang In the past week, an increasing numbers of stories have covered the Range Fuels affair. The Wall Street Journal’s take was the most high profile coverage: The Range Fuels Fiasco Vinod Khosla stepped in with his hand out. The political venture capitalist founded Range Fuels and in March 2007 it received a $76 million grant from the Department of Energy—one of… Continue»
Vinod Khosla Prognosticates Vinod Khosla is once more offering up his prognostications on the future of the energy business: What Matters in Biofuels? Given the likely continued dominance of the internal combustion engine, cellulosic and sugar-derived fuels offer one of the lowest risk advances to quickly and affordably achieve low-carbon transportation. I predict that long before 2022, half a dozen technologies within and outside our portfolio will be market competitive and will blow away the cost structure of corn ethanol. In the same article, he offers his view on those he deems energy Luddites: The old fashioned bias among traditionalists, mostly Luddites unfamiliar with the vibrant new research especially in startups, is that Fischer-Tropsch synthesis (FT) of liquid hydrocarbons from… Continue»