Posts tagged “solazyme”
The Navy’s Biofuels Program
In 2010 I conducted an interview with Tom Hicks, who is the Deputy Assistant Secretary to the Navy (Energy). During the interview, Tom described the Navy’s efforts in pushing for widespread availability of biofuels for Naval operations. He stated that sourcing alternative energy is a top priority for the Navy, and would enhance its war-fighting capabilities. He said the Navy sees itself in a leadership role in driving a transition to “homegrown, secure, independent sources of fuel.”
The goal, as described by Tom, is for biofuels to make a major contribution toward the fuel needs of the Navy by 2020. The Navy has embarked upon an initiative called the “Great Green Fleet” in which they would deploy a strike group on all alternative fuels by 2016. By 2020, the goal is for 50% of all of the Navy’s energy consumption to come from alternative sources. In pursuit of this initiative, the Navy is doing research, and testing and certifying all of their engines on renewable fuels. CONTINUE»
Last Wednesday, the Green Strike Group sailed during the international Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercises off the coast of Hawaii. These exercises are the Navy’s largest of the year, and feature participants from around the world. The reason, however, that this is important to clean energy investors is that the Navy could act as a market maker for the struggling biofuels industry. If the Navy guarantees its market over the next decade, there will be certainty for biofuels companies to make the investments necessary to reach commercial scale.
The Big Names in Biofuels
So you’re hoping to strike it rich by investing in LanzaTech. Or Solazyme. Or KiOR. Or Gevo. After all, some of these companies recently had high-profile IPOs, and they are clearly “hot” given all of the press coverage devoted to them. So perhaps you have decided you want to get in on a potentially unique investment opportunity.
I get more e-mails and phone calls about investments than on any other topic. And it’s not just individual investors. I hear from institutional and private equity investors trying to determine what’s true and what’s hype, and asking whether KiOR or LanzaTech might turn out to be the Google (GOOG) or Apple (AAPL) of biofuels. Before offering any guidance, the first thing I try to do is establish your reason for investing. Are you looking for — in the words of former Fidelity Magellan’s Peter Lynch — a “ten bagger?” Are you looking for a hedge against the end of the oil age? Is this money that you are fully prepared to lose?
The second thing I would ask you is whether you really understand the company, their business model, their competition, and their potential technical challenges. (This is typically why people e-mail me — because they have questions about these things). Let me offer an example from my own investing history to demonstrate why these issues are important by telling you about the worst investing mistake I ever made. CONTINUE»
On October 13, 2011 I paid a visit to Solazyme’s headquarters in San Francisco. For those who are unfamiliar with Solazyme, they produce oil from genetically modified algae. The company was founded in 2003 by two college friends, Jonathan Wolfson and Harrison Dillon. I had previously visited with Dr. Dillon at the 2009 Pacific Rim Summit on Industrial Biotechnology and Bioenergy in Honolulu. Harrison is Solazyme’s Chief Technology Officer, and he filled me in on some of what the company was doing at that time. This time I was going to have a chance to interview Solazyme CEO Jonathan Wolfson. A lot has happened since that meeting with Harrison in 2009. Solazyme has delivered hundreds of thousands of gallons of… Continue»
Alas, today I had intended to put up my book review of Amanda Little’s book Power Trip, but I left the book on my desk in the office and I need to review some notes first. So that should be posted for my Thursday column. If you haven’t noticed, I have fallen into a pattern of putting up a new column each Monday and Thursday. Because there is always a lot going on in energy, I generally have three or four decent choices for these new columns. This week, I was sent a guest column on nuclear power called Fukushima a stake through nuclear industry’s heart. I had initially decided to run it, but had a change of heart. The… Continue»
Robert Rapier and Sam Avro conducted an interview with the Deputy Assistant Secretary to the Navy (Energy) in which the Navy’s investments in biofuels were discussed.
Prior to publishing the previous essay, U.S. Navy Pays Big Bucks for Biofuels, the editor for Consumer Energy Report asked why I didn’t go with a more descriptive title like “U.S. Navy Pays $425 per Gallon for Biofuels.” I told him that the reason I didn’t is that the source clearly said that some of the money was for R&D, and there was really no way to know how much. The information given for the second contract didn’t indicate that there was any R&D money involved, and the calculated price was much lower. Still, I considered that there were some other details of the contract that weren’t public, which is why I just said “Big Bucks” instead of specifying a… Continue»
The U.S. military, as the single biggest consumer of fossil fuels in the world, are particularly interested in alternatives due to supply risks and price security.
I am so far behind on the things that I have been intending to write. It is hard to believe that it has already been over a week since the most recent US DOE biorefinery grants were announced. I have been meaning to list them and comment, but I have finally decided just to list them without too much comment. Let’s just say that some of these names have been around for a while and have issued a lot of press releases, but they haven’t produced any biofuel. The reason for keeping my comments to a minimum is that I have potential conflicts of one sort or another with several of these companies or projects. Sometimes it is just that… Continue»