Why Biofuels Will Rule Cleantech in 2013

Even though it’s barely begun, 2013 is shaping up to be an important year for biofuels: The EPA continues to increase the required volume of biofuel and biodiesel production by the Renewable Fuel Standard program, and is recognizing new eligible feedstocks.  Continuing advances in cellulosic biofuels are poised to move from the experimental to the commercial stage in 2013.  New sources of renewable biofuels still in nascent development, from poplar trees to inedible plants, will continue to broaden the biofuel landscape, reports Thomson Reuters.

The Defense Logistics Agency is looking to increase its renewable electric power through a biomass generation facility in New York.  The Department of Agriculture awarded $10 million in grants for regional biofuel systems built by universities while the Department of Energy awarded $12 million in funding for projects looking to reduce the costs of producing biofuels.

Two pieces of legislation and the introduction of a third helped create the biofuel momentum.  The “fiscal cliff” legislation extended tax credits for biofuels and added algae to the growing list of qualified feedstocks.  The Farm Bill one-year extension also supports renewable feedstocks. The Master Limited Partnership Parity Act (MLPPA), up for a vote this year, would allow renewable energy sources to access capital at lower costs. Financing is tough for renewable energy start-ups, so the MLPPA is important to track going forward.

Government movement is pushing private sector investment in biofuels and biochemicals too.  Sheeraz Haji, CEO of the Cleantech Group, pointed out during a recent webinar that more consumer products companies are looking to move away from petroleum-based chemicals over the next two to five years and investing in biochemical companies to bring new products to market.  A recent example of this includes Elevance Renewable Sciences, which raised $104 million in Series E financing from top VC’s and corporate investors in 2012, including Genting Genomics and Total Energy Ventures.  According to CleanTech Group, biofuel and biochemical investment accounted for nearly 15% of cleantech deals made in 2012 – more than solar at about 12% and waste and recycling at about 7%.  Biofuel and biochemical investment also grew by almost 13% in 2012.

To read the full Reuters article mentioned in this story, click here

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