NREL updates survey of advanced biofuel producers

By Erin Voegele | March 18, 2016

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory has updated its annual survey of U.S. non-starch ethanol and renewable hydrocarbon biofuel producers. The report, titled “2015 Survey of Non-Starch Ethanol and Renewable Hydrocarbon Biofuel Producers,” provides an inventory of the domestic advanced biofuels industry as of the end of 2015. The original survey, which includes 2013 data, was published at the end of 2014.

According to information released by the U.S. Department of Energy, NREL surveyed 114 companies last year. The questionnaire included topics such as facility stage of development, facility scale, feedstock, and biofuel products. Industry experts from NREL and the DOE validated the results and compared them with publicly available data. According to the report, NREL and DOE supplemented missing survey data with publicly available data obtained from company websites, press releases and public filings, when possible.

The survey effort resulted in 61 facilities with sufficient data to be included in the report. This includes 27 cellulosic ethanol facilities, two algae-derived ethanol facilities, and 32 renewable hydrocarbon facilities. According to the report, 11 of the 29 non-starch ethanol plants were operational last year, with five at commercial scale. In addition, 12 of the 32 renewable hydrocarbon facilities were operational as of the end of 2015.

The commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol plants addressed in the report include those under development or operation by Abengoa, Ace Ethanol (Sweetwater Energy Inc.), Beta Renewables Inc., Canergy, DuPont, Enerkem, Front Range Energy (Sweetwater Energy Inc.), INEOS New Plant Bioenergy LLC, Pacific Ethanol (Sweetwater Energy Inc.); Poet, Quad County Corn, and ZeaChem.

Commercial-scale hydrocarbon facilities addressed in the report include AltAir Fuels, Cool Planet Energy Systems, Diamond Green Diesel, Emerald Biofuels, Fulcrum BioEnergy, KiOR, Red Rock Biofuels, Renewable Energy Group Inc., two SG Preston projects; and Sundrop Fuels.

The survey includes data on project locations, technology pathways, feedstock, planned capacity and target startup dates. It also breaks down the 61 facilities according to scale and current development status.

A full copy of the report can be downloaded from the NREL website.