A group of 35 biotechnology and biofuel companies and trade associations are urging the leaders of the House Ways and Means Committee to extend tax credits for cellulosic biofuels for four years, to allow algae biofuels to qualify for those tax credits, and to create an option for monetizing the tax credits as tax refunds. Similar mechanisms exist for other renewable energy industries, including wind, solar, geothermal, and biomass for electricity under the tax code (26 USC § 48).
Specifically, the group sent a letter to Committee Chairman Rep. Sander Levin (D-MI) and Ranking Member Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI)urging the inclusion of the language of H.R. 5142, the Grow a Renewable Energy Economy Now – Jumpstart Other Biofuels (GREEN JOB) Act of 2010, in the next appropriate revenue vehicle considered by the House.
As the business and renewable energy advisor to the US Department of Agriculture, Chris Cassidy’s responsibility is to represent funding offerings through USDA Rural Development programs such as the Farm Bill, Rural Energy for America, and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, as well as other government-sponsored renewable energy programs for researchers, businesses, farmers and ranchers. His efforts go toward a primary goal of creating job opportunities in rural America to support our national security interests and to reduce our dependence on imported fossil fuels in a sustainable manner.
At the 2010 Advanced Biofuels Leadership Conference yesterday, delegates heard yesterday from C-level executives at numerous “50 Hottest Companies in Bioenergy,” including Coskata, Cobat Technologies, TMO Renewables, Iogen, Sapphire Energy, PetroAlgae, LS9, SG Biofuels, and Solazyme, as well as Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Kathleen Merrigan.
Merrigan noted in a keynote address that a partnership approach to commercializing biofuels was driving USDA’s activity within the US Interagency Working Group as well as the partnership in Hawaii with the Department of the Navy to develop solutions that would reduce Hawaii’s oil imports, which are the highest by percentage in the nation, as well as developing rural economies.
The biofuels industry is gaining momentum in San Diego and efforts are under way to get Congress to speed up its development with more funding and tax breaks.
“San Diego is one of the leading areas for biofuels research and development,” said Matt Carr, policy director of Biotechnology Industry Organization, an advocacy group for biotech companies in Washington, D.C.
Holly Lepre, vice president of CleanTECH San Diego, a nonprofit working to boost San Diego’s leadership in the clean-tech sector, says San Diego’s biofuels industry is strong, but it faces the challenge of keeping biofuel refineries — a big economic driver of jobs — from being built in other states.
“I would give our local biofuels sector a B rating,” she said. “The fact that we have several premier algae-based biofuels companies here speaks to the domain expertise we have.”
Lepre cited the three quarters of a billion dollars in funding attracted in recent years by local biofuel companies, Synthetic Genomics Inc., Sapphire Energy Inc., and defense contractor General Atomics, as proof that the area has powerful research expertise in biofuels. “The opportunity and potential for San Diego is enormous,” said Lepre. “We have a pretty good standing in the biofuels space race.”
Among the local companies chasing the emerging biofuels market is Sapphire Energy, which is developing algae-based biofuels. The privately held Sapphire has 140 employees, and has attracted $104.5 million in funding from the federal government — $50 million from the Department of Energy and $54.5 million from the Department of Agriculture.
The funding came after Sapphire won a competitive bid to build the first algal biofuel refinery to produce a low carbon alternative to petroleum-based fuels with renewable “green” gasoline, diesel and jet fuel. The plant will be built on a 300-acre site in southern New Mexico. For the past 18 months the company has operated a smaller 100-acre facility in Las Cruces, N.M. Groundbreaking for the new operation is set for September.
“It will validate the economy of large-scale commercial build-out of the small-scale Las Cruces facility,” said Tim Zenk, Sapphire’s vice president of corporate affairs. “We’re much further ahead in this technology than anybody else. The investments we’ve made have put us in a really strong position.”
San Diego—Sapphire Energy announced April 15 veteran oil executive Dan Sajkowski has joined the company as senior director, downstream technology.
After more than 24 years with BP (Amoco), Sajkowski brings his wealth of experience in the oil and refining industry to the burgeoning field of algae-based fuel.
He officially joined the company on April 1.
“We’re very fortunate to have Dan on board to drive our downstream efforts,” said Cynthia J. (CJ) Warner, president, Sapphire Energy.
“Having that level of expertise in oil refining is critical as we move closer to commercializing our algae-based green crude.
Algae is now a burgeoning sector in biofuels with several high-profile start-ups. Here are 5 project leading the pack today.
Ubiquitous and easy to grow, algae has long been a promising biomass-to-fuel candidate in the eyes of researchers. Now algae is a burgeoning sector in biofuels with several high-profile start-ups, including Craig Venter’s Synthetic Genomics, and the interest of big-time investors like Bill Gates and ExxonMobil. Of course, hurdles still exist to make a competitive fuel. Algal biofuels still cost too much to produce—over $8 a gallon (pdf), according to the DOE. Furthermore, most existing strains do not yield oil in the quantities needed to quickly scale up to commercial production of biofuels. Companies also need to worry about contaminating local ecosystems and the amount of water needed to grow cultures in large batches. Despite these challenges inroads—and actual fuel—are being made in the nascent field. Here are 5 projects leading the pack today.
Former Monsanto CEO Robert Shapiro, former BP Managing Director David Allen, and venture capitalist and bio-tech executive David E. Shaw have been appointed to Sapphire Energy’s board of directors, signaling the board’s focus on the intersection between energy, agriculture, and biotechnology in the game-changing creation of fuel from algae.
“This may well be the year that all roads lead to algae,” says Jason Pyle, CEO of Sapphire Energy. “We started the year with $104 million in new federal funding, recently expanded our executive leadership team with the appointment of Jim Lambright, and today have added three distinguished executives to our board to guide us as we move closer to commercialization.”
At Sapphire Energy, Chromatin and SG Biofuels, an influx of new talent was announced that continues to confirm that the promise of advanced biofuels is attracting top-tier talents from the financial, agricultural, and biotech communities.
SOUTHERN NEW MEXICO – Columbus will be home to Luna County’s first green energy facility—literally green, in this case.
Algae will be cultivated by Sapphire Energy in man-made ponds about 8 miles west of Columbus on the Mexican border, to later be converted to a green goop called algae-based biofuel, oilgae, or algal fuel.
WASHINGTON -(Dow Jones)- The former chief investment officer of the Troubled Asset Relief Program has landed at a San Diego, Calif., energy company that produces a form of crude oil by using algae, sunlight and carbon dioxide.