Military, Biobased Products Seen as Top Trends for 2011

John Davis

Military interests and biobased product value streams are seen as the biggest drivers for the biofuel industry in the coming year … that’s according to a new poll from the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) and Biofuels Digest.

The poll looked at “11 Hot Trends for 2011” and was launched during the recent Advanced Biofuels Markets 2010 conference in San Francisco:

Brent Erickson, executive vice president of BIO’s Industrial & Environmental Section, said, “The biofuels industry is optimistic that the economy will recover this year, increasing opportunities for advanced biofuel producers to finance construction of new projects. Production of renewable chemicals and biobased products as additional value streams should make these projects attractive investments within the renewable sector. The industry also believes that Congress has a role to play, by crafting energy and tax policies that recognize production of advanced biofuels, renewable chemicals and biobased products as vital to the nation’s economic competitiveness as well as national and energy security.”

The “11 Hot Trends for 2011” poll asked respondents to select those they believed should be listed as hottest among 11 trends originally suggested by members of BIO’s Industrial & Environmental Section. Respondents were also asked to rank the biofuel feedstocks that would see the fastest growth rates and the sectors that would show the most interest in biofuels. Lastly, respondents were asked to predict whether Congress would bring up new energy legislation and the fate of future industry financing.

With more than 290 responses, the poll revealed the following as top trends for 2011:

* More than half of respondents (51 percent) agreed that the U.S. Department of Defense would “push for domestic biofuel production as a secure fuel source.”
* Nearly half of respondents (47.5 percent) believed that biofuel producers looking “for additional value streams,” would drive development of biobased products, while 37 percent believed new federal policies would be the driver.
* Nearly 30 percent of respondents believed that new federal policies would push construction of advanced biofuel refineries, in part responding to efforts by other countries to seize the lead in the sector.
* Municipal solid waste (24 percent), algae (23 percent) and woody biomass (19 percent) received the most votes as the feedstock that will experience the fastest growth rates.
* The military was cited by 39 percent of respondents as having the fastest growing interest in biofuels, with oil companies (23 percent) and chemical producers (20 percent) also ranking highly.
* More than a quarter (27 percent) of respondents predicted Congress would pass an energy bill with some biofuel tax provisions and an additional 17 percent predicted a bill with substantial support for biofuels. However, fully 41 percent of respondents predicted that nothing would happen with a new energy bill in 2011.
* Respondents were also optimistic about the economy, with 43 percent predicting that capital and debt financing for projects would again become available in 2011. An additional 35 percent predicted that biofuels would become the dominant area of investment among renewable technologies. Still, more than 17 percent of respondents predicted that venture funding would dry up.

BIO, Government