The global biofuels market was valued at US$151.44 billion in 2022 and is anticipated to reach US$220.87 billion in 2027. Despite previous dips, the outlook for the biofuels industry and US biofuel stocks is positive.
The driving forces behind rising demand for biofuels include factors such as a growing need for alternatives to gasoline in road transportation and government mandates to blend automotive fuels with biofuels.
The US is the largest biofuels-producing country in the world by far, and the American government has shown continued support for the sector in recent years. In 2021, the country’s Department of Energy (DOE) announced close to US$34 million in funding for 11 research and development projects aimed at improving and producing biofuels, biopower and bioproducts.
A year later, the DOE launched a US$59 million funding initiative to support the scaling up of integrated biorefineries, as well as greenhouse gas reduction in ethanol production for renewable diesel, aviation, marine and rail fuels.
February 2023 saw further funding, with the DOE providing US$25.5 million for ‘the sustainable use of domestic biomass and waste resources, such as agricultural residues and algae, to produce low-carbon biofuels and bioproducts.’ More recently, in September, the DOE declared US$18.6 million in support for advancing low-carbon biofuels and bioproducts operations that will create jobs in rural communities.
Aside from that, there are ongoing cleantech innovations that could move the needle forward, such as drop-in biofuels, the use of enzymes to boost bioprocessing and the utilization of oil seed cover crops as fuel.
1. OPAL Fuels (NASDAQ:OPAL)
Market cap: US$1.33 billion; current share price: US$7.74
OPAL Fuels is a renewable energy company that specializes in capturing and converting biogas into renewable natural gas (RNG). The company’s fully integrated vertical waste-to-energy model takes biogas from landfills and dairies to create fuel for use in heavy- and medium-duty trucking fleets, as well as renewable power for sale to utilities.
In January 2023, OPAL Fuels announced that Florida’s first landfill gas to RNG facility at the New River Solid Waste Association’s municipal solid waste landfill is now fully operational. “The RNG will be used to feed OPAL Fuels transportation customers at the company’s fueling stations via the Peoples Gas distribution system,” a press release states. “Peoples Gas System is Florida’s largest natural gas distribution utility, serving more than 445,000 homes and businesses across the state.”
2. REX American Resources (NYSE:REX)
Market cap: US$642.21 million; current share price: US$36.73
REX American Resources has interests in six ethanol production facilities that together shipped nearly 695 million gallons of ethanol over the 12 month period ended on July 31, 2023. The company is the majority owner of two of these facilities, One Earth Energy and NuGen Energy, and it is a minority owner of holding company Big River Resources, which has four production plants. All of the facilities are located in the US.
3. Alto Ingredients (NASDAQ:ALTO)
Market cap: US$308.58 million; current share price: US$4.07
With headquarters in Sacramento, California, Alto Ingredients is a producer of industrial and beverage alcohols, premium feed and food products, plus low-carbon renewable fuel in the form of ethanol.
Alto has seven distilleries across the states of Illinois, Idaho, Oregon and California. These facilities are capable of producing ethanol co-products, including wet and dry distillers grains, wet and dry corn gluten feed, corn condensed distillers solubles, corn gluten meal, corn germ, corn oil and distillers yeast.
4. FutureFuel (NYSE:FF)
Market cap: US$299.34 million; current share price: US$6.84
FutureFuel is a developer and producer of diversified chemical products, specialty organic chemicals, premium biodiesel and other biofuels, such as ethanol and biomass solids. FutureFuel launched its biofuels product platform in 2005 and now has a biodiesel production capacity of 59 million gallons per year.
5. Gevo (NASDAQ:GEVO)
Market cap: US$250.46 million; current share price: US$1.06
Gevo is a renewable chemicals and next-generation biofuels company with headquarters in Colorado. Its Gevo Integrated Fermentation Technology platform was designed to produce low-cost renewable isobutanol, and it is comprised of two key components: biocatalysts and a proprietary separation unit that removes isobutanol from a fermentation broth.
Gevo produces isobutanol, ethanol and high-value animal feed at its fermentation plant in Minnesota. Over in Texas, it operates a biorefinery that converts alcohols into products ranging from renewable jet fuel to octane and even ingredients for plastics.
6. Aemetis (NASDAQ:AMTX)
Market cap: US$163.93 million; current share price: US$4.22
Aemetis is an advanced renewable fuels and biochemicals company. It produces advanced fuels and chemicals by acquiring, developing and commercializing technologies that can replace “traditional” petroleum-based products through the conversion of first-generation ethanol and biodiesel plants into biorefineries.
The company owns and operates a 65 million gallon per year fuel ethanol plant in California. In addition, Aemetis owns and operates a 50 million gallon per year integrated fuels and chemical production facility on the east coast of India. The firm produces distilled biodiesel and refined glycerin for customers in Europe and Asia at that location.
FAQs for biofuel stocks
What is biofuel?
Biofuel is a type of renewable energy derived from living material known as biomass. Biomass includes algae, as well as plant and animal waste, and examples of biofuels are ethanol, biodiesel, green diesel and biogas. Biofuels can be solid, liquid or gaseous.
How are biofuels produced?
Depending on the type of biomass being used, biofuels can be produced in a variety ways.
The typical processes include chemical reactions, dry milling, fermentation and heat to break down starches, sugars and other molecules. The resulting products are then refined to produce the end-product fuel.
What is ethanol made of?
Ethanol can be produced from corn, as is common in the US. In Brazil, ethanol is produced from sugarcane.
Securities Disclosure: I, Melissa Pistilli, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.