On Tuesday, December 9, BIO held a breakfast plenary titled “Feedstocks: A Global Comparison” which explored the realities faced by feedstock producers in today’s marketplace. The plenary was moderated by Bill Baum, board member, Genomatica and included Ajarin Pattanapanchai, senior executive investment advisor of the Thailand Board of Investment, Timothy Volk, senior research associate, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, and Bill Levy, CEO of Pacific Ag Solutions.
Bill Baum, board member, Genomatica opened his comments by calling for the need for new feedstock development. He noted that today’s panel will address various feedstocks with multiple applications. Baum commented on several challenges encountered during the value chain which can include finding the right balance between having enough of the feedstock to meet the technology.
Ajarin Pattanapanchai spoke on the current status of renewable energy and feedstock supply in Thailand. She opened by commenting that Thailand hopes to have most of its energy be renewable by 2020. Molasses is the biggest feedstock capacity in Thailand noted Pattanapancha. She stated that Thailand is the biggest exporter of ethanol to Asia, exporting 4 million liters of ethanol per day. Ajarin Pattanapanchai concluded by touching on the Board of Investment’s liberal investment regime which includes generous tax breaks for renewables.
Timothy Volk, senior research associate at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry spoke on the woody mass supply chain. Volk argued that “we are drowning in biomass but many factors come into play when assessing its potential.” He commented that social and policy factors are rarely taken into account when considering the potential of biomass. Volk noted that supply chains are complex and technical and consist of economical, behavioral, and environmental layers. He commented on common risks that can be found along the supply chain including that woody biomass is mostly perennial. Timothy Volk concluded his remarks by discussing the role that the USDA’s Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) program has had in an upstate New York woody biomass facility.
Bill Levy, CEO, PacificAg Solutions rounded off Tuesday’s Breakfast Plenary. PacificAg operates the largest agricultural residue and forage harvesting business in the U.S. It has the largest fleet of biomass harvesting equipment in the U.S. for supplying two growing global markets 1) The replacement of petroleum and other fossil sources in the creation of bioenergy, cellulosic biofuels, bio-based chemicals and other bio-based products; 2) Hay and roughage for animal protein markets to feed the demands of an expanding global middle class. Levy discussed howin order to ensure an effective supply chain you must have a strategy that calls for increased control and complexity. He concluded his presentation by laying out several challenges in ensuring an effective supply chain: 1) Introducing a new ag practice, 2) Roger’s adoption curve applies to growers adoption, 3) Equipment designed for hay and forage, 4) Logistics systems are still scaling, and 5) Lots of opportunity for improvement and innovation.