Algae Gets a More Level Playing Field with the Financing Our Energy Future Act

June, 19 / 2019

Financing new technology development can be challenging, and even when a technology becomes commercially viable there can be roadblocks for investors that seek to quickly capitalize on the latest advances. That’s why ABO is supporting legislation that can level the playing field for algae companies that don’t currently qualify for many of the tax advantages enjoyed by the fossil energy industry.

This month U.S. Senators Chris Coons (D-DE) and Jerry Moran (R-KS) and Representatives Mike Thompson (D-CA-05) and Ron Estes (R-KS-04) re-introduced bipartisan legislation, the Financing Our Energy Future Act, that would allow clean energy companies to form master limited partnerships (MLPs). MLPs are operated and taxed as partnerships but can also be publicly traded, and offer investors liquidity, limited liability and dividends.

For decades, only companies that get their revenues from fossil energy extraction or pipeline projects have been permitted to form MLPs. By combining the funding advantages of corporations and the tax advantages of partnerships, these ventures have been able to more easily attract and deploy capital.

Expanding the scope of MLPs could significantly accelerate investment in clean energy projects, including algae cultivation that uses carbon capture for the production of fuel, oils or other valuable products.

Mark Allen, Chair of ABO’s board remarked: ““The Financing Our Energy Future Act will open up the master limited partnership tax-advantaged corporate structure to investors ready to finance the growth of renewable energy, carbon capture and utilization, and other vital low carbon products being deployed by the algae industry. The members of the Algae Biomass Organization thank Senators Coons and Moran, and Representatives Estes and Thompson for their leadership in introducing the Act in the 116th Congress. Allowing MLP’s to bring new capital to industry innovation and growth will help create jobs and enhance our energy and environmental security. Algae-based clean technology companies look forward to competing on the level playing field this bill will help ensure.”

In the Senate, the Financing Our Energy Future Act is cosponsored by Senators Angus King (I-ME), Susan Collins (R-ME), Tom Carper (D-DE), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Mike Crapo (R-ID), and Michael Bennet (D-CO).

Read more about this important legislation here. 

Tour a Carbon Capture and Algae Cultivation Demonstration at the Summit

June, 7 / 2019

Take this rare opportunity to get up close and personal with a carbon capture and algae cultivation demonstration at the 2019 Algae Biomass Summit.

Summit attendees can now register for a tour of the Orlando Utilities Commission’s Stanton Energy Center, a multi-fuel power plant that is home to a DOE-supported project capturing waste carbon dioxide emissions for algae cultivation.

Tour attendees will be able to:

  • See the latest CO2 capture technologies
  • View algae operations growing biomass for a variety of uses
  • Learn about valuable technical lessons, including production levels, biomass composition, CAPEX, and more.

We are offering two opportunities to take this valuable tour:

Monday, Sept 16, 2019
7:30am-11:30am
 
Thursday, Sept 19, 2019
12:45pm-5:00pm
 
 

Leveraging Federal Funding Opportunities for Technology Development

May, 30 / 2019

Are you committed to commercializing new algae technologies? It’s time to get ahead of federal funding opportunities.

Algae cultivation, production and processing technologies have come a long way over the past decade. Successfully funding these innovations has been largely due to some dynamic collaborations between entrepreneurs, universities, national laboratories and federal agencies supporting cutting-edge technology advances and the economic benefits that can come with them.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s recently announced $79 million opportunity is one example of how federal support for R&D projects is propelling a new ecosystem of algae products and services. Other agencies working to improve the role of algae in the bioeconomy include the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Science Foundation and the Food and Drug Administration.

And beginning in 2019, the Department of Agriculture is preparing to offer millions in new funding to support the algae industry, thanks to a dramatic change in the latest Farm Bill advocated by ABO.

Now is the time for algae technology developers to explore these opportunities. We connected with some of our most experienced members and consultants to build a set of guidelines that can set more algae research projects on track for federal funding.

“Starting early may be the single most important step,” says Tim Zenk, principal at Molecule and a consultant with years of experience helping algae companies collaborate with federal agencies.

These guidelines are not exhaustive, but if you’re thinking of engaging with federal funding, they are some of the most important to keep in mind:

Start building relationships early

  • The DOE, USDA and other funding agencies have dedicated staff that are designing and awarding technology development grants. They can be incredible resources for those that might apply for funding. Find out who is staffing the programs of interest and introduce yourself.
  • Most funding opportunities are won by wide-ranging collaborations between several partners working together. Seek out and connect with the universities and national labs that you might be able to partner with for a proposal. Take a look at some of the previous winners to see what models have worked in the past.

Have your data in good shape

  • Agencies are tasked with supporting the most worthy projects, and they will need to see rigorous data in your proposals. Make sure your science is sound, and that your engineering is ready for review.
  • In most cases you will need more than theory. You will have to show what production experience you’ve had so far, or what scale of operations you are ready for today.

Know the funding announcements inside and out

  • Make sure you understand the overarching goals behind the funding opportunities, and how you can help meet them.
  • Some proposals are rejected because they fail to address small but crucial requirements that are spelled out in the funding announcement. Comb through the text and graphics provided by the funding agencies to ensure you can meet the appropriate production targets, design qualifications, etc.
  • Look at the specific collaborators and other parties that are mentioned in the funding application materials. Find out what laboratories or other entities might be expected to participate and build them into your own network.

What to expect if you win an award

  • Congratulations! Collaborating with a federal agency is a big responsibility, but there is no reason it should be overwhelming.
  • Be ready to meet tight deadlines. Funding opportunities are built to meet goals around technology improvement, commercial production and economic development. There are hundreds of players and working with agency staff to get the timelines right will be important.
  • You won’t have to share sensitive IP or trade secrets (unless otherwise clarified in the application process), but some information you share with agencies will be made public. Find out what comments, emails and reporting could be released.
  • Be ready to meet reporting requirements. They won’t be overwhelming, but they are an important part of the process. Agencies want you to be successful, but lessons of unexpected results or even failures will be viewed as valuable.

If you don’t win

  • Don’t be discouraged. This is a competitive process and agencies take care to evaluate and select the most worthy projects. Find out what you can do to make a stronger case the next time around.

“Follow the rules, have good science, and you’ll have a good shot,” says Zenk.

Ready to learn more?

ABO maintains a network of experts, consultants and contractors that are all standing by to help algae technology developers succeed when it comes to taking advantage of federal support. Reach out to get connected!

Ready to connect with the leaders of the algae industry? Come network with CEOs, federal agency staff, industry suppliers and others at the Algae Biomass Summit!

Algae Biomass Summit Orlando, Florida September 16-19, 2019

ABO Members Win Small Business Grants to Advance Algae Technology

May, 28 / 2019

Members of the Algae Biomass Organization are at the forefront of advanced technology development, and many of them are also small businesses with enormous potential to create new jobs and help grow the economy. Toward that goal, the Department of Energy (DOE) announced this month up to $22 million in grants for several small business innovators to advance the next phase of their research.

The grants come from DOE’s Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program, and ABO member companies were among the recipients:

Algenesis logo

Algenesis Materials, based in Cardiff, CA, was awarded one grant to develop biodegradable polymers made from algae to produce athletic shoes and flip flops, and then identify methods that can control the biodegradation of the shoes for maximum function.

Global Algae Innovations, Inc., based in San Diego, CA and creator of the industry-leading Zobi harvesting system was awarded two grants. One will be used to develop an ultra-low-cost plastic pond liner that could have enormous impacts for the commercial algae industry, and another for technologies that can control temperature throughout the year in open ponds for algae production.

MicroBio Engineering, based in San Luis Obispo, CA will use their award to build and demonstrate a fully automated laboratory microalgae cultivation system with over a dozen individual reactors. The advances will help increase production and reduce costs for algae that can be used for biofuels, animal feeds, and other bioproducts. 

These Phase I grants provide up to $200,000 each, and awardees will be eligible to apply for Phase II grants of up to $1 million next year. 

Congratulations to these ABO members! Want to learn more about these projects? Leaders from these companies will be at the 2019 Algae Biomass Summit in Orlando, September 16-19. 

You can learn more about these DOE grants and other awardees at the Green Chemicals Blog

Ready to learn how you can prepare to take advantage of federal funding opportunities? Read these guidelines to get started. 

 

Algenuity Launches New Food Color Platform Based on Chlorella

May, 23 / 2019

ABO member Algenuity announced this month that is has launched its ground-breaking Chlorella Colours platform for the food industry. The new colors are made possible by innovations in strain development that result in both performance and production improvements for ingredients that are used in everything from foods and drinks, to supplements and other products. 

Natural and sustainable color ingredients for food products are often difficult to produce, or suffer from performance problems when it comes to odor and taste. Algenuity has overcome these challenges by developing a strain that contains almost no chlorophyll, but retains the valuable color attributes that are in demand in markets for vegan, protein-rich, or whole-cell ingredients. 

Chlorella Colours’ yellow, lime and white hues can also be produced with heterotrophic production methods, so they don’t need sunlight to grow. This means they can be made in controlled conditions that overcome some of the operational challenges that come with producing pure algae-based products at scale. 

Read more about Chlorella Colours here. 

Just Published: The Agenda for the 2019 Algae Biomass Summit

May, 21 / 2019

Algae Biomass Summit Orlando, Florida September 16-19, 2019Ready to take advantage of the algae opportunity? We have just posted the agenda for the world’s largest algae conference, the 2019 Algae Biomass Summit. 

Join us in Orlando, Florida this September 16-19 to network with industry leaders, learn about new products, research innovations, and see cutting-edge algae technologies first-hand. 

Make your plans soon, our early-bird rates expire a month earlier than past years: July 1st, 2019. 

Topical themes that will be explored at the largest gathering of algae professionals include:

  • Hundreds of new products that algae can create in markets for sustainable protein alternatives, aquaculture and animal feeds, nutritional supplements, cosmetics and skin care, biofuels, fertilizers, clothing, plastics, and much more
  • The critical role algae can play carbon capture, water treatment and other industrial services in need of process and sustainability improvements
  • A new federal inter-agency group setting the agenda for advancing algae technologies and innovations, including millions of dollars in funding to be announced over the next year
  • Scientific advances in algae cultivation, harvesting, strain selection, and more
  • Education and training opportunities for the algae workforce

If you attend the 2019 Summit you will also have a rare chance to tour carbon capture and algae cultivation demonstration at a nearby power plant operated by the Orlando Utilities Commission. This project, supported by the Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory, illustrates how algae can be used to address climate change and produce valuable biomass for fuel, feed or other products. More information about the tour is available at: https://www.algaebiomasssummit.org/page/tours

In addition to more than a hundred speakers, the Summit features networking and hands-on demonstrations in a central exhibit hall, a product showcase, and a Young Innovators Lounge for early-career scientists.

The Summit is the go-to conference for all things algae. Sign up today and make your plans to visit Orlando!

See the agenda

Registration info

Tour info

Algae Gets a Boost in Agriculture, Carbon Capture and Infrastructure Policy

April, 29 / 2019

The algae opportunity is attracting attention for its potential to disrupt dozens of markets. Congress is taking note too.

Following the success of early technology investments by the Department of Energy and other agencies, Congress has expanded federal support for this growing industry by including algae in the 2018 Farm Bill, reforming tax credits to ease investments, and ensuring carbon capture projects can become a reliable source of CO2 feedstocks for algae cultivation.

Here are a few of the recent policy developments that ABO’s Executive Policy Committee is monitoring:

The Farm Bill of 2018 Classifies Algae as a Crop

Last December we heralded the unprecedented support for algae in the latest Farm Bill. This legislation calls on the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) to classify algae as a crop, with many of the same regulatory advantages enjoyed by wheat, corn or soy. It is a landmark achievement for the industry. 

The USDA is now preparing the rulemaking, requests for information and other processes that will make new R&D funding available, lay the foundations for new regulatory support, and even build insurance programs that will help make algae a major crop in the United States.

After a long campaign to get algae recognized in agriculture legislation, ABO’s attention will now shift to ensuring that the changes are implemented to maximum effect. We are working closely with USDA staff to provide the latest information and industry updates that can streamline the process.

With proper implementation, the Farm Bill will provide a major boost to algae R&D and efforts to bring new products and services to market.

Rulemaking for the Section 45Q Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) tax credit

A robust algae industry can deliver massive reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, but only if the infrastructure to transport CO2 to algae cultivation facilities is put into place. ABO worked with a large coalition to pass a tax reform known as 45Q that will make investment in this kind of infrastructure much easier. Algae is specifically named as a pathway for carbon capture qualifying for this tax credit.

Now we are focusing on ensuring this reform is implemented in a way that provides the investment our members need to be successful. As the U.S. Treasury moves forward with rulemaking, ABO’s Executive Policy Council is mindful that project size limits, application requirements and other variables all must be inclusive of algae.

The USE-IT Act

New legislation has also been proposed that could boost algae, especially when it comes to carbon capture technologies. In the Senate, a bipartisan group has re-introduced the Utilizing Significant Emissions with Innovative Technologies (USE IT) Act, a bill that would support new technologies that can capture carbon from industrial sources, or even directly from the air. A companion bill in the House has been sponsored by Rep. Scott Peters (D-CA), co-chair of the Congressional Algae Caucus.

Passage of this legislation would be a significant driver of investment in algae and other technologies that will transform carbon emissions from an environmental challenge into economic opportunity.

EFFECT Act

This bill introduced by Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV), Lisa Murkowski, (R-AK) and others would provide new support for carbon utilization technology and deployment. Critically for algae, the bill calls for studies that can help overcome barriers and identify opportunities to commercialize carbon. ABO is working closely with Congressional offices to make sure the language in the bill is friendly to algae.

Master Limited Partnership (MLP) Reform

An MLP is a type of business organization that comes with significant tax advantages, but under U.S. law they can only be used by fossil fuel companies. Reforming MLP’s to include renewable energy would level the investment playing field, and accelerate the deployment of infrastructure vital to a robust algae industry.

ABO has been a long-time supporter of these reforms, and with momentum building even in some fossil energy quarters for a change, we may see legislation on this front advance soon.

More to come

Over the next few months ABO will be working closely on all of these initiatives and more. Policymakers are discovering that the challenges in food production, energy, and climate change are becoming more urgent than ever. Advanced algae technologies must be part of the solution.

Ready to get involved? Join ABO today, come to the Algae Biomass Summit, and tell your Congressional delegation to support policies that will accelerate the role algae can play in our economic, environmental and energy security.

Checkerspot Raises $13M to Produce Advanced Materials from Algae

April, 29 / 2019

ABO member Checkerspot announced this month that it has closed a $13M Series A funding round that will further propel the company’s technology that uses microalgae to make high-performance materials.

Checkerspot’s platform views microalgae triglycerides, or oils, as scaffolds that in combination with chemistry and fabrication can unlock a new revolution in sustainable manufacturing. Traditional sources of triglyceride feedstocks can include palm, soy and canola, and are used by hundreds of markets, from producers of beauty products to industrial materials. However, these traditional sources suffer from increasing challenges in production sustainability, as well as performance limits.

Checkerspot’s ability to modify the properties of microalgae fatty acids means the company can customize a product to meet very specific performance metrics. Those metrics might include a desired strength-to-weight ratio, water repellency, or a production process that is less reliant on expensive or toxic feedstocks.

Checkerspot illustrates how new approaches in biology and manufacturing are beginning to harness the natural potential of algae in ways that will have enormous impacts for global industries. It’s just one more way that ABO members are at the forefront of world-changing technology!

For more information check out Checkerspot’s press release, and this story at SynBioBeta.

 

Algae R&D Featured in Interagency Framework for Advancing the Bioeconomy

March, 27 / 2019

This month the federal Biomass Research and Development (BR&D) Board unveiled a multi-agency strategy to accelerate innovative biomass technologies for affordable biofuels, bioproducts, and biopower. Algae cultivation is prominently featured among the suite of technologies the effort is harnessing. 

The B&RD Board is an interagency collaborative which is co-chaired by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). The new strategy document lays out a plan to address challenges in technology uncertainty; leverage government, academic, and industrial resources and capabilities; stimulate public-private partnerships; and generate new and useful technical information. 

The report identifies a number of areas specific to algae that can be addressed with improved R&D efforts, including:

  • Growing and harvesting highly productive algae at large scale
  • Fractionation and conversion of algae into fuels and products
  • Addressing the resources needed for the distribution and utilization of a national algal industry
  • Analytical assessments that can provide information on the improved sustainability profile of algae-based products

View the full report here (PDF).

ABO members are working closely with the new interagency group to ensure that they are able to coordinate with the industry’s leading research and commercialization efforts. 

NCMA Courses on Algae Culturing and Identification

March, 24 / 2019

The National Center for Marine Algae and Microbiota (NCMA) at the Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences will be offering two courses this year that may be of interest to ABO members looking to enhance their culturing and identification skills:

More information about application deadlines, course dates and fees is available in the links above.