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Pike Research forecasts surge in investment and growth in advanced biorefineries through 2022

Cumulative capital investment in biorefinery infrastructure by generation, world markets, 2012–2022. Source: Pike Research. Click to enlarge.

Pike Research forecasts that biorefineries globally will attract $170 billion in new capital investment between 2012 and 2022, reaching 81 billion gallons per year (BGY) of installed capacity. In its tally and projections, Pike includes conventional ethanol and biodiesel facilities targeting commodity-based feedstocks, such as corn starch, sugarcane, soy, palm oil, and rapeseed.

The new research report, Industrial Biorefineries, puts the installed capacity of the current fleet of approximately 1,415 biorefineries—scattered predominately across the United States, Brazil, and Europe—at 34.6 BGY of installed capacity worldwide in 2012. These conventional biorefineries are now giving way to a growing number of advanced biorefineries, Pike says.

Pike suggests that although conventional biorefinery capacity will increase only moderately over the next decade, due mostly to expansion in developing markets and relatively mature bioenergy markets such as Brazil, advanced biorefinery capacity growth will jump to 31 BGY by 2022.

Growth in advanced biorefinery infrastructure will be moderate through 2015 as new commercial facilities seek to demonstrate viability at scale and government support retreats from post-stimulus highs across the United States, Europe, and China. Over the medium term (2015-2018), however, a wave of retrofits and capital light deployments co-located alongside conventional biorefinery infrastructure will usher in a dramatic expansion of advanced biorefinery capacity, followed by an increase in greenfield projects for the remainder of the forecast period.

Although hydroprocessing platforms account for a significant share of commercial biorefinery capacity in the near-term, biochemical biorefinery platforms are expected to dominate the retrofit and bolt-on wave in the middle part of the decade. As capital costs for greenfield plant construction continue to drop, biorefinery commissions based on thermochemical and hybrid conversion pathways are expected to increase over the remainder of the forecast period.

—“Industrial Biorefineries”

As an example, Italy-based Eni just announced that it will convert its conventional 80,000 barrel per day petroleum refinery in Venice, Italy to a biorefinery using its EcoFining hydroprocessing technology to convert vegetable oils to fuels and other end products. (Earlier post.)

The biorefining value chain is currently scattered and fragmented across a range of conversion pathways, feedstock opportunities, and industrial applications, Pike notes. However, a range of innovative have logged critical run-time hours at the pilot- and demonstration-scale, and are now reaching critical mass; early commercialization efforts are underway.

While it is too early to forecast what form the next decade’s crop of advanced biorefineries will take, or in what quantities specific products (e.g., biofuels, bio-based chemicals and products, etc.) will be produced, scale-up is becoming less a question of “if” but “when.”

—“Industrial Biorefineries”



I love those diagrams from Pike Research. No matter what the topic is, the diagrams always look the same. Everything starts basically at zero this particular year and then the development immediately takes off in a linear way. How can they always pinpoint the exact moment in time when a new trend starts and why is this starting point always “today”?


"How can they always pinpoint the exact moment in time when a new trend starts and why is this starting point always “today”?"

Darts and study client expectations.


That way they don't have to guess when a new trend begins. As long as each trend dose not start at the same time there's no problem.


Those $170+B would be better invested into ways to lower vehicle electrification cost and performances.


Current USA consumption is 200 million gallons per day which approximately 25% of world consumption. So this 81 million gallons per day is less than 8% of current world demand


Hmm thinking this through this implies we need ~ 2 Trillion dollars of investment to meet current world demand for liquid fuels. At $100 per barrel and approx 90 million barrels per day production, the world expenditure on crude oil is 100*90e6*365 = 3.3 Trillion dollars. So the 2 trillion dollar investment is by no means unreasonable if it actually provides the expected production rate.

Bob Wallace

$2 trillion to meet world demand. $500 billion to meet US demand. To make substitute liquid fuel.

We need to increase EV manufacturing to about 500k to 1 million per year in order to bring prices down to ICEV levels, according to Carlos Ghosn, CEO of Nissan and Renault.

1 million full priced Nissan Leafs would cost about $34 billion. Buy 1 million EVs/PHEVs and give them away in a national drawing. Do that for three years as a way to get EV prices down to ICEV levels. If people can buy an EV or PHEV for the price of an ICEV they will not buy ICEVs.*

We cut liquid fuel use to less than 25% of what it is now, which we could easily supply from existing sources while we wait for batteries that will eliminate PHEVs.

And that will hold for the world, the drop in EV/PHEV prices will extend around the globe.

$100 billion and we could eliminate our liquid fuel problems and cut vehicle CO2 emissions by 75% and get us quicker to 100% elimination.

Not a lot of infrastructure to build. Just change over assembly lines and build some battery and electric motor plants. And hook a few more outlets to the grid.


* Yes, I know - manufacturing ramp up time and all that. Spread the stimulus in a workable fashion.

The point is that we have technology that would get us largely off fossil fuels for personal transportation and we could implement it for a small portion of $2 trillion.

Why go through all these contortions in order to keep using the very inefficient technology of little explosions making a bit of movement and a lot of heat?

Let's just quit this foolish endeavor to extend the life of 20th Century technology and go ahead and live in this one.


If they continue to use the same templates, the next study should be cheaper for the client...


Burning alternative and bio-fuels may not be the environmental panacea that many promoters claimed. In fact, plant to wheel total pollution is much higher than claimed and sometimes higher than with fossil fuels. The majority may have been had one more time.

Bob Wallace

" plant to wheel total pollution is much higher than claimed and sometimes higher than with fossil fuels"

The amount of CO2 released is not as important as the source of the carbon. A lot of CO2 from plant/algae derived fuel is not as big a deal as a smaller amount of CO2 from a fossil fuel. In the first case it's recycled carbon that was already above ground and in the carbon cycle. The fossil fuel carbon was sequestered away where it wasn't going to hurt us.

Non Compos Mentis

I wonder why no mention was made of Dynamic Fuels, which is in full production?

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