|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”