In California, SG Biofuels announced at Advanced Biofuels Markets that it has expanded its global network of hybrid trial and agronomic research sites to 15 with the addition of eight new JMax Knowledge Centers in Guatemala, Brazil and India, and has achieved costs of $99 per barrel or less across three continents.
By comparison, the Brent crude price is averaging $113.02 per barrel this month, according to Oilenergy.com.
Fully loaded costs
This cost is “all-in, fully loaded, from buying our seeds, growing, harvest, crush into crude, capex, opex, all of it,” noted SG Biofuels CEO Kirk Haney. “We’ve partnered with energy companies and planted side by side with local material, and seen 200-900 percent yield increases.”
“All the airlines say that crude jatropha oil provides a best-of-breed biojet,” added Haney. “It’s been all about how to get the volume, the yield per acre, and we’ve solved that in a definitive way.
“Coal, gas, food, biofuels — people who know the space know that it is always about the feedstock, because 70-80 percent of the cost is in the raw materials,” Haney noted. “We’ve seen failures in jatropha. Five years ago we made that call, too. Every product that didn’t use hybrids or some kind of genetics will fail. Its just impossible to get a high and consistent yield without an improved line. Those who do not have the hybrid vigor will never be successful. They will never see the early flowering, the big fruit clusters — and in the end they will be people who were very good at selling a vision.
More JMax Knowledge Centers
Backed by the strong hybrid performance, the additional JMax Knowledge Centers significantly expand the company’s multi-phased platform for deploying productive, profitable Jatropha projects that overcome the economic and agronomic challenges of previous efforts with the non-food oilseed energy crop. In anticipation of strong seed demand, the company also continues to expand its production facility located in Guatemala.
The additional trials include four locations in India, three in Brazil and one in Guatemala, and are in addition to the company’s existing trials and research centers in each country and at its corporate headquarters in San Diego, California.
JMax Knowledge Centers use experimental design and statistical analysis to evaluate hundreds of hybrids in a range of environmental and agronomic conditions. The centers serve as outdoor classrooms where SGB agronomists and technical teams conduct training and field tours with customers and growers, develop localized agronomic studies and recommendations while advancing the top performing Jatropha hybrids for commercial deployment. SGB’s hybrids have been developed following five years of research, drawing from a diverse germplasm library including more than 12,000 unique genotypes.
One such location has been deployed in Brazil in conjunction with JETBIO, leader of a multi-stakeholder initiative including Airbus, the Inter-American Development Bank, Bioventures Brasil, Air BP and TAM Airlines. SGB is working with Bioventures Brasil, an energy crop project developer, and other program partners on a multi-phased program leading to the deployment of intercropped Jatropha plantations in the Central-west region of Brazil for the purpose of bio jet fuel production.
“Developing the best hybrid material from SGB’s collection while establishing best agronomic practices are the foundations for our project,” said Rafael Davidsohn Abud, managing partner at JETBIO. “As we scale our project, using the best hybrid material and operational expertise from SGB gives us the greatest opportunity for success.”