The Bioenergy Leadership Forum event gathered influential executives from bioenergy, technology, policy, finance, oil and agricultural spectrums to critically
examine the state of play and how to really ignite the sector’s future.
There are two clear ways of viewing the current global bioenergy sector. It seems churlish to overlook the fact that the global industry has run into an economic and political headwind in the last two years. Spiking food prices, feedstock sustainability issues and volatile margins have all played a part. As a result, annual biofuel investment has slipped from $20.4bn in 2006 to $5.5bn last year. The biomass and waste-to-energy sector has done littlemore than flat-line, with new financial investment moving from $10bn in 2006 to $11bn in 2010.
And yet – global biofuel production capacity has crept from 21.1bn gallons in 2007 to 40.4bn gallons in 2010. Meanwhile, strong and supportive legislation in the Chinese and European biomass and waste-to-energy sectors have likewise been shown to spur investment and capacity growth. Half a dozen biotechbiofuel companies have successfully listed in the 18 months, with a clutch more potentially on the way. Yes, these companies have yet to generate enormous revenues, but the mere fact that the markets are willing to give them the means to prove themselves is cause for encouragement. And the backdrop has seen crude oil prices continue to volley around $100 per barrel.
Lessons have been learnt on the value chain management front, and it is easier to see how the industry might go again. Yet we remain aware that discernable challenges lie ahead. New bioenergy technologies must prove their production economics; feedstock supply logistics require ironing out; and capital must
continue being drawn towards the sector.
Equally importantly, the need for knowledge sharing has never been greater.
Bloomberg New Energy Finance convened the Bioenergy Leadership Forum to address these needs, in the belief that a dialogue between decision makers will bring greater clarity, certainty and industry development. In a day and a half thought leaders debated the key issues and formulate recommendations to tackle today’s challenges. The Forum focused on how the industry scales and grows; on operating costs, capital and profits; and on some of the key strategy questions.