Aemetis announces progress with low-carbon fuel initiatives

By Erin Voegele | November 11, 2021

Representatives of Aemetis Inc. discussed progress with the company’s biogas, ethanol, cellulosic biofuel and carbon capture and storage (CCS) initiatives during a third quarter earnings call, held Nov. 11.

Andy Foster, president of Aemetis Advanced Biofuels, highlighted progress being made by the company’s biogas subsidiary. He said Aemetis completed phase one of its dairy digester project in September, with operations commencing at the first two covered lagoon digesters, including onsite dairy biogas cleanup and pressurization. Phase one also included the development of a 4-mile pipeline and a boiler unit to utilize biogas as process energy at the company’s ethanol plant in Keyes, California. The use of biogas at the ethanol plant has allowed the facility to lower the carbon intensity (CI) score of the ethanol it produces.

Foster said Aemetis is now working on phase two of the dairy digester project, which includes a centralized biogas cleanup facility, a utility pipeline interconnection, and a renewable natural gas (RNG) fueling station located at the Keyes plant. Phase two also includes the addition of 15 more dairy digesters and 32 miles of pipeline. According to Foster, phase two development is on schedule for completion in the third quarter of 2022.

To date, Foster said Aemetis has signed agreements with 22 dairies to install digesters. In addition, the company is in advanced discussions with five more diaries, with agreements for those digesters expected to be signed before the end of the year. Aemetis is also engaged in discussions with more than a dozen additional dairies, according to Foster.

Regarding operations at the Keyes ethanol plant, Foster confirmed the facility is operating at capacity. He also reported progress with several improvement projects the company is undertaking to further reduce the CI of ethanol produced at the plant.

The Mitsubishi Zebrex membrane dehydration system is now fully installed and meeting expected milestones, Foster said. The system is expected to reduce steam use for ethanol dehydration by 75 percent. Optimization of the system is currently underway, Foster said, with commissioning expected during the first quarter of next year.

Aemetis also expects to sign an EPC contract this month for a 1.5 megawatt (MW) solar energy system that will further reduce the use of fossil energy at the Keyes plant. In addition, EPC negotiations are underway for a mechanical vapor recompression system, Foster added.

Eric McAfee, chairman and CEO of Aemetis, discussed progress being made on the development of the company’s proposed Riverbank cellulosic project. In the first phase of development, the facility is expected to produce 45 MMgy of renewable diesel and jet fuel, expanding to 90 MMgy in phase two. He highlighted an agreement signed with CTCI in October to provide engineering for the proposed facility and a 250 million gallon offtake agreement signed with Delta Airlines during the third quarter.

McAfee also discussed a CCS project under development by a subsidiary of Aemetis. That project, in phase one, aims to sequester 400,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide sourced from the company’s biogas, ethanol and cellulosic plant operations in two wells, each with 1 million metric tons of annual capacity. Moving into phase two, the company would sequester additional carbon dioxide produced in the region by refineries and other industrial sources. The first of two characterization wells planned for the project is expected to be drilled in early 2022.

Aemetis reported $49.9 million in revenue for the third quarter, up from $40.9 million reported for the same period of last year. Gross loss was $4.8 million, compared to a gross income of $771,000 reported for the third quarter of 2020. Operating loss was $9.9 million, compared to an operating loss of $3.8 million. Net loss was $17.6 million, compared to a net loss of $12.2 million reported for the third quarter of last year.