Aemetis reports progress with biogas, SAF projects

By Erin Voegele | May 16, 2022

Aemetis Inc. released first quarter 2022 financial results on May 12, confirming that the company’s corn ethanol plant in Keyes, California, is operating at near capacity and discussing progress with the company’s biogas, renewable diesel, sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) and carbon capture projects.

Andy Foster, president of Aemetis Advanced Fuels and Aemetis Biogas, said the company expects to inject renewable natural gas (RNG) into the PG&E pipeline on a fully operational basis shortly after PG&E’s team completes commissioning of their equipment. The team is expected to complete that commissioning work in mid-May. Foster said this will mark the first time the company’s RNG is delivered into the utility pipeline system.

By the end of the third quarter of this year, Foster said Aemetis expects to have seven operating dairy biogas digesters connected via its pipeline to the PG&E utility pipeline. Initial production from the Aemetis digesters will be delivered to the pipeline and stored at an underground facility until the California Air Resources Board carbon intensity (CI) fuel pathway is issued under the Low Carbon Fuel Standard, he added, noting that process can six to nine months. Once the CI pathways are issued, Aemetis can fully monetize the value of the LCFS and Renewable Fuel Standard credits from the sale of the RNG, Foster said.

Foster also addressed operations at the Keyes ethanol plant, noting that high corn prices and ongoing railroad logistical issues have increased the delivered cost of corn to more than $10 per bushel. On a positive note, however, he said the strong demand and favorable pricing for ethanol, wet distillers grains and distillers corn oil are helping to offset increased costs.

According to Foster, the Keyes plant is currently operating at near full capacity, producing more than 60 MMgy. The Mitsubishi ZEBREX dehydration unit has been installed and a test run has been completed, he said. The ZEBREX unit is expected to be fully operational by the end of June. Aemetis has also signed an EPC contract with SunPower for the installation of a 1.9 megawatt (MW) solar microgrid with battery backup. In addition, foster said detailed engineering work is complete on a mechanical vapor recompression system.

Erin McAfee, chairman and CEO of Aemetis, discussed the company’s proposed carbon zero renewable jet and diesel fuel project planned for development in Riverbank, California. He said Aemetis took operational control of the 125-acre plant site in April and is currently in the engineering phase to support the closing of the debt financing for the renewable jet and diesel project. McAfee also announced that feedstock procurement for the 90 MMgy Riverbank plant is being launched by the construction of a crude tallow refinery in India near the company’s existing 50 MMgy biodiesel plant. In addition, he said the company is actively working with airlines customers to obtain tallow supply from Australia.

McAfee also briefly discussed the carbon capture and storage (CCS) project under development by Aemetis, noting that the company is currently in the engineering and permitting process for two characterization wells. The first is expected to be drilled at the Riverbank site. The CCS project is planned for development in two phases. In the first phase, up to 400,000 metric tons per year of carbon dioxide sourced from the company’s biogas, ethanol and renewable jet and diesel plants will be sequestered in two wells. The company plans to drill one well near the Keyes plant and another near the Riverbank facility. During phase two of the project, Aemetis plans to sequester additional carbon dioxide supplies by oil refineries and other sources. Up to 2 million metric tons per year of carbon dioxide could be sequestered annually during phase two of the project.

Aemetis reported revenues of $52 million for the first quarter of 2022, up 22 percent when compared to the same period of last year. Gross loss was $3.1 million, compared to $3.6 million. Net loss was $18.3 million for the first quarter, compared to a net loss of $18.1 million for the first quarter of 2021.