Renewable technologies are now emerging around the world as viable sources of energy, fuels, and chemicals. Improving cost-competiveness, dedicated policy initiatives, better access to financing, energy security, and environmental concerns are driving the rapid growth of renewable technologies. As a result, more investors are entertaining options for engagements with renewable chemicals and fuels manufacturing projects. Understanding the promise an emerging technology requires careful and informed evaluation of many factors, and the experience within the sector to put the new technology into context with respect to the existing landscape of technologies aimed at the same product or products. Evaluation of a renewable technology requires appraisal of scientific, financial, logistic, and environmental aspects of the technology.
Emerging renewable technologies face many challenges. The core concern is whether the technology delivers on the vision of its developers and whether the economic case meets all of the hurdles for delivering value to customers and producers. Important issues to be assessed for any emerging technology include product yields, product quality, energy utilization, process flows, environmental impact, and materials and safety concerns. When the renewable technology passes scientific scrutiny it needs to be evaluated for its financial feasibility. Is the new process or product sufficiently advantaged to justify the investment in scale-up studies, site acquisition, plant construction, labor engagement, and permitting? Where will the emergent technology stand in the marketplace – is it differentiated from the competition? Are there favorable conditions such as subsidies, mandates, or consumer sentiments that will help establish the emerging technology as a strong player in the market?
Emerging renewable technologies must fit into the world’s infrastructure as they find it. Whether the technology enables a new material for bottles, a new process for recycling, or a new strategy for feedstock utilization, the emergent renewable technology must join in existing markets, feed provisions, utilities, pipelines, transport, and regulations in order to gain acceptance. Renewables in particular are often faced with the concern whether sufficient diffuse resources – wood, ag waste, CO2, even sunlight – are available within a suitable area at a suitable cost to be economically brought together for processing. An advantage in environmental impact is often simply assumed for renewable processes due to their renewable nature. But air and water emissions, solid waste disposal, and utility requirements can raise new issues and challenge existing treatment procedures.
One of the most difficult things for any developers of an emergent technology to do is to assess themselves in an objective fashion. Emerging renewable technologies must be judged objectively relative to their competition from conventional technologies; being green is rarely ‘good enough.’ Assessment of an emerging renewable technology is thus a many-faceted problem. The initial euphoria of discovery of a renewable technical solution must survive the rigors of intense, objective analysis to become a worthy endeavor, a valuable investment. Any of a number of items can become a major hurdle to limit development or provide a challenge to be overcome. Experienced scientists, engineers, economists, and financiers are all needed to properly and thoroughly evaluate the potential of an emerging renewable technology.
Large renewable energy and biochemical consulting firms certainly have experts in the more common areas of bio and renewable fuels, biomaterials, biomass and biomass power, biomaterials, biochemicals and biotechnologies. But they also have expertise in a wide variety of specialty services like expert witness testimony, techno-economic analysis, due diligence, feasibility studies, budgeting, project management, technology assessment, insurance, due diligence, risk management, benchmarking, intellectual property, HAZOP, financial modeling, competitor analysis, and assistance with RIN and Low Carbon Fuel Standards (LCFS) matters. These firms should also be able to assist with other things like Aspen Plus®, logistics, bioreactor design, municipal solid waste remediation, syngas and bio-based product development, carbon credits, climate change analysis, environmental permitting, equipment sales, experimental validations, grant writing, IP strategy, life cycle analysis (LCA), plant operations, plant sales and auctions, and risk analysis (FMEA).
Lee Enterprises Consulting is the world’s premier bioeconomy consulting group, with over 100 highly qualified experts serving in all these areas. Take a look at our experts and the services we provide. Most of our experts are also available to advise and serve as expert witnesses in bioeconomy litigation matters. For the larger projects, we specialize in putting together full service, interdisciplinary teams with one point of contact. Call us at 1+ (501) 833-8511 or email us for more information.