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ABFA Video Series Continues: Amyris Shows Promise of Global Biofuels Industry  

Tuesday, November 19, 2013


Advanced biofuels are helping create a low-carbon economy around the world, not only cutting transportation emissions, but also creating green jobs in America and abroad.

Clean fuels like advanced and cellulosic biofuels are important to this clean energy transition, and the Advanced Biofuels Association (ABFA)’s nearly 50 member companies are leading the charge to create advanced biofuels that power our vehicles while boosting local economies and helping the environment.

ABFA has launched an interview video series to highlight the companies leading this movement by producing renewable fuel and unlocking new innovations – our members. In this post, we profile Amyris, a company that may span the global advanced biofuels industry better than any other.

We spoke with Joel Velasco, Senior Vice President of Amyris and an ABFA board member, about the advanced biofuels industry’s 10-year outlook. “There will certainly be a lot of success stories,” said Velasco. “But I think we will certainly be making a pretty good dent in reducing this country and the world’s dependency on petroleum.”

Amyris is committed to building a global integrated renewable products company. “We engineer microbes and yeast, just like the same ones that make the beer we drink,” said Velasco. “Instead of making alcohols, we make hydrocarbons.”

The company has over 250 employees working on research and development at its headquarters just outside San Francisco, and is producing and selling renewable fuels and chemicals at its industrial-scale production facility in southern Brazil.

These facilities help Amyris provide sustainable alternatives to petroleum-sourced products. “We are currently producing renewable diesel, which is used in over 300 buses in large metropolitan areas in Brazil,” said Velasco. “The United States Navy and Air Force have also been testing our fuel.” The company is now in in the regulatory approval process for its renewable jet fuel.

Amyris’s renewable fuels could also have a big impact in the fight against climate change. “Our fuels have been shown to reduce greenhouse gas emission by around 80%,” said Velasco. In fact, the company is working on producing carbon negative fuels by using cellulosic and other advanced biofuel feedstocks.

Because Amyris straddles multiple points in the international advanced biofuels market, it’s keenly aware of the importance American federal policy holds for future success. “Don’t mess with the RFS – I think EPA has enough discretion to make the changes we need to keep this industry growing,” said Velasco. “We want to make sure that law doesn’t change too much, because if you keep moving the goal post it’s really hard to meet expectations.”

Check out the full interview video embedded above, and stay tuned for more perspectives from the companies leading America’s transition to a renewable fuels future. We’ll continue to release new videos spotlighting different ABFA members every few weeks.


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