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U.S. Biodiesel Production Will Surpass 1.28 Billion Gallons Target

Posted on the 16 October 2013 by Dailyfusion @dailyfusion
(Credit: Flickr @ Steve Jurvetson (Credit: Flickr @ Steve Jurvetson

The U.S. biodiesel industry will produce more than the 1.28 billion gallons target set under the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) for this year, according to a report from research and consulting firm GlobalData.

According to GlobalData, biodiesel is the first Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-designated “advanced biofuel”—a category that lists alternative fuels possessing at least 50% fewer emissions than gasoline—to reach 1 billion gallons of annual production. This growth in the U.S. biodiesel production is driven in large part by a $1-per-gallon production tax credit extended through the end of 2013 by the US Congress.

The 50% lower biofuel carbon footprint figure, while widely accepted, is not a universal view. For example, the assumption of biofuel carbon neutrality was recently challenged in a controversial paper published online in the journal Climatic Change by John DeCicco, a research professor at the University of Michigan Energy Institute and a professor of practice at the School of Natural Resources and Environment.

Jeffrey C. Kerr, GlobalData’s Managing Analyst for Downstream Oil & Gas, says: “The RFS aims to reduce oil imports and cut back auto emissions with cleaner-burning fuels such as cellulosic ethanol, biomass-based diesel, and sugar-cane-based ethanol. However, cellulosic ethanol has yet to achieve a production level significant enough to seriously contribute to an RFS-mandated 16.55 billion gallons of renewable fuel. That’s where biodiesel makes a significant contribution.”

This year, the EPA set a cellulosic requirement of just 6 million gallons, a mere fraction of the 1 billion gallons originally agreed for 2013. However, it is forecast that cellulosic producers will not even meet the smaller volume requirement, since few commercial scale production plants have been built. In fact, the Energy Department this July recognized the nation’s first commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol production at INEOS Bio’s Indian River BioEnergy Center in Vero Beach, Florida. According to the EIA, the total volume of cellulosic biofuels in the next several years would most likely be nowhere near the levels set by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.

Still, some cities in the US have been making strides to institutionalize the use of biodiesel. In September, New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg signed a law that requires all city diesel vehicles to use a fuel blend of 5% biodiesel (B5) by 2014, and of 20% (B20) by 2016 during the warm weather months. The law also calls for the city to conduct a pilot program that studies the feasibility of using B20 throughout the whole year.

“Home to nearly 8,000 diesel vehicles, the city already uses biodiesel blends in almost all vehicles for key services such as Central Park management, snow removal and garbage collection. A move to B20 would add up to 2 million gallons of biodiesel use annually,” says Kerr.biod

In addition, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has been operating on B20 since 2000. Their case studies of using B20 year-round in airport emergency and snow removal equipment show biodiesel’s performance capabilities.

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