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US Biodiesel Production Triples, Still a Fraction of Overall Consumption


Current and proposed biodiesel plants. Click to enlarge. (NBB)

The National Biodiesel Board estimates US production of biodiesel will reach 75 million gallons in 2005, up three times from the 25 million gallons produced in 2004.

There are currently 45 active biodiesel plants in the United States, with an average output of about 6.5 million gallons per year, although some larger plants in the 30 million gallon range have also opened. Currently, at least 54 more plants are planned.

More than 600 major fleets use biodiesel nationwide, including the National Park Service, state departments of transportation and the military. Nationally, more than 600 retail filling stations make biodiesel blends available to the public.

According to the US Energy Information Administration, US on-highway use consumed 37.1 billion gallons of diesel in 2003. At that level of consumption, the biodiesel production in 2005 represents 0.2% of supply.

The EIA recently evaluated the potential affect of an increased penetration of diesel light-duty vehicles into the US market. In its most aggressive case, which projects a 10% diesel share of light duty vehicle sales, the EIA estiamtes that diesel demand in 2015 will increase by 139,000 barrels per day (5.8 million barrels per day or 2.1 billion gallons per year) over 2005 levels.

(Correspondingly, gasoline demand falls by 192,000 barrels per day in the high-growth case.)




There are currently 45 active biodiesel plants in the United States... currently, at least 54 more plants are planned.

So, let's assume that the plants being planned are slightly bigger than the current average, since economies of scale have been realized and investors aren't as tenative. Let's say the 54 plants are equivalent to 67.5 of the old plants... in other words, the future output is 2.5 times the current output, or 187.5 million gallons.

That's 0.5% of the current diesel consumption.

Sure, it's still not much -- but if growth can continue, and if demand gets tickled, parhaps we'll see biodiesel get big enough to generate 1 or 2 percent of tUSA's fuel consumption.


What do they use to make biodiesel? Corn oil? animal fat?

Adam H.

Both GreenBob, and also used deep fryer grease. Although, I think most comes from Soybeans and other oil/fat laden crops.

I don't understand how 45 plants with an average capacity of 6.5 million gpy *only* produced 75m gallons? At that rate, if they were open on average for half of the year, they'd produce 130 million gallons of biodiesel. Unless most of them must have opened in the last 6 months. The math just seems wacky. By those numbers, the U.S. should produce at least 250m gallons in 2006, without any new plants coming online.


Capacity is higher than actual production.


What I don't understand is how a big agricultural state like Kansas (I live 15 miles south of Kansas City) has no biodiesel plants. Especially since we have both I-70 and I-35 going through the state, both pretty heavily traffic highways I believe.

Mark A

"I dont understand how 45 plants with an average capacity of 6.5 million gpy *only* produced 75m gallons?........"

Our croplands will not be able to produce enough, especially if we want to EAT and DRIVE at the same time. Keep in mind that soybeans can only be grown in most areas of this country 3-5 months of the year. You cant grow soybeans under snow! Just imagine what a major flood, devastating drought, or another hurricane disaster could do to the supply if it hits during those 3-5 months. Biodiesel, or any biofuel, is great as a supplement, but will never be a replacement for dino generated fuels. Biofuels are like a bandaid on an open heart wound. Better methods of energy are needed. Solar, battery, hydrogen perhaps? I dont know, but am excited to find out which.


We need to be DOING right now on what WILL be the replacement for Dino fuels.

All of the easy fossil fuel is mostly gone. The tougher it gets the more expensive it will be, not to mention all the damage to the envirionment.

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