The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has granted Aemetis, an advanced fuels and renewable chemicals company formerly known as AE Biofuels, approval to produce ethanol using grain sorghum and biogas at its converted corn ethanol plant to generate D5 Advanced Biofuels Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs).
Until now, the D5 Advanced Biofuels RIN portion of the RFS (Renewable Fuel Standard) has been mostly met by imported Brazilian sugarcane ethanol or by substituting D4 biodiesel RINs due to a lack of advanced ethanol production.
RINs are numerical codes created with every gallon of biofuel domestically produced or imported into the US. RINs play the dual role of a renewable fuel credit to incentivize renewable fuel use, and a tracking mechanism to monitor the production, movement and blending of biofuels. The D-code (D#) of a RIN identifies the renewable fuel standard category for a particular fuel based on its projected greenhouse gas reduction requirement.
EPA currently has five RIN D-codes (D3, D4, D5, D6 and D7). D3 and D7 are for cellulosic biofuels with a GHG reduction requirement of 60%; D6 is for corn ethanol (GHG reduction 20%); D4 is for biomass-based diesel (50% GHG reduction); and D5 is for advanced biofuels, including sugarcane ethanol and biogas (50% GHG reduction).
RINs are turned into the EPA by fuel producers and importers who use them to demonstrate that they have met their obligation to use biofuels under the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS), noted Bruce Babcock in a 2012 policy brief from the Center for Agricultural and Rural DEvelopment (CARD) at Iwo State University. When these obligated parties use more ethanol than they need to under the RFS then they can sell their excess RINs or bank them to help meet their obligations in the future.
According to EcoEngineers, an independent engineering/software firm that focuses on RIN management, its 2013 D6 RIN index (the simple average of the volume-weighted average price for each trading day, i.e., the Daily RIN price) is at 69; the 2013 D5 index is at 74.
The EPA approval also includes D5 RIN generation for separated food waste feedstock used at the Keyes plant, allowing Aemetis to qualify its ethanol as Advanced Biofuels through the processing of certain food/beverage waste streams into ethanol.
The flexible feedstock design of the Keyes plant allows Aemetis to utilize both traditional and advanced feedstocks and energy sources to produce renewable fuels, including higher-value, advanced biofuels to help meet the Advanced Biofuels requirement of the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS).
Aemetis’ technology at the Keyes plant leverages the Z-Microbe—a patented organism that converts a variety of renewable feedstocks such as sugar, starch and cellulose directly into renewable chemicals and fuels. The Z-Microbe technology utilizes consolidated bioprocessing (CBP) technology.