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Forecast: US biodiesel production to surpass RFS target for second straight year
16 October 2013
The US biodiesel industry is on pace to produce more than the 1.28 billion gallons (4.8 billion liters) set under the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) for this year, according to the latest Downstream Regulatory Quarterly Outlook from research and consulting firm GlobalData.
According to the report, 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 is driven in large part by a $1-per-gallon production tax credit extended through the end of 2013 by the US Congress.
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.—Jeffrey C. Kerr, GlobalData’s Managing Analyst for Downstream Oil & Gas
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.
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.
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, GlobalData said.
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