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EPA nudges up volume of renewable fuel in final requirements for 2014-2016 under RFS

30 November 2015

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the final volume requirements under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program today for the years 2014, 2015 and 2016, and final volume requirements for biomass-based diesel for 2014 to 2017.

This rule finalizes higher volumes of renewable fuel than the levels EPA proposed in June (earlier post), but still represents a reduction compared to the original statutory requirements.

Final Renewable Fuel Volumes
  2014 2015 2016 2017
Cellulosic biofuel (million gallons) 33 123 230 n/a
Biomass-based diesel (billion gallons) 1.63 1.73 1.90 2.00
Advanced biofuel (billion gallons) 2.67 2.88 3.61 n/a
All Renewable fuel (billion gallons) 16.28 16.93 18.11 n/a
(Units for all volumes are ethanol-equivalent, except for biomass-based diesel volumes which are expressed as physical gallons.)

Final Percentage Standards
  2014 2015 2016
Cellulosic biofuel 0.019% 0.069% 0.128%
Biomass-based diesel 1.41% 1.49% 1.59%
Advanced biofuel 1.51% 1.62% 2.01%
All Renewable fuel 9.19% 9.52% 10.10%

The final 2016 standard for cellulosic biofuel—the fuel with the lowest carbon emissions—is 230 million gallons, or about 7 times more than what the market produced in 2014. In June, EPA had proposed 206 million gallons. In the original legislation, the volume for 2016 was 4,250 million gallons.

The final 2016 standard for advanced biofuel is 3.61 billion gallons—35% higher than the actual 2014 volumes. In June, EPA had proposed 3.4 billion gallons; the original legislation called for 7.25 billion gallons of advanced biofuels by 2016.

Biodiesel standards grow steadily over the next several years, increasing every year to reach 2 billion gallons by 2017.

Under the final rule, the total required volume of all renewable fuels is 18.11 billion gallons—11% higher than 2014 actual volumes. In June, EPA had proposed a total of 17.4 billion gallons for all renewable fuels.

EPA said that it finalized 2014 and 2015 standards at levels that reflect the actual amount of domestic biofuel used in those years, and standards for 2016 (and 2017 for biodiesel) that represent significant growth over historical levels.

Chip Bowling, president of the National Corn Growers Association, said that while his group was pleased to see the upward revision, “the fact remains that any reduction in the statutory amount will have a negative impact on our economy, our energy security, and the environment.

Brent Erickson, Executive Vice President of BIO’s Industrial & Environmental Section, was more blunt, saying:

Today’s rule is a severe blow to American consumers and the biofuels industry. To date, BIO member companies have invested billions of dollars to develop first-of-a-kind advanced and cellulosic biofuel production facilities. EPA’s two-year delay in finalizing the rule created untenable uncertainty and shook investor confidence in the RFS program. BIO estimates that investment in the advanced biofuel sector has experienced a $13.7 billion shortfall due to EPA’s delays and proposed changes. Unfortunately, this final rule exacerbates the problem.

EPA’s action will undoubtedly trigger Court challenges that prolong and aggravate uncertainty about this program. BIO, its members and allied groups are now considering their available legal options to remedy EPA’s violation of the Clean Air Act.

However, Elizabeth Farina, president of the Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association (UNICA) was more sanguine about the changes:

UNICA is heartened by EPA’s recognition the RFS requirements for advanced biofuel can and should increase. Today’s decision appears to leave the door open for continued American access to sugarcane ethanol from Brazil, one of the cleanest and most commercially ready advanced biofuels available today.

November 30, 2015 in Biodiesel, Biomass, Cellulosic ethanol, Fuels, Policy, Regulations | Permalink | Comments (5)

Comments

Congress mandates but the private sector corporations say stuff it.
Corporations don't care what is good for the country, they only care what is good for their company. The inherent flaw is obvious.

Still cranking up the numbers on "all `renewable' fuel" even as consumption trends more or less flat (still below 2006 figures).  Fuels from cellulose and other non-food sources remain a small fraction.  In other words, the diversion of food to feed SUVs will continue.

At least Brazil is allowed to compete.  Sugar cane is perhaps the least-damaging source of ethanol we've got.

Buetenol is the better bio fuel, with higher energy content, possibly sourcing from cellulose feedstocks as the technology improves. American ICE engines and emissions gear tolerate buetenol better then ethanol as well. Higher percentage of fuel mix for non flex fuel engines are realistic bringing the feasible RFS to the high 20's instead of limited to 10% for any form of ethanol.

RFS will get there, it might take longer than we would like.

RFS is part of the problem.  20% "renewable" fuel (which is made with a lot of diesel and natural gas upstream) is still 80% petroleum.  What we need is 100% non-carbon energy from whatever source.

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