USDA Report Provides Regional Roadmap To Meeting the Biofuels Goals of the Renewable Fuels Standard by 2022; Southeast to Provide ~50% of Advanced Biofuels
The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) released a report outlining both the current state of renewable transportation fuels efforts in the US and a plan to develop regional strategies to increase the production, marketing and distribution of biofuels.
The report was intended to start compiling real world data to provide information on current production and consumption capacities as well projections indicating the size and scope of the investments necessary to achieve the 36 billion gallons of renewable biofuels mandated to be in the US fuel supply by 2022 through RFS2 (Renewable Fuel Standard 2). RFS2 becomes effective on 1 July 2010.
Assuming an average biorefinery size of 40 million gallons per year, USDA estimates it meeting the RFS2 advanced biofuels goals will mean building of 527 biorefineries, at a cost of $168 billion. While we expect the market to react to this need, biorefineries will need to be constructed in a timely manner, while accounting for transportation needs for feedstocks and fuel distribution.
—USDA Regional Roadmap
USDA’s report identifies numerous biomass feedstocks to be utilized in developing biofuels and calls for the funding of further investments in research and development of:
- Sustainable production and management systems;
- Efficient conversion technologies and high-value bioproducts; and
- Decision support and policy analysis tools.
Among the specific conclusions of the report are:
- A rapid build-up in production capabilities is needed to meet the RFS2 targets for cellulosic biofuels.
- The scope of the monetary investment for biorefineries is substantial.
- It is important to consider both sides of the market—the production/supply side and mandate/consumption side—and how they respond to the RFS2 mandate.
- There are current infrastructure needs, in the form of blender pumps and rail and trucking infrastructure which are in varying stages of being addressed by the market, though a careful assessment of barriers to their development is needed.
- The US farm sector is capable of producing a diverse complement of feedstocks to make the biofuels industry a truly national effort.
- In addition, a process for identifying bottlenecks and barriers related to locating biorefineries involving the federal government, Congress, states, the industry and interested stakeholders can help facilitate a biorefinery system that is national in scope.
Corn ethanol. Of the 36 billion gallons, 15 billion gallons can come from conventional biofuel sources such as corn ethanol. In 2009, the United States produced 10.75 billion gallons of ethanol, primarily as corn starch ethanol. The expectation for 2010 is for the United States will produce approximately 12.0 billion gallons of ethanol.According to the Renewable Fuel Association (RFA), there are currently 201 ethanol facilities with a capacity to produce 13.5 billion gallons. In addition, there are facilities currently under construction that will add another 1.2 billion gallons of capacity of corn starch ethanol. As a result, the United States will soon have the installed capacity to produce up to the 15.0 billion gallons of corn-starch ethanol that is allowed by RFS2, the report concludes.
Advanced biofuels. Of the remaining 21 billion gallons of advanced biofuels needed to achieve the total 36 billion gallon goal, 16 billion gallons is required to come from advanced cellulosic biofuels. The contribution of biomass-based diesel to the 21 billion gallon goal can be no less than 1 billion gallons and will be determined at a later date by rulemaking. An additional 4 billion gallons of advanced biofuels (defined by the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50%) by 2022 is also mandated.
Regional contributions. For the 20 billion gallons of advanced biofuels required by 2022 (leaving aside the 1 billion gallons of biomass-based diesel for the later rulemaking), USDA calculates the following regional contributions:
|USDA Regional Roadmap|
|Region||States||Feedstocks||Potential production capacity||Land use|
|Southeast and Hawaii||Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas||Soybean oil, Energy cane, Biomass Sorghum, Perennial grasses, Woody biomass||10.5 billion gallons of advanced biofuels per year (~50%). This region has the most robust growing season in the US that supports the highest gallons-per-acre crops of all biofuels crops.||9.5 million acres, 11.4% of the available cropland and cropland pasture acreage base.|
|Northeast||Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia||Woody biomass, municipal waste potential||2.0% (mostly woody biomass)||4.5% of the available cropland and cropland pasture acreage base.|
|Central East||Delaware, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Missouri, Ohio, Oklahoma, Maryland, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Virginia||Perennial grasses, biomass sorghum, crop residues, soy beans, woody biomass||43.3%. This will take $72 billion in cumulative investments to build 226 biorefineries with an estimated capacity of 40 million gallons per year.||4.5% of the available cropland and cropland pasture acreage base|
|Northwest||Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington||Woody biomass, oil seed, grasses, cereal crop residue||4.6% (primarily oilseed crops). This will take an $8.32 billion investment to build 27 biorefineries with an average capacity of 40 million gallons per year.||6.9% of the available cropland and cropland pasture acreage base|
|Western||Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming||Woody biomass, Oilseed crops (e.g. camelina, canola); potential for algae not included.||0.3% (this is only for dedicated energy crops and woody biomass from logging waste). Commercial scale algae production is not included.||While 64 million gallons from 49,800 acres of dedicated bioenergy crops plus 442,600 acres of harvested logging residue in a year (does not include potential from insect and disease damaged and dead trees that could be harvested) is a potential, it is not counted as part of the RFS2|