USDA to invest up to $100M to boost infrastructure for renewable fuel use; seeks to double number of higher blend ethanol fuel pumps
US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) will invest up to $100 million in a Biofuels Infrastructure Partnership to support the infrastructure needed to make more renewable fuel options available to American consumers. USDA will post a Notice of Solicitation of Applications in June.
Specifically, USDA will administer competitive grants to match funding for state-led efforts to test and evaluate innovative and comprehensive approaches to market higher blends of renewable fuel, such as E15 and E85. States that are able to provide greater than a one-to-one ratio in funding will receive higher consideration.
Higher blends of renewable fuel offer potential for increasing the use of renewable fuels in the US gasoline pool, but currently, the typical gas pump can deliver fuel containing a maximum of 10% ethanol. This new USDA partnership will help support the installation of fuel pumps capable of supplying higher blends of renewable fuel by partnering with states to fund innovative, public-private partnerships to test more comprehensive approaches to marketing such blends.
This new investment seeks to double the number of fuel pumps capable of supplying higher blends of renewable fuel to consumers, such as E15 and E85.
The United States exported more than $2 billion dollars of ethanol last year, making the United States the world's largest exporter of ethanol. Additionally, the United States has become a market leader in the export of high-quality distiller’s dried grains (DDG), a byproduct of ethanol production used as a high-protein feed for livestock and poultry.
The announcement is USDA’s latest effort to increase renewable fuel use in the United States.
Secretary Vilsack has recognized the bio-based economy as one of the four pillars of rural economic growth, in addition to production agriculture, local and regional food systems, and conservation and natural resources.
USDA has helped jumpstart efforts to provide a reliable supply of advanced plant materials for biofuels. Through its Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP), for example, USDA is incentivizing more than 850 growers and landowners farming nearly 48,000 acres to establish and produce dedicated, non-food energy crops for delivery to energy conversion facilities.
USDA has supported efforts to build six new biorefineries to produce advanced biofuels in Louisiana, Georgia, Oregon, Nevada, North Carolina, and Iowa, in addition to two existing facilities in New Mexico and Florida previously supported by the program.
USDA has also worked with agencies to strengthen markets for bio-based products. Approximately 2,000 products now carry USDA’s BioPreferred label, and approximately 150 applications for the BioPreferred label are in process. Companies in over 40 countries on six continents are now participating in USDA’s BioPreferred program.
USDA has partnered with the US Navy and Department of Energy to accelerate the development of domestic, competitively-priced “drop-in” diesel and jet fuel substitutes. Awards under the Defense Production Act were announced in 2014 for three companies (Fulcrum Sierra Biofuels, LLC; Emerald Biofuels, LLC; and Red Rock Biofuels, LLC) to scale up production capacity to supply the US Navy with more 100 million gallons per year of advanced drop-in biofuel beginning in 2016 and 2017 at a price competitive with their petroleum counterparts.
USDA has invested $332 million over the past six years to accelerate research on renewable energy ranging from genomic research on bioenergy feedstock crops, to development of biofuel conversion processes and costs/benefit estimates of renewable energy production.