A report from the Coordinating Research Council, (CRC) adds to the growing body of research that demonstrates biodiesel’s role as a low carbon fuel. Two of the report’s key conclusions find that carbon emissions from biofuels are declining relative to petroleum, and confidence in these results continue to grow as more research is released. According to the National Biodiesel Board (NBB), in 2015 U.S. biodiesel use lowered greenhouse gas emissions by 18 million tons or the equivalent CO2 emissions of removing 3.8 million cars from the roads.
“When it comes to quantifying carbon benefits, biofuels have been the most heavily scrutinized products in the world market,” said Don Scott, director of sustainability with the NBB. “This heavy scrutiny and improving analysis provide confidence that biodiesel provides significant benefits over fossil fuels.”
CRC members include companies such as Ford, General Motors, Chrysler, American Petroleum Institute (API) and others, and conducts environmental and engineering research related to automotive and petroleum use. In addition, CRC hosts workshops to discuss lifecycle analysis of biofuels. According to NBB, these workshops include a heavy emphasis on indirect land use change (ILUC). NBB notes that ILUC was once thought to be a detriment to the net carbon benefit of biofuel policies, but this is proving to be incorrect. To examine ILUC more closely, CRC has called on experts in economic modeling and lifecycle analysis including experts with the EPA, U.S. Department of Energy, California Air Resources Board, European Commission, environmental advocacy groups, and leading academic institutions from Europe and North America.
“Whether and how indirect land use change can be accounted for has always been controversial. With continued improvements to the science behind it; there is clear consensus that it does not override the carbon benefit of renewable fuels,” said Jan Lewandrowski economist for USDA’s Climate Change Program. “The scientific community’s efforts to improve the data quality and reduce uncertainty within economic modeling shows that the agricultural sector can provide powerful tools to reduce carbon emissions while providing food and fuel to the world. Additionally, regions with renewable natural resources can experience sizable economic benefits by making wise investments in agriculture.”
The growing body of research supporting this conclusion, cites NBB, includes analysis published by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Argonne National Laboratory, USEPA, USDA and the California Air Resources Board. Each of these institutions has affirmed that U.S. biodiesel reduces GHG emissions by at least 50 percent and often as much as 85 percent compared to petroleum diesel fuel.