Biodiesel Willing to Make Up Cellulosic Biofuels Shortfall

John Davis

While the cellulosic ethanol industry is worried that it won’t be able to meet the U.S. EPA’s proposed advanced biofuels production volumes for the new Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS2), the folks who make biodiesel believe they could pick up any slack.

This article from Biodiesel Magazine points out that biodiesel plants in the U.S. have the ability to produce 2.2 billion gallons of biodiesel, which is considered an advanced biofuiel – enough to make up for any shortfalls other biofuels might have in making the EPA goals:

“The biodiesel industry stands ready, willing and able to produce the wet gallons required to comply with the program,” said Joe Jobe, National Biodiesel Board CEO. “By 2011, much of the uncertainty that has accompanied the start up and transition of the program in 2009 and 2010 will have been eliminated.”

Advanced biofuels will total 1.35 billion gallons and cellulosic biofuels, according to the EPA, will total between 5 million and 17.1 million gallons in 2011. “Based on analysis of market availability, EPA is proposing a 2011 cellulosic volume that is lower than the EISA target,” EPA said.

The EPA believes, however, that it may be appropriate to allow excess advanced biofuels to make up for the shortfall in cellulosic biofuel, including excess biomass-based diesel. “If we were to maintain the advanced biofuel and total renewable fuel volume requirements at the levels specified in the statue, we estimate that 125 million to 144 million ethanol-equivalent gallons of additional advanced biofuels would be needed, depending on the standard we set for cellulosic biofuel.”

“Biodiesel is well-positioned to meet volumes in this category relative to other advanced biofuels, and will likely play a significant role in meeting them,” Jobe said. The markets, he added, will ultimately decide how much biodiesel is used to fulfill the generic category of advanced biofuels.

EPA officials point out that biodiesel’s 800 million gallon volume for 2011 actually counts equivalent to 1.2 billion of ethanol toward the advanced biofuel standard of 1.35 billion gallons.

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