The National Biodiesel Conference & Expo is just a few days away, set to begin on Sunday and run through Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2011, and the theme for the event in Phoenix, Arizona is “Advance” – reflecting the fact that biodiesel is classified as an advanced biofuel by EPA under the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS2). So it’s only fitting that the National Biodiesel Board’s chairman provides us with a preview of what will be talked about during the conference.
Gary Haer, who also serves as vice president of sales and marketing for REG (Renewable Energy Group), the nation’s largest biodiesel producer, talked about the future of the green fuel at last week’s Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit. During a panel session entitled “Advanced Biofuels Panel – A Turning Point for Renewable Energy,” Haer said that after a very challenging 2010, where the industry held its breath nearly all year while waiting for Congress to finally renew the federal $1-a-gallon tax incentive, biodiesel is ready to move forward as the nation’s first advanced biofuel.
“By EPA definition, an advanced biofuel must reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50 percent. That gives us those environmental benefits, but it’s also good to note that biodiesel and advanced biofuels promote energy security … and they also contribute economic benefits for agriculture and rural America.”
Haer points out that biodiesel does not compete with food supplies and is more efficient than ever in the amount of energy used to produce each unit of energy. “Biodiesel continues to improve its energy balance. Today, it generates four units of energy for every unit consumed in the manufacturing and processing for finished product.”
Haer says the industry has plenty of capacity to meet the RFS2 requirements, as well as having enough feedstocks to produce the biodiesel to meet the increasing requirements. And he says there’s no new technology that has to be developed to meet that requirement. “With biodiesel, that next generation [of renewable fuels] is here today. The capacity, the industry is there. We’re ready to go, and we’re ready to utilize additional feedstock sources as they become commercially developed and commercially available.”
Haer admits there are some challenges out there, but the potential is so great. And he says since the stakes in the economy are so high, they must succeed.
“We’re providing jobs, and we’re providing green collar jobs for Americans. And we work hard to keep U.S. dollars in the U.S. economy.”