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North America’s advanced biofuel industry

Hydrocarbon Engineering,

According to a new market report by Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2), North America’s advanced biofuel industry reached a production capacity of more than 800 million gal. in 2014, up from the previous year and almost double the capacity in 2011.

This is the highest capacity since E2 released its first advanced biofuels market report in 2011, and it is more than 787 million gal. produced in 2013.

The report, ‘E2 Advanced Biofuel Market Report 2014’, projects that by 2017, as many as 180 companies are expected to produce 1.7 billion gal. of advanced biofuel, doubling current capacity. The report shows how advanced biofuels are on track to meet targeted emission reduction for clean fuels standards in both California and Oregon, according to E2. It also offers the latest evidence that Washington state should quickly move forward with a clean fuels standard of its own, something Gov. Jay Inslee indicated he was prepared to do in his recently announced carbon plan.

E2 defines advanced biofuel as liquid fuels made from non-petroleum sources that achieve a 50% reduction in carbon intensity compared to a petroleum based fuel baseline. Advanced biofuel companies included in the report range from small biodiesel businesses like Beaver Biodiesel in Oregon, which produces approximately 1 million gal. annually, to POET, which at facilities in South Dakota and Iowa produces more than 20 million gal. of cellulosic ethanol annually using corn stover, or waste from corn crops, as a primary feedstock.

The report comes at a time when various initiatives, especially in the Pacific Northwest and in California, are in the works or are under review:

  • In Oregon, the state’s Environmental Quality Commission meets in Portland 7 – 8 January. DEQ staff will present proposed rules for Phase 2 of the Clean Fuels Program. Later in the year the legislature will decide whether or not to remove the sunset date for the Clean Fuels Program, which is expected to create as many as 29 000 jobs and save Oregon consumers and businesses up to US$1.6 billion in fuel costs.
  • In Washington state, Gov. Jay Inslee has asked the state’s Department of Ecology to recommend a proposed clean fuel standard that, through executive order, would increase the use of advanced biofuel, creating local jobs and keeping hard earned money in state by reducing the billion of dollars Washington spend annually on out of state oil.
  • In California, the Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) has been in place since 2009 and has lowered carbon emissions since 2011, but last year during a re-adoption period the LCFS was frozen at 2013 levels, forcing several promising facilities to delay or idle production. E2 partnered in the release of this report, showing how the LCFS is both achievable and growing the state’s economy.
  • In Washington, D.C., the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2015 is expected to finalise federal renewable fuel requirements, after delaying its announcement on the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) through last year. The regulatory uncertainty caused by the delay reined in 2014’s production capacity and investment levels, according to the report.

The new E2 report found that nationwide, the private sector has since 2007 invested US$4 billion in active advanced biofuel producers and companies along the advanced biofuel chain, with more than US$200 million of that coming in the past year. An additional US$848 million in grants have been distributed to advanced biofuel producers since 2007.

Adapted from a press release by Emma McAleavey.

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