The National Biodiesel Board (NBB) held their 2021 conference in January and presented a very optimistic view of the biodiesel industry.
According to NBB CEO Donnel Rehagen, in 2009 only about 14 million gallons of biomass-based diesel fuel were consumed. Although the total figures for 2020 haven’t been confirmed yet, he feels confident we’ll see that over 1 billion gallons of biodiesel were consumed last year. The association has a goal to reach a total consumption level of 6 billion gallons per year by 2030, which they are confident we can achieve.
Currently, our online operating capacity is at approximately 3 billion gallons per year. That will increase to at least 6 billion in the next several years with the implementation of announced expansion and projects.
The role of feedstocks in this production is critical. Today, soybean oil is the top-produced material for biofuel—nearly one-half of the market. 8 billion pounds, or 1/3 of all domestic soybean crush, is used for biofuel. In order to reach NBB’s goals for 6 billion gallons of biofuel consumption by 2030, Rehagen estimates 18 billion pounds of soybeans will be needed. This will place greater pressure on U.S. farmers and provide a needed boost to their economy.
Of note, Rehagen pointed towards several indicators he feels provide “strong signals” to the energy industry about consumers’ desire for carbon-neutral practices. One example noted was the U.S. government spending bill signed into law in December 2019 renewing the biomass-based diesel tax credit through 2022. A second more informal example includes the number of large corporations who have publicly announced their commitment to reducing carbon emissions or achieving a net-zero carbon footprint like Amazon, Walmart, Ikea, Pepsi, and McDonalds.
Interestingly, Rehagen seemed to address concerns from the biofuel industry that the innovations towards electric vehicles may be hindering biofuel’s achievements. Rehagen postured that the message for electric vehicles was not to increase the amount of electricity used; rather, it is a message promoting reductions in carbon emissions and that is a message the biofuel industry should support. Achieving carbon neutrality cannot be accomplished by electric power alone, as Rehagen stated, “The path to electric vehicles is a long one and heavy-duty diesel engines with their multitude of duty cycles are not going to be easy to electrify.”
Interested in learning more about what’s going on in the alternative fuel industry?
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