Biodiesel News: March 5, 2013

This post summarizes news items and other public policy developments over the last few months relating to use of biomass-derived diesel (“biodiesel”) as a motor vehicle fuel. I’ll plan to update such news periodically, to include not only biodiesel but also news about other biofuels (other than ethanol or butanol), including novel aviation fuels produced from renewable feedstocks.

United States


API files lawsuit over 2013 RFS biodiesel mandate. In November 2012, the American Petroleum Institute filed suit against the EPA’s decision to set the 2013 RFS volume mandate for biomass-derived diesel at 1.28 billion gallons. API, which has challenged other aspects of the RFS in similar legal maneuvers, claimed that EPA should not have extended this volume mandate beyond the 1 billion gallons that is the minimum annual volume required under the RFS statute. This lawsuit is presumably still pending.

Economic impact of biodiesel tax credit. University of Illinois economists have published an analysis of the impact the recently-reinstated $1 per gallon biodiesel tax credit in the United States will have on meeting the 2013 RFS volume mandates. The authors conclude that the tax credit makes domestic biodiesel somewhat more competitive than Brazilian sugarcane ethanol, but that at this time it looks likely that Brazilian imports would be economically favored to fulfill the portion of the “Advanced Biofuels” volume mandate that is not met by volumes of “Renewable Biodiesel” required under the RFS.

First RINs for cellulosic diesel. EPA has reported that the first RINs for cellulosic diesel were generated in November 2012, and that a new record high of advanced biofuel RINs were generated in that month. EPA reports that 1,741 RINs were generated for cellulosic diesel and also that 127 million RINs for biomass-derived diesel were generated in that month. During the first 11 months of 2012, more than 1.49 billion biomass-based diesel RINs were generated for biodiesel production.

Economic impact of biodiesel in Iowa. A study released in January 2013 by the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association, the Iowa Soybean Association, the Iowa Corn Growers Association and the Iowa Biodiesel Board concluded that the growing demand for the use of soybean oil to produce biodiesel could lead to increased revenues for farmers in Iowa. The report found that almost 72% of the biodiesel produced in Iowa was derived from soybeans, and that the use of soybeans for biodiesel production benefited both the state’s economy and farmers’ bottom lines.

Use of B20 biodiesel blends in 2013 and 2014 car and truck models. General Motors has announced that its new 2014 Chevrolet Cruze light-duty diesel passenger car is approved for use with 20% biodiesel blends (referred to as B20). This article in Biofuels Digest also lists a number of other 2013 model trucks and vans that have been approved for use with B20 blends.

International


International biodiesel mandates
. Biofuels Digest recently published its annual summary of biofuel mandates and target volumes in various countries around the world. I have summarized the findings of this report regarding ethanol use in gasoline in a previous post on Biofuel Policy Watch. The following is a brief summary of some of the biodiesel mandates included in that article (in these abbreviations, the number which follows “B” refers to the targeted or mandated blend percentage: for example, B5 is a diesel fuel containing 5% biodiesel and 95% conventional diesel).

  • Canada introduced a B2 mandate in July 2011 as part of its renewable fuel regulations.
  • Agrentina has a B7 mandate, which is an increase from a B5 mandate in place in 2010, but with a planned increase to B10 by October 2013 seeming to be on hold.
  • Brazil has a B5 mandate with a goal of reaching B20 by 2020, and so there is reportedly some effort to raise the rate to 7% for the current year.
  • Chile has a B5 target. Costa Rica maintains a B20 mandate. Paraguay has a B1 mandate. Peru has a B2 mandate in place, with plans to go to B5. Uruguay has a non-binding B2 policy.
  • In Australia, although there is not a national mandate, the state of New South Wales maintains a B2 mandate.
  • The Philippines has a B2 mandate. Taiwan maintains a B1 mandate. Thailand has a B5 mandate. It has separately been reported that Indonesia is prepared to raise its 7.5% blending mandate to B10.
  • Malaysia has a B5 mandate which began in June 2011, and which was being phased in on a state-by-state basis. The Digest later reported that the country is planning to adopt a B10 blending mandate by mid-2014 to boost the country’s palm oil industry.

South Korea biodiesel mandate. The government of South Korea is reportedly reexamining that country’s biodiesel blending mandates. The law currently requires diesel products sold in the country to contain at least 2% biodiesel, but this mandate has apparently not been enforced. In addition, the percentage was supposed to be raised to 3% this year and 5% at some future date, but the government is not prepared to implement such increases. There is apparently a great deal of confusion regarding this mandate and its applicability to diesel imports as well as domestically-produced fuel.

Spain biodiesel policies. On February 22, the government of Spain announced that it was revising its targets for overall consumption of biodiesel from 7% to 4.1%, with the goals of minimizing fuel prices and stabilizing the markets as the country heads towards compliance with the EU goals of 10% adoption of renewable fuels by 2020. Earlier this year, in January 2013, the Spanish government lifted an embargo that had been preventing the import of Argentinian biodiesel into Spain. This reverses a policy instituted in the spring of 2012 that stated that only EU-produced biofuels could count towards Spain’s national biofuels quotas.

D. Glass Associates, Inc. is a consulting company specializing in government and regulatory support for renewable fuels and industrial biotechnology. David Glass, Ph.D. is a veteran of over thirty years in the biotechnology industry, with expertise in industrial biotechnology regulatory affairs, U.S. and international renewable fuels regulation, patents, technology licensing, and market and technology assessments. Dr. Glass also serves as director of regulatory affairs for Joule Unlimited Technologies, Inc. More information on D. Glass Associates’ government and regulatory consulting capabilities, and copies of some of Dr. Glass’s prior presentations on biofuels and biotechnology regulation, are available at www.slideshare.net/djglass99 and at www.dglassassociates.com. The views expressed in this blog are those of Dr. Glass and D. Glass Associates and do not represent the views of Joule Unlimited Technologies, Inc. or any other organization with which Dr. Glass is affiliated. Please visit our other blog, Advanced Biotechnology for Biofuels

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