2005 biodiesel production expected to triple last year's figures

By | December 01, 2005
John Plaza can't seem to make biodiesel fast enough. The president and founder of Seattle Biodiesel said the plant is producing biodiesel at full capacity-and his customers snap it up as soon as it is made.

Located in downtown Seattle, Wa., Plaza's experience with his 5 MMgy plant illustrates the national picture. The National Biodiesel Board (NBB), of which Plaza is a member, anticipates 75 million gallons of biodiesel production in 2005. That's three times the 25 million gallons produced just one year earlier.

A federal tax incentive, state legislation and a diesel shortage all contributed to the rise in demand. But Plaza said he thinks Americans are finally waking up to alternative fuels.

"A lot of Americans like the patriotic aspect of biodiesel," he said. "The environmental benefits add value, but creating a stronger America through energy security is many people's true motivation-including my own."

Plaza left a career as a commercial airline pilot to pursue his interest in alternative energy. "I was flying a 747 from Anchorage to Tokyo, and I started thinking about how much fuel that flight used," he said. "I figured out that in one 6 ½ hour flight, we used enough fuel to power my personal vehicle for 42 years. I had to make a change."

The biodiesel industry will meet growing demand with increased production. The average plant size is about 6.5 million gallons per year, but some larger plants in the 30 million-gallon range have also opened. In all, 45 plants produce biodiesel, with another 54 planned.

"We made a small batch of biodiesel from canola oil, making us the first to turn a Washington-grown crop into biodiesel for the marketplace," Plaza said. "We're quite enamored with driving around on it."

Visit www.biodiesel.org/buyingbiodiesel/producers_marketers/ProducersMap-existingandpotential.pdf for a map of current and proposed biodiesel plants.
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