By Ron Kotrba | May 12, 2011

By all accounts, interest in biodiesel is on the rise again. And it’s about time too. The past two years have been extremely tough on the industry. Some have even expected it to fall.  We’re still here.

You’re still here. Now it’s time to get to work and make this sector of renewable energy strong again.
Engineering firms are telling me that calls pertaining to biodiesel have picked up in the past month or two. Consultants are expanding their groups of experts to handle an increase in biodiesel interest. Process technology companies are making deals with EPC providers to bring their technologies to market.

On a broader level, the Obama administration is unwavering in its support for biofuel development. In April, Tom Vilsack, the U.S. secretary of agriculture, and Lisa Jackson, the administrator for U.S. EPA, toured an Iowa biodiesel plant owned by Renewable Energy Group, after which they participated in a closed-door roundtable discussion with other big names in renewable fuels, such as ethanol mogul Jeff Broin. Also, the International Energy Agency put out a report in April that states biofuels will comprise 27 percent of the global fuel supplies in 2050. Twenty-seven percent—that is huge. It represents real progress. But we have to make it happen, and we have to ensure biodiesel can fulfill and surpass its expected role in the new energy economy of the future.

Plant safety, fuel quality, predictable long-term policy, increased market penetration, lawful RIN and wet-gallon transactions, and feedstock availability must all remain in the forefront of operations as we propel this great industry ahead. There’s no room for shortcuts. Regarding RIN separation, EPA released a statement to the industry in April cautioning people to make sure separation occurs in one of the nine pathways prescribed by law. As RIN expert Jess Hewitt with Lee Enterprises tells me, EPA does not give extra points for creativity. In fact, it may give something else for it—a hefty fine.

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