Biodiesel production reports flawed

By Nicholas Zeman | December 21, 2009
Posted January 5, 2010

A recently published Associated Press article, which was picked up by several major news outlets such as the Washington Post, projected 2009 biodiesel production volumes at near 350 MMgy-much lower than Energy Information Administration and National Biodiesel Board data indicate.

AP cites NBB as the source for the data, but Jessica Robinson, communications director for NBB, told Biodiesel Magazine, "The latest information we have (through the end of October) has put our estimates for the year at around 475 million gallons."

While the AP story may contain lower estimates, it nevertheless is accurate in reporting that 2009 was the first year that U.S. biodiesel production volume has not grown, Robinson added.

The debacle surrounding the delayed implementation of RFS2, combined with high raw materials prices and other factors, have contributed to the decline in productivity.

The transition rules for RFS2 call for 2009 and 2010 volumes to be combined for a total obligation of 1.15 billion renewable identification number (RIN) credits to be acquired by December 2010. According to NBB CEO Joe Jobe, when estimating valid RINs already generated and available in 2009, carry-over allowances, and other variables, this creates a requirement for 2010 somewhere between 700 and 800 million gallons.

Biodiesel production in 2005 was 112 million gallons, according to NBB data, doubling to 224 million gallons in 2006. In 2007, production rose to 500 million gallons, spiking to 691 million gallons in 2008. The NBB estimates 2009's total production volume will top off at a volume between 475 million and 490 million gallons, coming in below 2007's numbers.
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