USDA report provides roadmap to achieve RFS2 goals

By | July 13, 2010
In late June, just prior to the July 1 effective date for the revised renewable fuels standard (RFS2), U.S. agriculture secretary Tom Vilsack released a report outlining both the current state of renewable transportation fuels efforts in America and a plan to develop regional strategies to increase the production, marketing and distribution of biofuels. The report provides information on current production and consumption capacities as well as projections to meet the RFS2 mandate to use 36 billion gallons of biofuel per year in the U.S. fuel supply by 2022.

Some biodiesel-specific items in the report include USDA's regional analysis assumption summary, which states that by 2022, up to 450 million gallons of new productive capacity will come online in the U.S. More than half that volume of new biodiesel productive capacity, 260 million gallons per year, is expected to come from the Central–Eastern region of the country. This region includes eastern states such as Virginia and Delaware reaching as far north and west as North Dakota.

"The Central-East region of the United States is one of the two regions with the most potential for near and long term development of biofuels," the report states. "Based on feedstock and land, infrastructure, and demand, this region is key in implementing a successful biofuels market.

By 2022, the Northeast and Southeast regions are each expected to contribute another 10 million gallons of biodiesel production capacity, but an additional 180 million gallons of biodiesel is anticipated to come online from the Northwest.

USDA also included in its report U.S. EPA's estimates that 1.34 billion gallons of annual biodiesel production is anticipated to come from soybean oil and corn oil (post-ferm extraction from the backend process at ethanol refineries).

"The Obama administration has made domestic production of renewable energy a national priority because it will create jobs, combat global warming, reduce fossil fuel dependence and lay a strong foundation for a strong 21st century rural economy, and I am confident that we can meet the threshold of producing 36 billion gallons of biofuel annually by 2022," Vilsack said. "The current ethanol industry provides a solid foundation to build upon and reach the 36 billion gallon goal. As we prepare to celebrate Independence Day, we must reaffirm our commitment to bring our country closer to complete energy independence and this report provides a roadmap to achieve that goal."

USDA's report identifies numerous biomass feedstocks to be utilized in developing biofuels and calls for the funding of further investments in research and development of:


Sustainable production and management systems;

Efficient conversion technologies and high-value bioproducts, and

Decision support and policy analysis tools.

Some interesting conclusions of the report include acknowledgments that the "scope of the monetary investment for biorefineries is substantial;" infrastructure deficiencies, such as the need for more blender pumps, rail and trucking infrastructure, and addressing barriers to building out the infrastructure for renewables; and drawing attention to the need to identify bottlenecks and barriers to locating facilities that involve a host of regulatory, legislative and private entities, to facilitate development of more biorefinery projects that are national in scope.
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