Biofuels support growing in the East

By | December 01, 2005
It hasn't taken long for the nation's East Coast to latch onto biodiesel. Numerous fleets are switching to the renewable fuel, and nearly every eastern state has plants on the drawing board. That excitement was evident at this year's Biofuels Workshop & Trade Show: Eastern Region held in Atlanta, Ga., on Oct. 10-12.

More than 400 people attended the event, many of who were intent on learning about the expanding biodiesel industry. Leland Tong, a consultant with MARC IV and the National Biodiesel Board's economic and technical advisor, said today's biodiesel industry is nothing like what it will be in five years. He emphasized the importance of state incentives in achieving that growth. "They're the key to success from here on out," he said.

In 2005, 30 states introduced 170 pieces of biodiesel legislation. Thirty of those bills were signed into law. The Illinois biodiesel sales tax credit, which is driving the demand for biodiesel in that state, is a prime example.
Fuel quality, OEM testing and new uses for glycerin was also cited as important issues facing the biodiesel industry. "ASTM is not a recommendation-it is the true standard," Tong said. "The 'bad apples' will be out of the industry in a few years, and we're going to have to live with the repercussions."

Brian Gerhart, vice president of wholesale for Massachusetts-based Worley & Obetz, provided an overview of the biodiesel industry in the Northeast. He said the bioheat market in the area holds great promise. He discussed the Northeast's first biodiesel injection blending fuel terminal that recently opened in Highspire, Pa.

Biodiesel production feedstocks were another hot topic. FCStone LLC's Peter Nessler said that only a handful of companies control most of the soy crush capacity in the United States. Therefore, biodiesel producers need to exercise proper risk management in order to secure a steady feedstock supply. He said today's soy oil carryout amounts to approximately 205 MMgy of biodiesel. Several conference attendees suggested it might be time for market acceptance of imported feedstocks such as palm oil or Brazilian soy oil.

Workshop participants also took part in a comprehensive review of existing state incentives for biofuels production and use on the East Coast. These talks were followed by discussions of how it may be possible to regionally coordinate the incentives for greater effectiveness. Later, representatives from these discussions presented summaries and recommendations to a panel of policymakers, who were given the opportunity to respond. Both the recommendations and responses will be detailed in the January issue of Biodiesel Magazine.
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