An annual biofuels industry assessment released last week by advanced fuels group Environmental Entrepreneurs suggests adoption of technology and production capacity in the industry is steady, allowing advanced biofuels to meet Renewable Fuel Standard requirements until 2016.
The assessment, prepared by E2, evaluated the market situation for selected advanced biofuels including non-virgin biodiesel, cellulosic ethanol, cellulosic butanol, non-food "drop-in" fuel, and new technologies such as algae-derived fuels not yet approved by the Environmental Protection Agency.
"A number of commercial scale operations are online with many more to come, providing further evidence that the RFS, if implemented properly, can work to drive the production of clean, low carbon fuels," says E2's Mary Solecki, author of the report.
The analysis comes shortly after discussion about legislative fixes to the Renewable Fuel Standard and calls to scale back projected volumes.
Just a few weeks ago, the Environmental Protection Agency – manager of the RFS – lowered 2013 Renewable Fuel Standard volumes for cellulosic biofuels, which are classified as an advanced biofuel.
The standard, originally proposed 14 million gallons of cellulosic biofuels, was lowered to 6 million gallons of cellulosic fuels in final 2013 estimates to account for limited availability of cellulosic ethanol. The originally proposed 2.75 billion gallon advanced biofuels target was retained.
While EPA's latest projections indicate stagnant cellulosic expansion, E2 said that the cellulosic policy is just beginning to deliver on its promises to expand cleaner fuel production, despite constantly changing financial challenges.
"The slower than expected commercialization of the cellulosic industry has caused some to lose patience with the program," E2 said, but Solecki noted that the group's research suggests there is real potential for advanced biofuels to continue to scale up.
"New investments and regulatory certainty will help ensure the successful commercialization of these projects," she said.
According to the report, advanced biofuels capacity for 2013 is 1 billion gallons gasoline equivalent, while capacity for 2015 is between 1.4 and 1.6 billion gallons gasoline equivalent.
Additionally, private investment in the advanced biofuel industry totals over $4.85 billion since 2007, and 160 commercial scale facilities are planned, under construction, or complete from 159 companies.
View the full report, Advanced Biofuel Market Report 2013.