Biodiesel Needs/Deserves Support
Renewable Energy Group (REG) has seen huge growth in the biodiesel capacity, especially at its Danville, Ill., plant that can handle multiple feedstocks. Biodiesel has had a couple of tough years. Production capacity stands at more than three billion gallons, while actual production stands at less than 1.1 billion gallons in 2012.
"We saw a huge growth in capacity in the industry in 2006, 2007 and 2008, supported by the introduction of a blenders tax credit for biodiesel as well as a brisk export market opportunity," said Gary Haer, vice president, sales and marketing, Renewable Energy Group (REG), one of the country's largest producers of biodiesel.
Gary Haer Actual production also grew quickly in the past 10 years from 500,000 gallons to a federally mandated 1.28 billion gallons projected for 2013. The export market went away, and the rapid growth may have contributed to user problems with the fuel. Quality control was blamed, and many users were turned off. Critics, such as the petroleum industry, had a field day. The biofuels industry response was significant; however, repairing the damaged reputation continues to be a challenge. Supporters insist those problems have been solved, thanks to efforts such as adopting BQ9000 quality standards, and a strong future lies ahead.
"The improvement in quality control and quality assurance is a real compliment to the National Biodiesel Board," said Jeffrey Stroburg, CEO, West Central Cooperative, and board chair, REG. "They've done a good job making sure testing procedures are followed. Plants that weren't capable of making quality biodiesel were either upgraded or are no longer making biodiesel."
Jeff Stroburg Others suggest more remains to be done. While CASE IH and New Holland endorse blends up to and including B100 (100 percent biodiesel and no petro diesel), AGCO and John Deere are more conservative.
"Biodiesel has not developed at the same speed that emission legislation has required of engines," said Antti Marttinen, manager, product management - global engine installations, AGCO Corp. "The quality of first generation biodiesel is behind the level where it needs to be, and it's also sensitive to storage time and conditions. Biodiesel ages much faster than normal diesel fuel, and this needs to be considered. Second generation biodiesel, paraffinic diesel BTL/HVO (renewable diesel), is more comparable with low sulfur diesel fuel and can be used up to 100 percent bio content (B100) in engines utilizing SCR systems."