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Iowa’s ‘impressive’ biodiesel production despite COVID

A farm in Iowa
A farm in Iowa
Although only nine of Iowa’s 11 biodiesel plants operated last year they still increased production to 351 million gallons despite the COVID-19 pandemic and Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) exemptions.
The last 12 months proved to be the second highest year of biodiesel production in Iowa history behind 365 million gallons in 2018.
Plenty of room for growth remains given Iowa’s over 400-million-gallon production capacity.
Iowa Renewable Fuels Association executive director Monte Shaw credited the bump in production to the reinstatement and long-term extension of the federal biodiesel blenders tax credit in late 2019, which provided a boost for higher biodiesel blends.
“The long-term extension of the biodiesel blenders tax credit gave Iowa biodiesel producers the market certainty to be successful even in a very uncertain year,” Shaw said. “COVID-19 did not hurt the diesel market the same way it gutted gasoline demand and, as result, production went up. Hopefully Iowa can take another step forward and utilise even more of our biodiesel capacity if there is proper implementation of the RFS in 2021.”
Iowa biodiesel production is expected to account for roughly 20% of total US biodiesel production in 2020.
Soybean oil continued to be the feedstock of choice for the majority of Iowa biodiesel production, making up over 85%. Corn oil was second at just over 8%. Animal fat, canola oil and used cooking oil made up the rest of the feedstock used by Iowa biodiesel producers.
The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association represents the state’s liquid renewable fuels industry and works to foster its growth. Iowa is the nation’s leader in renewable fuels production with 42 ethanol refineries capable of producing 4.5 billion gallons annually – including 34 million gallons of annual cellulosic ethanol production capacity – and 11 biodiesel facilities with the capacity to produce over 400 million gallons annually.

A farm in Iowa