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‘Period of growth for US renewable diesel’, new report concludes

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A new report from CoBank’s Knowledge Exchange revealed the recent surge of investments in US renewable diesel production capacity was likely to ignite a period of growth and transition for the biofuels industry.
By producing fuel using sources with lower carbon intensity than traditional petroleum-based products, the US biofuels sector was well-positioned to play a major role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the report added.
“The outlook for biofuels is favourable as the US and other leading developed countries embrace renewable liquid transportation fuels as a solution to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” said Kenneth Scott Zuckerberg, lead grain and farm supply economist for CoBank.
“Renewable diesel offers the most intriguing opportunity in the biofuels space, given the extraordinary growth potential.”
As major oil companies have begun embracing renewable diesel, US production was expected to increase exponentially.
Several industry stakeholders announced plans for new soybean crush and refinery facilities over the last two years.
Combined, the proposed crush and refinery projects would increase US renewable diesel production capacity six-fold by 2030 to 6.5 billion gallons annually.
However, the expected growth in soybean oil-based renewable diesel requires considerably more soybean bushels for domestic crush.
CoBank estimates that U.S. soybean acreage would need to increase by 17.9 million acres to fill the supply gap created by the additional crush and refinery projects that have been announced. Additionally, the US would need to stop exporting whole soybeans.
Alternatives to a massive shift of acres from corn to soybeans would include growing other oilseeds like canola and sunflower on a larger scale, importing other vegetable oils, or using other feedstocks such as beef tallow to produce renewable diesel fuel.