2023 U.S. Renewable Diesel Outpaces Biodiesel Production

tractor in field of wheat

(Credit: Flickr)

by | Sep 6, 2023

tractor in field of wheat

(Credit: Flickr)

According to the Energy Information Administration, renewable biodiesel and biofuel production have surpassed biodiesel production for the first time in the United States, reaching 3 billion gallons per year in the U.S. in 2023.

In the period between 2021 and 2023, renewable biodiesel and other biofuel production in the country has more than tripled, while biodiesel capacity has declined by 13%. Biodiesel fuels are made from renewable sources, such as vegetable oils and animal fats. The main difference between biodiesel and renewable biodiesel and other biofuels is that biodiesel must be mixed with petroleum diesel to be used in modern diesel engines. Meanwhile, renewable diesel and other biofuels can completely replace petroleum diesel, which causes harmful emissions when burned.

Targets for state and federal renewable programs and biomass-based diesel tax credits have increased the production capacity for renewable biofuels, which now account for 13% of overall U.S. biofuel production. States leading the way in renewable diesel and biofuel production include Louisiana, Texas, and California, respectively. Texas specifically reflects the trend of growth for renewable biodiesel as the state went from zero capacity to 537 million gallons per year between 2022 and 2023.

Fuel ethanol production remains the largest player in the U.S. biofuel market, marking 78% of overall biofuel production in the country. While ethanol fuel burns cleaner than non-ethanol gasoline, its emissions still contribute to ground-level ozone and smog.

USDA and EPA Promote Domestic Biofuel Growth for Energy Independence

Much of the continued growth of renewable biodiesel can be attributed to recent investments from the USDA and EPA toward promoting domestic production.

Through the Higher Blends Infrastructure Program, the USDA allotted $500 million towards increasing the availability and usage of higher blends of ethanol and biodiesel from U.S.-derived agricultural products. Funds were also offered in grants for installing and upgrading biofuel infrastructure. The EPA also recently established the highest-ever biofuel production targets in history, requiring a “certain volume of renewable fuel to replace or reduce the quantity of petroleum-based transportation fuel, heating oil or jet fuels.”

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