EIA expands data coverage of biofuels

In October 2021, the EIA began publishing expanded data on biofuels other than ethanol in their monthly energy review (MER), including production, imports, feedstocks, and consumption. The expanded biofuels data provide a more detailed look at fuels previously grouped under renewable fuels except for ethanol, which is now split into biodiesel, renewable diesel, and other biofuels.

Biofuels are liquid fuels produced from biological materials such as wood scraps and farm crops. The EIA collected data on biofuels in their recently expanded monthly report of biofuels, fuels from non-biogenic wastes, fuel oxygenates, isooctane, and isooctene survey. Some of the MER biofuels data for years dating before 2021, when the expanded survey went into effect, come from other EIA surveys as well as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The biofuel imports data for all years come from their monthly imports report survey.

In addition to providing more detailed data from their expanded biofuels survey, the new MER biofuels tables highlight statistics important to emerging energy market trends:

  • In July 2021, 37 MM bbl of biofuels were produced in the United States, the most since the beginning of 2020.
  • Renewable diesel production reached a record-high 1.7 MM bbl in July 2021.
  • Fuel ethanol accounted for 86% of total U.S. biofuels production in July 2021, biodiesel for 9%, renewable diesel fuel for 5%, and other biofuels for less than 1%.
  • In the first half of 2021, the most renewable diesel fuel on record was produced in the United States at 7.8 MM bbl.

The MER’s biodiesel overview table contains biodiesel data. Biodiesel is a renewable fuel made from various feedstocks, including refined vegetable oils, recycled cooking oils, and rendered animal fats. Biodiesel is often blended with petroleum diesel in percentages ranging from 5% to 20% biodiesel.

Renewable diesel is chemically the same as petroleum diesel, so it meets specifications for use in existing infrastructure and diesel engines and is not subject to any blending limitations. Participants in greenhouse gas reduction programs, such as the federal Renewable Fuel Standard and the California Low Carbon Fuel Standard, are increasingly using renewable diesel to meet renewable fuel targets. The expanded biofuels data allow data users to track the growth in renewable diesel. Data on renewable diesel are available in the MER’s renewable diesel fuel overview.

The other biofuels overview table contains data on other biofuels, which include renewable jet fuel, renewable heating oil, renewable naphtha and gasoline, biobutanol, and other biofuels and biointermediates.

Principal contributor: Estella Shi

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