US cellulosic biofuel products to increase but miss targets

26 February 2013 17:53  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--The US may produce more than 5m gal of fuel from biomass such as wood waste, sugarcane bagasse and sorghum, in 2013, the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) said on Tuesday.

Only about 20,000 gal of cellulosic biofuel was produced at the end of 2012, the EIA said.

“EIA estimates this output could grow to more than 5m gal in 2013, as operations ramp up at several plants,” the EIA said. “Additionally, several more plants with proposed aggregate nameplate capacity of around 250m gal could begin production by 2015.”

Despite this growth, the EIA said production will likely remain below targets set forth by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, which set goals of 500m gal for 2012, 1bn gal for 2013 and 16bn gal by 2022.

The commercialisation of cellulosic biofuel has been hampered by a difficult financing environment in the aftermath of the debt crisis, difficulties with technology scale-up at startups and strategic corporate shifts caused by low-cost natural gas.

“Total production costs for many of these first-of-a-kind projects remain higher than the cost of petroleum-based fuels on both a volumetric and energy-content basis,” the EIA said. “Cellulosic ethanol also faces the same market and regulatory challenges to increasing its share of the fuel market that is faced by other types of ethanol.”

By: Bobbie Clark
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