Minnesota’s biodiesel consumption will be getting a boost in the coming weeks as the next phase of the state’s biodiesel program kicks in.
Beginning May 1, each gallon of diesel sold in Minnesota will bump to a five percent biodiesel blend, up from the two percent inclusion that had been in place since 2005. The biodiesel legislation first passed in 2002 made Minnesota the first state to require use of the biofuel in every gallon of diesel sold within its borders.
Biodiesel is a renewable fuel that can be made from soybean oil, other vegetable oils and animal fats. Research shows that using biodiesel significantly reduces harmful vehicle emissions.“
Reducing our carbon footprint is probably one of the most important benefits of biodiesel,” says Lance Peterson, soybean farmer from Underwood, MN and former member of the Biodiesel Task Force. “Every year since the two percent requirement began, 258 million pounds of carbon dioxide have been removed from the atmosphere. Annually, the five percent blend will remove 644 million pounds. When we move to ten percent in 2012, 1.3 billion pounds of carbon dioxide will be removed annually and when we reach the B20 level in 2015, we’ll be reducing emissions of carbon dioxide by 2.6 billion pounds a year.”
Increasing the state’s requirement from two to five percent will result in increased biodiesel consumption of about 40 million gallons per year. By law, a minimum of 50 percent of that fuel has to come from Minnesota. The state’s annual production capacity is over 63 million gallons, although not all facilities are currently operating at capacity.
“This is a big deal to have two and a half times more biodiesel going into the market because we have available capacity that will come into use,” says Doug Root, AURI scientist of biomass and renewable products technologies. “The industry has faced some hard times and this is a step in the right direction.”
While the biodiesel industry in Minnesota was largely built on and by soybean producers, the opportunities aren’t limited to soybean producers.
“Soybean oil will continue to be a big part of the industry, but other sources will benefit as well,” says Mike Youngerberg of the Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council and Executive Director of the Minnesota Biodiesel Council. “The soybean industry got the biodiesel industry started and moved it forward, but biofuels of the future will create opportunity for others, too.”
National Biodiesel Board President Ed Hegland of Appleton, Minnesota says last year alone, U.S. biodiesel producers supported 50 thousand green collar jobs, contributed $4 billion to the nation’s economy and displaced almost 700 million gallons of petroleum.