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February 28, 2022

EIA adds new forecasts of renewable diesel and other biofuels to Short-Term Energy Outlook

renewable diesel production forcast Feb 2022 STEO
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO) February 2022

In our February Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO), we introduced new forecasts of U.S. production, consumption, and the net of imports less exports of biodiesel, renewable diesel, and other biofuels in the United States. This new breakout provides a more detailed forecast for U.S. renewable diesel production. In previous STEO releases, we forecast biomass-based diesel consumption, which combined all production and imports of biodiesel consumed in the United States with imported volumes of renewable diesel, but we did not include domestically produced renewable diesel. Differentiating biodiesel from renewable diesel, provides a more precise accounting of biomass-based diesel.

Renewable diesel is a fuel made from fats and oils, such as soybean oil or canola oil, and is processed to be chemically the same as petroleum diesel. Renewable diesel can either replace conventional diesel completely or be mixed with any concentration of petroleum diesel. Like biodiesel, renewable diesel is used to comply with the renewable volume obligations for biomass-based diesel in the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) administered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The two fuels also supply 95% or more of the RFS requirement for non-cellulosic advanced biofuels. The EPA’s proposed rule for 2022 calls for higher production in both of these categories. In addition, state-level programs, including California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) and Oregon’s Clean Fuels Program (CFP), have encouraged several petroleum refineries to convert to renewable diesel. As a result of these conversions and new construction of renewable diesel refineries, we expect U.S. production capacity of renewable diesel to nearly triple by the end of 2023 from the current production capacity of 77,000 barrels per day (b/d).

Based on renewable diesel plant construction and the EPA’s proposed rule for the 2022 RFS, we forecast that renewable diesel production will increase significantly in 2022 and 2023.

We also assume a significant ramp-up in the U.S. production capacity of renewable diesel will add upward pressure to already high feedstock oil prices, which limits actual production growth in our forecast.

The February STEO also includes our forecast that U.S. production of other biofuels (a much smaller market than biodiesel and renewable diesel) will increase in 2022 and 2023 due to increased production of sustainable aviation fuel.

A summary of the variable changes is available on the STEO variable change page. The new variables of renewable diesel and other biofuels match those published in our Monthly Energy Review (MER), based on survey data from our revised Form EIA-819, Monthly Report of Biofuels, Fuels from Non-Biogenic Wastes, Fuel Oxygenates, Isooctane, and Isooctene.

Principal contributor: Jimmy Troderman, Sean Hill