The Numbers for 2011

Cellulosic lowered as expected, corn ethanol unchanged
By Kris Bevill | January 17, 2011

With little fanfare, the U.S. EPA finalized its 2011 renewable fuel standard (RFS) volumes on schedule at the end of November and, as expected, drastically reduced the mandate for cellulosic biofuels. Originally set to be 250 million gallons, the 2011 cellulosic biofuels volume is now only 6 million gallons. This amount is still considered to be ambitious, as it is unlikely that the five producers named in the EPA’s projection will all actually produce at the levels assigned to them. The EPA noted this in its ruling but stated it purposely finalized what it believes are “attainable volumes” in order to prevent an undesirable circumstance where cellulosic biofuel is produced at levels over and above the mandated amounts, thus weakening demand for the fuel and renewable identification numbers (RINs).

Corn ethanol’s portion of the RFS remains virtually unchanged this year when compared to the initial 2007 volume target. While the EPA did not accept the ethanol industry’s proposal to allow corn ethanol to be used in place of any unproduced advanced biofuels, it also did not agree with the petroleum industry’s suggestion to lower the overall RFS to account for a lessened cellulosic biofuels volume.