By Lynn L. Bergeson and Ligia Duarte Botelho, M.A.
On October 2, 2019, the Governor of Minnesota, Tim Walz, announced that applications are now open for all 15 seats on the Governor’s Biofuels Council. Established in September 2019 by Governor Walz, the Governor’s Biofuels Council advises the Governor and cabinet on how best to support Minnesota’s biofuels industry. Council members will include representatives of agriculture, biofuels, and transportation industries and environmental and conservation groups. The Governor’s Biofuels Council is tasked with creating a report to advise the Governor and cabinet on the best methods to expand the use of biofuels, increase the carbon efficiency of biofuels, and implement biofuels as part of Minnesota’s larger goal to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) production in the transportation sector. Under Governor Walz’s September 16, 2019, Executive Order, the Governor’s Biofuels Council must complete the report by November 2020. Thus far, 30 individuals have applied, and Governor Walz encourages “Minnesotans in every corner of the state to apply and share their expertise on this critical issue.” Interested parties can access the application here.
By Lynn L. Bergeson
On March 13, 2019, the European Commission (EC) published a fact sheet on the sustainability for biofuels specified. EC adopted a delegated act that sets out the criteria for determining high low indirect land-use change (ILUC) risk feedstock for biofuels and the criteria for certifying ILUC-risk biofuels, bioliquids, and biomass fuels. ILUC-risk fuels consist of fuels produced from food and feed crops that significantly expand globally into land with high carbon stock (high ILUC-risk fuels). The consequences of creating high ILUC-risk fuels relate to the release of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, which negates the emissions savings from the use of biofuels rather than fossil fuels. ILUC is addressed in the delegated act through two measures: one measure sets national limits for the total contribution towards the renewable energy targets for biofuels, bioliquids, and biomass fuels from food or feed crops; and the other measure sets national limits as Member States’ 2019 level for the period 2021-2023.
By Lynn L. Bergeson
On February 7, 2019, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s (EERE) Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) announced the development of spatial models, from a BETO-funded project, to determine how forest management can produce biofuels, restore at-risk salmonids, and reduce the risk of wildfires. Conducted by scientists at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS), the study assessed the impacts of thinning forests on habitats, which include benefits to the environment and the economy. While PNNL researchers are focused on using a model to relate forest treatments to streamflow and temperature and ORNL researchers are focused on models linking streamflow and temperature, USFS is using a model to evaluate synergies among thinning effects, which includes biofuel feedstock production. For further details on how the study supports the biomass industry, click here.
By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.
On January 17, 2018, the European Parliament (EP) adopted the revision of the Renewable Energy Directive (REDII), which includes draft measures to raise the share of renewable energy to 35 percent by 2030. Additionally, the lawmakers voted to exclude biofuels produced from palm oil from consideration of European Union (EU) Renewable Energy targets and to cap other crop-based fuels at their current levels. The exclusion of palm oil-derived biofuels would not ban or limit the production of such biofuels in the EU. The EP vote does not represent a final decision, but rather sets the EP position for negotiations with the Council of Ministers and the European Commission (EC).
By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.
On May 29, 2017, UPM Biofuels announced that its BioVerno renewable diesel and BioVerno sidestream products, including naptha, turpentine, and pitch, received certification from the Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels (RSB). BioVerno renewable diesel is manufactured from crude tall oil, a residue of pulp production. The RSB Certification evaluates the sustainability of biobased products against 12 principles that have been approved by non-governmental organizations (NGO), United Nations (UN) agencies, and other stakeholders and demonstrates compliance with the European Union Renewable Energy Directive’s sustainability criteria.