Over the past several decades, widespread public interest in the development of more environmentally friendly energy practices has stimulated a variety of green innovations. Eventually, the government joined in on the process, authorizing the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program in 2005. The RFS program was developed to help expand the nation’s access to renewable fuels while diminishing our production of greenhouse gases.
RFS Program Overview
In order to achieve its overall goals of reducing emissions and enabling easier access to alternative energy sources, the EPA’s RFS program requires that the fuel sold in the U.S. each year must contain at least a set amount of renewable fuels. These volumes typically increase from one year to the next to help stimulate greater production – the proposed 2020 standard for biomass-based renewable fuel, for example, is 330 million gallons higher than that set for 2019. This commitment to increased renewable fuel production that has helped set the U.S. on track for a greener future.
Under the RFS program, energy sources the EPA classifies as renewable fuels – cellulosic biofuel, biomass-based diesel, advanced biofuel and conventional fuel – must meet certain criteria to be counted toward the year’s goal volume. The primary requirement is that each fuel must reduce emissions by a certain level in comparison to standard petroleum fuel.
Here’s a quick overview of each of these fuels, as well as their requirements to qualify under the RFS program:
- Cellulosic biofuel is created from cellulose, hemicelluloses or lignin. It must offer a lifecycle greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions reduction of 60% or more.
- Biomass-Based Diesel is produced from renewable feedstocks, and it must achieve a minimum GHG emissions reduction of at least 50%.
- Advanced Biofuel is a fairly broad category that covers biofuel produced from certain renewable types of biomass, not including corn starch. The minimum GHG emissions reduction requirement is 50%.
- Conventional Biofuel encompasses fuel created from corn starch and certain similar feedstocks. These fuels must reduce GHG emissions by at least 20%.
Fuel for the Future
Needless to say, this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the governmental fuel standards. Don’t hesitate to do further research if you’re interested in specific regulations that may affect your community. In the meantime, learn more about the positive impact of Neste’s renewable fuel, and look for a renewable fuel source near you.