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By Lynn L. Bergeson 

On December 28, 2021, EPA announced that it will hold a public virtual meeting to discuss biofuel greenhouse gas (GHG) modeling. EPA is soliciting information on the current scientific understanding of GHG modeling of land-based biofuels used in the transportation sector. According to EPA, the information gathered during this meeting will be used to inform current and future EPA actions, including the method for quantifying GHG emissions under RFS. Of particular interest to EPA, is input on:

  • How to incorporate the best available science into an update of EPA’s biofuels lifecycle analysis (LCA); and
  • The next steps EPA should take in this work area.

Hosted by EPA’s Office of Transportation and Air Quality in consultation with USDA and DOE, the virtual public meeting is scheduled for February 28, 2022, and March 1, 2022, from 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. (EST). EPA will also be accepting comments on these topics until April 1, 2022.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson 

On December 23, 2021, DOE issued a Request for Information (RFI) on the scale-up and demonstration of renewable fuels. In the RFI “Overcoming Barriers to Renewable Fuel Scale-Up and Demonstration,” DOE expresses its wish to obtain input from biofuels producers and technology developers regarding their readiness to scale process technologies to pilot- and demonstration-scale sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), renewable diesel, and renewable marine fuels. DOE also seeks feedback on how existing first-generation ethanol and other industries could be leveraged to provide low-cost feedstock and infrastructure for biofuels production. The RFI has six categories:

  • Biofuel Pathway Scale-Up Forecasts;
  • Barriers to Scale-Up of SAF, Marine, and Renewable Diesel Technologies;
  • Leveraging First-Generation Ethanol and Other Incumbent Industries;
  • BETO Scale-Up of Biotechnologies Strategy;
  • Leveraging National Laboratory Professional Development Units (PDU) to Scale-Up Renewable Fuels; and
  • Feedstock Production and Supply.

DOE’s Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) will use the information collected from this RFI to chart the potential growth of domestic renewable fuels production by 2030. BETO also wishes to understand better the existing and potential barriers that producers face in the scaling-up pathway. Responses to this RFI must be submitted on or prior to 5:00 p.m. (EST) on January 31, 2022. Additional details on how to apply can be accessed here.

Tags: DOE, RFI, Biofuel

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Ligia Duarte Botelho, M.A.
 
On December 7, 2021, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that USDA is making $800 million available to support biofuel producers and improve infrastructure affected negatively by the COVID-19 pandemic. Funds will become available through USDA’s new Biofuel Producer Program authorized by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). USDA hopes that $100 million of the total amount available will increase significantly the sales and use of higher bioethanol and biodiesel blends through the expansion of the infrastructure for renewable fuels derived from U.S. agricultural products. Secretary Vilsack stated that [‌u]nder the leadership of President Biden and Vice President Harris, USDA is providing direct relief to the people of rural America who are still reeling from the economic impacts of the pandemic.” He also reported that USDA is targeting resources and investments to improve the strength and resiliency of America’s sustainable fuel markets.

Tags: USDA, Biofuel

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Ligia Duarte Botelho, M.A.
 
On December 10, 2021, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it will hold a virtual public hearing on its proposal for the “Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) Program: RFS Annual Rules” signed on December 7, 2021. The virtual public hearing is scheduled for January 4, 2022, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (EST). If necessary, EPA will hold an additional virtual session on January 5, 2022, to accommodate the number of testifiers.
 
EPA is proposing the 2020, 2021, and 2022 renewable fuel standards for cellulosic biofuel, biomass-based diesel, advanced biofuel, and total renewable fuel. It is also proposing to:

  • Address the remand of the 2016 standard-setting rulemaking;
  • Extend certain RFS compliance and attest engagement reporting deadlines for the 2019, 2020, and 2021 compliance years; and
  • Implement several regulatory changes to the RFS program.

 

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On November 11, 2021, the University of Iowa announced that its Department of Biology scientists discovered a new type of genetic variation in yeast that can improve the production of ethanol. According to the study conducted by the University’s biologists, yeast strains with certain alleles of gene MED15 are more efficient at fermentation. The study was led by Professor Jan Fassler, who states that these findings may assist scientists in engineering a better yeast strain to produce more efficiently bioethanol for fuel and wine.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Ligia Duarte Botelho, M.A.

On November 26, 2021, EPA issued a proposed rule to modify certain compliance dates under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program. For small refineries only, EPA is proposing to extend the RFS compliance reporting deadline and the associated attest engagement reporting deadline for compliance year 2019. EPA is also proposing to extend the RFS compliance reporting deadline and the associated attest reporting deadline for 2020 and 2021 compliance years for all obligated parties. Lastly, EPA is also proposing to change the way that it determines future RFS compliance and attest engagement reporting deadlines.

Comments on the proposed rule are due on or prior to January 3, 2022.

Tags: RFS, Biofuel

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Ligia Duarte Botelho, M.A.

On October 29, 2021, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) issued a notice of intent to release a second Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) to accelerate the scale-up of biofuel and bioproduct refineries. Funded by DOE’s Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO), this FOA will include efforts for pre-pilot, pilot, and demonstration scale projects. The FOA will fund projects in the planning phase, projects that already have a design package and are ready to construct, and projects that were funded by DOE previously for design work.

Tags: DOE, EERE, Biofuel

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Ligia Duarte Botelho, M.A.

On September 30, 2021, DOE announced the launch of a new prize that will award up to $2.5 million in cash prizes to ten groups and organizations that support entrepreneurship and innovation in historically underserved communities. The Inclusive Energy Innovation Prize acknowledges that underserved populations have been and continue to be more susceptible to the negative impact of climate change, global warming, and pollution. DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) and the office of Economic Impact and Diversity (ED), hope to improve disadvantaged communities’ access to clean energy innovation ecosystems and to opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). The prize supports the Biden-Harris Administration’s Justice40 Initiative to prioritize environmental and economic justice in the United States’ transition into a net-zero economy by 2050. The goals of the Prize are to:

  • Enable clean energy and climate innovation at colleges and universities serving large populations of students that are underrepresented in STEM, Minority Serving Institutions (MSI), community colleges, and undergraduate institutions.
     
  • Create and increase participation in clean energy and climate-smart job training and placement, including programs that target participation from:
     
    • Underserved populations;
       
    • Formerly incarcerated individuals; and
       
    • Youth transitioning from foster care.
       
  • Foster just and equitable clean energy deployment through grassroots innovation activities focused on community-centric networks and bottom-up solutions for sustainable development based on the needs of the communities involved.
     
  • Identify and fund activities that will help bring awareness to DOE, federal, state, local government, or private funding in support of the Justice40 goals.
     
  • Enable the development of replicable clean energy transitions that deliver just and equitable benefits to disadvantaged communities.

DOE and ED will distribute Inclusive Energy Innovation Prize funds in two phases. In Phase One, winners will receive an initial cash prize of $200,000 each, with an opportunity to receive additional awards, mentorship, and other services. Phase One winners will also be eligible for participation in Phase Two prizes. In Phase Two, up to three teams will receive cash prizes from a pool of $500,000.

Phase One applications may be submitted until 5:00 p.m. (EST) on February 25, 2022, with winner announcements in March 2022. Phase Two applications may be submitted beginning in March 2023. Information on how to apply is available here.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Ligia Duarte Botelho, M.A.

As part of a White House roundtable to launch the Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF) Grand Challenge to decarbonize the aviation sector by 2050, on September 9, 2021, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced the availability of $64.7 million in funding for projects focused on the production of cost-effective and low-carbon biofuels. DOE aims to advance technologies to replace petroleum fuels used in heavy-duty forms of transportation, such as airplanes and ships.
 
DOE Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm stated that, although heavy-duty vehicles in the transportation sector such as planes and ships are difficult to electrify, decarbonizing transportation is a critical part of the path to achieve net-zero carbon emissions. Also as part of the SAF Grand Challenge, DOE signed on September 8, 2021, a memorandum of understanding with the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The memorandum formalizes the DOE, DOT, and USDA’s collaborative efforts on the required research, development, and demonstration (RD&D) to reach the goals of supplying at least three billion gallons of SAF per year by 2030 and sufficient SAF to meet 100 percent of aviation fuel demand by 2050.
 
DOE selected 22 projects to receive the available funds administered by its Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO). The projects target high-impact bioenergy technology RD&D to increase foundational knowledge and scale up systems to produce low-carbon biofuels at lower costs, covering five topic areas:

  • Scale-Up of Biotechnologies;
  • Affordable, Clean Cellulosic Sugars for High Yield Conversion;
  • Separations to Enable Biomass Conversion;
  • Residential Wood Heaters; and
  • Renewable Natural Gas.

Additional information about the selected projects is available here.


 
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