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  • Ron Kotrba

New EIA report shows US biodiesel production capacity falls 175 mgy from December to January

Updated: Apr 5, 2021

The U.S. Energy Information Administration released March 31 its newly organized biofuel production data, “Monthly Biofuels Capacity and Feedstocks Update,” for January. Data show annual operable biodiesel production capacity in the U.S. at 2.3 billion gallons in January, down from nearly 2.48 billion gallons reported by the agency in December. This is a contraction of 175 million gallons a year (mgy) of biodiesel production capacity.

“By my count, we dropped 11 plants from our biodiesel capacity totals,” Michael Conner, a member of EIA’s petroleum and biofuels statistics team, told Biobased Diesel Daily. “We dropped those plants because we’re reasonably confident they were either shut down and out of the biodiesel business entirely, or at least in a long-term idle state with no definite plans to return to operation.”

Conner added that the capacity change due to the dropped plants was approximately two-thirds of the total change of capacity. “We will of course continue to assess the data and make changes based on additional information that we discover,” Conner said.

Although the lower biodiesel capacity figure showed up in EIA data for January, Conner said it was likely many of the plant statuses were actually unchanged for a number of months prior. “You’ll be able to look at this in more detail after we report capacity for individual plants later this year,” he said.

EIA now tracks “other biofuel” annual production capacity, which excludes ethanol and biodiesel, and includes “renewable diesel, renewable heating oil, renewable jet fuel, renewable naphtha, renewable gasoline, and other renewable fuels.” The operable productive capacity for this “other biofuel” category is 791 mgy. This number is expected to rise significantly this year and next, with a plethora of renewable diesel projects and expansions underway.

Net production of “renewable fuels except fuel ethanol,” a vast majority of which is biodiesel and renewable diesel, topped out at 194.5 million gallons in January.

Feedstocks consumed for biodiesel and renewable diesel in January include:

  • 683 million pounds of soybean oil

  • 263 million pounds of yellow grease

  • 213 million pounds of distillers corn oil

  • 84 million pounds of tallow

  • 53 million pounds of white grease

  • 34 million pounds of poultry fat

  • And an undisclosed amount of canola oil.

Through December 2020, EIA issued its monthly biodiesel production reports and feedstock usage per month. The agency no longer produces these.

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