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  • Ron Kotrba

US imports of biobased diesel increase 2 years in a row, with more to come

U.S. imports of biobased diesel grew 12 percent in 2020, surpassing 475 million gallons, increasing for the second consecutive year, reported the U.S. Energy Information Administration May 4. Biobased Diesel Daily first brought news of 2020 tallies for U.S. biodiesel exports and biodiesel and renewable diesel imports in February.

Nearly 60 percent of the biobased diesel imported into the U.S. in 2020 was renewable diesel, which has come exclusively from Singapore since 2015. U.S. imports of renewable diesel increased to a record-high level of more than 276 million in 2020. Since 2016, all renewable diesel imports have entered the country through California. The lure of high-valued carbon credits at roughly $200 per metric ton under the state’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard, in addition to the $1 per gallon federal blenders tax credit and RIN credits generated under the federal Renewable Fuel Standard program, make California the premier destination for imported—and domestic—biobased diesel.

U.S. imports of methyl ester biodiesel increased to nearly 197 million gallons in 2020. Imports from Canada accounted for the majority of the U.S. biodiesel imports in 2020 at more than 115 million gallons, a 47 percent increase from 2019.

U.S. biodiesel exports approached 142 million gallons in 2020, an increase of nearly 30 percent from 2019. Canada received nearly 90 percent of those U.S. exports, much of which was produced in the Midwest, according to EIA.

In EIA’s April 2021 Short-Term Energy Outlook, the agency forecasts that continued growth in renewable diesel imports will drive growth in total biobased diesel imports, with the expectation that net biobased diesel imports will increase by 43 percent in 2021 and 49 percent in 2022.

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