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Nearly All U.S. Renewable Diesel Is Consumed In California … But Isn’t Made There

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annual U.S. renewable diesel consumption and production

Data source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, State Energy Data System

California accounts for nearly all renewable diesel consumption in the United States, but most of it isn’t made in the state. California’s consumption of renewable diesel was more than eight times the amount produced there in 2021. Instead, most of California’s renewable diesel was produced in other states or was imported, mostly from Singapore.

Renewable diesel is a liquid biofuel that is chemically equivalent to petroleum diesel and can be used as an additive or substitute for diesel fuel in vehicles. Although renewable diesel is similar to the more common biodiesel, the fuels differ chemically and in how they are made, transported, and used. Unlike biodiesel, renewable diesel can be transported in petroleum pipelines and sold at retail stations without blending with petroleum diesel. It is often produced at existing petroleum refineries that are retrofitted to make biofuels instead of petroleum products.

California’s renewable diesel consumption grew substantially after its Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) went into effect in 2011. Between 2011 and 2021, consumption grew from 1 million barrels to 28 million barrels per year, over 18 times its original volume.

The California LCFS requires transportation fuels used in the state to be mixed with biofuels to lower their carbon intensities. California is the only state that offers a rebate to customers who purchase renewable diesel specifically, increasing renewable diesel use in the state as it becomes more economically competitive with biodiesel. Other states have various biodiesel laws and incentives.

Oregon was the only other state where renewable diesel was consumed in 2021, but it accounted for less than 1% of the U.S. total. Oregon requires petroleum diesel fuel sold in the state to be blended with either biodiesel or renewable diesel. Beginning in 2023, Washington also began requiring petroleum diesel to be blended with biodiesel or renewable diesel, but it did not report any renewable diesel consumption in 2021.

Six states—Louisiana, North Dakota, California, Wyoming, Washington, and Kansas—accounted for all renewable diesel production in the United States in 2021. Many of the plants in the other states have exclusive agreements to send all of the renewable diesel they produce to distributors in California.

Louisiana, with its substantial petroleum infrastructure, has been the state with the most renewable diesel production since 2011. More than 9 million barrels of renewable diesel was produced in Louisiana in 2021, about 46% of the U.S. total. A plant located in Norco, Louisiana, has the most renewable diesel production capacity in the United States, about 64,000 barrels per day.

U.S. renewable diesel production capacity could more than double by 2025, boosting domestic production. We expect that both renewable diesel production and consumption will continue to grow in the United States over the next few years.

You can find more information on renewable diesel as well as other biofuels in our State Energy Data System (SEDS). We recently published new renewable diesel statistics in SEDS, including annual renewable diesel production and consumption estimates by state for 2011 through 2021. Previously, we only published U.S.-level renewable diesel production and consumption data.

Principal contributors: Mickey Francis, Sheila Hayati

Article via U.S. EIA’s Today In Energy blog.

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