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Clean Fuels Sustainability Workshop a Great Success

Nov 9, 2022, 22:56 PM

The Environmental Science Program hosted the Clean Fuels Sustainability Workshop Nov. 1-2 in St. Louis. It focused on a number of policy, energy, environmental and economic issues impacting the biodiesel, renewable diesel and sustainable aviation fuel industries. The workshop was preceded by a general session with the annual Biodiesel Technical Workshop and featured talks on the current state of the industry, Clean Fuels’ vision for 2030 and 2050, federal and state policy updates, the latest work from the Environmental Science Program and recent developments in oil and grease feedstocks. 

The Sustainability Workshop was well attended by about 50 participants representing the private industry in agriculture and crop development, non-governmental organizations, USDA and DOE, numerous state soybean associations and academia. 

The workshop kicked off with a presentation on national greenhouse gas inventories by representatives of USDA from a research and policy perspective. A session on corporate GHG accounting was held in which Agendi, the ADM Director of Global Sustainability Programs, and Bunge’s Manager of Environmental, Social and Governance programs each spoke about their approaches on managing the triple bottom line for their supply chains while achieving GHG emission reductions. They were concerned about standardization within certain regulations and voiced their belief that private industry cannot do this all by themselves and that growers must be heavily involved. 

Dr. David Babson, Program Director of the ARPA-E with the Department of Energy, gave the keynote address Wednesday morning. He focused on the New Carbon Economy, which does not aim to eliminate carbon but rather to leverage and value “new” carbon from biofuel feedstock production as a climate change mitigation strategy and sustainable energy creation. He spoke at length about land intensity, carbon storage and the value proposition to the landowner. 

Argonne National Laboratory gave an update on the current release of GREET concerning biodiesel and renewable diesel in determining their CO2 equivalents and potential data gaps in the current analysis. These included more detailed data on UCO/animal fats production and collection plus their transport and substituting renewable/green methanol and/or hydrogen in the biodiesel and renewable diesel processes.

A session was held on the status of indirect land use change (iLUC) research focusing on the number of approaches to calculating an iLUC value and the significant variability in reported values which has a tremendous effect on biofuel production.  The panelists dove into a variety of areas of uncertainty in iLUC calculations, noting the uncertainty around land use change emission factors, which is a novel focus of iLUC research.

The workshop concluded with presentations focused on agricultural/feedstock production. The presenters focused specifically on the ways in which carbon scoring at the farmgate can be improved through both changes in methodology and the addition of oilseed cover crops, as well as how technological advances may facilitate accounting for farmgate improvements in carbon intensity scores of biodiesel, renewable diesel and sustainable aviation fuel.