BIO recently introduced a picture book of biorefineries across the United States, “Visible Progress in Commercialization of Advanced Biofuels, Biobased Products and Renewable Chemicals”, which showcases commercial, demonstration and even new pilot facilities. Some of these facilities have been in operation for as long as a decade while others are new plants under construction. They include the first commercial-scale cellulosic biofuel production biorefineries and facilities for ongoing research and development of industrial biotech products.
Biorefineries throughout the country manufacture biobased products including fuels, chemicals and plastics, deploying cutting-edge biotechnology, boosting our nation’s economic security, and cutting our dependence on foreign oils.
- The Bio Economic Research Associates say advanced biofuel production will reduce oil imports by $70 billion each year by 2022.
- Thanks to Farm Bill Energy Title programs like the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP), Biorefinery Assistance Program, and Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) projects biorefineries processing sustainable biomass can produce 700,000 jobs and $88.5 billion in economic activity.
- An Iowa State CIRAS study showed the biobased products industry employed more than 100,000 people as of 2010.
Visible Progress in Commercialization tells a story of tremendous growth. The first Renewable Fuel Standard was adopted by Congress in 2005, but the rules were only put in place in May 2007, five years ago. Annual biofuel production at that time stood at about 3.9 billion gallons of ethanol and 112 million gallons of biodiesel. Now annual ethanol production is more than 13 billion gallons and biodiesel is more than 1 billion gallons.
Five years ago there were five operating cellulosic biofuel biorefinery pilot plants and about 20 other planned demonstration and commercial projects. There were also two operating biobased plastic biorefineries. Today, there are many more and also many more kinds of biorefineries – ranging from advanced and cellulosic biofuels, to algae production, to biobased products and renewable chemicals.
There are more operating demonstration and commercial biorefineries – and a number of cellulosic biofuel biorefineries under construction and set to begin production in the next few years. These projects aren’t just a plan or an idea anymore, but actual projects that are having an impact on rural communities, creating employment opportunities and revitalizing shipping and transport areas.