If bioenergy isn't on your radar in 2016, it should be. In our last post on this subject, we discussed the implications of the EPA's Renewable Fuel Standards (RFS) on the bioenergy sector. With significantly expanded requirements, it's more important now than ever to understand the various available energy sources. We took a closer look at biogas and biodiesel, but there are a lot more options to consider. Part two of this two-part series will explore the remaining top bioenergy prospects of 2016.
Biomass has long been a staple in the bioenergy portfolio, being a reliable and readily-available fuel source. Even so, the biomass energy has reported that it typically generates 15 million megawatt-hours of electricity each year, most of which is utilized in industrial boilers.
So will things change for biomass in 2016, causing it to become a breakout, go-to fuel for consumers? Probably not, but that doesn't mean that nothing will change at all. While emerging markets, such as utility-scale electric generation, aren't quite ready for this shift, 2016 could lead to progress in terms of the ways in which biomass is both calculated and credited for CO2 emissions reductions. Ultimately, this would mean a shift in the importance of biomass for meeting certain standards.
Electric utilities are closely monitoring this area because there are many advantages to using biomass for power. Unlike solar and wind, biomass can provide baseload renewable energy production. And, as previously stated, it's plentiful. Therefore, while 2016 will likely remain status quo for biomass, it's possible that great changes are just over the horizon.
The ethanol industry tends to rely on RFS numbers on a level unlike any other producers within the biofuel sector. In 2015, it was mandated that ethanol would provide 14.5 billion of the 18.1 billion gallons of required renewable fuels. Unfortunately, these numbers didn't budge in 2015, which means that the industry won't see any opportunity for growth. Because ethanol doesn't currently have any markets outside of the mandatory RFS market, it has little recourse outside of expansion via RFS ruling. The conclusion that we can draw from this is that while ethanol will certainly remain a staple within the bioenergy sector, it will remain at status quo, without any major changes or booms.
The aviation biofuel industry is a bit of an up-and-comer, as it's emerging with two projects that could be interesting (and important) to monitor throughout 2015. Both Red Rock Biofuels and Emerald Biofuels are planning to begin refinery construction in 2016. These types of biofuels have been proven to work within the scope of military and naval applications, but any significant production is yet to come. We'll be keeping a close eye on this area.
With the continued push for renewable energy sources, bioenergy should be on the minds of all American industries. We're likely to see some pretty dramatic shifts in the way that we fuel ourselves in the coming years. Interested in learning more about the leading bioenergy sources mentioned in this series? Team up with the experts at NuEnergen today and we'll get you up to speed!