Last year marked another exciting year for the biofuels industry, and 2016 looks to be equally important in moving the industry forward. On one hand, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s ruling on renewable volume obligations is below statutory levels, but on the other hand, the amount of biofuels blended into the country’s fuel supply will increase substantially to more than 18 billion gallons. And although biofuels were not the center of attention at the COP21 climate change negotiations in Paris, 36 countries recognized the opportunity presented by biofuels to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and combat climate change, and included them in their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions plans.

Among these and other developments from the year, here’s what we’re looking forward to most for the biofuels industry in 2016:

Cellulosic ethanol production will continue to increase

By now, six commercial cellulosic ethanol plants are operational around the world. Major progress has been made in the commissioning of the plants; major problems have been solved; and production has increased significantly. Working closely with our partners Beta Renewables, Raízen, Poet and GranBio, we are confident that production will continue to ramp-up throughout 2016.

“It’s impressive and inspiring to see the persistency of the first movers to continue to optimize their first-of-its-kind plants and see how they’re moving down the learning curve,” says Florian Isermeyer, Global Marketing Manager for Biomass Conversion at Novozymes. “This will lay the foundation for a second wave of plants”

Cellulosic ethanol will be produced using new feedstocks

In 2015, cellulosic ethanol was produced using multiple different feedstocks by the six commercial-scale plants that are up and running. This summer, we’ll see the St1 Biofuels ethanol plant in Kajaani, Finland, come online and use soft wood as a feedstock—a first for the industry.

“As more plants are being constructed to produce cellulosic ethanol from an even larger variety of feedstocks, the viability and potential of cellulosic ethanol continue to be demonstrated,” says Isermeyer. “The industry will start to see more people willing to move on further investments, not least since we see increased political and societal support.”

Novozymes’ enzymes will continue reducing total production costs

“While the economics of cellulosic ethanol production are improving on many angles, Novozymes continues to make a major contribution by developing customized enzyme products that give plant operators more flexibility to optimize their operations and lower total ethanol production costs,” says Isermeyer. “This trend will continue in 2016.”

Starch-based ethanol will see further enhancements

At Novozymes, we pride ourselves on continuously providing more value for ethanol plants. In 2015, we introduced Avantec® Amp, delivers significant benefits compared to all other liquefaction products, including:

  • Higher ethanol yields than any competitive enzymes;
  • A significant viscosity reduction, enabling increased throughput;
  • Reduced nitrogen inputs by 70%-90%;
  • Up to 15% more corn oil yield and
  • Total removal of stand-alone protease.

As more plants adopt Avantec Amp, the efficiencies it offers will spread across the industry.

The biofuels industry continues to grow

As the biofuels industry proves its viability year in and year out, more and more transportation sectors are taking note. For example, at the end of 2015, Boeing, Alaska Airlines and the Port of Seattle announced an agreement to launch a study that will work toward a long-term goal of using aviation biofuel in all flights in and out of the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

The Federal Aviation Administration aims for the U.S. to use 1 billion gallons per year of sustainable alternative jet fuel by 2018. The Environmental Protection Agency proposed in June to add jet fuel to the Clean Air Act, putting it on the list of greenhouse gas contributors.

Internationally, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development Low Carbon Technology Partnerships Initiative released a comprehensive guide to low-carbon fuel solutions. According to the International Energy Agency, only 3% of transportation fuels are low carbon today, yet we must reach 10% by 2030 if we are to satisfy economic growth while staying below 2°C.

The biofuels industry will continue its forward momentum in 2016, and we’re excited to help lead the way. For similar stories and to have the latest bioenergy news delivered to your inbox, subscribe to Think Bioenergy.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Evan V.

I'm a Social Media Specialist for Novozymes currently managing the Bioenergy team's social media presence. I like digital marketing, dark roast coffee, and disc golf.