EIA: Renewable diesel increasingly used to meet California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard; 10.1% of total diesel supplied in 2Q18
Renewable diesel net supply to California’s fuel market has increased since the state’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) program went into effect in 2011, reaching 100 million gallons during the second quarter of 2018, or 10.1% of the total diesel supplied to California that quarter, according to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA). . . .
As carbon intensity requirements have become progressively more stringent, prices for LCFS credits have increased. Throughout most of the program’s history, LCFS credits averaged lower than $100/metric ton (mt). During 2017, LCFS credits averaged $89/mt, growing to $164/mt through the first 10 months of 2018, suggesting an increasing difficulty for refiners, importers, and wholesalers in meeting annual carbon intensity targets, the EIA said.
The credits generated by renewable diesel producers have some of the lowest carbon intensities of any of the LCFS-approved liquid fuel pathways. The average carbon intensity of renewable diesel, measured in grams of carbon dioxide equivalent per megajoule (gCO2e/MJ), has been about 30 gCO2e/MJ since spring 2016.
Much of this low carbon intensity fuel is made from used cooking oil feedstock. Compared with other liquid transportation fuels, renewable diesel’s carbon intensity is approximately 20 gCO2e/MJ lower than ethanol and about equal to the average carbon intensity of biodiesel. Ultra-low sulfur diesel, which accounts for most of the diesel supplied in California, has a carbon intensity of 102 gCO2e/MJ.
Under the LCFS program, renewable diesel generates a large number of credits relative to other fuels because it has some of the largest lifecycle greenhouse gas reductions compared with other fuels. The total volume of LCFS credits associated with renewable diesel exceeded that of fuel ethanol for the first time in 2018, reaching about 870,000 mt of carbon dioxide equivalent during the second quarter of 2018.
While renewable diesel imports from Singapore remain significant, planned renewable diesel production capacity additions during the next several years have the potential to increase the share of domestic renewable diesel in the California market. A number of LCFS amendments are slated to go into effect in 2019, including an extension of the program to increase the total reduction in carbon intensity to at least 20% by 2030.