RFS: New Revenue Stream for Biomass Facilities?

By Bob Cleaves, Biomass Magazine.

Many in the renewable fuels sector are familiar with the Renewable Fuel Standard, known as the RFS, adopted by Congress in 2005 and implemented by the U.S. EPA. The intent of the law is to incentivize the production and use of renewable fuels alongside traditional fossil fuels. The most famous example of this is corn ethanol, which is mandated by the RFS to be 10 percent of the gasoline blend sold at the pump. 

Unbeknownst to many in the biomass power sector, there may be a role for biomass power producers to play in the RFS. Electric vehicles (EVs) represent an increasing share of the automotive market, with sales rising 37 percent in 2016 over the previous year. Bloomberg New Energy Finance projects that this trend will continue—in 2040, EVs will account for 35 percent of all new vehicles sold. But the only way that electric vehicles are truly carbon friendly is if their power comes from a nonfossil fuel source. If EVs are powered by electricity produced from a biomass—the same ingredients that go into liquid transportation fuels—shouldn’t those biomass facilities be eligible to sell the same credits awarded to, for example, ethanol producers?