A target of 500 million gallons of cellulosic biofuels for 2012 was originally set by the Energy Independence and Secretary Act of 2007, but the reality is that actual production is falling well-short of this goal. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in June this year proposed a 2012 cellulosic volume range of 3.45 to 12.9 million gallons.  The U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration (EIA) now predicts that only six cellulosic biofuel producers will make fuel available for sale in 2012 and likely producing a total of just 6.9 million gallons of fuel over the course of the coming year.  The EIA’s estimates for annual fuel production were submitted recently to the EPA as required by the Clean Air Act and will be used as the basis for the EPA 2012 renewable fuel standard (RFS) volumes, due to be finalized by November 30.

Producers of cellulosic biofuels at a public hearing this summer told EPA that the agency should finalize a volume on the high side of the proposal in order to continue to encourage investment in the industry.  EIA’s predictions, which are based on publicly available information and on discussions with potential producers, indicate that actual production will likely be closer to the low end of EPA’s proposed spectrum.  The EIA has also determined that several companies named by the EPA in its proposed rule will not be mechanically able to produce cellulosic-based fuel for sale next year.

EIA’s estimate for cellulosic biofuels for 2011 was 3.94 million gallons, but actual sales of such biofuels are expected to be negligible.