Biodiesel Landscape in Oregon

Biodiesel Powered Bus

There are 23 stations dispensing B20 or higher to the public in the region with several fleets committed to its use in the CWCCC region with their own infrastructure. Oregon has a Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) that requires that all diesel sold in the state must contain 5% biodiesel. CWCCC is beginning to see more activity with our local producers with increased local production. Increasing the RFS from B2 to B5 in 2010 has had a positive effect for the local producers. Oregon’s demand for biodiesel is about 29 million gallons with just over 7 million gallons of that produced locally. The feedstock is also sourced locally, which is attractive for some customers.

Additionally, with the high price of diesel in Oregon this year, biodiesel prices have been very competitive with biodiesel sometimes lower than diesel in some cases. Some fleets have noticed this trend and begun using higher blends of biodiesel. The region has seen a drop in availability of E85 as two locations quit selling the product. The price has not been competitive and it has been difficult to generate sales. When evaluated on a BTU basis E85 is about 65% higher in price than regular unleaded. This makes it very difficult to get any market penetration with this cost difference. Corn prices have come down which has had a positive effect on ethanol price however conventional gasoline prices have reduced even further making ethanol not competitive on an economic basis.

CWCCC Work In This Area

CWCCC is seeing a renewed interest in lowering greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from fleets. During the recession and afterward fleets’ attention was primarily focused on costs. Many alternative fuels are less expensive, however, ethanol when compared on an equal BTU basis has been more expensive. It was a tough sell, the region saw a couple of fleets stop using high blends and two public stations selling E85 decided to cease selling E85 due to low volume of sales.

Eugene Water and Electric Board’s (EWEB) fleet made a recent commitment to use E85 in its flex-fuel vehicles as a strategy to lower GHG emissions. It had been using biodiesel, however, they have phased in higher and higher blends of biodiesel into their fleet. They recently installed ethanol and biodiesel refueling infrastructure at their fleet site using funds from the Oregon Department of Energy EIP program. CWCCC with ODOE have completed a brief case study and article on EWEB’s transition to demonstrate a method of reducing GHG with existing vehicles and infrastructure. Cities such as Eugene and Portland have set goal’s to reduce GHG emissions and developed associated programs and policies that mention increased use of biofuels as a strategy to explore. CWCCC will develop case studies and presentations to support strategy over this next year.

Obstacle

Infrastructure is still a problem as it requires added tanks to a facility to offer high blends of biofuels and this can be very expensive. The higher costs of ethanol and biodiesel in the market have made the economics more difficult.

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