America Needs Rapid Clean Energy Deployment. Advanced Biofuels Will Help Us Get There.
By: Michael McAdams, president of the Advanced Biofuels Association
World leaders and industry experts recently convened in Pittsburgh for the first-ever 2022 Global Clean Energy Action Forum. Its timing could not have been more fortuitous as OPEC and its allies announced deep cuts in energy production. The Forum closely followed the landmark Inflation Reduction Act (IRA)’s passage, which should serve as a powerful message to our international partners about America’s climate ambitions and efforts to nurture its low-carbon energy industry to achieve them. The discussions held in Pittsburgh built on this momentum to better position the U.S. and its global partners to achieve our shared vision of a clean energy future.
We are all in this together. No single nation will solve the climate crisis on their own.
Here in America, the Biden administration set a national goal to electrify 50% of new passenger vehicles sold by 2030. While this pledge is a commendable first step, we must acknowledge that it leaves 50% of passenger vehicles reliant on combustible fuels – not to mention heavy-duty shipping vehicles like trucks. Airplanes, marine shipping, and other large-format vehicles for which electrification is unlikely or impractical will also remain powered by internal combustion engines for the foreseeable future. We must tackle this “electrification gap” by finding low-carbon solutions to power such vehicles until electrification proves commercially viable.
After all, America’s transportation sector is our nation’s highest greenhouse gas emitter, producing 29% of our annual emissions alone. And by 2050, global jet fuel consumption may double or triple. We urgently need an all-of-the-above strategy to meet our national climate ambitions. Advanced biofuels, which frequently surpass the 50% emissions reductions mandated by Congress, can bridge America’s electrification gap while supplementing other clean energy sources.
Thanks to the IRA, the advanced biofuels industry is positioned to produce results in the immediate future.
The IRA marks America’s largest investment in advanced biofuels to-date and is a key step in the right direction. It offers tax credits for advanced biofuel, solar, wind, and other green energy producers, grants to improve energy efficiency of affordable housing, and rebates toward home energy programs, among other provisions.
But there is still more we can do to empower advanced biofuels and other clean energy sources.
First, we urge the Environmental Protection Agency to create stability for the advanced biofuels industry and market by leveraging all the regulatory tools and authorities enabled under the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS). These include supporting low carbon fuels, delivering timely Renewable Volume Obligation (RVO) rulings, and utilizing the upcoming “set” process to capture the full suite of potential benefits offered by the RFS as Congress intended.
Second, the Departments of Energy, Agriculture, and Defense should spur growth and innovation by allocating program funds to advanced biofuel developers. Private industry is pioneering the path to our clean energy future, but it can only achieve so much without greater investment from the federal government. This added support will be vital in developing and bringing new technologies to market that produce low-carbon advanced biofuels at even greater scale.
Third and lastly, Congress should build upon the IRA’s tax incentives by passing technology-neutral tax policies that further promote advanced biofuel production and blending, along with the production of other clean energy technologies. These enhanced, technology-neutral tax credits will not only accelerate green fuels and technologies’ national rollout, but they will also create significant opportunity to reduce national carbon emissions and achieve our climate goals.
America must maintain its forward momentum in the clean energy transition. As a leader in the global fight to decrease carbon emissions, what we do at home reverberates worldwide and provides direction for international partners who share our vision. The recent Forum in Pittsburgh offered an opportunity for America’s leading energy officials and executives to showcase our progress in the hope that their international counterparts will undertake similar projects in their own nations.
Because only by working together with other countries can the U.S. do its part to protect our planet.