Iowa Renewable Fuels Association

(Johnston)--After a slight decrease in 2017, Iowa’s 12 biodiesel plants rebounded with a record-breaking 365 million gallons of biodiesel production in 2018. 

Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) Executive Director Monte Shaw said the increased production was largely due to the plummeting level of biodiesel imports following a verdict against Argentina and Indonesia for illegally subsidizing imports to the U.S.

“In previous years American biodiesel producers struggled to compete against unfairly subsidized and dumped imports,” Shaw said. “This record-breaking year of production proves that when the playing field is level, U.S. biodiesel producers can successfully fulfill domestic demand.”

Iowa biodiesel production is expected to make up nearly 20 percent of total U.S. production for 2018. Shaw emphasized that the state could do even more if the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) level for biodiesel was set to at least mirror projected U.S. biodiesel consumption and not undermined by small-refinery exemptions.

“We are extremely excited and proud of what was accomplished last year, but the fact remains we still have unused capacity,” Shaw said. “Iowa’s biodiesel plants are ready to grow and produce beyond expectations, and 2018 proved that when the law is enforced equitably they can do just that. But when producers are hampered by timid RFS levels or demand-destroying exemptions they cannot achieve their full potential.”

Compared to 2017, there was a shift in feedstock usage across the state toward more soybean oil. Soybean oil increased its market share to nearly 81 percent while animal fat usage declined from 11 percent to nearly five percent. Corn oil continued to make up about 10 percent of feedstock. Used cooking oil (UCO) saw a marginal increase to about four percent.