Renewable diesel production surpasses biodiesel

Vertical bar and line chart showing U.S. production of biofuels and share of soybean oil used for biofuel between fiscal years 2001/02 and 2022/23.

The U.S. Renewable Fuel Standard, a program that originated in the mid-2000s, mandates that a specific volume of certain biofuels be used each year in transportation fuel. One category of biofuels included in this mandate is biomass-based diesel. For many years, this portion of the biofuels mandate was filled by biodiesel, which is produced using fats such as soybean oil, corn oil, yellow grease, or tallow and must be blended with traditional diesel. Production of biodiesel grew steadily beginning in the early 2000s to a peak of 1.8 billion gallons during the 2018/19 marketing year for soybean oil (October–September) but has declined slightly to 1.7 billion gallons in 2022/23. Renewable diesel has displaced biodiesel’s share of the market. Renewable diesel can be produced from similar fats as biodiesel, but unlike biodiesel, renewable diesel is a “drop in” biofuel, meaning it does not need to be blended with traditional diesel. Production of renewable diesel has grown from 40 million gallons in the 2010/11 marketing year to 2.3 billion gallons in 2022/23, surpassing biodiesel production for the first time. Combined, biodiesel and renewable diesel pushed total biomass-based diesel production to an all-time high in 2022/23. As this portion of the biofuels sector has mostly expanded since 2001/02, an increasing share of soybean oil produced in the United States is now used for biofuel, growing from less than 1 percent in 2001/02 to 46 percent in 2022/23. This chart was drawn from the USDA, Economic Research Service data product, U.S. Bioenergy Statistics.

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