Most of nation’s renewable diesel fuel ends up in California

Renewable diesel production 'booming' | Commercial Carrier Journal


Six states, Louisiana, North Dakota, California,Wyoming, Washington and Kansas were the primary sources of all  renewable diesel production in the United States in 2021.

Oklahoma joined the production in 2022 when the CVR refinery at Wynnewood began manufacture of biofuels as well.

But the U.S.Energy Information Administration reported recently that California accounts for nearly all renewable diesel consumption in the United States. Many plants in other states reached exclusive agreements to send all of the renewable diesel they produce to distributors in California.

The EIA reports that more than 8 times the renewable diesel was consumed in California than was produced there in 2021. Rather, most of the state’s renewable diesel was produced in the other states or imported, mostly from Singapore.

Renewable diesel is a liquid biofuel that is chemically equivalent to petroleum diesel and can be used as an additive or substitute for diesel fuel in vehicles. Although renewable diesel is similar to the more common biodiesel, the fuels differ chemically and in how they are made, transported, and used. Unlike biodiesel, renewable diesel can be transported in petroleum pipelines and sold at retail stations without blending with petroleum diesel. It is often produced at existing petroleum refineries that are retrofitted to make biofuels instead of petroleum products.

California’s renewable diesel consumption grew substantially after its Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) went into effect in 2011. Between 2011 and 2021, consumption grew from 1 million barrels to 28 million barrels per year, over 18 times its original volume.

The California LCFS requires transportation fuels used in the state to be mixed with biofuels to lower their carbon intensities. California is the only state that offers a rebate to customers who purchase renewable diesel specifically, increasing renewable diesel use in the state as it becomes more economically competitive with biodiesel. Other states have various biodiesel laws and incentives.

Oregon was the only other state where renewable diesel was consumed in 2021, but it accounted for less than 1% of the U.S. total. Oregon requires petroleum diesel fuel sold in the state to be blended with either biodiesel or renewable diesel. Beginning in 2023, Washington also began requiring petroleum diesel to be blended with biodiesel or renewable diesel, but it did not report any renewable diesel consumption in 2021.

Louisiana, with its substantial petroleum infrastructure, has been the state with the most renewable diesel production since 2011. More than 9 million barrels of renewable diesel was produced in Louisiana in 2021, about 46% of the U.S. total. A plant located in Norco, Louisiana, has the most renewable diesel production capacity in the United States, about 64,000 barrels per day.

U.S. renewable diesel production capacity could more than double by 2025, boosting domestic production. We expect that both renewable diesel production and consumption will continue to grow in the United States over the next few years.

In November 2022, CVR reported its renewable diesel unit at the Wynnewood refinery in Oklahoma continued to increase production during the third quarter, with total vegetable oil throughputs of approximately 17.7 million gallons, up from 12 million gallons during the second quarter.