ILUC carbon values to be reduced under LCFS

By Erin Voegele | November 17, 2010
Posted Nov. 24, 2010

On Nov. 18 the California Air Resource Board adopted Resolution 10-49 in regard to the state's Low Carbon Fuel Standard. The resolution calls for the latest research on indirect land use change (ILUC) to be incorporated into the program, which could significantly reduce the carbon intensity values assigned to biofuels.

According to the resolution, an expert workgroup that was formed to address the matter has met eight times since February. The workgroup's nine subgroups have prepared draft recommendations on ILUC values for CARB staff to consider. In turn, the board notes that CARB staff has presented it with a plan to update the land use change and indirect effects attributed to biofuels in the Spring of 2011-or as soon as possible thereafter. The resolution further states that CARB staff has indicated this update will consider modifications that reflect land use modeling activities conducted by Purdue University.

The resolution also outlines several areas in which CARB staff has recently been actively working to support implementation of the LCFS. This includes the issuance of guidelines that identify fuel pathways that are expected to have either no or negligible land use effects on carbon intensity; continuing work to develop carbon intensities for key fuel pathways as well as evaluating carbon intensity pathway applications that have been submitted for inclusion in the LCFS Lookup Table; and persistent efforts to develop carbon intensities for specialized pathways, including those featuring anaerobic digestion and thermochemical conversion. According to the resolution, staff is also continuing to work with industry members to complete the ongoing multimedia evaluation for biodiesel and renewable diesel.

As part of the resolution, CARB staff is directed to submit program amendments to the board in the spring of 2011, or as soon as possible thereafter, regarding several components of the program. This includes amendments that update the land use values for soy biodiesel, corn and sugarcane ethanol, and other feedstocks, taking into account the draft recommendations formed by the expert workgroup. Staff is also directed to create a certification process that would allow a method to establish direct carbon intensity values for new or modified fuel pathways through an executive order process.

LCFS Lookup Table currently includes three fuel pathways for biodiesel:

- Conversion of waste oils to biodiesel where "cooking" is required, is assigned a direct carbon value of 15.84 grams of carbon dioxide equivalent per mega joule (gCO2e/MJ), with no land use or indirect carbon value assigned

- Conversion of waste oils to biodiesel where "cooking" is not required is assigned a direct carbon value of 11.76 gCO2e/MJ, with no land use or indirect carbon value assigned

- Conversion of Midwest soybeans to biodiesel is assigned a direct carbon value of 21.25 gCO2e/MJ, with an indirect carbon value of 62 gCO2e/MJ assigned

- The indirect carbon value of this fuel pathway could be reduced by as much as half under revisions planned by CARB

Biodiesel producers that have completed registrations for the LCFS program include:

- Oakland, Calif.-based Blue Sky Biofuels

- Coachella, Calif.-based Imperial Western Products

- Salem, Or.-based Sequential-Pacific Biodiesel
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