Members of the Husch Blackwell bioenergy team are deep into the Winter/Spring conference season, attending major national and regional conferences in biogas, biodiesel, ethanol and biomass. Here are some of the themes that are consistent across the conferences.
- Turmoil will continue with the federal Renewable Fuel Standard, with the likelihood of year-round E-15 sales slipping to 2020 and with continued grants of small refinery waivers from RFS requirements keeping RIN prices low.
- In the US and internationally, recognition of the need to ‘de-carbonize’ the world economy will be of increasing importance. In the short term, once the China trade dispute is resolved, there are prospects for significant ethanol exports to China. Low-carbon programs in Canada, California and other Western states, plus strengthening of regional low-carbon efforts in the US North East and East, will be most immediately impactful.
- Technological innovation will drive growth and sustainability in all bioenergy areas, with new co-products, energy reduction technologies such as combined heat and power plants, and high efficiency improvements being most important. Bioenergy producers that can produce the lowest carbon results, with additional product streams, at the lowest capital cost, will fare the best.
- The new Democrat majority in the US House of Representatives will assure a new focus on the low-carbon, low fossil fuel future. While no one expects any aspect of the “Green New Deal” to be enacted at least until after the 2020 elections, it will be capturing headlines. There is the chance for bipartisan infrastructure legislation, and bioenergy forces are working to find ways for this legislation to protect and incentivize bio energy.
Stay tuned for more updates as these themes develop throughout the year.