Advanced Biofuels

Advanced biofuels are liquid fuels that are generally derived from non-food-based feedstocks and yield a lifecycle reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of at least 50% compared with fossil fuels.

About Advanced Biofuels

Biofuels are substitutes for liquid petroleum fuels (such as gasoline, diesel, and heating oil) and are derived from renewable organic matter such as corn, soy, switchgrass, agricultural waste, wood, and waste vegetable oil. Advanced biofuels are liquid fuels that are generally derived from non-food-based feedstocks and yield a lifecycle reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of at least 50% compared with fossil fuels. Learn the basics of advanced biofuels through Advanced Biofuels USA.

The advanced biofuels of tomorrow depend on biochemical research, technological entrepreneurship, and feedstocks that are derived from waste products or can be grown without undue displacement of productive land.

Additional Resources

Massachusetts Advanced Biofuels Mandate

The Department of Energy Resources (DOER) has announced a suspension of the formal requirements of the Advanced Biofuels Mandate for heating oil and transportation diesel fuel and instead will establish a voluntary program.

Clean Energy Biofuels Act

The Clean Energy Biofuels Act was signed on July 28, 2008, to encourage the growth of an advanced biofuels industry, as part of the growing clean energy technology sector in Massachusetts. In nation-leading provisions, this law gives preferential tax treatment to non-corn-based alternatives to ethanol, requires biofuel content in all the diesel and home-heating fuel sold in the state, and proposes a new fuel standard for the region that will encourage a range of emissions-reducing technologies for cars and trucks.

Major Provisions of the Clean Energy Biofuels Act:

  • Exempts cellulosic biofuels from the state gasoline excise tax. Cellulosic biofuels refer to gasoline substitutes made from the fibrous matter (cellulose) of feedstocks, such as switchgrass, agricultural wastes, and forest products, rather than corn. Massachusetts was the first state in the nation to give a tax incentive for the use of cellulosic biofuels rather than corn-based ethanol.
  • Requires a minimum percentage of advanced biofuel as a component of all diesel fuel and home-heating fuel sold in the Commonwealth, starting at 2% in 2010 and ramping up to 5% by 2013. Massachusetts was the first state in the nation to require biofuel in home-heating fuel . All biofuels must meet at least a 50% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions over their entire lifecycles (growing, processing, and combustion) in order to qualify for the content mandate. The Department of Energy Resources has authority to delay the minimum content requirements if there are no biofuels available that meet those standards or if such biofuels are deemed too costly.
  • Requires Massachusetts to pursue, as a successor to minimum percentage requirements, a Low Carbon Fuel Standard that would reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector by 10% and to seek an agreement with the member states of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) to implement the Standard on a regional basis. As of 2008, when the Clean Energy Biofuels Act was issued, only California had committed to developing a Low Carbon Fuel Standard, which could be met by a range of possible technologies - more and better biofuels, plug-in hybrids, all-electric cars, or other innovations.

Moving the Commonwealth to Biofuels

Massachusetts has set the stage for making the transition from fossil fuels to biofuels in diesel and No.2 oil-fired applications, which includes biodiesel and ethanol E85, under Bulletin 13,

Establishment of Minimum Requirements for Bio-Fuel Usage in State Vehicles and Buildings by Executive Agencies.

Bulletin 13, issued in 2006, directs all agencies of the Commonwealth to do the following:

  • Use a minimum of 5% biodiesel in both on-road and off-road diesel engines, beginning in Fiscal Year 2008
  • Use a minimum of 15% biodiesel in both on-road and off-road diesel engines, by Fiscal Year 2010
  • Set minimum-percentage requirements for E85 usage in state flex-fuel vehicles

Biofuel Implementation Plan

To support this transition, the Department of Energy Resources, in conjunction with the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs and the Operational Services Division (OSD), developed a Biofuels Infrastructure Plan. All Massachusetts agencies that operate diesel engines, on road, off road, and marine are expected to comply; however, they can request waivers if biodiesel is logistically unworkable for specific situations. Agencies with onsite diesel fueling tanks and dispensing systems can purchase biodiesel at a minimum of the 5% blend at the first filling of the tanks.

Biodiesel Purchasing Contract

OSD has a statewide biodiesel contract, ENE23, which is open to all eligible public entities, including cities and towns in the Commonwealth, to facilitate the purchase of these fuels.

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