The Energy Information Administration highlighted the path of cellulosic biofuels to commercial scale this week, releasing a map of planned cellulosic projects and detailing hurdles to advancement.
Some of those hurdles – from technology issues to financing – have limited the expansion of cellulosic biofuels and illustrated that original estimates set forth by the 2007 Energy Security Act may have been a bit generous, EIA shows.
The original timeframe and volume goals set forth in the Act included 500 million gallons by 2012, 1 billion gallons for 2013 and 16 billion gallons by 2022. However, by the end of last year, commercial-scale production of cellulosic biofuel generated only about 20,000 gallons.
EIA says a realistic timeline for a production capacity of 250 million gallons may be around 2015 – much different than the original target levels. And though there is significant growth potential over the next several years, EIA points out those volume discrepancies show the path to commercial cellulosic fuels hasn't been easy.
A number of biofuels projects, including one from BP Biofuels in Highlands County, Fla., have been canceled before starting major construction. In addition, many projects have experienced delays in their commercialization attempts.