The Energy Information Administration Wednesday released the 2013 Energy Outlook Report reference case, a preliminary release which annually projects U.S. energy markets through 2040.
EIA included positive news for the renewable sector, noting that renewable fuel use, which grows at a faster rate than fossil fuel use, is projected to increase from the rate of 13% in 2011 to 16% in 2040. However, the 2013 report's projection is less optimistic about the ability of advanced biofuels to capture a rapidly growing share of the liquid fuels market than the 2012 report.
Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis said in response to the report that the "blend wall" – a limitation on ethanol use due to blend requirements – has "prevented full saturation into the commercial marketplace and has discouraged investments in next generation biofuels."
Buis said both scaling the blend wall and improving market access will allow the renewable fuels industry to meet the RFS volume goal of 36 billion gallons by 2022, thereby increasing availability.
The American Coalition for Ethanol filed similar comments, noting that the EIA makes projections based on market conditions and known technology. ACE Executive Vice President Brian Jennings said the RFS is already helping to break the blend wall.
"Ten years ago, the EIA Outlook said we could only make 3.4 billion gallons of ethanol in the U.S. by 2020. Congress deemed that unacceptable, and passed the RFS to encourage alternatives to oil, and they were right. The RFS works. Our industry produced almost four times that much ethanol two years ago - ten years ahead of schedule."
Jennings blamed the oil industry for keeping higher blends out of the commercial marketplace.
"The oil industry is spending their time and tens of millions of dollars trying to repeal the RFS through frivolous lawsuits and anti-competitive Congressional action, rather than working with retailers and ethanol producers to break down that wall by blending newly-approved E15 and other ethanol-blended fuels."
EIA's full energy report, including outlooks for other energy sectors including coal, crude oil and natural gas, is available here.