The Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program in the United States is a national policy that mandates a certain volume of renewable fuel to replace or reduce the quantity of hydrocarbon-based transportation fuel.
The RFS is a great example of government regulation that is pushing renewable fuels forward.
The original RFS program was created in 2005, and was amended in 2007. In the amendement, the US congress initiated a shift away from conventional ethanol in RFS since:
- Ethanol fuel requires feedstock that competes with food supply.
- Ethanol fuels may, in certain situations, yield greater carbon emissions than conventional fuels.
- Ethanol fuels have lower energy content per gallon than advanced biofuels.
The program now focuses on four renewable fuel categories:
- Biomass-based Diesel. A candidate biodiesel must met a 50% lifecycle GHG reduction in order to qualify for this category.
- Cellulosic Biofuel. A candidate biofuel must be made from cellulose, hemicellulose, or lignin. Furthermore, it must have a 60% lifecycle GHG reduction.
- Advanced Biofuel. A candidate biofuel can be produced from qualifying biomass (not including corn starch). It must also meet a 50% lifecycle GHG reduction
- Total Renewable Fuel. A candidate renewable fuel is typically made from corn starch, and must meet a 20% lifecycle GHG reduction.
The program is overseen by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and is implemented by mandating renewable fuel volume standards by year.
By 2020, the RFS program is mandating 36 billion gallons of renewable fuel. In 2016, the Unites States consumed 144 billion gallons of fuel.