The Market for Petroleum-Based Electrical Generation Capacity in the United States

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1 THE POTENTIAL MARKET FOR BIODIESEL AS A RENEWABLE ALTERNATIVE FUEL FOR THE GENERATION OF ELECTRICITY IN THE UNITED STATES BY LEROY WATSON, DIRECTOR OF REGULATORY MANAGEMENT NATIONAL BIODIESEL BOARD OCTOBER 29, 1997 Introduction and Executive Summary The generation, transmission, and sale of electricity in the United States is a major market for traditional sources of energy. Revenue from the sale of electricity to all ultimate consumers in the United States in 1996 reached $212 billion, an increase of 4 billion dollars (2 percent), compared with the level in In 1996, a record level of net generation was set, when 3,077 billion kilowatt hours of electricity were produced- an increase of 3 percent from the previous year. Based on primary energy source, the major fuel sources for the generation of electricity in the United States in 1996 were (in order of their importance): coal, nuclear power, natural gas, hydropower, petroleum and nonhydropower renewables. Biodiesel is a renewable alternative fuel derived from vegetable oils, animal fats and waste restaurant greases that can be used to supplement existing petroleum fuels in the generation of electricity. It blends well with a variety of petroleum based products, including diesel fuel, heating oil and kerosene. Currently, there is no commercial generation of electricity in the United States from biodiesel. While little direct testing of biodiesel in the context of electricity generation has been conducted in the United States, extensive testing in existing diesel engines indicates that biodiesel can substantially improve emissions profiles when blended with petroleum products. As a non-petroleum source of energy, the increased use of biodiesel in electrical generation would also directly contribute to reducing our nations dependence on imported petroleum Until now, biodiesel has not been seriously evaluated as a potential fuel for electricity generation in the United States. However, several market based considerations indicate that biodiesel may be able to make modest contributions toward filling an important market niche in electrical power generation that other renewable sources of energy can not readily fill, namely supplementing non-baseload, petroleum fired electrical power generation. These modest contributions to national electricity generation by biodiesel would have minimal impacts on overall consumer prices for electricity. They could however, produce substantial environmental benefits in reduced levels of pollution and Lower greenhouse gas emissions. They would also produce substantial national energy security benefits by helping reduce our nation s importation of petroleum by up to 1

2 million barrels annually. For our nation s farmers: even a moderate market penetration by biodiesel (calculated at 1% of total current petroleum usage in the generation of electricity or.02% of all electricity generated in the United States) has the potential to return between $540 million to $660 million annually to America s soybean farmers in the form of stronger farmgate prices for soybeans. The Market for Petroleum-Based Electrical Generation Capacity in the United States Of the 3,077 billion kilowatt hours of electricity that were produced in the United States in 1996, 67,346 million kilowatt hours, or approximately 2% of the total of all electricity generation, came from petroleum fuels. To generate these 67,346 million kilowatt hours, the electric utility industry consumed 107 million barrels of petroleum in 1996, up from 84 million barrels used in 1995, an increase of 10. 7%. This year to year increase in the use of petroleum to generate electricity is contrary to the trend of the previous several years of lower usage of petroleum that has resulted from electric utilities turning away from petroleum as a baseload fuel and relying more on petroleum for peak electrical power generation and for supplementing unforeseen interruptions in baseload power production. However, in 1996, higher gas prices accompanied by a reduction in supplies of gas available to electric utilities as well as the shutdown of four nuclear power generating facilities in the Northeast United States, resulted in a substantial rebound in the use of petroleum from 1995 levels. Electric utilities are shifting their use of petroleum from baseline electrical power generation to non-baseload or peak power generation as a matter of cost control and to better capture the higher prices that peak power electricity commands on the open market. Generating electricity from petroleum costs approximately $3.16 per million Btu in 1996, compared with coal at $1.3 1 per million Btu, and natural gas at $2.64 per million Btu. The average retail cost, per kilowatt hour, for electricity sold in the United States in 1996 was 6.87 cents. Within this average, however, is reflected a variety of electricity pricing formulas that are primarily based on the predictability of end users to take delivery of consistent amounts of electricity over time. Electricity usage by customers that is predictably consistent and continuous is known as base power. Base power electrical generation is the least expensive form of electricity generation, on a per kilowatt hour basis, and provides a nearly continuous revenue stream to the generating utility. However, consumer demand for electricity also generates unpredictable levels of demand that can exceed baseload production capacity. To meet this incremental increase in electricity, utilities must have a access to additional sources of electricity, know as peak power, to meet the occasional and incremental increases in customer demand for electricity. Peak power is also the most valuable form of electricity, commanding prices that can exceed average retail per kilowatt hour costs by two or three fold.

3 Increasingly, electricity generated from petroleum is used to meet peak power demand. Peak power generation traditionally is put in operation only when there is sufficient demand for that electricity. This is demonstrated by the fact that while petroleum generated electricity amounted to approximately 2% of total electric power generated in 1996, petroleum electricity generation capacitv constituted nearly 9% of all electrical generation capacity in the United States during the same time. Because peak power electricity generation is brought on line primarily to meet temporary surges in electricity demand, petroleum peak power generation is often left idle and does not produce electricity at the same rate as baseload power electricity generation facilities do. The Market for Renewable Electrical Generation Capacity in the United States Currently the United States produces only a minor fraction of its entire generation of 3,077 billion killowatt hours of electricity from non-hydopower renewable energy resources. The major categories of non-hydropower renewable energy resources used by utilities today to generate electricity are geothermal, biomass, wind and photovoltaic. A significant portion of non-utility renewable generated electricity also comes from the combustion of municipal solid wastes. In 1996, the United States generated 7,214 million kilowatt hours of electricity from non-hydropower renewable resources. Of that 7,2 14 million killowatt hours, 5,234 was generated from geothermal sources. There is no indication that any commercial electricity was generated using biodiesel in Because of the need to generate economies of scale and other production efficiencies inherent in the application of non-hydropower renewable energy to electricity generation, non-hydropower renewable energy resources are used primarily to produce baseload electricity. Currently available non-hydropower renewable energy sources are ill-suited to efficiently generate electricity to meet peak power electricity demands. The Potential Market for Biodiesel Electrical Generation Capacity in the United States Because biodiesel is compatible with petroleum fuels and because petroleum fuels are largely used to meet peak power demand situations, biodiesel offers an opportunity for a renewable fuel to meet a market niche in electricity generation that other renewable fuels can not easily address, namely as a supplement to petroleum in peak power electricity generation. Today, biodiesel is significantly more expensive than petroleum. However initial goals for displacing petroleum with biodiesel in electric energy generation can be moderated to reduce the impact on the average price of electricity. For example, setting a goal of having biodiesel replace 1% of the existing supplies of petroleum used to generate electricity in the United States would result in an increase in the retail price of electricity on average of less than one one-hundredth of one cent per kilowatt hour based solely on a simple calculation of potential increases in the cost of electricity production using biodiesel vs. petroleum.

4 In fact, simple cost-of production estimates probably over-estimate the impact of biodiesel fuel costs on the ultimate cost of electricity to the consumer. This is because this potential increase would not be evenly applied to all electricity sales but would apply almost exclusively to premium priced peak power sales that are primarily driven by supply and demand market pricing factors and far less on cost of production factors than other forms of electricity. It is highly probable that supply and demand pricing factors for peak power would overwhelm cost-of production factors in setting prices for peak power generated using 1% average biodiesel blended fuel, thus making any direct financial impact on the consumer from the use of biodiesel to generate peak power electricity nearly impossible to accurately ascertain. Existing federal and state policies that are designed to promote and encourage the use of non-hydropower renewable sources of energy in the generation of electricity could also be modified to mitigate any cost increases associated with using biodiesel to produce electricity. Currently, a tax credit of 1.5 cents per kilowatt hour is available from the U.S. Treasury for the generation of electricity from renewable sources. An additional 1.5 cents per kilowatt hour tax credit is also available for renewable electricity produced in California under state law. A corresponding direct payment of 1.5 cents per kilowatt hour is also available from the USDOE for non-profit, cooperative and municipal-owned electricity generation facilities. Neither the existing federal or state tax regulations nor the USDOE regulations specifically include biodiesel as eligible renewable energy sources. Federal tax credits currently apply to electricity produced from facilities placed in service before July 1, The California tax credits do not have a sunset provision. Modifying and extending the current renewable energy source tax credit and direct payment programs to specifically include biodiesel as an eligible renewable fuel would place biodiesel on an equal financial footing with other renewable energy sources used to generate electricity and would further act to mitigate any consumer price increases attributed to the higher costs of electricity production resulting from using biodiesel to generate electricity. Benefits of Using Biodiesel to Generate Electricity in the United States While the net effect of establishing a goal of displacing 1% of the current amount of petroleum used in generating electricity on the price of electricity to consumers would be minimal. The benefits to our nations farmers, energy security and the environment would be significant. For the environment, biodiesel would add an important new tool to control major sources of pollution from electrical generation. While little direct testing of biodiesel in the context of electricity generation has been conducted in the United States, extensive testing in existing diesel engines indicates that biodiesel can substantially improve emissions profiles when blended with petroleum products.

5 One area where biodiesel can be predicted to add significant environmental benefit is in controlling sulfur emissions. Sulfur related emissions from electric power generation facilities is a major source of acid rain. Since 1990, the average sulfur content (measured as percent sulfur by weight) of coal delivered to electric utilities fell each year due to greater use of low-sulfur western coal and to implementation of the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 (CAAA90). However, in 1996, the average sulfur content of coal delivered was 1.lO percent, up from 1.08 in By comparison, biodiesel contains no appreciable amount of sulfur. Increased use of biodiesel in the generation of electricity would directly contribute to one of the major goals of the CAAA90 to reduce sulfur emissions from electric power generation facilities. Another important environmental benefit of biodiesel is in the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Biodiesel is derived from annually renewed domestically produced agricultural resources that sequester atmospheric carbon dioxide as part of the natural growing cycle. It does not contains fossil hydrocarbons derived from coal, petroleum or natural gas. Therefore, use of biodiesel to produce electricity would result in few, if any, net emissions of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. As for national energy security, as noted above the United States utilizes between 84 million and 107 million barrels of petroleum annually to generate electricity. Supplementing existing supplies of petroleum by using biodiesel would displace equivalent amounts of petroleum. Therefore, adopting a modest goal of supplementing 1% of our nations existing use of petroleum as a source of energy to generate electricity with domestically produced biodiesel could result in the displacement of as much as 1 million barrels of imported petroleum annually. For America s farmers and rural economies, utilizing biodiesel to supplement existing use of petroleum to generate electricity would open a broad new market for efficiently produced domestic agricultural products, such as soybean and other vegetable oils. It would also create new markets for biodiesel derived from waste animal fats and used restaurant greases. In 1996, the US Department of Agriculture published a simple economic model to calculate the economic value of increased use of biodiesel on the farmgate prices of major biodiesel feedstock commodities, such as soybeans. The USDA model predicts that if biodiesel could eventually account for only 1% of the total amount of electricity currently produced from petroleum (or a net amount of only.02% of all electricity produced in the United States annually) that that amount of biodiesel usage has the potential to return between $540 million to $660 million annually to America s soybean farmers in the form of stronger farmgate prices for soybeans, based on the 1997 projected domestic crop yield of 2.7 billion bushels of soybeans. Conclusions

6 --Revenue from the sale of electricity to all ultimate consumers in the United States in 1996 reached $212 billion, an increase of 4 billion dollars (2 percent), compared with the level in Biodiesel is a renewable alternative fuel derived from vegetable oils, animal fats and waste restaurant greases that can be used to supplement existing petroleum fuels used in the generation of electricity. However, until now, biodiesel has not been seriously evaluated as a potential fuel for electricity generation in the United States. --Today, several market based considerations indicate that biodiesel may be able to make modest contributions toward filling an important market niche in electrical power generation that other renewable sources of energy can not readily fill, namely supplementing non-baseload, petroleum fired electrical power generation. --While biodiesel is currently more expensive than petroleum fuels currently used to generate non-baseload electrical power, it is highly probable that supply and demand pricing factors for peak power would overwhelm cost-of production factors in setting prices for peak power generated using 1% average biodiesel blended fuel, thus making any direct financial impact on the consumer from the use of biodiesel to generate peak power electricity nearly impossible to accurately ascertain. -- Furthermore, existing federal and state policies that are designed to promote and encourage the use of non-hydropower renewable sources of energy in the generation of electricity, such as the 1.5 cent per kilowatt hour federal and California tax credit for investor owned utilities and a corresponding direct payment of 1.5 cents per kilowatt hour for non-profit, cooperative and municipal-owned electric utilities to produce electric power from renewable resources, could also be modified to include biodiesel to mitigate any cost increases to consumers associated with using biodiesel to produce electricity. -- While little direct testing of biodiesel in the context of electricity generation has been conducted in the United States, extensive testing in existing diesel engines indicates that biodiesel can substantially improve emissions profiles when blended with petroleum products. However, because biodiesel contains virtually no sulfur, it is safe to predict that using biodiesel to generate electricity will reduce sulfur related emissions from electrical power generation facilities that are a direct cause of acid rain. -- Biodiesel is derived from annually renewed domestically produced agricultural resources that sequester atmospheric carbon dioxide as part of the natural growing cycle. Use of biodiesel to produce electricity would result in few, if any, net emissions of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. -- As a non-petroleum source of energy, the increased use of biodiesel in electrical generation would also help reduce our nation s dependence on imported petroleum by up to 1 million barrels annually.

7 -- For our nation s farmers, even a moderate market penetration by biodiesel as a fuel to generate electricity has the potential to return between $540 million to $660 million annually to America s soybean farmers in the form of stronger farmgate prices for soybeans. Sources: Electric Power Annual 1996: Volume I, A Review of U.S. Electric Utility Statistics, 1996; Executive Summary; Energy Information Administration, U.S. Department of Energy, Washington DC; October Raneses A.R., Glaser L.K., Price J.M.; Potential Niche Fuel Markets for Biodiesel And Their Effects on Agriculture; Industrial Uses of Agricultural Materials/Situation and Outlook Report; Economic Research Service, USDA; Washington, DC; August 1996; pp Davis, C., Huffaker, R., Tutt, T.; Policv Report on AB 1890 Renewables Funding: Report to the Legislature; Publication Number P ; California Energy Commission; Sacramento, CA; March 1997.

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