Increased demand for renewable diesel in the USA could bring the country’s soybean exports to a halt by 2030, according to CoBank research reported by The Western Producer.
Renewable diesel capacity in the USA is forecast to reach 24.6bn litres by 2030, up from 5.7bn litres this year, according to the report.
“Getting there means we need to crush an additional 3.4bn bushels of soybeans,” Kenneth Scott Zuckerberg, the author of the report, was quoted as saying in a video message.
“That is a staggering amount considering today we produce 4.5bn bushels.”
To satisfy that demand, the report said the USA would need to stop exporting soybeans while planting an additional 7.2M ha (17.9M acres) of the crop, an increase of 21% compared to this year’s level.
“Looking… to 2030, corn acres would have to be the primary source of new soybean acres, especially if electric vehicle adoption eventually reduces the need for corn-based ethanol,” the report said.
Under that scenario, soybeans would account for 38% of total US farm acres, compared to 31% today, the report said, while corn’s share would drop from 29% to 27%.
“Alternatives to a massive shift of acres from corn to soybeans would include growing other oilseeds like canola and sunflower on a larger scale, importing other vegetable oils, or using other feedstocks such as beef tallow to produce renewable diesel fuel,” CoBank was quoted as saying in a press release.
However, DTN lead analyst Todd Hultman was skeptical of the report’s findings, The Western Producer wrote.
According to Hultman, soybean exports would not stop, but buyers in the food and feed markets would have to pay more to compete with the renewable diesel sector.
One option briefly outlined in the report was growing more canola or importing canola oil from exporting countries such as Canada.
Canola oil received final approval from the US Environmental Protection Agency on 19 September for use as a feedstock for renewable diesel, jet fuel, liquified petroleum gas and heating oil, the report said.
Canada’s canola crushing capacity is forecast to expand by 5.7M tonnes to 16.8M tonnes by 2025-26, a 50% increase, according to the report.
According to forecasts by the Canadian Oilseed Processors Association, the North American biofuel sector will be consuming 6.5M tonnes of canola by 2030, up from 1.8M tonnes in 2020.