Vermont Biodiesel Project
The future and security of Vermont’s liquid energy supply led a group of organizations to initiate the Vermont Biodiesel Project (VBP). This two year venture (2004-2006), funded by the U.S. Department of Energy State Energy Program and VSJF, set out to develop a market for biodiesel and Bioheat ® in the state through a set of pilot programs and market building activities.
The Need: Fossil fuels are a one-time endowment of non-renewable energy. Since the Industrial Revolution, nearly every society on Earth has become dependent on oil, coal, and natural gas for everything from transportation and electricity to agriculture and manufacturing. The combustion of fossil fuels and the clearing of forests for housing and other purposes are changing the Earth’s climate. Vermont is particularly dependent on oil for both transportation and home heating (on a per capita basis, Vermont ranks 18th in petroleum consumption, 6th in gasoline consumption, and 43rd in diesel consumption) and that this dependency comes at the cost of over a billion dollars leaking out of the state.
The Opportunity: The VBP was a collaboration between the Vermont Biofuels Association (VBA), Vermont Fuel Dealers Association (VFDA), VSJF, Vermont Department of Public Service (DPS), Vermont Department of Buildings and General Services (BGS), Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and more than a dozen private companies engaged in building the renewable fuels sector in the state.
The VBP's two large-scale pilot projects tested the use of biodiesel for heating when blended with No. 6 heating oil at the Waterbury facility of the Vermont Department of Buildings and General Services (BGS); and biodiesel in snowmaking operations at Smugglers’ Notch Resort. A final report on the outcomes of these pilot projects was released in October, 2006:
- The Vermont Biodiesel Project: Building Demand in the Biofuels Sector. Executive Summary. October 2006. (739 KB)
- The Vermont Biodiesel Project: Building Demand in the Biofuels Sector. Final Report. [Link to pdf: VBP Final Report_Executive Summary_Oct 2006.pdf] October 2006 (MB).
- The Vermont Biodiesel Project: Department of Buildings and General Services: Emissions Testing of Biodiesel Blends With #6 Fuel Oil at the Waterbury State Office Complex. September 2006. (5.1 MB).
VBP partners also leveraged their resources to develop an additional set of pilot projects for residential heating with B20 called the Vermont Bioheat® Program. Vermont Bioheat® Program research, which took place over the 2005-2006 heating season, was primarily concerned with a comparison of heating system performance when using B20 Bioheat® and conventional No.2 fuel oil. A report on the outcome of these pilot projects was released in August, 2006.
- The Vermont Biodiesel Project: Laboratory and Field Testing of Biodiesel in Residential Space Heating Equipment. August 2006. (4 MB).
During the course of the VBP, the VBA and the VFDA collaborated on a range of workshops that helped fuel dealers, fuel users, agricultural producers and state leaders to learn more about biodiesel. Attendance at these events totaled more than 1,000 individuals including Governor Douglas, fuel dealers, farmers, institutional purchasers, investors, regulators, advocacy organizations, students and citizens.
Since 2004, biodiesel market building activities expanded dramatically from small-scale on-farm production and institutional usage (e.g., Green Mountain Power and Green Mountain Coffee Roasters have converted their fleets to biodiesel) to new possibilities with algae and perennial grasses. As a result of the strong market signal being generated in the state, Biocardel Vermont — a Canadian company — announced their plans in August, 2006 to locate their new 4 million gallon per year biodiesel production facility in Swanton. State funding support for this new venture was provided by the Vermont Economic Development Authority in the form of low interest loans and by Vermont Economic Progress Council tax credits.