The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) is making up to US$100M in competitive grants available to the American renewable fuels industry.

Designed to expand the availability and sale of renewable fuels, the grants were announced on 4 May by US Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue.

“America’s energy independence is critical to our economic security, and President Trump fully recognises the importance of our ethanol and biofuels industries and the positive impacts they deliver to consumers and farmers with an affordable, abundant and clean-burning fuel,” Perdue said.

“American ethanol and biofuel producers have been affected by decreased energy demands due to the coronavirus, and these grants to expand their availability will help increase their use during our economic resurgence.”

The Higher Blend Infrastructure Program (HBIIP) consists of up to US$100M in funding for competitive grants or sales incentives for activities designed to expand the sale and use of ethanol and biodiesel fuels.

Funds would be made directly available to help transportation fuelling and biodiesel distribution facilities convert to higher ethanol and biodiesel blends by sharing the costs related to and/or offering sales incentives for the installation of fuel pumps, related equipment and infrastructure.

The aim of the HBIIP was to significantly increase the sale and use of higher blends of ethanol and biodiesel by expanding the infrastructure for renewable fuels derived from US agricultural products.

Grants for up to 50% of total eligible project costs, but not more than US$5M, were available to vehicle fuelling facilities, including, but not limited to, local fuelling stations/locations, convenience stores, hypermarket fuelling stations, fleet facilities, fuel terminal operations, midstream partners and/or distribution facilities.

The USDA planned to make approximately US$86M available for implementation activities related to higher blends of fuel ethanol, and approximately US$14M for implementation activities related to higher blends of biodiesel.

Higher biofuel blends are fuels containing ethanol greater than 10% by volume and/or fuels containing biodiesel blends greater than 5% by volume.