An analysis of processors, soybean yields and market demand were merged to determine the profitability of a biodiesel production within the state. The study found that, with the incentives from the recent energy bill, the demand for biodiesel is greatly affected and biodiesel production in South Carolina could be successful in the long run.

Even before these encouraging results were released, the demand for soy biodiesel was running high. The South Carolina State Fleet purchased 226,000 gallons of soy biodiesel, specifically B20, a 20-percent soybean-oil blend that can be used in regular diesel engines.

"Some of the SCSB members shared their insights with us on B20 and other soy biodiesel blends," says Jeff McCormack of the South Carolina State Fleet Management. "At first, we saw it as giving our State Fleet flexibility in meeting federal alternative-fuel vehicle mandates. Eventually we found that it was a viable alternative for many different environmental and economic reasons."

The 20-percent blend is available at more than 18 different fueling sites across South Carolina for the different fleet vehicles. McCormack placed most of the sites close to the city of Aiken. That placement is no mistake, since Aiken is the location of the nation's first public alternative fuel station. Red Roberts, owner and operator of United Energy Distributors, has supplied South Carolina and surrounding states with B20 for the past two years.

"There are many reasons for using these alternative fuels — decreased dependence on foreign oil, increased fuel lubricity and environmental reasons," says Roberts. "But, in reality, people are just realizing that it is the right thing to do. They deserve a choice to use an alternative fuel and help our soybean producers."

Fueling much of these developments are the producer-leaders in the SCSB. Through their educational programs and outreach efforts, South Carolina has become a leading state in terms of usage of soy biodiesel and other alternative fuels.

Other signs of SCSB's success include B20-fueled shuttle buses on the campuses of the University of South Carolina. They are using biodiesel as part of a campus-wide effort to adhere to clean air standards, help out area soybean producers and lessen dependence on foreign oil.

Headquartered in Columbia, the South Carolina Soybean Board is governed by a 13-member volunteer farmer board, which directs the statewide Soybean Promotion and Research Program. The program's primary goal is to improve soybean profitability by targeting research and development programs through the investment of farmer contributed funds.