Economist examines $2 billion drop in total RIN market

By Susanne Retka Schill | October 11, 2013

What’s behind the plunge in renewable identification number (RIN) prices? University of Illinois economist Scott Irwin examined the question in another of his ongoing series of FarmDocDaily posts following the dramatic shifts in RINs markets for renewable fuels.

After peaking well over $1 for an ethanol RIN that was worth just pennies a couple of years ago, the market has dropped to around 40 cents for ethanol. The influence of the biodiesel market may be one explanation, Irwin said, or traders are anticipating a signification change in U.S. EPA policy with regard to the implementation of the mandates. Irwin reviews the developments and some of the reports that have emerged in recent months, and charts the daily movement of D4 biodiesel RINS and D6 ethanol RINs for the year from October of last year to this.

The change in value is nothing short of dramatic. “The approximate total market value of the stock of RINs at the peak of prices in mid-July was about $3.2 billion. Market prices in early October indicate this value had fallen to just under $1 billion, for a total loss in value of over $2 billion in under three months. This is a sizable capital loss by any standard and it underscores the importance of understanding why RINs prices declined so suddenly,” Irwin said.

The complete analysis, “What’s Behind the Plunge in RINs Prices?"is available online.