RFA analysis shows improvement of ethanol energy balance

An analysis by the Renewable Fuels Association shows the energy balance ratio of corn ethanol has improved in recent years.

Chief Economist Scott Richman tells Brownfield ethanol continues to provide more energy to consumers than it takes to produce and distribute it.

“Corn ethanol now provides users about three times the energy that is needed to produce it on average, and actually, the top quarter of plants are so efficient that the ethanol they produce contains about four times the energy that is needed to produce it.”

He says that is up from 2.8 in 2016, thanks to an increase in efficiency not only at ethanol plants but also on corn farms.

“Farmers have continued to become more efficient. The energy usage per bushel has declined. Fertilizer use per bushel is either flat or declining. So, it has really been a broad-based improvement throughout the value chain for ethanol.”

Richman says President Biden’s recent announcement allowing summertime sales of E15 sparked accusations that the energy balance of ethanol is poor, and this data not only dispels that, but also demonstrates how far the energy balance of ethanol has come and how it can continue to improve.

Interview with Scott Richman

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