In the early part of this year we published an article in SourceLine that discussed the expansion of ethanol, indicating 2023 could be a pivotal year for the fuel. Indeed, support for ethanol grew with two notable developments signaling expansion. Here’s what you need to know.
Ethanol Production, Sales and E15 Approval
E15 sales surged this summer. The Renewable Fuels Association analyzed E15 sales volumes from the Minnesota Department of Commerce, which is the only monthly E15 data set available. E15 sales rose 10 percent compared to sales in the summer of 2022.
Furthermore, in November the U.S. Energy Information Administration increased its forecast for 2024 ethanol production, as well as forecasts for 2023 and 2024 blending.
And while year-round E15 is still a work in progress, there are signs that legislation allowing for the year-round sale of the fuel is close at hand.
Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF)
In an effort to decarbonize the airline industry, the Biden administration wants the U.S. to produce 3 billion gallons of SAF annually by 2030 and 35 billion gallons by 2050. According to the administration, ethanol must play a part in SAF production to meet the volume targets.
To that end, tax credits were established in the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act. However, to be eligible for the credit, SAF producers must make their SAF 50% lower in emissions than conventional jet fuel. Capturing carbon dioxide at ethanol processing plants and transporting it through pipelines to viable storage sites has been proposed as a way to control SAF greenhouse gas emissions. However, the carbon pipeline projects face significant opposition from critics who cite concerns about risks and energy consumption.
You can learn more about ethanol’s prospects at the Renewable Fuels Association’s National Ethanol Conference Feb. 19-21, in San Diego, CA. Registration for the conference is currently underway.