Study Results Show Improvement in Ethanol’s Net Energy Balance

A recent study finds the net energy balance of corn-based ethanol at U.S. dry mill biorefineries averages 2.6 – 2.8, an improvement over previous estimates, reflecting efficiency gains. The study was conducted by the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA).

The numbers improve upon USDA’s findings of a 2.1 – 2.3 net energy balance for ethanol, as RFA’s analysis used more current dry mill energy use data than the previous USDA study.

RFA_logo-new“As this new analysis shows, the U.S. ethanol industry has made tremendous efficiency gains in recent years,” said RFA President and CEO Bob Dinneen. “EPA should take note and update its lifecycle greenhouse gas modeling of corn-based ethanol under the Renewable Fuel Standard to reflect these improvements. Today’s ethanol plants are achieving the levels of efficiency that EPA assumed wouldn’t occur until 2022.”

Additionally, according to RFA’s analysis, “[t]he energy balance of the top-performing quartile of biorefineries is in the range of 3.2–3.4, which approaches the USDA estimate of 4.0 for an ideally situated dry mill producing wet distillers grains.”

To read RFA’s analysis, please click here.

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