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US Ethanol Production Tops 500 Million Gallons in May

May07ethanol_2
Monthly production of ethanol in the US. Click to enlarge.

Monthly production of ethanol in the US topped 500 million gallons in May 2007, according to figures from the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA). The 528 million gallons in May 2007 (about 406,000 bpd) represented a 38% increase over May 2006.

Demand for ethanol climbed to 556 million gallons (427,000 bpd) in May 2007, an increase of 22% over May 2006.

According to the RFA, as of 30 July 2007 there were 124 ethanol plants in operation in the US, with a combined production capacity of approximately 6.484 billion gallons per year—which works out to an average production capacity of 423,000 barrels per day. The ethanol industry, in other words, basically operated at close to capacity in May 2007.

Another 82 plants are currently under construction or are expanding, however, with a combined new and expansion capacity of an additional 6.3 billion gallons per year. The vast majority of existing and planned new and expansion plants are corn ethanol facilities.

Comments

Vin Diesel

Did anyone mention that corn ethanol plants consume 1 Bcf/day of natural gas, and more plants are switching to coal to produce steam? That doesn't include copious amounts of water and fertilizer consumption...

richard schumacher

And the House passes another farm bill which includes billions of dollars of welfare for corn producers. Write/call/email your senators and ask them to kill, or at least cut back, this madness. An easy way to find contact info:
http://www.congress.org/congressorg/state/main/?state=GA&view=myofficials

kit p

This is great, who would have ever thought we would see production figures like this five years ago. The interesting thing about renewable energy is the number of people are against it when it becomes practical.

CEO

Kit P
That is because most people here have no interest in solving energy problems. They would rather starve us out of energy and push us back into the 16th century. Horse and buggy anyone? Whether its nuclear, ethanol, anything diesel, or CTL, these people want none of it. They only want things that are not practical so there will not be enough energy or that energy will cost soooo much that no one will be able to afford what is produced.

sulleny

CEO sounds like a... CEO. But is right on several points. Now that ethanol is being widely adopted certain agenda driven people want to debunk it. The reasons for this are:

1) Their agenda is more about custodial social change than energy independence or greening.

2) They are professional debunkers who are paid to dismiss sustainable progress of any kind that is not downsize-driven.

Ethanol can be made in a bathtub using almost any organic feedstock - this terrifies the downsizers and energy cartels alike. Both fear they will lose control over energy - a primary source of life.

Vin Diesel

I love how you "CEOs" can't refute any arguments with any facts or figures...

If corn-based ethanol provided an EROEI beyond the current 1.3:1, all of us would be in favor of expanding it as far as the eye can see... That ratio is surely ending our dependence on Saudi oil, right boys???!!!

But hey, if your definition of "progress" means expelling lots of CO2, NOx, Hg, and SOx through coal-fired ethanol plants across the corn belt, then full speed ahead for this train wreck!

CEO

Vin Diesel

All you do is say that nothing is good enough. Right now what would you do to alleviate our energy crisis.

What I would do.
1. Remove state regs of nuclear reactors, simplify federal regs, and start building them. The French get 80% of their electric from nukes.
2. Electrify railroads like in Europe.
3. Remove state regs on building refineries and start building and expanding them.
4. Eventually phase out natural gas from making electricity. Implement more natural gas into transportation.
5. Open up ANWR and the Continental Shelf to drilling NOW.
6. Build the natural gas pipleine from Alaska and more LNG facilities.
7. Overrule all that CARB bull crap this is ruining diesels in this country which I might add get better MPG than gasoline today.
8. Establish price guarantees for CTL plants and start building them.
9. Raise CAFE standards.

Reality Czech

It is revealing that "CEO" has nothing in his proposals regarding ethanol.  He condemns Vin Diesel for pointing out the problems with ethanol, but he has nothing good to say about it himself.

Jim G.

Appalling. Destroying wildlife preseves to release a minuscule quantity of energy to enrich a handful of people for a short time is not a solution, it's a ripoff. Where exactly is the "green" in that? Clearly, CEO's don't have to work in nuclear plants and the train routes that will carry the waste to Nevada won't run by their houses. And CARB is the problem, right, not Carl Levin and John Dingell, not SUV's to get housewives back and forth from the Safeway, not the current government's decision to drop the lawsuit to shut 30 year old coal plants, but a public agency that's been repeatedly arm-wrestled to the earth by (who but) CEO's each time they tried to accomplish anything meaningful.

Stan Peterson

Thirty year old coal plants exist because green enviro-wackos prevent building more efficient and adequate replacemnts...

CEO

Full disclosure

My dad is a worker in a Westinghouse factory that manufactures the rods for nuclear reactors here in western PA. I am a college student studying education.

Ethanol while not a longterm answer is not as bad as you all make it seem. It is a net plus on energy and is a quick fix to the problems created by not developing our own energy resources here in the US.

My 9 point plan consists of all proven technologies that we can build today. Ethanol from cellulose or bio-butanol would be ideal but is still in the lab right now so that is why I did not include it.

Max Reid

So this year, Ethanol may hit 6 billion gallons, nice news on the day, the oil prices crossed the previous high of 78.4 / barrel.

There is another news about a plant to make Cellulosic Ethanol & Butanol.

Bio-fuels are roaring.

Kit P

I have been following biofuels for a number of years. It is a story of continuous improvement. The ethanol industry has now exceeded the goals set for 2012 in the 2005 energy bill. With 124 ethanol plants in operation in the US, you would think that critics could find an actual smoking gun.

While it has yet to be determined how large the share of the gasoline market can be displaced, this is a great start. It sure makes sense to me as a tax payer to pay production tax credit lower taxes on profits from producing something rather than paying farmers not to grow something.

glenn

CEO:
Some of your points are worthwhile; I have commented on them below:

1. Remove state regs of nuclear reactors, simplify federal regs, and start building them. The French get 80% of their electric from nukes.

Citizens in the vicinity of a proposed nuclear facility should have a say in the siting, otherwise they will be forced on rural populations by more numerous city populations. Our state requires approval of the voters within the county where the facility would be constructed. It also requires waiving of liability limits.

2. Electrify railroads like in Europe.

We need to electrify our railroads and shift more truck freight to rail as well.


3. Remove state regs on building refineries and start building and expanding them.

Since we are not going to be producing more oil there is not a significant need for more refining capacity. Most of the bottlenecks at refineries are a result of special blends required by air pollution regulations.


4. Eventually phase out natural gas from making electricity. Implement more natural gas into transportation.

We don't have much domestic natural gas left and we waste a lot heating inefficient buildings etc. Using more for transportation would have only a short term effect on oil consumption at best. Importing LNG from Russia would put us in the same position as with oil imports from unstable, unreliable countries.

5. Open up ANWR and the Continental Shelf to drilling NOW.

Why bother, ANWR has at best about a 20 month supply of oil. It would make a few companies very rich but not reduce gas prices.


6. Build the natural gas pipleine from Alaska and more LNG facilities.

probably a good idea.

7. Overrule all that CARB bull crap this is ruining diesels in this country which I might add get better MPG than gasoline today.

A few weeks ago there was an announcement on this site that the 2008 VW Jetta diesel will be approved in all 50 states and will get 60 mpg and produce less CO2/mile than the Prius. If you lived in CA you would appreciate the cleaner air that CARB rules have provided.

8. Establish price guarantees for CTL plants and start building them.

Why can't they compete without subsidies? Do we want twice as much CO2 from our liquid fuels? According to an article in Physics Today several months ago, subsituting ctl for oil would depleat our reserves in less than a human lifetime. We must reduce consumption not increase supplies.

9. Raise CAFE standards.

We need a carbon tax.

hampden wireless

How about making ethanol plants and nuclear plants together?? With ethanol not using NG to make steam but 'free' steam from a nuclear-electric power plant its quite energy positive. Sure it can't be done everywhere but its a great solution for the US.

Jim G.

Sulleny- posters here are "more interested in social change than greening"? It's fair to say some posters have problems with ethanol, but I think saying these people are all on a payroll should be backed up. I have no idea what you support but you have to admit CEO posts a lot of very non-green proposals. What exactly is the green part of coal to liquids, dumping California air quality standards, mining the ANWR, and producing radioactive waste and munitions? I can understand ethanol being part of this if the sole objective is to gain energy independence from unlovable states, but if biofuel use occurs alongside the continued use of coal, oil and natural gas, there'll be no greening, no CO2 reduction. If you want ethanol because it's green, you have to concede CEO is wrong on several points too.

Vin Diesel

CEO, your comments are worthwhile but:

I am still sickened by COAL-FIRED, CORN-BASED ETHANOL... Emitting lots of CO2 and particulate matter on the production-end does us no good in order to produce "clean fuels" on the user end. F-T CTL plants are even WORSE from a SOx, NOx, Hg, and CO2 standpoint... None of your recommendations are good enough to end our addiction to foreign oil, AND protect the U.S. environment at the same time... All of this would be worthwhile if we could produce ethanol like the Brazilians (10:1 EROEI), but we aren't blessed with their geography...

sulleny

Jim G,

the 9 points made by CEO were written AFTER my comment. Thus any attempt to align my comments as the same as CEO's is... fawlty argumentation! CEO's 9 "points" are disingenuous and most probably an exercise catalyst as is much of the GCC discussion board. That's okay - it makes for a reasonable forum to explore ideas. Only points 2 and 9 hold a semblance of plausibility - the rest are clap trap petro-speak.

Let's also keep in mind that carbon dioxide is a non-toxic naturally occurring gas in Earth's atmosphere. We breathe and drink it most every day - unless of course you don't.

Our position is it wouldn't hurt the complainers here to give the biofuel industry a couple "attaboys." It's called positive reinforcement in case its long absence has caused it to be forgotten. And, remarkably it has a positive effect.

Andy

Interesting point. If the average US ethanol output is 420,000 b/d (of ethanol) then this equates to about 262,500 b/d gasoline equivalent.

If it takes 0.8 barrels of NG & diesel to produce 1 barrel equivalent of gasoline energy then for every barrel of gasoline equivalent you get 0.2 barrels of "solar" energy. You also get to use the original input of 0.8 barrels of NG & diesel, albeit recycled.

Thus at 262,50 b/d eqv. this equals 52,500 b/d eqv new energy.

Thats 804 million gallons a year. Or enough new energy to run 1.9 million cars continually.

So effectively America already has the equivalent of 1.9 million solar cars. That's not too shabby.

Andy

Jim G.

Sulleny- I didn't mean to dump on you but rather wanted to get your response to the 9 point plan from hell. I can accept ethanol gets a lot of heat here. I'm not motivated against ethanol but the rest of the platform CEO was pushing. I guess if you don't see CO2 as a pollutant in the quantities it exists this stuff wouldn't be so irritating. I do, which is why I got all bent about that post. If we replace gasoline and diesel with biofuels 100% and keep using coal, oil etc, any CO2 effect will be far worse than if we used wind farms and EV's.

Mike M

CEO is correct to want to produce more of our own energy.
We need to focus on having more sources of energy, that will move us away from dependence on middle east oil.
The Ethanol industry is becoming more effient, and with the government paying subsidies to keep over 50 million acres of US agricultural land out of production, why not use it.
WE have many resources in our own country, and congress has tied it all up.
We cannot continue to buy our energy, from the same people who are trying to destroy Western civilization.
It is time to get off our buts and try to use other sources of fuel for transportation.

Vin Diesel

Mike M,

An excerpt from an article written by F William Engdahl:
http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Global_Economy/IH01Dj01.html

"This year the Massachusetts Institute of Technology issued a report concluding that using corn-based ethanol instead of gasoline would have no impact on greenhouse-gas emissions, and would even expand fossil-fuel use because of increased demand for fertilizer and irrigation to expand acreage of ethanol crops. And according to MIT, "natural-gas consumption is 66% of total corn-ethanol production energy", meaning huge new strains on natural-gas supply, pushing prices of that product higher."

Mike M

Well Vin,
I think the MIT study, discounts the many innovations currently used or in the pipeline in ethanol production.
The use of waste heat and bio methane in place of natural gas has already started.
The future use of switchgrass or other cellulose base feedstocks would solve your issues with fertilizers and irrigation.
You are forgeting the huge costs of gasoline production not only are there energy costs in refining and transportation, but the huge cost to our country to protect overseas oil resources.
But the bottom line is that we need to have robust and dependable sources of domestic energy in the next decade.
We no longer can outsource energy production

Kit P

Vin, if you work at it you may be able to find a more biased anti-American Luddite. Forming an opinion from bias sources will support your position but not help you develop an informed opinion.

The environmental impact of ethanol is still debatable. Since ethanol producers are now doing something, we can debate results instead of theories.

glenn

Kit P and Mike M

Vin Diesel is right to critcise our obsession with biofuels. It is not only their poor net energy but the lowering of water tables, pesticide contamination, and soil loss from industrial agriculture that will be their legacy. Returning fallow and marginal land to corn and soybean production exacerbates these problems.

Last year there was a confirming study showing the number of birth defects correlated with wheat acreage in Montana and Dakota counties. We don't need more agent Orange applied to our citizens.

BEV's and electrified mass transit will be the long term, sustainable solution to transportation, not biofuels.
For some insiteful analysis of ethanol etc. see papers written by Tad Patzek at UCB

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