Renewable Energy & Climate Change

July 2016 Monthly Renewable Energy Report

Brought to you by the Iowa Grain Quality Initiative and Decision Innovation Solutions.



The Renewable Fuels Monthly Report is now being produced as a partnership between the Agricultural Marketing Resource Center operated by the Value Added Agriculture Program at Iowa State Extension and Outreach (ISUEO), the Iowa Grain Quality Initiative (IGQI), an ISUEO program directed specifically at grain processing and handling, and is authored by Decision Innovation Solutions, LLC, an economic research and analysis firm located in Urbandale, Iowa.

Cellulosic Ethanol: Beyond the Kernel

Cellulosic ethanol is ethanol fuel produced from agricultural residues such as corn stover (that is, the leftover stalk, cobs, leaves, and husks), switchgrass, wheat straw, or non-edible parts of plants. It gained much attention because its feedstock can be grown anywhere and can be sourced from agricultural crop residues. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimated that more than one billion tons of biomass feedstock are available for use in the United States annually (USDA, 2011). Corn starch from corn and sugars from sugarcane are the most common feedstocks for ethanol production. However, the production of cellulosic ethanol requires advanced technologies to break down cellulose into ethanol, unlike corn-based ethanol production occurring mostly in the United States and sugarcane-based ethanol production occurring mostly in Brazil.

Looking Ahead: Corn Usage, Mandates, and Ethanol Production

The first USDA U.S. corn production projection for the 2016/17 marketing year was published in the World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) on May 10, 2016 (USDA-OCE, 2016a). The report indicated a 6% increase, to 14.430 billion bushels, compared with the 2015/16 estimate (13.601 billion bushels). If realized, corn production in the new marketing year will surpass the record 2014/15 corn production (14.216 billion bushels). This projection is supported by expanded 2016/17 planting intentions. As indicated in the Prospective Plantings report published by USDA on March 31 (USDA-NASS, 2016a), U.S. corn producers intended to plant 93.6 million acres in 2016/17, or 5.6 million acres more than last year (88 million acres).

The Feature of the Month - July 2016

The transportation sector has now become the biggest contributor to carbon dioxide emissions in the United States.

Prices and Profitability Models

The spreadsheets listed below provide data and trends for various components of the renewable energy industry. These files are updated with new information each month. Energy prices and their grain feedstock prices are commodity prices that are vulnerable to large swings over time.