Renewable Energy Report

February 2017 Monthly Renewable Energy Report

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



Monthly Average Ethanol Yield: Clarification Note

In AgMRC’s January 2017 article, we looked briefly at the national average ethanol yield from October 2014 to October 2016. We took the monthly corn consumption data on fuel ethanol production from the USDA-NASS, and also used monthly fuel ethanol production data from USDA-ERS. That simple calculation indicated the national average ethanol yield set a record high of 3.0 gallons per bushel of corn crush in March 2016. 

According to some constructive feedback from the scientific community, it’s difficult to believe 3.0 gallons of ethanol per bushel of corn is possible. Chemically, that level would require significantly higher starch corn than currently produced. Yet it’s puzzling to see ethanol yield numbers close to 3.0 gallons per bushel of corn from March 2016 to June 2016. That four-month period shows a distinct pattern of deviations from the time trend line (See Figure 7 in January 2017 report). The purpose of this article is to delve into some interesting data issues in our January 2017 report, and provide reasonable national ethanol yield estimates based on publicly available data.

U.S. Ethanol: January to November 2016 Exports Second Largest Since the 2011 Record

Although most U.S. ethanol production is consumed domestically, exports are important to the industry, particularly during a large stock backlog. U.S. ethanol exports have a positive impact in the development and expansion of the ethanol industry, with new markets contributing to the economic viability of the industry. Ethanol exports represented 6.8% of total ethanol production during the first 11 months of 2016 (13.966 billion gallons), increasing from 5.5% during the same period in 2015. Ethanol production from January to November 2016 also experienced a 3.0% increase from the same period in 2015.

The Feature of the Month - February 2017

A life-cycle analysis of the greenhouse gas emissions of corn-based ethanol, conducted by ICF in Washington, D.C., was published by the U.S. Department of Agriculture on January 12, 2017. It can be found here.

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.