Studies Show Ethanol is Environmentally Sound and Has Room to Grow

Ethanol has substantial growth potential and has environmental advantages over gas.

The Illinois Corn Growers Association unveiled the results of two studies Tuesday that show ethanol can grow substantially without affecting the food or feed sectors supply of corn and that the carbon footprint of ethanol is less than gasoline. The studies' authors, Ross Korves, economic policy analyst at ProExporter Network, and Dr. Steffen Mueller, principal research economist at the University of Illinois at Chicago's Energy Resources Center, joined the ICGA at a press conference in Chicago.

"The conclusions of these two scientific studies are historic," said Rob Elliott, vice president of the ICGA.  "Amid the long and sometimes heated debate between ethanol proponents and detractors, these studies indicate that modern ethanol plants have a superior carbon footprint and net energy benefit when compared to gasoline refineries. And, the Korves study provides compelling data that ethanol production can grow substantially at no risk to food supplies."

Mueller's study, The Global Warming Impact of Corn Ethanol Assessed at the Plant Level of a Modern Facility, looked at the global warming and land use impact of corn ethanol produced at the Illinois River Energy ethanol plant — which is a modern, natural gas fueled facility - on a full life-cycle basis.

"We found conclusively that the global warming impact of the modern ethanol plant is 40% lower than gasoline. This is a sizable reduction from numbers currently being used by public agencies and in the public debate," Mueller said. "The study also documents the significant net energy benefits of ethanol when compared to gasoline. And, additional opportunities exist to expand that margin even more through technological improvements and on farm changes in corn production that reduce green house gas emissions."

Ethanol's Potential Role In Meeting U.S. Energy Needs 2016 — 2030, which was authored by Korves, examined the technology revolution that could see the average corn yield per acre increase from the 155 bushels today to 289 bushels in the next 20 years. Korves found that with current technology there would be enough corn to increase production of ethanol to 33 billion gallons by 2030 while still meeting increased future demand of corn for exports and livestock feed.

The two studies were done for the Illinois Corn Growers Association and can be viewed at http://www.ilcorn.org/internal.php?subj=research&menu=resources&banner=resources.

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