Bioenergy

Renewable Ethanol Setting Production Records

A study by the California Energy Commission shows that the U.S. ethanol industry is expanding rapidly, apparently to prepare for the significant demand for ethanol in California and for various uses, including power co-generation.

SACRAMENTO, California, US, 2001-09-19 [SolarAccess.com] The survey of 84 ethanol companies, most of which are located in the U.S. midwest, shows that the industry’s present production capacity of 2.2 billion gallons will double in four years. Capacity is planned to grow to 3.0 billion gallons by the end of next year; 4.0 billion by the end of 2003; 4.2 billions by the end of 2004; and 4.4 billion gallons by the end of 2005. Starting in 2003, California will need up to 950 million gallons of ethanol annually to replace the fuel additive MTBE (methyl tertiary-butyl ether), which is being phased out because of concerns over groundwater contamination. Of 84 companies surveyed, 44 are producing ethanol at 57 facilities that are responsible for the current annual production capacity of 2.2 billion gallons. The increase in ethanol production is due to the expansion of existing plants and new plants that will begin coming on line this year. Thirteen new plants are under construction and 33 plants are in the planning stages, the survey says. Most of the new facilities will continue to produce ethanol from corn, although two facilities will use a grain called milo and several will produce ethanol from cheese whey, beverage industry wastes and potato waste. The U.S. Department of Agriculture will provide $150 million in grants this year to commercial producers of ethanol and biodiesel that increase their production.