Editorial: Ethanol still big player in renewable energy game

Source: By Editorial Board, Kearney Hub • Posted: Wednesday, February 15, 2017

There has been so much buzz about solar energy the past couple of weeks in Kearney that some among us may have forgotten about one of the most dominant and well established sources of renewable energy — ethanol.

Across the United States, about 70 percent of all gasoline burned in everyday vehicles like cars and light trucks is blended with ethanol, and of that ethanol, about 2 billion gallons is produced by the state’s 25 plants right here in Nebraska using corn produced right here.

We in farm country are big on ethanol because we know that using Nebraska corn to make it creates a higher demand for the grain harvested in our fields. Ethanol plants operating in Nebraska consume about 700 million bushels of corn per year.

That’s such a significant demand that it now is difficult to imagine what might happen to the price of corn if ethanol plants weren’t distilling the grain into ethanol. Ironically, some of the critics of ethanol claim that using so much corn to make fuel is driving up the cost of food, but that’s untrue. Corn used in ethanol doesn’t land on our dinner table. It’s used for many other things, and one of the byproducts of making ethanol — distillers grains — is a fantastic feed for livestock.

There’s very little waste from the Nebraska-grown corn that goes into ethanol.

We’ve said a lot about the merits of ethanol, but what’s most important is that it’s a clean-burning fuel that reduces emissions almost 80 percent, and it does that by boosting octain without harming engines.