Ethanol gains favor as climate focus intensifies

Source: By Ken Anderson, Brownfield Ag News • Posted: Monday, May 2, 2016

As the focus on carbon reduction and climate change intensifies around the world, ethanol seems to be gaining favor.

A debate has raged for years over ethanol’s carbon footprint and whether or not it plays a positive role in fighting climate change.  But U.S. corn ethanol fuel production has experienced significant energy use and greenhouse gas emission reductions over the course of the last few years—a fact that even some of ethanol’s strongest critics are starting to recognize.

“Everybody’s really focused on carbon and climate change,” says Doug Durante, executive director of the Clean Fuels Development Coalition. “It’s generally agreed that it’s positive to reduce carbon and the transportation sector continues to be a big part of that. Ethanol and renewable fuels are a great way to do that.”

Ethanol supporters say innovations in energy use and conversion technology at ethanol production facilities, and innovations in corn production management, have reduced the current carbon intensity of corn ethanol fuel by more than 50 percent since 2008.

“With all the concerns about reducing their dependence on fossil fuels, lowering the carbon and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, ethanol comes out as a winner,” says Tom Buis, co-chairman of Growth Energy. “”We have less greenhouse gas emissions, we’re higher-performing and we’re cheaper.”

Brownfield spoke with Durante and Buis at the recent Ethanol 2016 “Emerging Issues” Forum in Omaha.