US corn ethanol may help Japan reach 50% GHG reduction target, study says

Source: By Biofuels International • Posted: Tuesday, October 25, 2016

A significant portion of US-produced corn ethanol will likely meet Japan’s 50% greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction threshold over petrol, a recently released US Grains Council (USGC) study finds.

The study, USGC says, supports the case for ethanol’s competitiveness and sustainability compared to other fuel sources.

The results will help the USGC and its industry partners dispel “myths” about US ethanol and help make the case for opening the door for US ethanol in the Japanese market.

In particular, the USGC hopes the study will help show key Japanese government officials and industry stakeholders that US corn ethanol meets Japan’s rigorous international sustainability requirements.

The ongoing efficiency improvements in corn ethanol production, an increased number of co-products, and improvements in US corn cultivation practices have resulted in significant reductions in ethanol’s GHG life cycle emissions and are widening its environmental advantage over petroleum, according to the study authored by Steffen Mueller, principal economist at the University of Illinois at Chicago Energy Resources Center, and Stefan Unnasch, managing director of Life Cycle Associates.

Japan has put into place a requirement that all biofuels must reduce GHG emission by 50%, and Japanese regulators will decide whether or not to include US corn ethanol in Japan’s biofuel policy in the spring of 2017 for implementation in 2018.

The information in the new study will be critical, USGC says, to showing Japanese policymakers and industry that they can supply their ethyl tert-butyl ether (ETBE) needs using US corn ethanol as a component in its production.

Currently, only sugarcane ethanol, largely from Brazil, meets Japanese standards developed ten years ago.

“As one of the world’s largest fuel markets and a major user of ETBE, it would greatly benefit Japan to have a wider range of choices in what ethanol is used in their ETBE production,” said Michael Dwyer, chief economist for the USGC, who focuses on ethanol export strategy.

“With US ethanol significantly less expensive than Brazilian ethanol, having it qualified for inclusion in Japan’s policy should reduce the cost of purchasing ETBE from the US or producing ETBE in Japan.”

The USGC and its partners the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), Growth Energy, and the US Department of Agriculture have been engaging with the Japanese fuel industry and Japanese policymakers to showcase the value of utilising US corn ethanol in the fuel supply.

The promotion forms a part of a global market development effort to promote US ethanol usage around the world, including Mexico, China, India, the Philippines, and Peru.