Iowan ethanol production soon to outweigh gasoline use

By | May 01, 2006
The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) reported that the collective output of the state's ethanol facilities is expected to equal the amount of petroleum-based gasoline that Iowans use. Fuel consumers in Iowa have burned about 1.5 billion gallons of fuel in their vehicles in the past year, and annual ethanol production for 2006 should reach 1.6 billion gallons.

Monte Shaw, director of the IRFA, said 22 ethanol plants in the state produce about 1.2 billion gallons of ethanol per year and that six more under construction will add another 500 MMgy to the state's capacity. "We might not actually do it this calendar year, but by late summer on an annualized basis, we will be producing more gallons of ethanol in the state than the amount of petroleum we consume, " Shaw said. "This is important as a comparison of our gasoline demand with our future ethanol production capacity."

Shaw said he believes Iowa will be the first state to achieve this level of energy independence. "We're pretty excited about it," Shaw said. "To be able to say, Look, if we had to, we could displace every single gallon of gasoline with a renewable fuel,' is pretty exciting stuff. It shows that ethanol is not just a nibble-around-the-corners type of thing. We're talking about some pretty profound impacts. Iowa, South Dakota or Nebraskaone of us will be the first net exporter of gasoline components."

Iowa is the No. 1 ethanol producer in the United States and anticipates being the first to produce more fuel locally than it imports. "The other two [Nebraska and South Dakota] are close compared to their gasoline use because they use a lot less gasoline than Iowa does," Shaw said. "It would certainly be an honor to be the first state to be there, and I think that would be a pretty good claim to fame."