Forward March

Previewing the April issue of Ethanol Producer Magazine, Editor Lisa Gibson reflects on the industry's quest for higher levels of sustainability and lower carbon emissions through water management and carbon capture and storage, respectively.
By Lisa Gibson | March 15, 2021

In 2021, progress in the ethanol industry has picked back up, after dropping temporarily in 2020. As I did research for the articles in this issue, I found evolution in products and services and a reinvigorated drive toward sustainability, diversification and continuously lowered carbon emissions.
Ethanol, you’re back.

In this month’s cover story, “Plant-Wide Approach,” starting on page 12, we share the new and renewed commitment to holistic methods in water treatment. Specifically, our sources tell us ethanol plants are increasingly interested in water conservation, reuse and recycling. Service providers in that sector discuss added processing for recycling water back into the system, emphasizing how each plant’s water management plan differs based on a multitude of factors. We’re heading into an era of widespread water reuse, the experts say.

This trend is exciting and familiar to me, having grown up in a household that emphasized water conservation through the use of neat tricks like inserting a half-gallon jug into the toilet tank to occupy space, thereby reducing the amount of water the toilet uses. (It works. Try it.)

In keeping with the theme of new tricks and trends, the second feature in this issue focuses on carbon capture and storage, specifically the amendments needed to make the 45Q tax credit simpler for use in the ethanol industry. In February, the Carbon Capture Coalition released its second Policy Blueprint, a document it intends to produce every two years. It emphasizes that while some ethanol plants have been able to monetize the credit, it’s been difficult to implement industry-wide.

Creating barriers for ethanol seems counterproductive, as carbon dioxide from fermentation is relatively clean. Ethanol is a prime sector for use of this tax credit. Why make it difficult and inconvenient for us? I’ll temper my frustration and just point to page 20, where the feature begins.

Ethanol producers have continuously used innovative methods to lower carbon intensity scores, and that trend won’t slow. The future is low-carbon fuels and then even lower-carbon fuels. The march toward those goals is strong and loud.

We continue to move forward.

Stay safe and be well.

Author: Lisa Gibson
[email protected]