EIA: Despite economy, ethanol production increases

By Megan Skauge | February 04, 2009
Web exclusive posted Feb. 9, 2009, at 11:01 a.m. CST

According to recent statistics compiled by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, U.S. ethanol facilities produced 668,000 barrels per day in November 2008. This is an increase of 189,000 barrels per day from the previous year, the Renewable Fuels Association said.

The RFA calculates that an estimated 1.8 billion gallons of production capacity are currently idled due to economic troubles. While we may see a slight slow down due to economic times, RFA Communications Director Matt Hartwig said ethanol production and demand will continue to increase on a year to year basis. He said this is partly due to the renewable fuels standard (RFS) which required 9 billion gallons of ethanol to be blended with gasoline in 2008, but it's also due to the industry responding to the demand for renewable fuels to power vehicles.

The underlying fundamental is "we've got to change what we are putting in our gas tanks; we've got to address security concerns of using foreign fuels, and begin addressing the climate change due to constant use of petroleum," Hartwig said, adding that "the most effective way to do that is to use renewable fuels." He said the use of ethanol is not going away and we will see production continue to increase.

As established in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, the RFS requires that 10 billion gallons of ethanol must be blended with gasoline in 2009; increasing up to 36 billion gallons by 2022.