The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) on Monday announced that Iowa's 43 ethanol plants produced 3.9 billion gallons during 2014, up from 3.7 billion gallons the previous three years. Iowa continues to be the number one ethanol producing state, and is estimated to account for roughly 27% of national ethanol production in 2014. For the first time, a small amount of the ethanol production came from cellulosic feedstocks such as corn stover and corn kernel fiber.
"It was nice to see Iowa take a step forward both in terms of overall production and diversity of feedstocks," says IRFA executive director Monte Shaw. "While Iowa could easily take another step forward in 2015 given this fall's record corn harvest, continuing uncertainty with the federal Renewable Fuel Standard and lack of consumer access to E15 pose roadblocks. Ethanol continues to be the world's cheapest source of fuel octane and until US energy policy is straightened out the growth opportunities for ethanol may be in exports."
RFS and other government policy decisions are uncertain
Shaw says since cellulosic ethanol production is still in its infancy, it is more subject to the ups and downs of the marketplace and government policy, including the uncertainty as to what is happening with the federal Renewable Fuels Standard.
"If we could get a little bit more of a level playing field for policy, I think we'll be ok. But that is a question mark heading into 2015," says Shaw. He says a level playing field would include an extension of tax breaks for cellulosic ethanol producers. Shaw says ethanol exports are strong but the industry will continue to push for higher-blend fuels, which is good in the long-run for consumers, as greater use of higher-blend fuels would keep the renewable fuel market growing.
Iowa is the nation's leader in renewable fuels production. Iowa has 43 ethanol refineries capable of producing more than 3.8 billion gallons annually, including 22 million gallons of annual cellulosic ethanol production capacity and one cellulosic ethanol facility currently under construction. In addition, Iowa has 12 biodiesel facilities with the capacity to produce nearly 315 million gallons annually.
The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association was formed in 2002 to represent the state's liquid renewable fuels industry. The trade group fosters the development and growth of the renewable fuels industry in Iowa through education, promotion, legislation and infrastructure development. For more information, visit the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association website.