Check out ethanol plant closures in the US

Check out the updating ethanol plant closures in the US on Earth2TechMaps’ Biofuel Deathwatch. Not a name I’d have chosen myself, but the site makes the point that while there are bright spots, like many candidates for the 08 Presidential race are talking about biofuels. What I suspect this map shows is that the economics of new build ethanol from corn is more than a little shaky.

I guess it points up two things. The fact that the ethanol industry is not very integrated between the farm and the pump, which means that, unlike the gasoline business which can capture value from the ground to the forecourt, its not very robust. And secondly if you will take between 17 and 20% of a crop for a new use the price of that crop is likely to rise dramatically. If you’ve not factored that into the costs of operating the plant, you’re going to take a bath.

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2 Responses to Check out ethanol plant closures in the US

  1. Nora 11 February, 2008 at 11:52 pm #

    I’m curious to know if a rumor I heard is true. I live in Yuma County, Colorado where a new ethanol plant recently opened. This morning I was told that this and several other Colorado plants will be closing due to the hardship of finding takers for the by-product because it is high in e-coli. I was also told that ethanol is actually worse for the environment than gasoline and some owners of vehicles able to run on ethanol/gas have experienced lower MPG and less engine power. If these things are true then what exactly is the benefit of this new-found answer to high gasoline prices and proposed lower emissions problems?
    Best regards,
    Nora

  2. Biofuelsimon 13 February, 2008 at 12:00 pm #

    Hi Nora,

    I’ve not heard about e coli in distillers dry grains before, and i’d have thought that its pretty unlikely since I think they get pretty hot in the fermentation/malting process… In terms of emissions, much of the debate about energy used to make ethanol centers around what kind of fuel is used to power distillation. Coal that is transported many miles is probably going to be worse than useing locally generated waste products like corn stover… In California i’d be more interested in the impact on water resources that ethanol plants, and corn growing could have.

    Thanks for your comment, I hope this helps.

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