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.