ACE 34th Conference Aims to “Accelerate” Ethanol Growth

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The American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) has opened registration for its 34th annual conference August 18-20 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The conference theme “Accelerate” will focus on the latest growth strategies and market opportunities shaping the future of the ethanol industry.

“With high hopes of gathering safely, in person, we’re looking forward to once again providing a conversational forum for our industry to network and learn about the latest developments,” said Shannon Gustafson, ACE Senior Director of Operations and Programming. “We’re putting together an agenda that covers timely topics to accelerate our industry toward a new and exciting chapter of success.”

“Despite the economic hardship COVID-19 brought to bear on ethanol producers, ACE is taking proactive steps to increase the value of and demand for ethanol, and we will showcase these initiatives during our conference,” said Brian Jennings, ACE CEO. “We encourage ethanol producers and industry members to join us in Minneapolis this summer.”

The conference includes updates from ACE leadership, as well as insight on topics like the ethanol retail marketplace, future demand opportunities, and trade developments. In addition, there will be breakout sessions with subjects covering the latest in technology updates, strategic planning advice, and ways for ethanol plants to lower their carbon score and raise their profitability.

Find out more from ACE

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Ethanol Exports Drop in February

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After a big start to 2021, U.S. ethanol exports took a dive in February, dropping 38% after January’s volume set a record high for the month. Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) Senior Analyst Ann Lewis shared the numbers in RFA’s latest Trade Monitor report.

Exports were 101.7 million gallons (mg), with half destined for just three countries. However, exports spiked to South Korea, up 120% (11.9 mg) to 21.8 mg. This is the largest volume imported in more than two years and was a sufficient boost to make South Korea our top market in February. Exports to Canada remained steady at 18.5 mg, while India’s imports dropped 76% (40.4 mg) to 12.8 mg. U.S. ethanol exports to other larger markets softened as well, including Brazil (7.8 mg, -55%), Nigeria (5.0 mg, -44%), Colombia (4.9 mg, -51%), the Philippines (4.9 mg, -64%), and China (4.7 mg, -79%).

RFA also reports U.S. exports of dried distillers grains were down 15% lower in February compared to January, and 9% below year-ago levels, with volumes to Mexico down a third from January to a five-month low.

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Ethanol Production is Up, Stocks are Down

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Ethanol production is up but stocks are down, according to the latest Energy Information Administration (EIA) data analyzed by the Renewable Fuels Association for the week ending April 2.

RFA reports that ethanol production for the week totaled 975,000 barrels/day, equivalent to 40.95 million gallons daily. Production was 45.1% above the same week last year when the effects of the pandemic were reflected but was 2.7% below the same week in 2019. The four-week average ethanol production rate increased 0.9% to 958,000 b/d, equivalent to an annualized rate of 14.69 billion gallons (bg). Ethanol stocks thinned by 2.2% to a 20-week low of 20.6 million barrels, which was 23.8% below a year-ago and 11.0% below this time in 2019. Inventories dropped across all regions except the Gulf Coast (PADD 3). Notably, West Coast (PADD 5) stocks declined to the lowest level since April 2014.

Ethanol, Ethanol News, RFA

Minnesota Enters Fourth Year of B20

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For the fourth year now, Minnesota will move to a 20 percent biodiesel blend (B20) during the summer months before reverting back to five percent biodiesel blend (B5) on Oct. 1.

“With the ongoing debate around ‘Clean Cars’ and electric vehicles, we know that biodiesel is a proven, reliable solution to address climate and energy concerns. It’s reducing carbon right here, right now,” says Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council (MSR&PC) Senior Director of Product Development & Commercialization Mike Youngerberg, who’s also executive director of the Minnesota Biodiesel Council.

In 2020, using B20 in the summer and B5 in the winter has removed an estimated 1,252,967 tons of CO2 from the air. This equates to removing the emissions of nearly 246,000 passenger vehicles each year. According to the National Biodiesel Board, biodiesel Greenhouse Gas (GHG) reductions are on average 80% below petroleum diesel. Studies show biodiesel lowers particulate matter by 47%, reducing smog and improving Minnesota’s environment. Each year, cleaner-burning, renewable biodiesel displaces roughly 130 million gallons of petroleum diesel in Minnesota.

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Next Gen DDGs Offer New Opportunities

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New corn fractionation technologies at dry mills offer the potential for ethanol producers to produce specialized Dried Distillers Grains with Solubles (DDGs) for specific livestock and poultry needs, according to the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA).

As these next generation DDGs products become increasingly competitive in their nutritional composition, ethanol manufacturers have the opportunity to diversify their portfolio, plugging into newly created revenue sources. If an ethanol plant is experiencing a lull in liquid fuel demand, they could offset this loss or risk by continuing to produce specialized feed products for livestock, poultry and aquaculture producers as well as the pet food industry. This heightened level of confidence and corn demand consistency at a local ethanol plant could translate to additional dollars back on the farm.

Clark Price, a North Dakota corn grower and cattle producer, uses modified distillers in his grower and finisher diets. “Depending on the price of the product, we use it as an energy source first, which at 20-to-40 percent in the ration, provides us with all of the protein requirements also. The modified distillers also work as a ration conditioner which binds the ration together and eliminates cattle sorting as well as a rumen conditioner due to its bypass protein.”

The new corn fractionation technologies create value by separating out the various components of corn to optimize feed for animals of different species in various geographies and life stages. Producers are working with regulatory agencies to develop specifications for these next generation feed products.

corn, Distillers Grains, Ethanol, Ethanol News, livestock feed, NCGA

Indiana Law Would Require Additional E15 Label

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Legislation passed last week by the Indiana General Assembly would require an additional warning label for consumers on fuel pumps dispensing E15 (15% ethanol).

Senate Bill 303 would require E15 fuel dispensers to display the statement “Attention: E15. Check owner’s manual for compatibility and warranty requirements” or a similar statement next to the fuel grade selection button. This would be in addition to the current orange and black label that is required under current federal regulations. The law makes the failure of an owner or operator of a fuel dispenser to comply with the gasohol dispenser statement requirement a Class A infraction.

Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor sent a letter to Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb urging him to veto the legislation. “In the wake of COVID-19, the last thing Indiana’s economy needs is an assault on ethanol producers and our farm suppliers across the entire state. If the governor allows this anti-E15 bill to become law, Indiana farm families are going to be reminded of it every time they fill up at the pump.”

The legislation also “provides that an underground storage tank may not be installed for the purpose of storing regulated substances unless the underground storage tank system meets certain requirements and establishes new maximum vapor pressure limits for ethanol-blended fuel.

E15, Ethanol, Ethanol News

Iowa E15 Sales Set Record in 2020 Despite Pandemic

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Higher ethanol blends seem to have weathered the 2020 pandemic well despite an overall drop in fuel consumption, according to the Renewable Fuels Association.

In Iowa, sales of E15 (15% ethanol) jumped 24% and set a new record in 2020. Meanwhile, E15 and E85 flex fuel data from Minnesota and California show that 2020 sales volumes generally held steady, even as COVID-19 crushed overall fuel demand.

“The recent state-level data on E15 and flex fuel consumption offers great news for consumers, ethanol producers, and anyone else who cares about cleaner air and lower prices at the pump,” said RFA President and CEO Geoff Cooper.

Iowa retailers sold 60.59 million gallons of E15 in 2020, up from 48.96 million gallons in 2019 and more than double the 2017 volume of E15 sales.

E15 sales grew in Iowa despite a 14.3% drop in the state’s overall motor gasoline consumption from 2019 levels. The plunge in Iowa gasoline demand mirrored the national trend, which saw a 13.5% reduction in 2020 compared to 2019.

Recent data from the Minnesota Department of Commerce show 2020 E15 sales were down just 4% from 2019 sales levels, despite the pandemic, and the California Air Resources Board shows sales of E85 dropped only 0.6% from 2019. In contrast, California’s overall gasoline consumption fell 18.5% in 2020.

Ethanol, Ethanol News, Renewable Fuels Association, RFA

REG and Optimus Partner to Deliver Biodiesel to Fleets

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Renewable Energy Group fleet customers in Iowa, Washington, D.C. and Massachusetts are ramping up the use of B100 (100% biodiesel) in their fleets and REG is helping fleets achieve their sustainability goals and reach near-zero emissions through a partnership with Optimus Technologies.

With Optimus’ new technology, biodiesel is now able to be utilized as B100, while REG is providing the fuel and investing in infrastructure by providing turnkey services including storage tanks, dispensers and logistics solutions that provide a simple, low-cost total carbon reduction strategy.

“Delivering sustainable fuel directly to customers is a key element of REG’s downstream strategy and it is exciting to see the demand growing for B100,” said Bob Kenyon, Senior Vice President, Sales & Marketing for REG. “It has been common in the past to see fleets utilizing blends of B5 to B20 in their fleets, but the capability of offering B100 as a finished fuel is an attractive lower carbon fuel solution for our customers.”

The B100 system from Optimus Technologies is an innovative and cost-effective approach for fleets to improve on their emissions targets, as REG biodiesel reduces carbon by up to 88% compared to petroleum diesel.1 Vehicles are equipped to run on B100 through a simple vehicle add-on that works in conjunction with the conventional diesel vehicle components for exceptional performance. The system starts and shuts down the engine on conventional diesel, operating on 100% biodiesel only after the vehicle has reached optimal operating conditions. This allows fleets to operate on B100 year-round.

REG has seen great customer success with the B100 technology in the City of Ames fleet. Across the country in Washington, D.C., the Department of Public Works (DPW) has also piloted the B100 technology. Broco Oil, a residential, commercial and emergency fueling provider in the Boston, Massachusetts area, will begin piloting B100 later this year.
Read more from REG.

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Nebraska Ethanol: Emerging Issues Forum Features CEO Panel

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The 16th Annual Ethanol: Emerging Issues Forum last week, hosted by the Nebraska Ethanol Board and Renewable Fuels Nebraska, featured an industry CEO panel that discussed some of the most pressing topics in the renewable fuels space.

Renewable Fuels Nebraska (RFN) interim director Pam Miller moderated the panel with American Coalition for Ethanol CEO Brian Jennings, Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor, National Corn Growers Association’s Jon Doggett, and Renewable Fuels Association president and CEO Geoff Cooper.

Opening remarks from the panel gave a positive outlook for the industry under the Biden Administration and the role ethanol can play in the low carbon future.
NE Emerging Issues Panel opening remarks (25:38)

One question posed to the panel was about what happens with the Renewable Fuel Standard after 2022, which is the point when the law no longer requires EPA to set specific volume obligations.
NE Emerging Issues Panel on RFS volumes after 2022 (8:27)

Videos from last week’s forum are posted on YouTube.

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States File Amicus Brief in Supreme Court Case

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The states of Iowa, Nebraska, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Oregon, South Dakota, and Virginia have jointly filed an amicus curiae brief in the Supreme Court case supporting the position of the Biofuels Coalition made up of the Renewable Fuels Association, National Corn Growers Association, National Farmers Union, and American Coalition for Ethanol.

The Coalition welcomed the support from the states, as well as other biofuel and agriculture groups that have filed amicus briefings in support of them in the case HollyFrontier Cheyenne Refining, LLC, et al., v. Renewable Fuels Association, et al.

Recognizing that “the renewable fuel and agriculture industries are the cornerstone of the economies of many states,” today’s brief from the states concludes that “the judgment of the court of appeals should be affirmed.”

“These industries—and the rural economies that they anchor—have grown over the past 16 years in reliance on the promise of the Renewable Fuel Standard,” according to the states’ brief. “And all States have an interest in the environmental benefits and energy independence that the RFS promises to achieve. But the Environmental Protection Agency’s recent trend of freely granting small-refinery exemptions has undermined these promises.”

In the latest Ethanol Report podcast, RFA President and CEO Geoff Cooper said the Supreme Court is expected to hear oral arguments on the case at the end of April. “And that keeps us on track for hopefully a decision sometime by the middle of summer at the very latest.”

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