Amidst the hustle and bustle of race weekend events, I caught up with EPIC board member Don Endres of VeraSun Energy, a producer of fuel grade ethanol. Don said the Indy Racing League’s switch to 100 percent ethanol fuel is history in the making. He said the IRL’s investment in the fuel not only demonstrates to the world that ethanol is a trusted renewable fuel source that promotes a cleaner environment, but that it’s also a high-performance fuel with benefits surpassing those of gasoline.[audio:http://www.zimmcomm.biz/epic/endres-don.mp3]
Don broke down industry projections for the growth of ethanol. He said the fuel currently accounts for just 4 to 5 percent of the fuel stream today. America uses about 142 billions of gasoline annually and that figure is growing by about a percent and a half a year. The Energy Information Administration estimates that by 2050 the demand for gas will reach upwards of 163 billion gallons a year at a 10 percent ethanol blend. That means an annual demand of at least 16.3 billion gallons of ethanol by 2050.
Don said today, the ethanol industry is producing just 6 billion gallons annually and there is another 6 billion gallons of production under construction. He added that car makers are putting a significant number of flex-fuel vehicles into the consumer market, which can burn a higher grade ethanol blend, E85. With an estimated 2 million FFVs added to the market each year on top of the current 6 million already available, Don said the market for ethanol is set to expand well-beyond where it’s at today.
For Don, it’s still rather early in the game. He added that the concentrated push for domestically-produced fuel from America’s politicians not only reaffirm his projections for a vastly growing demand for ethanol, but help drive it.