Energy Efficiency Improvements Shown in USDA's Corn-Ethanol Industry Report

Net energy gain and corn yields have both increased in last 20 years.

Published on: Jun 22, 2010

USDA Chief Economist Joe Glauber has announced that a report from the Office of Energy Policy and New Uses shows the net energy gain from converting corn to ethanol is improving in efficiency. Ethanol producers were surveyed about ethanol yield per bushel of corn and energy used in plants. The report states ethanol has transitioned to a substantial net energy gain in the present with ethanol yields up by 10% in the last 20 years and proportionately less corn required. And there are still prospects for improvement.

The report also shows that corn yields have increased by 39% in the last 20 years requiring less land for ethanol production. The report actually measures all fossil fuel energy used in the production of one gallon of corn ethanol. Since the last study in 2004 the net energy balance of ethanol has increased from 1.76 British Thermal Units to 2.3 BTUs of required energy.

The Renewable Fuels Association says the report released by USDA's Office of Energy Policy and New Uses clearly demonstrates the overwhelmingly positive energy benefits of ethanol. According to RFA President and CEO Bob Dinneen if previous ethanol energy analyses have been nails in the coffin of the stale and distorted negative energy balance myth - this report serves as the final burial. With better, more current data becoming available Dinneen says there can be no doubt ethanol offers tremendous energy benefits while greatly reducing consumption of crude oil. While the profile of oil production continues to worsen he notes American ethanol producers are becoming more efficient and producing greater environmental benefit.

Visit for the entire report.