USDA: Ethanol produces twice the amount of energy it consumes

Tom Vilsack

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vlisack touted a new USDA study that proved, once again, that ethanol has a positive energy balance.

The crowd that’s always trying to tear down ethanol constantly pushes the myth that ethanol requires more energy to make than it creates. The myth has been disproven time and again, but that’s never stopped the anti-ethanol zealots before.

Well, maybe a new USDA study finally slow them down.

The report is called “2015 Energy Balance For The Corn-Ethanol Industry” and concludes that ethanol has, on average a 2:1 energy ratio. That means ethanol creates twice the amount of energy needed to produce it.

The results are even better in Minnesota. Because Minnesota sells produces so much ethanol that it sells locally, produce a high amount of we distillers grains and use the lowest corn energy the ratio in our state is as high as 4:1.

“And there are still prospects for improvement,” the report says.

Even Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack weighed in on the study:

Improved and expanded ethanol and biodiesel production have saved Americans money at the pump. Our national security has been bolstered because we are more energy secure and also because our nation’s military is a major commercial customer for U.S. biofuels. And, as today’s reports demonstrate, U.S. farmers continue to improve their efficiency in the production of corn for ethanol while the impact of ethanol production on corn production has become marginal. Between 1991 and 2010, direct energy use in corn production has dropped by 46 percent per bushel of corn produced and total energy use per bushel of corn by 35 percent. Moreover, between 2005 and 2010, direct energy use fell by 25 percent and the total energy use by 8.2 percent per bushel—meaning that between 2005 and 2010, the energy required per bushel of corn produced dropped by about 5 percent. The bottom line is, today, more energy is being produced from ethanol than is used to produce it, by factors of 2 to 1 nationally and by factors of 4 to 1 in the Midwest.

There you have it. Yet another study that demonstrates the energy effectiveness of ethanol. Will it quiet the oil industry and other ethanol critics? Probably not. But it’s still nice to have the facts on your side.

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