US Ethanol Production Capacity Up

OAKHURST, N.J. (DTN) -- Fuel ethanol production in the United States reached more than 16 billion gallons per year, or 1.06 million barrels per day (bpd), at the beginning of 2018, according to data highlighted by the Energy Information Administration in its latest Today in Energy series.

EIA's most recent U.S. Fuel Ethanol Plant Production Capacity report shows total listed, or nameplate capacity, of operable ethanol plants increased 5% -- more than 700 million gallons per year -- between January 2017 and 2018.

Part of the increase in nameplate fuel ethanol production capacity in the most recent report is the result of EIA's outreach to survey respondents that were operating at levels higher than their listed production capacities, which had resulted in utilization rates above 100%.

In previous surveys, these respondents reported the facilities' original design capacity values and may not have accounted for expansions or modifications at the plants. This year, some respondents increased their nameplate production capacity to values consistent with EIA's definition.

The remaining increase in production capacity was a result of plant improvements and process modifications such as equipment upgrades, plant expansions, improved maintenance routines and installation of new equipment at some facilities.

According to the data, most of the U.S. fuel ethanol production capacity is located in the Midwest PADD 2. Total nameplate capacity in the region was 14.8 billion gallons per year at the beginning of the year, up 5% from January 2017. Of the top 13 fuel-ethanol-producing states, 12 are located in the Midwest. The top three states -- Iowa, Nebraska and Illinois -- contain more than half of the nation's total ethanol production capacity.

EIA reports actual U.S. production of fuel ethanol reached a total of 15.8 billion gallons, or 1.03 million bpd in 2017. In its Short-term Outlook, EIA forecast ethanol production to reach 15.9 billion gallons this year, which would equate to 98% utilization of reported nameplate capacity as of Jan. 1.