US ethanol production capacity continues to grow

Published on July 05, 2017 by Daily Energy Insider Reports

Fuel ethanol production capacity in the United States increased by approximately 4 percent between January 2016 and January 2017, continuing the current growth trend, according to the most recent U.S. Fuel Ethanol Plant Production Capacity report released by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).

At the beginning of 2017, capacity reached 15.5 billion gallons per year or 1.01 million barrels per day (b/d). This is an increase of more than 600 million gallons per year.

The United States has 198 ethanol plants, the majority of which are located in the Midwest region. Total nameplate capacity in the Midwest was 14.0 billion gallons per year or 918,000 b/d at the beginning of
2017. The top three states, Iowa, Nebraska, and Illinois, have more than half of the nation’s total ethanol production capacity.

Nameplate production capacity refers to the plant manufacturer’s stated design capacity to produce fuel ethanol during a 12-month period.

Actual production of fuel ethanol in the United States reached a total of 14.8 billion gallons or 965,000 b/d in 2016. EIA’s June Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO), projected U.S. production of fuel ethanol to reach 15.8 billion gallons or 1.03 million b/d in 2017. This is equal to slightly more than 100 percent utilization of reported nameplate capacity as of January 1, 2017.

Nameplate capacity is not necessarily a physical production limit for many ethanol plants. Many ethanol plants can exceed their nameplate production capacity by applying more efficient operating techniques if market conditions provide an incentive to do so. This level of operation is referred to as maximum sustainable capacity.