Data released Monday by the U.S. Energy Information Administration show that ethanol comprised a record share of America’s gasoline in 2021, averaging 10.34 percent of every gallon sold. The final EIA data for 2021 also confirmed a significant rebound in both ethanol production and consumption after COVID-related shutdowns ravaged the fuel market in 2020. The Renewable Fuels Association said the EIA data also underscore ethanol’s ability to diversify the domestic fuel supply and keep pump prices in check.
EIA’s data show that the U.S. ethanol industry produced 15.02 billion gallons (bg) in 2021, an 8 percent increase over 2020 and the largest annual volume growth since 2010. Domestic ethanol consumption grew even faster, jumping 1.26 bg over 2020 levels—a 10 percent increase. Meanwhile, U.S. ethanol exports dipped slightly from 2020 levels, but still registered as the fifth highest on record.
RFA President and CEO Geoff Cooper said the data underscore the resilience of the U.S. ethanol industry and highlight the fact that the so-called “E10 blend wall” continues to crumble.
“Ethanol’s share of our nation’s gasoline continues to rise, as consumers are increasingly drawn to lower-cost, lower-carbon options like E15 and E85,” Cooper said. “Based on the EIA data, we estimate that 600-700 million gallons of ethanol were consumed in blends other than E10, proving that the oil industry’s so-called ‘blend wall’ is nothing but a figment of their imagination. As war in eastern Europe destabilizes global petroleum markets and crude oil prices continue to rise, our nation’s leaders should be taking steps to increase the use of cleaner-burning, homegrown ethanol. We have enough unused production capacity in the ethanol industry to entirely replace U.S. crude oil imports from Russia.”
Cooper touched on many of these themes in his State of the Industry address at last week’s National Ethanol Conference.