Data released today by the U.S. Energy Information Administration for 2022 show that ethanol volumes continued to recover from the pandemic-affected levels of 2020 and that the ethanol blend rate (i.e., the national average ethanol content of gasoline) hit a record 10.39 percent, pushing far beyond the so-called blend wall. U.S. ethanol production rose two percent to 15.36 billion gallons (bg) in 2022, while domestic consumption increased modestly to 13.98 bg.
The ethanol blend rate exceeded 10% every month and reached a peak of 10.79 percent in October. Ethanol was often priced at a substantial discount to gasoline, and prices of renewable identification numbers (RINs) used for compliance with the Renewable Fuel Standard sustained their value from late 2021, both of which enhanced the economics of mid- and high-level blends of ethanol. Additionally, retailers were able to offer E15 (a blend containing 15% ethanol) year-round.
EIA indicated that sale volumes of E85 hit a record high. While national-level data are not maintained for E15, the Minnesota Department of Commerce recently reported that sales in the state were the highest ever in 2022.
“In a year when American consumers had to pay record prices for gasoline due to tight petroleum markets, ethanol helped expand the fuel supply and kept prices from going even higher,” said Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Geoff Cooper. “Drivers who had access to E15 and E85 experienced significant savings, and the administration should ensure that E15 can be sold year-round in 2023 so that consumers can continue to save.”