One for the Record Books

2010 exports of ethanol, DDGS grow dramatically
By Holly Jessen | March 10, 2011

It’s a good news/bad news situation. The good news is U.S. ethanol producers are finding a ready market overseas for domestically produced ethanol. The bad news is that those gallons of homegrown renewable fuel aren’t being used domestically. 

Final volumes for 2010 show a nearly 400 percent increase in U.S. ethanol exports when compared to 2009, according to government data released in February. The dramatic surge can be attributed to two factors, says Geoff Cooper, who tracks exports for the Renewable Fuels Association as its vice president of research and analysis. No. 1 is that U.S. ethanol has been priced competitively compared to other markets. In addition, the domestic market for E10 is currently saturated and moving to E15 will take time. “The U.S. ethanol industry would prefer not to have to export any product at all, but current market conditions don't allow the U.S. market to absorb the amount of ethanol America is capable of producing today,” he says.

In all, 397 million gallons of U.S. ethanol were exported in 2010. Of those gallons, 270 million, or 68 percent, were denatured ethanol. The remaining 27 million gallons were undenatured, nonbeverage ethanol, of which some were probably used for industrial uses other than fuel. The exported gallons aren’t eligible for the Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit, also known as the blenders credit, Cooper adds.

DDGS exports were also up. The numbers doubled from 2008 to 2009 and increased 60 percent from 2009 to 2010. In all, 9 million metric tons of DDGS were exported in 2010, with China as the top importer at 2.5 million metric tons, or 28 percent of the total.

—Holly Jessen