Following the lead of policymakers in Japan and South Korea, and considering new emission reduction initiatives, the US Grains Council (USGC) is working to validate the carbon-reduction benefits of blending ethanol into local fuel supplies.
Since declaring a goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050 last fall, the South Korean public and private sectors have been preparing developments and implementation measures for carbon reduction. Earlier this year, a Carbon Neutrality Committee was established to set the 2050 Carbon Neutrality policy measures and play a role in setting future carbon neutrality policies.
Haksoo Kim, USGC director in South Korea, said “This year is the best time to create an environment for expanding ethanol use by persuading the government to introduce a fuel ethanol renewable fuel standard (RFS) to offer carbon benefits.”
Being a major importer of US grains and grain products, South Korea imported 81 million gallons of US ethanol in 2020, mostly for industrial uses.
Ethanol is also a major focus for the Council in Japan, another important trading partner for the US grains sector. Japan’s strategic energy plan and other policies are in development to lead the country to carbon neutrality by 2050.
Direct blending of ethanol presents an immediate opportunity for Japan to further reduce transport emissions under these policies. Currently, Japan does not blend ethanol directly, but relies on pre-blended ethanol in the form of ethyl tertiary-butyl ether (ETBE). This reduces 712,000 tons of CO2 emission per year.
The total potential US market share today in Japan for ethanol is up to 66% of the estimated demand of 217 million gallons of ethanol used to make ETBE, equal to 142 million gallons per year.
“It’s important to make Japan aware of the benefits of bioethanol in reducing carbon emissions in the transportation sector, which is a focus of our work daily,” said Tommy Hamamoto, USGC director in Japan.
According to the USGC, Japan has received a first shipment of ETBE made from US corn-based ethanol. The Asian nation will allow US ethanol to meet up to 44% of a total estimated annual demand of 217 million gallons of ethanol used in the production of ETBE, which equates to around 95.5 million gallons of ethanol.