WASHINGTON, D.C. – A new report published by the Environmental Research Letters found that greenhouse gas emissions from corn ethanol are 46% lower than gasoline, up from the estimated 39% done by previous modeling. The report, led by David MacIntosh, Chief Science Officer of Environmental Health & Engineering, Inc. (EH&E) and Adjunct Associate Professor of Environmental Health at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and consulted by dozens of experts in academia, updates ethanol’s carbon intensity score to reflect how continuous improvements in technology and practices have driven further emissions reductions in the lifecycle of ethanol and will lead to net zero renewable fuel in the future.
“In light of the United States’ renewed effort to achieve a net zero carbon economy, our research team believes this critical review is a timely contribution to establishing an accurate, common understanding of the greenhouse gas profile for corn ethanol in comparison to gasoline refined from crude oil,” said MacIntosh. “Our findings indicated that displacement of gasoline with ethanol produced from biofuels yields greater greenhouse gas benefits than are generally recognized and that prior analyses of the payback period for conversion of land to corn production should be updated.
“We believe the results of our analysis are relevant to continued development and refinement of low carbon fuel standard programs in the US.”
EH&E’s new research further underscores the impact biofuels have on greenhouse gas emissions and the technological improvements on GHG data collection. A study done late last year found that transitioning to higher ethanol blends (from E10 to E15) would lower greenhouse gas emissions by 17.62 million tons per year, the equivalent of removing approximately 3.85 million vehicles on the road.
“The evidence proves time and time again that ethanol should play a key role in our nation’s climate goals of decarbonizing the transportation sector and reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” said Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor. “This latest report from EH&E provides a much-needed update to ethanol’s carbon intensity score to highlight as our country, and our new Administration, make climate change a top priority moving forward.”
You can read the full report here.