A USDA study confirms that the production of ethanol is energy efficient as it yields 34 percent more energy than used to create it. That means it can play a positive role in reducing the nation’s dependence on oil imports.

“This new research shows that ethanol is a valuable energy source,” said Ann Veneman, secretary of agriculture. “This report supports President Bush’s energy policy which calls for additional renewable sources of energy.”

The report, “The Energy Balance of Corn Ethanol: An Update,” concludes that ethanol yields 34 percent more energy than what is used in growing and harvesting the corn and distilling it into ethanol. The report is available on the Web at http://www.usda.gov/oce.

The report concludes that the net energy value of corn ethanol has become positive in recent years due to technological advances in ethanol conversion and increased efficiency in farm production. Ethanol produces much more energy than it consumes when compared to other products such as petroleum. Moreover, ethanol production uses abundant domestic supplies of energy to convert corn into a premium liquid fuel that can displace petroleum imports.

According to the report, today’s higher corn yields, lower energy use per unit of output in the fertilizer industry and advances in fuel conversion technologies have greatly enhanced the economic and technical feasibility of producing ethanol. Studies using older data tend to overestimate energy use because the efficiency of growing corn and converting it to ethanol has improved significantly over the past 20 years.

USDA