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  • Published In : Jan 2024
  • Code : CMI6468
  • Pages :160
  • Formats :
      Excel and PDF
  • Industry : Bulk Chemicals

The U.S. Ethanol Market size is estimated at USD 32.70 billion in 2024, and is expected to reach USD 59.78 billion by 2031, growing at a CAGR of 9% during the forecast period (2024-2031). Ethanol, also known as ethyl alcohol, is a renewable biofuel produced by fermenting the sugar components of plant materials such as corn, sugarcane, or cellulosic feedstocks. It is used as an eco-friendly alternative to petroleum-based fuels and has a high octane rating, which improves engine performance. The growing demand for biofuels, coupled with supportive government policies, are key drivers for the U.S ethanol market.

The U.S ethanol market is segmented by feedstock type, technology, application, and region. By feedstock, the market is segmented into corn, sugarcane, cellulosic feedstocks. Corn ethanol accounts for the largest share, driven by the abundant availability of corn in the U.S.

U.S Ethanol Market Regional Insights

  1. Midwest Region:
  • The Midwest, often referred to as the "Corn Belt," has historically been the primary hub for ethanol production in the U.S.
  • States like Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska, and Minnesota are major contributors to the ethanol industry in the Midwest.
  • Northeast Region:
    • The Northeastern U.S. plays a smaller role in ethanol production compared to the Midwest.
    • This region includes states like New York, Pennsylvania, and New England.
    • Ethanol consumption in the Northeast is influenced by various factors, including state-level regulations and incentives for renewable fuels.
  • South Region:
    • The South has been a growing market for ethanol production and consumption.
    • States in the South, such as Texas and Louisiana, have seen increasing ethanol production facilities.
    • Ethanol blending into gasoline is common in this region due to federal mandates and efforts to reduce emissions.
  • Western Region:
    • The Western United States is characterized by a mix of ethanol production and consumption.
    • States like California have a significant focus on alternative fuels, including ethanol, to address environmental concerns.
    • This region may have varying degrees of ethanol infrastructure and usage based on state policies and market conditions.

    U.S. Ethanol Market Drivers:

    • Supportive Government Policies and Regulations: The U.S government has implemented several policies and regulations to promote the production and use of ethanol as a renewable fuel. The Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program mandates the blending of renewable fuels like ethanol in transportation fuel sold in the U.S. The RFS statutory volume for total renewable fuel increased from 9 billion gallons in 2008 to 36 billion gallons by 2022. Government tax credits and grant programs also incentivize ethanol production. The biodiesel and cellulosic biofuel tax credits have stimulated investments. These supportive policies have been crucial in driving ethanol demand and market growth in the U.S.
    • Growing Demand for Cleaner Burning Fuels: Rising environmental concerns and stringent emission norms have increased demand for clean and renewable biofuels like ethanol. Ethanol burns cleaner than gasoline and reduces greenhouse gas emissions. The ethanol content in gasoline also boosts octane levels for improved engine performance. E10 fuel (10% ethanol blend) dominates the markets due to its infrastructure compatibility. Higher ethanol blends like E15 and E85 are also gaining wider acceptance, which is projected to further propel market growth.
    • Advancements in Ethanol Production Technologies: Continued advancements in ethanol production technologies, such as cellulosic ethanol and waste-to-ethanol processes, are enhancing efficiency and yields. Cellulosic ethanol by using agricultural wastes, grasses, and wood chips offers environmental benefits over corn-based ethanol. Companies are also developing technologies to derive ethanol from municipal solid waste. Such production innovations are expected to lower costs, improve sustainability, and increase output capacities, thereby driving market expansion.
    • High Crude Oil Prices Boosting Ethanol Competitiveness: Surging crude oil prices and volatile petroleum fuel costs have improved the cost competitiveness of ethanol, making it more attractive for refiners and fuel blenders. With ethanol currently priced around $1 lower per gallon compared to gasoline, ethanol's price advantage is anticipated to further grow in case of rising oil prices. This is projected to raise ethanol blending economics for market players.

    U.S. Ethanol Market Opportunities:

    • Rising Adoption of High Ethanol Blend Fuels: The increasing approval of E15 and E85 flex fuels represents a key opportunity for market growth. The U.S. EPA has registered E15 fuel for use in light-duty vehicles of model year 2001 and newer. Dispenser infrastructure and retail availability for higher ethanol blends are rising across many states. Growing consumer acceptance and more gas stations offering these blends can potentially accelerate ethanol consumption.
    • Export Potential for U.S Ethanol: With domestic production outpacing demand, the U.S holds vast potential to increase ethanol exports globally. Markets like Europe, China, and India have growing demand for cleaner transportation fuels. Decrease in crude oil imports and utilizing excess ethanol can aid the U.S trade balance and energy security. Government trade policies play an important role in enabling wider ethanol exports worldwide.
    • Transition towards Next-Generation Biofuels: The gradual shift towards advanced second-generation ethanol technologies is an opportunity for market transformation. Creating ethanol from non-food biomass such as agricultural waste, wood, grass, and municipal solid waste provides environmental gains over conventional corn ethanol. Government funding and private investments focused on commercializing cellulosic ethanol can enable a more sustainable future fuel mix.
    • Strengthening Industry Infrastructure and Supply Chain: Significant investments in expanding storage infrastructure, rail transportation, ethanol pipelines, and blending terminals will be essential for future growth. Partnerships between ethanol producers, fuel retailers, and automakers for greater vehicle compatibility and consumer education on ethanol's benefits also offer key prospects. Overall industry collaboration on infrastructure and supply chain aspects can positively impact production capacities.

    U.S. Ethanol Market Report Coverage

    Report Coverage Details
    Base Year: 2023 Market Size in 2024: US$ 32.70 Bn
    Historical Data for: 2019 to 2023 Forecast Period: 2024 - 2031
    Forecast Period 2024 to 2031 CAGR: 9% 2031 Value Projection: US$ 59.78 Bn
    Geographies covered:
    • U.S. : Northeast Region, Midwest Region, South Region, Western Region
    Segments covered:
    • By Feedstock Type: Corn, Sugarcane, Cellulosic Feedstocks, Others
    • By End Use: Fuel, Industrial Solvents, Beverages, Cosmetics, Pharmaceuticals, Others
    • By Technology: Wet Milling, Dry Milling, Cellulosic Ethanol
    • By Application: Transportation, Power Generation, Lab Use, Alcoholic Beverages, Others
    Companies covered:

    Blue Flint Ethanol LLC, Corn LP, Green Plains Inc., Flint Hills Resources, Pacific Ethanol Inc., The Andersons Inc., White Energy, CHS Inc., Aemetis Inc., Archer Daniels Midland, Valero Energy Corp., Alto Ingredients Inc., Red Trail Energy, LLC, Siouxland Ethanol LLC, Little Sioux Corn Processors, Southwest Iowa Renewable Energy, Homeland Energy Solutions, Bushmills Ethanol Inc.

    Growth Drivers:
    • Supportive government policies and regulations
    • Growing demand for cleaner burning fuels
    • Advancements in ethanol production technologies
    • High crude oil prices boosting ethanol competitiveness
    Restraints & Challenges:
    • Declining gasoline demand and fuel efficiency improvements
    • Limitations of feedstock supply and pricing volatility
    • Compatibility issues with vehicle engines and infrastructure

    U.S. Ethanol Market Trends:

    • Consolidation and Partnerships in the Ethanol Industry: The U.S ethanol industry has witnessed increasing merger, acquisition, and partnership activity between major producers, aimed at gaining economies of scale. Larger players are consolidating regional assets to optimize operations and leverage integrated supply chains. Partnerships are also focused on developing high-protein animal feed and corn oil as value-added ethanol coproducts. Such consolidation trends are anticipated to continue as players vie for higher market shares.
    • Federal and State Policies Encouraging Biofuel Adoption: The ethanol industry is benefiting from both federal and state level policies supporting the wider adoption of renewable biofuels. Initiatives such as  U.S. Department of Agriculture ( USDA) grants to expand fueling infrastructure and state-level ethanol blending targets based on the  Registered Financial Specialist (RFS)are key trends driving incremental consumption. Many states are also providing additional tax credits and incentives for retail biofuel infrastructure projects, underpinning the future market outlook.
    • Investments in Next-Generation Biofuel Technologies: Leading industry participants are increasing research & development (R&D) investments in cost-efficient cellulosic ethanol production and new feedstock alternatives to corn, such as crop residue, switchgrass, and algae. Pilot projects focused on commercializing municipal solid waste-to-ethanol conversion technologies are also underway. These technology investments aligned with sustainability targets will be a notable trend.
    • Transitioning Towards Lower Carbon Intensity: The ethanol industry is focused on adopting innovative technologies to improve lifecycle analysis and reduce carbon intensity as per evolving low-carbon fuel policies. Solutions for sequestering CO2 emissions from ethanol plants are being tested to develop ethanol with net-zero or negative carbon intensity. This can potentially enable market growth by meeting future environmental sustainability goals.

    U.S Ethanol Market Restraints:

    • Declining Gasoline Demand and Fuel Efficiency Improvements: Gasoline demand has been declining in the U.S. as fuel efficiency standards rise and alternative fuel vehicles gain share. Passenger cars consume almost 75% of gasoline where ethanol is blended. Improving fleet-wide vehicle fuel economy will therefore directly impact gasoline and ethanol demand. Federal targets of achieving 50-52 mpg fleet average fuel efficiency by 2026 represent a long-term restraint.
    • Counter Balance: The availability of renewable fuels acts as a counterbalance to the impact of refinery consolidation on supply and pricing, thereby enhancing energy security and dampening gasoline price shocks.
    • Limitations of Feedstock Supply and Pricing Volatility: Domestic corn production places an upper limit on conventional ethanol output. Decrease in yields from continuous corn cultivation also affects profitability. Drastic weather events often create regional corn shortages, raising feedstock prices. Reliance on a single feedstock exposes ethanol producers to corn's price and supply volatility. This can periodically limit growth based on raw material availability and margins.
    • Counter Balance: These are the counter balance for the market, expansion of ethanol production in the United States has been driven by high oil prices, energy policies, and the Renewable Fuel Standard
    • Compatibility Issues with Vehicle Engines and Infrastructure: Though most modern vehicles can run on E10, compatibility issues exist for higher ethanol blends. Automakers and engine makers have been hesitant to provide full warranty support for using E15 due to concerns relating to metal corrosion and fuel system damage. Upgrading storage tanks and pipes to make infrastructure E15 compatible also requires major investments, restraining adoption. These technological constraints have slowed market expansion.
    • Counter Balance: Despite the compatibility issues with higher ethanol blends, there are counterbalances that support the expansion of the U.S. ethanol market. A new study has demonstrated the ethanol blend compatibility of vehicles around the world, indicating that all vehicles globally are compatible with E10, and all vehicles at the U.S. Tier 1 (or equivalent) emissions-control technology level or higher are fully compatible with E15.

    Recent Developments

    New product launches

    • In October 2022, The Archer-Daniels-Midland Company, commonly known as ADM, is an American multinational food processing and commodities trading corporation.  Archer Daniels Midland announced plans to construct a new beverage-grade alcohol plant in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The 130 million gallons-per-year facility will produce high-purity alcohol for expanding markets.
    • In August 2021,The Green plains  is the third largest ethanol fuel producer in North America. It was reported in early 2012 that the company ships approximately one billion gallons of ethanol per year. Green Plains announced the commercialization of Fluid Quip Technologies' MSC protein system, enabling production of corn protein concentrate alongside ethanol. This allows for new high-margin revenue streams.
    • In November 2020, The Andersons  is a diversified company rooted in agriculture that conducts business in the commodity merchandising, renewables, and plant nutrient sectors.The Andersons launched ANDE Renewable Diesel to produce 6 million gallons of renewable diesel fuel annually from used cooking oil and other waste fats and greases. This strengthens its biofuel portfolio.

    Acquisition and partnerships

    • In October 2022, Archer Daniels Midland acquired a 75% stake in Marathon Capital to enhance its biofuels offerings and expand its renewable diesel network.
    • In December 2021, Valero Energy Corporation is an American-based downstream petroleum company mostly involved in manufacturing and marketing transportation fuels, other petrochemical products, and power. Valero acquired the ethanol plant assets of Diamond Alternative Energy, adding 130 million gallons per year of ethanol production capacity. 

    Figure 1. U.S. Ethanol Market Share (%), By Type, 2023


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    Top companies in U.S. Ethanol Market

    • Archer Daniels Midland
    • Valero Energy Corp.
    • Green Plains Inc.
    • Flint Hills Resources
    • Pacific Ethanol Inc.
    • The Andersons Inc.
    • White Energy
    • CHS Inc.
    • Aemetis Inc.
    • Alto Ingredients Inc.
    • Red Trail Energy, LLC
    • Siouxland Ethanol LLC
    • Little Sioux Corn Processors
    • Southwest Iowa Renewable Energy
    • Homeland Energy Solutions
    • Bushmills Ethanol Inc.
    • Blue Flint Ethanol LLC
    • Corn LP

    Definition: The U.S. ethanol market refers to the production and sale of fuel ethanol within the United States. Ethanol, also known as ethyl alcohol, is a renewable transportation biofuel typically made from corn and other biomass feedstocks. The U.S. is the world's largest producer and consumer of ethanol fuel, thanks to government policies supporting its blending with gasoline.

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    Frequently Asked Questions

    Declining gasoline demand, high feedstock prices, infrastructure and vehicle compatibility issues, competition from electric vehicles are some key factors hampering market growth.

    Supportive government policies, rising fuel prices, growing demand for clean fuels, advancements in ethanol production technologies are major factors driving market growth.

    Corn ethanol is the leading segment, accounting for over 90% of total U.S. ethanol production.

    Archer Daniels Midland, Valero Energy Corp., Green Plains Inc., Flint Hills Resources, Pacific Ethanol Inc. are the major players.

    North America is expected to continue leading the market.

    The CAGR of market is estimated to be around 9% from 2024 to 2031.

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