Ethanol: Past, Present and Future

December 10, 2015

As part of Paulsen’s ongoing Continuing Education Program, Autumn Bates, marketing communications director for POET Energy, presented an ethanol industry update, December 9, at the agency.

Her presentation featured the past, present and future of ethanol, and its impact on rural communities and the nation’s agricultural economy.

“Most people don’t realize that ethanol production goes way back in our country’s history,” she explained. “In 1826, Samuel Morey built a combustion engine that ran on ethanol, and in 1896 Henry Ford’s quadricycle ran on pure ethanol. Later, the 1908 Ford Model T was introduced as the first ‘flex-fuel’ vehicle.”

Bates shared some impressive statistics regarding POET’s economic impact as one of the nation’s leading ethanol producers. She pointed out that 39,378 full-time jobs are tied to POET, along with a $5.4 billion contribution to our country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). In addition, $464.6 million go to state and local taxes and $1.5 billion to federal taxes.

“POET, along with other ethanol producers, has created a very significant economic impact locally, regionally and nationally,” she said.

According to Bates, the future of the industry will rely heavily on higher blends of ethanol added to our gasoline supply and the production of cellulosic ethanol, created from corn crop residues such as stalks, cobs and other agricultural residue. She discussed current efforts to bring E-15 to more fuel stations and POET’s Project Liberty, their new cellulosic production plant in Emmetsburg, Iowa.

In concluding her presentation to the Paulsen staff, Bates said, “Ethanol is the highest octane fuel, typically the least expensive, its feedstocks are plentiful, it’s renewable, it’s local and it’s still improving. We’re very, very excited about the future.”

Paulsen President Sara Steever was pleased to have POET present this industry update as part of the agency’s Continuing Education Program.

“With one third of all our corn produced in South Dakota going to ethanol production, this is indeed an important topic for our staff to know. The impact of ethanol on our state and its impact on agriculture is very significant,” she said.

“We greatly appreciate POET contributing to our culture of learning here at Paulsen.”

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