USGC: Workshop in Japan Highlights Benefits of US Ethanol

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By US Grains Council | November 10, 2022

In early October, the United States Embassy in Tokyo, the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR), and the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry (METI) co-hosted a technical workshop on the economic and environmental benefits of American corn ethanol.

This closed-door workshop was jointly developed to present the different aspects and paths that ethanol can have in the Japanese transport sector. The US Grains Council hosted presentations from experts from Turner Mason and Company, the Renewable Fuels Association, the National Renewable Energy Lab, the Argonne National Laboratory, the Energy Resource Center at the University of Illinois at Chicago and the POET.

“Building lasting relationships with end users benefits the entire marketing channel,” said USGC President and CEO Ryan LeGrand. “Sharing information about U.S. ethanol helps potential users better understand not only the nature of the value chain, but also the options available to them when making purchasing decisions.”

Key topics covered throughout the workshop included an overview of global ethanol policies; US supply of ethanol and co-products; life cycle assessments of the benefits of reducing the carbon intensity of ethanol; the future prospects of corn-based ethanol for sustainable aviation fuel (SAF); and analyzing the compatibility of ethanol with Japan’s fleet, retail infrastructure and refining equipment.

In May, President Biden and Prime Minister Kishida jointly announced Japan’s commitment to double its domestic ethanol consumption by 2030, including for on-road fuel and SAF. Japan has an average ethanol blend rate of 1.9%, 3% ethanol blend is currently legally allowed in Japan, and direct blending of ethanol instead of consuming ethyl tert-butyl ether (ETBE ) could be a stepping stone towards increased consumption of ethanol.

“This workshop is a symbolic collaborative event between the US government and industry to promote US ethanol in Japan. During the workshop, the latest updates on corn and ethanol production improvements, SAFs, and carbon sequestration efforts underway in the United States were shared with attendees,” said the director of the USGC in Japan, Tommy Hamamoto.

Welcoming and closing remarks were also delivered by Aaron Forsberg, Minister Counselor for Economic Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo, and Daniel Whitney, Administrator of the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), respectively, as well as a presentation by Dr. Seth Meyer, USDA Chief Economist. Representatives from Japan included participants from the refining, automotive, airline, academic, research and legislative sectors.

Japan currently imports 218 million gallons of ethanol in the form of ETBE, including 137 million gallons of US origin in marketing year MY21/22. The Council will continue to work with the Government of Japan to encourage direct blending of ethanol to advance Japan’s carbon reduction goals and address its energy security concerns.

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