As reported by the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), fuel ethanol production capacity in the US reached 15.5 billion gal./year, or 1.01 million bpd, at the beginning of 2017. Total capacity of operable ethanol plants increased by about 4%—or by more than 600 million gal./year—between January 2016 and January 2017.
Most of the 198 ethanol plants in the country are located in the Midwest region (PADD, 2). Total nameplate capacity in the Midwest was 14.0 billion gal./year at the beginning of 2017 (918 000 bpd), an increase of about 4%—or by more than 530 million gal./year—between January 2016 and January 2017.
Nameplate production capacity is the plant manufacturer's stated design capacity to produce fuel ethanol during a 12-month period. Of the top 13 fuel ethanol-producing states, 12 are located in the Midwest. Iowa, Nebraska, and Illinois contain more than half of the nation’s total ethanol production capacity.
Actual US production of fuel ethanol reached a total of 14.8 billion gal. (965 000 bpd) in 2016. In EIA's June Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO), U.S. production of fuel ethanol was forecast to reach 15.8 billion gal. (1.03 million bpd) in 2017, equivalent to slightly more than 100% usage of reported nameplate capacity as of 1 January 2017.
Nameplate capacity is not necessarily a physical production limit for many ethanol plants. By applying more efficient operating techniques many ethanol plants can operate at levels that regularly exceed their nameplate production capacity. This level of operation, called maximum sustainable capacity, is inherently subjective.
Image source: US Energy Information Administration, US Fuel Ethanol Plant Production Capacity.
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