Fuel ethanol production capacity in the United States rose 4%, or by more than 600 million gallons, to 15.5 billion gallons per year in January 2017, from the same month in 2016, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
“Most of the 198 ethanol plants in the United States, representing most of the U.S. fuel ethanol production capacity, are located in the Midwest region,” according to the EIA. “Total nameplate capacity in the Midwest was 14 billion gallons per year at the beginning of 2017, an increase of about 4% — or by more than 530 million gallons per year — between January 2016 and January 2017.”
Nameplate capacity represents a plant’s capacity to produce fuel ethanol in a 12-month period. The Midwest has 12 of the top 13 fuel ethanol-producing states. Iowa, Nebraska and Illinois have more than half of the total ethanol production capacity in the United States.
Production of fuel ethanol was projected to rise to 15.8 billion gallons for 2017. This would be slightly more than 100% use of total plant capacity as of Jan. 1, according to the EIA. “If market conditions provide an incentive to do so,” plants can exceed their plant capacity by operating more efficiently. “This level of operation, called maximum sustainable capacity, is inherently subjective.”