Technical Workshop In Japan Showcases Economic, Environmental Benefits Of U.S. Corn Ethanol

In early October, U.S. Embassy Tokyo, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) and Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) co-hosted a technical workshop on the economic and environmental benefits of U.S. corn ethanol.

This closed-door workshop was jointly developed to showcase the various aspects and pathways ethanol can have within the Japanese transportation sector. The U.S. Grains Council (USGC) facilitated expert presentations from Turner Mason and Company, the Renewable Fuels Association, National Renewable Energy Lab, Argonne National Laboratory, Energy Resource Center of the University of Illinois Chicago and POET.

“Building lasting relationships with end users benefits the entire marketing channel,” said USGC President and CEO Ryan LeGrand. “Information sharing regarding U.S. ethanol helps potential users better understand not only the nature of the value chain, but also the options they have when making their purchasing decisions.”

Key topics covered throughout the workshop included an overview of global ethanol policies; U.S. ethanol supply and co-products; lifecycle assessments of ethanol carbon intensity reduction benefits; future outlooks of corn-based ethanol for sustainable aviation fuel (SAF); and ethanol’s compatibility analysis within Japan’s automobile 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%, a blend of three percent ethanol is currently legally permitted in Japan and direct blending of ethanol instead of ethyl tertiary butyl ether (ETBE) consumption could be a steppingstone toward enhanced ethanol consumption.

“This workshop is a symbolic collaborative event by the U.S. government and the industry for promoting U.S. ethanol in Japan. At the workshop, the latest updates on the improvements in corn and ethanol production, SAF and carbon sequestration efforts happening in the United States were shared with attendees,” said USGC Director in Japan Tommy Hamamoto.

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

Japan currently imports 218 million gallons of ethanol in the form of ETBE, of which 137 million gallons were of U.S. origin during the MY21/22 marketing year. The Council will continue to work with the government of Japan to incentivize direct blending of ethanol to advance Japan’s carbon reduction goals and address its energy security concerns.