Sustainable Aviation Fuel Represents a Big Opportunity for Ethanol

As renewable diesel production capacity builds in the U.S., demand for soybeans and oil will continue to rise. What does this mean for corn demand in 2023? Stephen Nicholson, global sector strategist for grain and oilseeds with Rabobank, says corn likely won’t lose a lot of acres to soybeans next year.

“I think it’s too soon to know yet. In the modeling we’ve done, you see sort of the arc of soybean acres, and then you see corn acres sort of flat at 88 to 90 million acres over the next five years. I don’t think that’s going to change much because you have a built-in demand that needs that corn.”

There will be opportunities for growing corn demand in the future. He says one of the biggest is sustainable aviation fuel.

“There are two paths. There’s a biodiesel path, and there’s an ethanol path. We just talked about how tight feedstocks are for biodiesel and renewable diesel. Maybe that’s not the way to go with SAF. So that, to me, opens up a path for ethanol.”

Nicholson says some of the biggest agricultural companies are moving ahead on producing sustainable aviation fuel.

“ADM has a memorandum of understanding with Gevo, and Gevo said if they’re very confident in their technology, they’ll buy half of ADM’s ethanol production. Yeah, that’s a wow. And you go and think that’s a bit of a lifeline for ethanol. When you think about how much fuel we’re not using as we used to in vehicles, and EVs get bigger, and so on and so forth.

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