Automakers moving towards electric vehicles and trucks, the ethanol sector stated on Wednesday that biofuels are an important tool against global climate change and will likely cause less pollution than those powered by batteries. The comparison was based upon the life-cycle cost of the power sources, which started at power stations for electric and ended at cornfields to produce ethanol.
“The upstream emissions associated with electricity generation and battery manufacturing are often overlooked, giving the false impression that electric vehicles are zero-emission vehicles,” said Geoff Cooper of the Renewable Fuels Association, a trade group. “These overlooked emissions can be quite significant.”
An RFA analysis showed that a pickup truck using fuel that is 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline would generate far fewer greenhouse gas emissions over its lifetime than the same-size pickup truck “running on fossil-generated electricity,” said Cooper at a House Agriculture Committee hearing on the implications of electric vehicles on rural America.
Although the Agriculture Committee is not directly involved in transportation or environmental policies, 40% of U.S. corn cultivation, equivalent to 34,000,000 acres of corn last year, has been used to produce ethanol and other co-products. Ethanol demand — and the market for corn — could shrink if electric vehicles, now comparatively uncommon, become common. Some lawmakers are concerned that electric vehicles will not be able to travel long distances without having to recharge their batteries in order to be practical in rural areas.
At the hearing, Rep. Abigail Spanberger announced a bipartisan bill to modify the USDA’s cost-sharing Rural Energy for America Program to include the installation of charging stations for electric vehicles, including pickup trucks, combines, and farm tractors. “We need to prevent rural America from getting left behind in the conversation,” the Virginia Democrat said in a statement. “Electric vehicles of the future are not just for cities — they also stand to deliver major benefits to farms, agribusinesses, and rural communities in Virginia and across the country.”
President Biden has set a goal of halving U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, compared with 2005 levels, on the way to reaching net zero emissions economy-wide by 2050. As a way of reducing tailpipe emissions, electric vehicles feature prominently in the plan. “The future of ground transportation is electrification,” said David Strickland of General Motors, which unveiled an electric pickup truck last week.
“We believe any future decarbonization policy should take a technology-neutral, performance-based approach that focuses strictly on greenhouse emission reduction and increasing fuel efficiency without dictating the use of specific fuels and vehicles to achieve those reductions,” said the RFA’s Cooper. He said that ethanol will continue to be an environmentally-friendly option for motor vehicles in the future, given the current adoption rate for electric vehicles.
For a year or more, the RFA has promoted ethanol, originally touted as a homegrown alternative to imported oil, as the climate-friendly fuel of the future. It advocates adoption of a low-carbon fuel standard — an opening for ethanol — and production of flex-fuel vehicles that can burn higher blends of ethanol than the 10% blend that is now standard.
At the hearing, a representative of National Association of Convenience Stores stated charging stations will not become widespread unless stores can sell electricity at reasonable rates. At present, they must pay “very high demand charges” to utilities for the electricity, the group said.
To watch a video of the hearing, click here.
To read the written testimony of witnesses, click here.
Source: Successful Farming