Two years ago, RFA members sent a letter​ to President Biden committing to achieve average net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

The Renewable Fuels Association released a new inventory of information about investments ethanol plant members are making to reduce the carbon intensity of the renewable fuels and bioproducts they produce.

Two years ago, RFA members sent a letter to President Biden committing to achieve average net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, and even as the ethanol industry awaits guidance on the implementation of key IRA tax provisions, the legislation has already stimulated new investment in low-carbon technologies and accelerated efforts to achieve that goal.

“While RFA’s members started down the path to net-zero emissions more than two years ago, passage of the IRA last summer greatly accelerated the pace of their journey,” says RFA president and CEO Geoff Cooper. “The IRA bill’s enhancement of the carbon capture, utilization and sequestration tax credit, along with its establishment of a clean fuel production credit, sustainable aviation fuel credit, and funding for regenerative agriculture practices all helped to supercharge the ethanol industry’s drive to net zero. Every single one of our member companies is taking steps to reduce carbon intensity, and the inventory we are releasing today shares just a fraction of the exciting innovation stories that are occurring across the industry. In the year since the IRA was adopted, major investments have already been made, which underscores the critical importance of ensuring that forthcoming tax credit guidance and regulations are completed in a timely, transparent, and science-based manner.”

Details on specific steps RFA members are taking to reduce carbon intensity and invest in clean energy technologies reflect a diverse array of new technologies and practices—including process energy efficiency projects, installing solar fields and wind turbines adjacent to biorefineries, converting fermentation CO2 into green methanol, capturing and geologically sequestering fermentation CO2, and working with local farmers to reward lower-carbon farming practices.

According to a survey of RFA members released in June, four out of five say they are already on track to produce ethanol with net-zero carbon intensity by 2050 or sooner. However, policy and regulatory uncertainty, inaccurate carbon modeling, and permitting challenges were cited as some of the potential obstacles to reaching the goal.