Image courtesy of Iowa Renewable Fuels Association

The renewable fuels industry is facing big challenges today, but the opportunities are greater. That was the message from the 2024 Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit. Iowa Renewable Fuels Association executive director Monte Shaw told the audience of over 800 registered attendees that the key is to hang together and to “chart our course wisely.”

“I believe we have entered a new era of dramatic disruptions that will quickly and permanently change the future of agriculture,” said Shaw. “I don’t just see one disruption occurring, but four. These include the rise of electric vehicles (EVs), the rapid expansion of soybean crush capacity in the United States, the growth of Brazil’s corn ethanol production, and the potential 35-billion-gallon sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) market.”

Noting that corn ending stocks are back above two billion bushels and corn prices have dropped over the last year, Shaw stressed that there is no magic pause button to sustain the status quo.

“EVs are coming. Brazil is ramping up. If we ignore these disruptions, it is a course for over production and corn prices routinely below breakeven levels,” Shaw said. “It is a course leading back to the 1990s or worse. Rural America must embrace innovation and align our products with the demands of our customers. The opportunities within our grasp today for biofuels, farmers, and all of rural America are so great it’s almost hard to wrap our minds around it.”

Shaw emphasized that carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) is necessary to take advantage of the SAF market.

“The only way to unlock the full value of the SAF market to rural America is to decarbonize our ethanol,” Shaw said. “The best way for many ethanol plants to reduce their carbon score is by partnering with a carbon capture pipeline. There is no other readymade market on the horizon that can not only prevent further erosion of corn profitability, but also drive the rural economy into a new era of prosperity.”

The text of Shaw’s full remarks can be found here.