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Environmental Efficiency Among Corn Ethanol Plants

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  • Sesmero, Juan P.
  • Perrin, Richard K.
  • Fulginiti, Lilyan E.

Abstract

Economic viability of the US corn ethanol industry depends on prices, technical and economic efficiency of plants and on continuation of policy support. Public policy support is tied to the environmental efficiency of plants measured as their impact on emissions of greenhouse gases. This study evaluates the environmental efficiency of seven recently constructed ethanol plants in the North Central region of the U.S., using nonparametric data envelopment analysis (DEA). The minimum level of GHG emissions feasible with the available technology is calculated for each plant and this level is used to decompose environmental efficiency into its technical and allocative sources. Results show that, on average, plants in our sample may be able to reduce GHG emissions by a maximum of 6% or by 3,116 tons per quarter. Profit maximizing input and output allocations are also found based on observed prices. The environmentally efficient allocation, the profit maximizing allocation, and the observed allocation for each plant are combined to calculate shadow cost of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. These shadow costs gauge the extent to which there is a trade off or a complementarity between environmental targets and profits. Results reveal that, at current activity levels, plants may have room for simultaneous improvement of environmental efficiency and economic profitability.

Suggested Citation

  • Sesmero, Juan P. & Perrin, Richard K. & Fulginiti, Lilyan E., 2010. "Environmental Efficiency Among Corn Ethanol Plants," 2010 Annual Meeting, July 25-27, 2010, Denver, Colorado 61650, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:aaea10:61650
    DOI: 10.22004/ag.econ.61650
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Perrin, Richard K. & Fretes, Nickolas F. & Sesmero, Juan Pablo, 2009. "Efficiency in Midwest US corn ethanol plants: A plant survey," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 37(4), pages 1309-1316, April.
    2. Tim Coelli & Ludwig Lauwers & Guido Huylenbroeck, 2007. "Environmental efficiency measurement and the materials balance condition," Journal of Productivity Analysis, Springer, vol. 28(1), pages 3-12, October.
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    Cited by:

    1. Wettemann, Patrick, 2015. "Die Entwicklung der Produktivität von Marktfruchtbetrieben unter Berücksichtigung von Treibhausgasemissionen," 55th Annual Conference, Giessen, Germany, September 23-25, 2015 209213, German Association of Agricultural Economists (GEWISOLA).
    2. Wettemann, Patrick Johannes Christopher & Latacz-Lohmann, Uwe, 2017. "An efficiency-based concept to assess potential cost and greenhouse gas savings on German dairy farms," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 152(C), pages 27-37.
    3. Mallory, Mindy L. & Irwin, Scott H. & Hayes, Dermot J., 2012. "How Market Efficiency and the Theory of Storage Link Corn and Ethanol Markets Energy Economics," ISU General Staff Papers 201211010700001537, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
    4. Sueyoshi, Toshiyuki & Yuan, Yan & Goto, Mika, 2017. "A literature study for DEA applied to energy and environment," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 62(C), pages 104-124.
    5. Wamisho, Kassu, 2012. "The Shadow Price of GHG Reduction in Corn Ethanol Plants," 2012 Annual Meeting, August 12-14, 2012, Seattle, Washington 124719, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    6. Wamisho, Kassu, 2012. "The Shadow Price of GHG Reduction in Corn Ethanol Plants," 2012 Conference, August 18-24, 2012, Foz do Iguacu, Brazil 126862, International Association of Agricultural Economists.

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