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Energy Sugar Beets to Biofuel: Field to Fuel Production System and Cost Estimates


  • Haankuku, Choolwe
  • Epplin, Francis M.
  • Kakani, Gopal V.


Energy beets (Beta vulgaris L.) meet the requirements for advanced biofuel feedstocks under the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. A mixed-integer programming model was constructed to determine the breakeven price of ethanol from energy beets, and to determine the optimal size and biorefinery location. The model, based on limited field data, evaluates Southern Plains beet production in a 3-year crop rotation, and beet harvest, transportation and processing. The optimal strategy depends critically on several assumptions including a just-in-time harvest and delivery system that remains to be tested in field trials. Based on a conversion rate of 26 gallons per wet ton and capital cost of $128 million for a 40,000,000 gallons per year biorefinery, the estimated breakeven ethanol price is $2.63 per gallon. The estimated beet delivered cost of $1.31 per gallon compares with the net corn feedstock cost ($1.17 to $1.74 per gallon in 2014). If for a mature industry, the cost to process beets was equal to the cost to process corn, the beet breakeven ethanol price would be $1.96 per gallon ($2.97 per gallon gasoline equivalent).

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  • Haankuku, Choolwe & Epplin, Francis M. & Kakani, Gopal V., 2015. "Energy Sugar Beets to Biofuel: Field to Fuel Production System and Cost Estimates," 2015 Annual Meeting, January 31-February 3, 2015, Atlanta, Georgia 196777, Southern Agricultural Economics Association.
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:saea15:196777

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    1. Maung, Thein A. & Gustafson, Cole R., 2010. "The Economic Feasibility of Sugarbeet Biofuel Production in Central North Dakota," Agribusiness & Applied Economics Report 95745, North Dakota State University, Department of Agribusiness and Applied Economics.
    2. Francis M. Epplin & Christopher D. Clark & Roland K. Roberts & Seonghuyk Hwang, 2007. "Challenges to the Development of a Dedicated Energy Crop," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 89(5), pages 1296-1302.
    3. Haque, Mohua & Epplin, Francis M., 2010. "Switchgrass to Ethanol: A Field to Fuel Approach," 2010 Annual Meeting, July 25-27, 2010, Denver, Colorado 61294, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    4. Jensen, Kimberly L. & English, Burton C. & Clark, Christopher D. & Menard, R. Jamey, 2011. "Preferences for Marketing Arrangements by Potential Switchgrass Growers," Journal of Cooperatives, NCERA-210, vol. 25, pages 1-28.
    5. J. Roy Black & Barry J. Barnett & Yingyao Hu, 1999. "Cooperatives and Capital Markets: The Case of Minnesota-Dakota Sugar Cooperatives," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 81(5), pages 1240-1246.
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    Agribusiness; Crop Production/Industries; Production Economics; Resource /Energy Economics and Policy;

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