Summit Carbon CEO notes that future of ethanol market is at stake for South Dakotans with pipeline

South Dakota Searchlight has an interview today with the CEO of Summit Carbon Solutions Lee Blank, and COO Jimmy Powell, as they point out that it is vitally important for the ethanol industry in the state to be able to pump the CO2 generated in the process into the ground, because otherwise, it’s challenging to sell ethanol at a margin profitable for the Ethanol CO-OP’s. And without it, South Dakota will miss the opportunity to become a continental hub for renewable aviation fuel:

Powell: To sell in these markets, and to sell to the sustainable aviation markets, which are evolving, you have to have a carbon intensity score of less than 50.

This plant [NuGen in Marion] is one of the newer plants, and it’s in that ballpark. A lot of the plants that we partner with have a score in the 60s and 70s.

If they power this entire plant with a solar farm or wind turbines, it’s going to give them a three- or five-point reduction. Meanwhile, by pulling the CO2 stream out of their process, it cuts it 25 to 30 points.

So they can’t get the same bang for their buck doing anything but pulling the CO2 out.

Right now, it’s about a 50-cent margin in those low-carbon fuel markets. So, if it’s 15 cents to transport to those markets, they net 35 cents a gallon.


Powell: The goal of the major airlines, like Delta, United and Southwest, their goal is 3 billion gallons of sustainable aviation fuel by 2030. They’re targets, but they are pushing for that today.

In this country today, there are less than 100 million gallons produced. So, plants have to be built and they have to be operational.

I’m sure you know about Gevo in this state being one. And if we don’t have this project, if it’s not successful in South Dakota, Gevo will not construct here.

So, the 15 or so ethanol plants in this state will be disadvantaged from that aspect. They won’t be able to access that.

Read the entire story here.

8 thoughts on “Summit Carbon CEO notes that future of ethanol market is at stake for South Dakotans with pipeline”

    1. Because the markets we sell to are mandating that any ethanol sold there include carbon mitigation tech in its manufacture. No carbon sequestration = we can’t sell our ethanol.

        1. “There are other cash crops.”

          Yeah but there isn’t as near as much infrastructure in place to utilize secondary products. Explain how we’d be able to make up the revenue from if all of our ethanol plants shut down. How do we keep those former workers here, or do they move to states that are willing to see the writing on the wall and adapt to keep their plants open. How do you ensure that another farm collapse like the 80s doesn’t happen when land prices drop?

          Of course just saying there are other crops is fine and dandy if you only think at the surface level or are delusional, but it doesn’t make a coherent or substantial plan.

      1. Sadly it’s all part of the climate change hoax. I’m still waiting to have someone explain if all the long term ramifications of pumping CO2 underground have been studied.

        Global cooling didn’t work, so went to global warming that wasn’t working, so to be safe the story now is climate change. Can’t go wrong on that one, right??? It’s all about money and control.

      2. Is the requirement actually driven by customers or is it the taxpayers dollars through the federal government subsidies to those markets. I’ve asked several people about it and I can’t get an answer, but if I was to venture it is. Should that be true, we may see another driving factor after next years election.

        1. The requirement is being driven by Canada, the EU, and other states in the US. It’s not being directly controlled by the feds.

  1. This thing is a money and power grab. Carbon is not a problem and we have plenty energy rich fossil fuels at hand. If ethanol is a good thing and can survive in the open market that is good, but leave the government and tax payers out of it.

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