Corn Price Connection to Carbon Capture Hard to Pin Down

May 30, 2024

By Jeff Beach

The ethanol industry says capturing carbon emissions from ethanol plants and storing it underground is needed to help the industry keep up with the trend toward greener energy.

But it’s unclear what the direct benefit to the farmers who supply corn to the ethanol plant might be.

David Ripplinger, an associate professor at North Dakota State University, specializes in renewable fuels.

“So, everybody always asks me, ‘Well, what’s the price of carbon?’” Ripplinger said. “The problem is, there isn’t a single price of carbon."

“It’s not as if there’s a futures market or a spot market and transparency of a price, let alone what it might be for a particular farmer or rancher,” he added.

Two North Dakota ethanol plants are already capturing carbon, benefiting from being in the western part of the state where the right geology for underground storage is nearby.

There’s also the Summit Carbon Solutions pipeline, which the Iowa-based company calls the world’s largest carbon capture and storage project. The company hopes to connect 57 ethanol plants to underground storage sites northwest of Bismarck, ND.

The pipeline project is expected to benefit from huge federal incentives in the form of tax credits.

The tax credits go to the ethanol plant or to the pipeline developer.

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