Welcome to the  California Energy Almanac

Statistics and Data on Ethanol and E85 as Transportation Fuels

(Updated: )


Ethanol in California

  • Current consumption:Approximately 1.5 billion gallons in 2010
  • Market History
    • 2004: California bans the use of MTBE in motor vehicles, leaving ethanol as a substitute.
    • 2004 - 2009: Ethanol blended into gasoline at about 5.7 to 6.6 percent by volume
    • 2009 - Present: Blended at about 10% by volume following Air Resources Board rulemaking
  • Current Market Application: Blended in most California gasoline at about 10% by volume
  • Emerging/Expanding Market Applications:
    • E85 (85% ethanol, 15% gasoline) for use in flexible fuel vehicles (FFVs)
  • Current California FFV Population: Approximately 400,000 (about 1.5% of on-road vehicles)
  • Current E85 Distribution: 62 stations (Source: http://www.afdc.energy.gov/afdc/locator/stations/state)

Sources of Supply

  • Current Supply Sources:
    • Midwest U.S. corn-to-ethanol industry via rail car transport (about 88% of total supply)
    • In-State Production (178 million gallons/year - about 12%)
    • Foreign imports of ethanol currently limited due to economics
  • Current In-State Production:
    • AEBiofeuls, Keyes: 60 million gallons/year
    • Altra Biofuels, Goshen: 31.5 million gallons/year (plant currently idled)
    • Calgren Renewables, Pixley: 58 million gallons/year
    • Pacific Ethanol, Madera: 40 million gallons/year (plant currently idled)
    • Pacific Ethanol, Stockton: 60 million gallons/year
  • Under Construction and Proposed In-State Facilities:
    • None currently planned.

Also see a History of Energy Commission Biofuels-Related Program Activities from 1978 to 2005





Ethanol, or ethyl alcohol, has the chemical formula C2H5OH. It is the same alcohol found in alcoholic beverages, but ethanol also makes an effective motor fuel. There have been decades of motor fuel application experience in the United States and other countries with ethanol.

Most ethanol used for fuel is being blended into gasoline at concentrations of 5 to 10 percent. In California, ethanol has replaced methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) as a gasoline component. The gasoline supplied in the state contains about 6 percent ethanol by volume. Nearly one billion gallons of ethanol was blended into California gasoline in 2007.

There is a small but growing market for E85 fuel (85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline) for use in flexible fuel vehicles (FFVs), several million of which have been produced by U.S. automakers. According to the California Ethanol Vehicle Coalition, there are more than 300,000 FFVs in California that can use E85. But E85 is primarily found in the Midwest in corn-producing states. As of June 2008, there were only nine E85 fueling stations in the state, and four of those were private-access stations. Ethanol is also being used to formulate a blend with diesel fuel, known as "E-Diesel", and as a replacement for leaded aviation gasoline in small aircraft.

The U.S. Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) of 2007 requires the use of 36 billion gallons of renewable fuels by 2022. Sixteen billion gallons of the 36 billion-gallon goal must come from ethanol produced from cellulosic material.

According to a research study by the Department of Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics at Ohio State University (PDF file), a vehicle using E85 gets about three-fourths the mileage than gasoline-only vehicle. "The mean fuel economy of E85 in city driving is 73.42% that of gasoline, with a range of 66.89% to 81.33%. In highway driving, the mean fuel economy is 73.4% that of gasoline, with a range of 67.61% to 81.53%."