Ethanol from corn: the economics?

This data-file captures the economics of producing ethanol from corn in the United States,  based on technical papers and industry data-points.

Our base case calculations suggest a price of $1.6/gallon of ethanol is needed for a 10% IRR on a new greenfield plant, equivalent to $2.4/gallon gasoline.

This is higher than 2020 ethanol pricing, which was enough to break even on a cash basis, but not for economic returns. Corn prices are the crucial input.

Finally, recent industry data are tabulated, showing how the US diverts c40% of its corn crop into biofuels rather than food and feed (below).