Fuel prices are top of mind for suppliers, retailers, and motorists alike. Current supply chain disruptions demand timely solutions that are both beneficial to the environment and the economy.
Fortunately, high-ethanol biofuels such as E15 (also known as Unleaded 88) can offer a solution that works in favor of all the above concerns and boost convenience-store retailers’ bottom lines.
Addressing sticker shock at the pump
“Unless you don’t drive, don’t listen to the radio, and don’t watch TV, then you know that gas prices have certainly been on everybody’s mind,” says Will Beck, Regional Sales Director at Growth Energy.
Fuel prices hit record highs starting March 7, 2022, with gasoline reaching $4.104 per gallon, exceeding the previous record high of $4.103 set in 2008, according to GasBuddy. According to the U.S. Labor Department, prices have since climbed higher, compounding the 40% year-over-year increase between January 2020 and 2021.
Thankfully, the Biden Administration announced it will issue a waiver to allow for E15 to be sold this summer, giving American drivers continued access to a lower cost fuel choice at the pump. "Higher ethanol biofuels, like E15, help keep costs down at the pump. We save drivers, on average, about 10 cents per gallon. And at the peak of the gas surge, we’ve seen E15 save drivers as much as 50 cents per gallon,” says Beck. E15 is only a 5% increase of Ethanol Blended into the nations fuel supply, called Unleaded88, can offer relief at the pump for consumers, reduce carbon emissions benefiting the environment, and just as important, offer solutions for retailers battling supply and simultaneously create margin opportunities benefiting the bottom line!
So, what sets E15 apart from foreign fuels?
As CNBC reports, conflict in Eastern Europe has driven many Western countries to avoid Russian oil purchases, disrupting the global supply of crude oil as recovery from the pandemic has simultaneously increased demand.
“Petroleum is a global market, and Russia is a major player in the energy space,” Beck explains. “No one knows where this is going or how long it is going to last, and it is caused a lot of uncertainty in the market. But American-made biofuels are a lower-cost option that can offer some solutions right now. E15 is grown here and produced here. So higher blends of ethanol, like E15, offer some price stability, greater national energy security, helping shelter consumers from the volatility of global markets we don’t have control over.”
Supporting national economic interests, environmental goals
The benefits go beyond mitigating the effects of international affairs, however.
“It supports U.S. F&L (fuel and lubricant) production, and currently supports approximately 400,000 jobs in the U.S. If we move to a nationwide adoption on E15 or higher ethanol blends, it could create an additional 182,600 jobs. Whether it's at the farm level, the biorefinery level, trucking or trains—there is a positive ripple effect across the economy as a result of supporting this American product,” says Beck.
What’s more, biofuels offer a more environmentally friendly solution—particularly in terms of supporting the U.S. national goal to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.
“We already offset gasoline produced from more than 700 million barrels of oil every year,” says Beck. “By using more ethanol, we will be able to offset that much more gasoline and the harmful , like benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylene (BTEX) that can be found in petroleum-based fuels. Plant-based biofuels like ethanol are a low-carbon, cleaner fuels, with 46% less greenhouse gas emissions compared to gasoline. And the more ethanol you blend in your fuel, the lower the volatility of the gasoline - which means less smog and cleaner air for all.
“To meet our nation’s climate goals, biofuel needs to be adopted at a higher level. If E15 were adopted nationwide, the reduction of CO2 emissions would equate to taking 4 million cars off the road. It has a real-time effect that is not technology-dependent [i.e., dependent on equipment and vehicles that aren’t already in common use], not pipeline-dependent and not dependent on oil companies. All in all, they play a vital role in reducing our dependence on fossil fuels and improving our energy security.”
Boosting store-level sales
E15 isn’t just beneficial on the national level, however; offering a high-ethanol biofuel can be a boon to a c-store’s bottom line.
“E15 offers consumers a better fuel—it’s American-made fuel, cleaner, and available at a lower cost,” says Beck. “It’s compatible with 96% of vehicles currently on the road, and most of the equipment retailers have onsite today is compatible. When making the switch to a higher blend, in many cases, you don’t have to replace tanks or dispensers. You don’t have to break into concrete. More and more wholesalers are offering blended E15 so it’s easier for retailers to buy it and put it in the ground.”
Importantly, retailers don’t have to navigate making this transition alone.
“Our market development team at Growth Energy offers complimentary assistance for any retailer—whether it’s a mom-and-pop shop that has one or two locations or it’s a mid- to large-retailer that needs help navigating EPA filings and grants. We’re a one-stop-shop for assistance,” says Beck.
This post is sponsored by Growth Energy