WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. —The U.S. Grains Council (USGC) and its industry partners sought to dispel myths about U.S. ethanol and open the door for the renewable fuel in the Japanese market at a workshop held in Tokyo for energy officials.

USGC and those it is working with at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS), Growth Energy and the Renewable Fuels Association have found that environmental concerns - specifically about greenhouse gas emissions, or GHGs, based on lifecycle analyses - are one of the primary barriers to the use of U.S. ethanol in Japan. Currently, Japan only uses sugarcane bioethanol from Brazil based on its past GHG lifecycle assessments.

Steffen Mueller, University of Illinois in Chicago’s Energy Resources Center principal economist; Stefan Unnasch, Life Cycle Associates senior partner; Gerald J. Ostheimer, Sustainable Bioenergy Group global lead; and Ashley Kongs, USGC manager of ethanol export promotion programs spoke at the event, focusing on how U.S. corn-based ethanol can reduce GHG emissions and shed light on the so-called “food versus fuel” debate.

“The workshop helped educate key Japanese government officials and industry stakeholders about the most up-to-date lifecycle assessment calculation methods and carbon lifecycle assessment values in U.S. corn-based ethanol production,” said Tommy Hamamoto, USGC director in Japan. “This type of educational event is key to changing the perception of ethanol in Japan.”

Following the workshop, the presenters met with Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry to engage with representatives on the benefits of diversifying their fuel matrix to include ethanol.

“The meetings following the workshop started a conversation on the efficacy and cost efficiency of U.S. corn bioethanol,” Hamamoto said. “We believe this may help the Japanese ministry decide to include U.S. corn bioethanol in Japan’s biofuel policy that is set to be determined in the spring of 2017 and implemented in 2018.”

The group also met with Japan Biofuel Supply LLP, an organization established by the Japanese government with the mandate to help to achieve GHG emission reductions.

“During this meeting, we were able to discuss some of the logistical concerns that we have to overcome to sell U.S. ethanol to Japan,” Hamamoto said. “Japan Biofuel Supply LLP is currently working on these barriers as well and may be a good partner for us to work with moving forward.”

USGC is planning to bring a team of interested Japanese stakeholders and experts to the U.S. to see U.S. corn and ethanol production first hand. During this trade team visit, they will learn more about the U.S. ethanol industry and build connections with suppliers, traders and farmers.