Charging into the Blend Wall: Conjoint Analysis of Consumer Willingness to Pay for Ethanol Blend Fuels
Ethanol use in the U.S. rose sharply in recent years due to public policy and a spike in petroleum prices, and remains high. Public support for ethanol includes mandated minimum levels of use nationwide. However, rather little is known about consumer demand for ethanol and much less about demand by type of blend and ethanol source. We used trial survey data and conjoint analysis to overcome the lack of historical data on consumers’ preferences for ethanol blend fuels.
A key objective of U.S. energy policy is to increase biofuel use by highway vehicles to 36 billion gallons per year by 2022. The Energy Independence and Security Act envisions that nearly all of this target will be met by gasohol (E10) or neat ethanol (E85). Since the market for blending ethanol with gasoline at 10% by volume will saturate at about 15 billion gallons, most of the ethanol will need to be sold in the form of E85 unless higher order blends are approved by automakers and the Environmental Protection Agency.