North Dakota Ethanol Industry


The North Dakota ethanol industry contributes $623 million annually to the state’s economy. In addition, state and local tax revenues contribute more than $11 million annually.



North Dakota ethanol plants employ more than 270 workers directly in high-paying positions such as chemists, engineers, accountants, managers, as well as support staff. The industry also supports thousands of jobs across all sectors of the economy.



Five of North Dakota’s six ethanol plants are located in a community with a population of less than 2,500. The plants contribute an average of 45 jobs and an average annual payroll of $3.3 million to the community. In addition, the plants purchase the majority of their feedstocks, primarily corn, from North Dakota farmers and sell distillers grains to North Dakota livestock producers.



The six North Dakota ethanol plants have the capacity to produce 550 million gallons of ethanol per year, which is more than five times the production a decade ago.



North Dakota ethanol plants use 160-180 million bushels of corn annually with more than 80 percent of the corn purchased from North Dakota farmers. Forty to 60 percent of North Dakota’s total annual corn production is purchased by North Dakota ethanol plants. In addition, more than 550,000 tons of byproduct, including sugar beet tailings and potato processing waste, is purchased from processing facilities across the region.



Each bushel of corn processed by North Dakota ethanol plants produces 2.8 gallons of ethanol, 18 pounds of livestock feed (dried distillers grains), 18 pounds of carbon dioxide and up to 1 pound of corn oil. North Dakota ethanol plants produce nearly 1.5 million tons of livestock feed, including dry distillers grains.



North Dakota is a national leader in the establishment of biofuel infrastructure due to the ND Biofuel Blender Pump Program (2009-2013). The state was the ninth to offer E15. The number of flex fuel vehicles (FFV) in the state has tripled from 34,630 in 2011 to 104,095 in 2020. 



Approximately 10 percent of ethanol produced annually in North Dakota is blended with gasoline and sold within the state, while the remaining 90 percent is shipped primarily to the east or west coast.