Ethanol plant investment using net present value and real options analyses

Todd M. Schmit, Jianchuan Luo, Loren W. Tauer

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

36 Citations (Scopus)


A real options analysis of entry-exit decisions for dry-grind corn ethanol plants is conducted to incorporate the impact of rising volatility in market prices. For a large plant, the estimated gross margins (ethanol price less corn price), in current dollars, that induce entry and exit were 0.35 US$ dm-3 and 0.03 US$ dm-3, respectively; nearly 207% (63%) above (below) their respective net present value estimates. Under baseline conditions, a large operating plant would become mothballed at 0.05 US$ dm-3 and reactivate if margins rebounded to 0.17 US$ dm-3. Growth in the variability of ethanol margins will lead to delays in new plant investments, as well as exits of currently operating facilities. To the extent that alternative renewable fuel technologies become viable, the model can be easily adapted to estimate and compare the results across alternative bioenergy investments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1442-1451
Number of pages10
JournalBiomass and Bioenergy
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Biofuels manufacturing
  • Geometric Brownian motion
  • Mothballing
  • Plant investment
  • Real options

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Forestry
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Waste Management and Disposal


Dive into the research topics of 'Ethanol plant investment using net present value and real options analyses'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this