Ethanol is a renewable alcohol-based fuel made by fermenting and distilling low-cost, low-maintenance starch crops, such as corn, sugar cane and wheat grown for energy production. Ethanol is the most widely available source of gasoline substitute, and reduces greenhouse gas emissions.

Ethanol can also be made from landfill gases and municipal solid waste, as well as agricultural waste, animal manures, food wastes, fats, oils and greases. This produces fuels that are considerably lower in greenhouse gas emissions than petroleum-based fuels, and also prevents these materials from ending up in a landfill.

Benefits of Ethanol

  • Can reduce our dependence on petroleum.
  • Ethanol energy crops can be grown on less-productive farmland
  • Higher octane rating, providing more resistance to engine knock and higher combustion efficiency.
  • Ethanol made from agricultural waste, animal manures, food wastes, fats, oils and greases offers significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Many vehicle manufacturers offer flex fuel vehicles. In 2017, nearly 1 million flex fuel vehicles were registered in California.

Renewable Gasoline

Renewable gasoline is chemically equivalent to petroleum-derived gasoline and is suitable for use in conventional cars and gasoline infrastructure without requiring modifications. While this fuel is not yet commercially available, the Energy Commission supports research and development of methods to produce renewable gasoline.

Benefits of Renewable Gasoline

  • Can be utilized in existing gasoline engines without costly conversions.
  • Chemically equivalent to petroleum gasoline, meeting federal specifications for fuel used in automotive spark-ignition engines.
  • Can significantly reduce carbon dioxide emissions by approximately 61 to 83 percent, depending upon the feedstock used.
  • No special handling, storage, and use requirements, providing high flexibility and increased opportunities for adoption.

Biofuels: Biomethane, Diesel Substitutes, Gasoline Substitutes


Fuels and Transportation Division 
Phone: 916-654-4628