The Preliminary Assessment of Spatial Competition in the Market for E85 presentation and supplementary report from the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory examine how the spacing of E85 fueling stations impacts E85 retail pricing.
The analysis finds an inverse correlation between station density and E85 prices, with local competition putting downward pressure on E85 prices. A gas station with E85 whose nearest competitor is within a 0.5 mile radius is associated with a lower E85 price per gallon than an otherwise identical station with E85 whose nearest competitor is farther away. The analysis also finds a higher level of correlation between E85 and both E10 and wholesale gasoline prices than with ethanol costs. This indicates that E85 may, in fact, be priced with respect to its substitute fuel, and not based on the cost of its inputs. These findings help identify key trends and barriers in E85 markets and highlight data gaps that, if addressed, could help enable competitive E85 markets.
The analysis was released in February 2017 and uses national and Minnesota-specific price data.