One way to bring the price of ethanol down is to make it from something other than corn!
C-4 plants are more limited in their growing region than C-3 plants - they are more specialized. They perhaps offer an advantage in lowered 'respiration' - they breathe out less C02, because they fix more of the carbon. However corn is a pesticide intensive pain to grow, and it seems we make the EtOH only from the grain, not from the stalks - thus wasting most of the biomass. These other plants are also C-4, so will grow in similar environments to that of corn. Tropical and well watered areas would do better making ethanol from one of the many many C3 plants than from a C4. They are much easier to grow. Also, Ethanol needs to be generated from the entire biomass, so that we dont have a ton of wasteproduct.
(Sugarcane does not strike me as drought tolerant, so the wikipedia list below puzzles me. )
C4 plants have a competitive advantage over plants possessing the more common C3 carbon fixation pathway under conditions of drought, high temperatures and nitrogen or carbon dioxide limitation. C4 carbon fixation has evolved on several occasions in different groups of plants, so is an example of convergent evolution. Plants which use C4 metabolism include sugarcane, maize, sorghum, Eleusine, Amaranthus, and Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum
If someone wants to do a bit more reading and shoot me down, have at it.
Prove that corn makes economic sense. Cause I'd feel a lot better about things if it did. (Right now the economics of corn seem to be driven by two things - animal feed and HFcorn syrup replacing sugar in many manufactured products. I sure wish Huell Hauser had drunk that mexican coke on the air, he'd have showed a happy surprised face indeed - that is stil lmade with sugar and the difference is obvious).
Altoid - curiously strong.