Biofuels are promoted in the United States through aggressive legislation, as one part of an overall strategy to lessen dependence on imported energy as well as to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases (Office of the Biomass Program and Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, 2008). For example, the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA) mandates 36 billion gallons of renewable liquid transportation fuel in the U.S. marketplace by the year 2022 (U.S. Government, 2007).
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The harvest of corn stover or herbaceous crops as feedstocks for bioenergy purposes has been shown to have significant benefits from energy and climate change perspectives. There is a potential, however, to adversely impact water and soil quality, especially in Midwestern states where the biomass feedstock production would predominantly occur.
National interests in greater energy independence, concurrent with favorable market forces, have driven increased production of corn-based ethanol in the United States and research into the next generation of biofuels. The trend is changing the national agricultural landscape and has raised concerns about potential impacts on the nation?s water resources. This report examines some of the key issues and identifies opportunities for shaping policies that help to protect water resources.
Power generation emits significant amounts of greenhouse gases (GHGs), mainly carbon dioxide (CO2). Sequestering CO2 from the power plant flue gas can significantly reduce the GHGs from the power plant itself, but this is not the total picture. CO2 capture and sequestration consumes additional energy, thus lowering the plant's fuel-to-electricity efficiency. To compensate for this, more fossil fuel must be procured and consumed to make up for lost capacity.
Biomass is a significant contributor to the US economy--agriculture, forest and paper products, food and related products account for 5% of our GDP. While the forest products industry self generates some of their energy, other sectors are importers. Bioenergy can contribute to economic development and to the environment. Examples of bioenergy routes suggest that atmospheric carbon can be cycled through biofuels in carefully designed systems for sustainability. Significant potential exists for these options.
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is promoting the development of ethanol from lignocellulosic feedstocks as an alternative to conventional petroleum-based transportation fuels. DOE funds both fundamental and applied research in this area and needs a method for predicting cost benefits of many research proposals. To that end, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has modeled many potential process designs and estimated the economics of each process during the last 20 years. This report is an update of the ongoing process design and economic analyses at NREL.
A new addition to the growing biofuels resources list at AgMRC is a cellulosic ethanol feasibility template developed by agricultural economists at Oklahoma State University (OSU). The purpose of the spreadsheet-based template is to give users the opportunity to assess the economics of a commercial-scale plant using enzymatic hydrolysis methods to process cellulosic materials into ethanol. The OSU Cellulosic Ethanol Feasibility Template can be downloaded and modified by the user to mimic the basic operating parameters of a proposed ethanol plant under a variety of production conditions.
This paper examines the possibilities of breaking into the cellulosic ethanol market in south Louisiana via strategic feedstock choices and the leveraging of the area’s competitive advantages. A small plant strategy is devised whereby the first-mover problem might be solved, and several scenarios are tested using Net Present Value analysis.
The Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) of 2007 established specific targets for the production of biofuel in the United States. Until advanced technologies become commercially viable, meeting these targets will increase demand for traditional agricultural commodities used to produce ethanol, resulting in land-use, production, and price changes throughout the farm sector. This report summarizes the estimated effects of meeting the EISA targets for 2015 on regional agricultural production and the environment. Meeting EISA targets for ethanol production is estimated to expand U.S.
This paper examines the impact of biofuel expansion on grain utilization and distribution at the state and cropping district level as most of grain producers and handlers are directly influenced by the local changes. We conducted a survey to understand the utilization and flows of corn, ethanol and its co-products, such as dried distillers grains (DDG) in Iowa. Results suggest that the rapidly expanding ethanol industry has a significant impact on corn utilization in Iowa.