This report provides a status of the markets and technology development involved in growing a domestic bioenergy economy as it existed at the end of calendar year 2013. It compiles and integrates information to provide a snapshot of the current state and historical trends influencing the development of bioenergy markets. This information is intended for policy-makers as well as technology developers and investors tracking bioenergy developments. It also highlights some of the key energy and regulatory drivers of bioenergy markets.
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This paper describes the current Biomass Scenario Model (BSM) as of August 2013, a system dynamics model developed under the support of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). The model is the result of a multi-year project at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). It is a tool designed to better understand biofuels policy as it impacts the development of the supply chain for biofuels in the United States.
Discussions of alternative fuel and propulsion technologies for transportation often overlook the infrastructure required to make these options practical and cost-effective. We estimate ethanol production facility locations and use a linear optimization model to consider the economic costs of distributing various ethanol fuel blends to all metropolitan areas in the United States. Fuel options include corn-based E5 (5% ethanol, 95% gasoline) to E16 from corn and switchgrass, as short-term substitutes for petroleum-based fuel.
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 declining energy prices on biofuels production and use and its implications to agricultural commodity markets. It uses PEATSim, a dynamic partial equilibrium, multi-commodity, multi-country global trade model of the agriculture sector to analyze the interaction between biofuel, crop and livestock sectors. The ability of countries to achieve their energy goals will be affected by future direction of petroleum prices.
PEATSim (Partial Equilibrium Agricultural Trade Simulation) is a dynamic, partial equilibrium, mathematical-based model that enables users to reach analytical solutions to problems, given a set of parameters, data, and initial
conditions. This theoretical tool developed by ERS incorporates a wide range of domestic and border policies that enables it to estimate the market and trade effects of policy changes on agricultural markets. PEATSim captures
Agricultural markets often feature significant transport costs and spatially distributed production and processing which causes spatial imperfect competition. Spatial economics considers the firms’ decisions regarding location and spatial price strategy separately, usually on the demand side, and under restrictive assumptions. Therefore, alternative approaches are needed to explain, e.g., the location of new ethanol plants in the U.S. at peripheral as well as at central locations and the observation of different spatial price strategies in the market.
This paper introduces a spatial bioeconomic model for study of potential cellulosic biomass supply at regional scale. By modeling the profitability of alternative crop production practices, it captures the opportunity cost of replacing current crops by cellulosic biomass crops. The model draws upon biophysical crop input-output coefficients, price and cost data, and spatial transportation costs in the context of profit maximization theory. Yields are simulated using temperature, precipitation and soil quality data with various commercial crops and potential new cellulosic biomass crops.
This article addresses development of the Illinois ethanol industry through the period 2007-2022, responding to the ethanol production mandates of the Renewable Fuel Standard by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The planning for corn-based and cellulosic ethanol production requires integrated decisions on transportation, plant location, and capacity.
A system of equations representing corn supply, feed demand, export demand, food, alcohol and industrial (FAI) demand, and corn price is estimated by three-stage least squares. A price dependent reduced form equation is then formed to investigate the effect of ethanol production on the national average corn price. The elasticity of corn price with respect to ethanol production is then obtained. Results suggest that ethanol production has a positive impact on the national corn price and that the demand from FAI has a greater impact on the corn price than other demand categories.
Events external to agriculture have set in motion the conditions for structural change in the marketing of corn in the U.S. These included a rapid increase in the price of crude oil from $40 per barrel to over $100 caused by hurricanes, geopolitical events, an increased global demand for energy from countries like China and India, and in December 2007, the U.S. raising the renewable fuel standards. The results of this research show that there could be significant changes in the historical utilization and marketing of corn in the U.S.
When the lignocellulosic biofuels industry reaches maturity and many types of biomass sources become economically viable, management of multiple feedstock supplies – that vary in their yields, density (tons per unit area), harvest window, storage and seasonal costs, storage losses, transport distance to the production plant – will become increasingly important for the success of individual enterprises. The manager’s feedstock procurement problem is modeled as a multi-period sequence problem to account for dynamic management over time.
In this study we use data envelopment analysis to decompose the overall economic efficiency of a sample of ethanol plants into three subcomponents: technical efficiency, allocative efficiency and a new component we call marketing efficiency. The relative importance of these sources of efficiency is of particular interest given the recent history of bankruptcies, plant closings and ownership change in the industry. Results reveal that observed production units are very efficient from a technical point of view as suggested by a standard deviation of 1% in technical efficiency.
Energy security and environmental concerns about global climate change have lead to recent growth in the use of bio-fuels in the U.S. Brazil currently exports a substantial share of its sugarcane based ethanol to the U.S. to support the growing demand for bio-fuels. However, U.S. policies that exogenously affect the bio-fuel sector confound the understanding of the multi-market impacts of a growing bio-fuel demand. Moreover, the various forms of government intervention in the bio-fuel economy leave researchers with unclear conclusions about the prospects for bio-fuels.
The purpose of this research was to determine whether indirect land use occurs and if so to what extent. Indirect land use is a change from non-cropland to cropland (e.g. deforestation) that may occur in response to increasing scarcity of cropland. As farmers worldwide respond to higher crop prices in order to maintain the global food supply and demand balance, pristine lands are cleared and converted to new cropland to replace the crops for feed and food that were diverted elsewhere to biofuels production.
In the corn ethanol industry, the ability of plants to obtain favorable prices through marketing decisions is considered important for their overall economic performance. Based on a panel of surveyed of ethanol plants we extend data envelopment analysis (DEA) to decompose the economic efficiency of plants into conventional sources (technical and allocative efficiency) and a new component we call marketing efficiency.
This study focuses on the simulation of a complete process for producing butanol via
acetone, butanol, and ethanol corn fermentation.