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.
Indicators are needed to assess environmental sustainability of bioenergy systems. Effective indicators
will help in the quantification of benefits and costs of bioenergy options and resource uses. We identify
19 measurable indicators for soil quality, water quality and quantity, greenhouse gases, biodiversity, air
quality, and productivity, building on existing knowledge and on national and international programs
that are seeking ways to assess sustainable bioenergy. Together, this suite of indicators is hypothesized
Despite recent claims to the contrary, plant-based fuels developed in economically and environmentally sensible ways can contribute significantly to the nation’s— indeed, the world’s—energy security while providing a host of benefits for many people worldwide.
IN THEIR REPORTS IN THE 29 FEBRUARY ISSUE (“LAND CLEARING AND THE BIOFUEL CARBON debt,” J. Fargione et al., p. 1235, and “Use of U.S. croplands for biofuels increases greenhouse gases through emissions from land-use change,” T. Searchinger et al., p. 1238), the authors do not provide adequate support for their claim that biofuels cause high emissions due to land-use change. The conclusions of both papers depend on the misleading premise that biofuel production causes forests and grasslands to be converted to agriculture.
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.