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Social and economic indicators can be used to support design of sustainable energy systems. Indicators representing categories of social well-being, energy security, external trade, profitability, resource conservation, and social acceptability have not yet been measured in published sustainability assessments for commercial algal biofuel facilities. We review socioeconomic indicators that have been modeled at the commercial scale or mea-sured at the pilot or laboratory scale, as well as factors that affect them, and discuss additional indicators that should be measured during commercialization to form a more complete picture of socioeconomic sustainability of algal biofuels. Indicators estimated in the scientific literature include the profitability indicators, return on investment (ROI) and net present value (NPV), and the resource conservation indicator, fossil energy return on investment (EROI). These modeled indicators have clear sustainability targets and have been used to design sustainable algal biofuel systems. Factors affecting ROI, NPV, and EROI include infrastructure, process choices, and financial assumptions. The food security indicator, percent change in food price volatility, is probably zero where agricultural lands are not used for production of algae-based biofuels; however, food-related coproducts from algae could enhance food security. The energy security indicators energy security premium and fuel price volatility and external trade indicators terms of trade and trade volume cannot be projected into the future with accuracy prior to commercialization. Together with environmental sustainability indicators, the use of a suite of socioeconomic sustainability indicators should contribute to progress toward sustainability of algal biofuels

Publication Year
Organization
Lab
DOI
10.1111/gcbb.12359
Contact Person
Rebecca A. Efroymson
Contact Organization
Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Bioenergy Category
Author(s)
Rebecca A. Efroymson , Virginia H. Dale , Matthew H. Langholtz
Funded from the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Bioenergy Technologies Office.

The biobased economy is playing an increasingly important role in the American economy.

Through innovations in renewable energies and the emergence of a new generation of biobased products, the sectors that drive the biobased economy are providing job creation and economic growth. To further understand and analyze trends in the biobased economy, this report compares 2011 and 2016 report data.

Publication Year
Organization
Contact Email
GoldenJ17@ecu.edu
Attachment
Contact Person
Dr. Jay S. Golden
Contact Organization
East Carolina University
Bioenergy Category
Author(s)
Jay S. Golden , Robert Handfield , Janire Pascual-Gonzalez , Ben Agsten , Taylor Brennan , Lina Khan , Emily True

This paper connects the science of sustainability theory with applied aspects of sustainability deployment. A suite of 35 sustainability indicators spanning six environmental, three economic, and three social categories has been proposed for comparing the sustainability of bioenergy production systems across different feedstock types and locations.   A recent demonstration-scale switchgrass-to-ethanol production system located in East Tennessee is used to assess the availability of sustainability indicator data and associated measurements for the feedstock production and logistics portions of the biofuel supply chain.  Knowledge pertaining to the available indicators is distributed within a hierarchical decision tree framework to generate an assessment of the overall sustainability of this no-till switchgrass production system relative to two alternative business-as-usual scenarios of unmanaged pasture and tilled corn production.  The relative contributions of the social, economic and environmental information are determined for the overall trajectory of this bioenergy system’s sustainability under each scenario.  Within this East Tennessee context, switchgrass production shows potential for improving environmental and social sustainability trajectories without adverse economic impacts, thereby leading to potential for overall enhancement in sustainability within this local agricultural system.  Given the early stages of cellulosic ethanol production, it is currently difficult to determine quantitative values for all 35 sustainability indicators across the entire biofuel supply chain.  This case study demonstrates that integration of qualitative sustainability indicator ratings may increase holistic understanding of a bioenergy system in the absence of complete information.

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This manuscript has been authored by UT-Battelle, LLC under Contract No. DE-AC05-00OR22725 with the U.S. Department of Energy. The United States Government retains and the publisher, by accepting the article for publication, acknowledges that the United S
Contact Email
parishes@ornl.gov
Contact Person
Esther Parish
Contact Organization
Center for BioEnergy Sustainability, Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Bioenergy Category
Author(s)
Esther S. Parish

Developing scientific criteria and indicators should play a critical role in charting a sustainable path for the rapidly developing biofuel industry. The challenge ahead in developing such criteria and indicators is to address the limitations on data and modeling.

Contact Phone
Publication Year
Contact Email
dalevh@ornl.gov
Contact Person
Virginia Dale
Contact Organization
Center for BioEnergy Sustainability, Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Bioenergy Category
Author(s)
Alan D. Hecht

Landscape implications of bioenergy feedstock choices are significant and depend on land-use practices and their environmental impacts. Although land-use changes and carbon emissions associated with bioenergy feedstock production are dynamic and complicated, lignocellulosic feedstocks may offer opportunities that enhance sustainability when compared to other transportation fuel alternatives. For bioenergy sustainability, major drivers and concerns revolve around energy security, food production, land productivity, soil carbon and erosion, greenhouse gas emissions, biodiversity, air quality, and water quantity and quality. The many implications of bioenergy feedstock choices require several indicators at multiple scales to provide a more complete accounting of effects. Ultimately, the long-term sustainability of bioenergy feedstock resources (as well as food supplies) throughout the world depends on land-use practices and landscape dynamics. Land-management decisions often invoke trade-offs among potential environmental effects and social and economic factors as well as future opportunities for resource use. The hypothesis being addressed in this paper is that sustainability of bioenergy feedstock production can be achieved via appropriately designed crop residue and perennial lignocellulosic systems. We find that decision makers need scientific advancements and adequate data that both provide quantitative and qualitative measures of the effects of bioenergy feedstock choices at different spatial and temporal scales and allow fair comparisons among available options for renewable liquid fuels.

Contact Phone
Publication Year
Contact Email
dalevh@ornl.gov
Contact Person
Virginia Dale
Contact Organization
Center for BioEnergy Sustainability, Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Bioenergy Category
Author(s)
Virginia H. Dale

A framework for selecting and evaluating indicators of bioenergy sustainability is presented.
This framework is designed to facilitate decision-making about which indicators are useful for assessing
sustainability of bioenergy systems and supporting their deployment. Efforts to develop sustainability
indicators in the United States and Europe are reviewed. The fi rst steps of the framework for
indicator selection are defi ning the sustainability goals and other goals for a bioenergy project or program,
gaining an understanding of the context, and identifying the values of stakeholders. From the
goals, context, and stakeholders, the objectives for analysis and criteria for indicator selection can
be developed. The user of the framework identifi es and ranks indicators, applies them in an assessment,
and then evaluates their effectiveness, while identifying gaps that prevent goals from being met,
assessing lessons learned, and moving toward best practices. The framework approach emphasizes
that the selection of appropriate criteria and indicators is driven by the specifi c purpose of an analysis.
Realistic goals and measures of bioenergy sustainability can be developed systematically with the help
of the framework presented here. © 2015 Society of Chemical Industry and John Wiley & Sons, Ltd

Contact Phone
Publication Year
Contact Email
dalevh@ornl.gov
Contact Person
Virginia Dale
Contact Organization
Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Bioenergy Category
Author(s)
Virginia Dale
Funded from the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Bioenergy Technologies Office.

In order to aid operations that promote sustainability goals, researchers and stakeholders use sustainability assessments.  Although assessments take various forms, many utilize diverse sets of indicators numbering anywhere from two to over 2000. Indices, composite indicators, or aggregate values are used to simplify high dimensional and complex data sets and to clarify assessment results. Although the choice of aggregation function is a key component in the development of the assessment, there are fewliterature examples to guide appropriate
aggregation function selection. This paper applies the mathematical study of aggregation functions to sustainability assessment in order to aid in providing criteria for aggregation function selection. Relevant mathematical properties of aggregation functions are presented and interpreted. Cases of these properties and their relation to previous sustainability assessment research are provided. Examples show that mathematical aggregation properties can be used to address the topics of compensatory behavior and weak versus strong sustainability, aggregation of data under varying units of measurements, multiple site multiple indicator aggregation, and the determination of error bounds in aggregate output for normalized and non-normalized indicator measures.

Contact Phone
Usage Policy
This manuscript has been authored by UT-Battelle, LLC under Contract No. DE-AC05- 00OR22725 with the US Department of Energy. The United States Government and the publisher, by accepting the article for publication, acknowledge that the United States
Publication Year
Contact Email
dalevh@ornl.gov
Data Source
Ecological Economics Journal
Contact Person
Virginia Dale
Contact Organization
Center for BioEnergy Sustainability, Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Bioenergy Category
Author(s)
Nathan Pollesch
Funded from the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Bioenergy Technologies Office.

Eucalyptus is a fast-growing tree native to Australia and could be used to supply biomass for bioenergy and other purposes along the coastal regions of the southeastern United States (USA). At a farmgate price of $66 dry Mg−1, a potential supply of 27 to 41.3 million dry Mg year−1 of Eucalyptus could be produced on about 1.75 million ha in the southeastern USA. A proposed suite of indicators provides a practical and consistent way to measure the sustainability of a particular situation where Eucalyptus might be grown as a feedstock for conversion to bioenergy. Applying this indicator suite to Eucalyptus culture in the southeastern USA provides a basis for the practical evaluation of socioeconomic and environmental sustainability in those systems. Sustainability issues associated with using Eucalyptus for bioenergy do not differ greatly from those of other feedstocks, for prior land-use practices are a dominant influence. Particular concerns focus on the potential for invasiveness, water use, and social acceptance. This paper discusses opportunities and constraints of sustainable production of Eucalyptus in the southeastern USA. For example, potential effects on sustainability that can occur in all five stages of the biofuel life cycle are depicted.

Publication Year
Contact Email
dalevh@ornl.gov
Contact Person
Virginia Dale
Contact Organization
Center for BioEnergy Sustainability, Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Bioenergy Category
Author(s)
Dale, Virginia , Matthew H. Langholtz , Beau M. Wesh , Laurence M. Eaton

Agricultural sustainability considers the effects of farm activities on social, economic, and environmental conditions at local and regional scales. Adoption of more sustainable agricultural practices entails defining sustainability, developing easily measured indicators of sustainability, moving toward integrated agricultural systems, and offering incentives or imposing regulations to affect farmer behavior. Landscape ecology is an informative discipline in considering sustainability because it provides theory and methods for dealing with spatial heterogeneity, scaling, integration, and complexity. To move toward more sustainable agriculture, we propose adopting a systems perspective, recognizing spatial heterogeneity, integrating landscape-design principles and addressing the influences of context, such as the particular products and their distribution, policy background, stakeholder values, location, temporal influences, spatial scale, and baseline conditions. Topics that need further attention at local and regional scales include (1) protocols for quantifying material and energy flows; (2) standard specifications for management practices and corresponding effects; (3) incentives and disincentives for enhancing economic, environmental, and social conditions (including financial, regulatory and other behavioral motivations); (4) integrated landscape planning and management; (5) monitoring and assessment; (6) effects of societal demand; and (7) integrative policies for promoting agricultural sustainability.

Publication Year
Contact Email
dalevh@ornl.gov
Contact Person
Virginia Dale
Contact Organization
Center for BioEnergy Sustainability, Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Bioenergy Category
Author(s)
Virginia H. Dale , Keith L. Kline , Stephen R. Kaffka , J. W. A. (Hans) Langeveld

Developing scientific criteria and indicators should play a critical role in charting a sustainable path for the rapidly developing biofuel industry. The challenge ahead in developing such criteria and indicators is to address the limitations on data and modeling.

Publication Year
Contact Email
dalevh@ornl.gov
Bioenergy Category
Author(s)
Hecht, Alan
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