Biomass Billion-Ton Study Part Deux
There are one billion reasons to read this post. Among them, biomass resource potential in the U.S. could produce 85 BGY of biofuels.
Potential county-level resources at $60 per dry ton or less in 2030, under baseline assumptions.
The report, 2011 U.S. Billion-Ton Update: Biomass Supply for a Bioenergy and Bioproducts Industry (2011 BT2), examines the nation’s capacity to produce a billion dry tons of biomass resources annually for energy uses without impacting other vital U.S. farm and forest products, including food, feeds, and fiber crops. The biomass resources identified in the report could be used to produce biofuels, biopower, or bioproducts.
2011 BT2 expands on 2005 BTS and includes:
- A spatial, county-by-county inventory of potentially available primary feedstocks;
- Price and available quantities (e.g., supply curves) for the individual feedstocks; and,
- A more rigorous treatment and modeling of resource sustainability.
The updated report identifies sufficient biomass feedstock to meet near-term and potentially long-term bioenergy goals, depending on different cost and productivity scenarios. The assessment finds significant biomass resources across the United States with the exception of some areas of the arid west.
Under the baseline estimate, current combined resources from forests and agricultural lands range from about 138 to nearly 258 million dry tons at forest roadside or farmgate prices from $40 to $60 per dry ton. The combined forest and agricultural resource supply increases to 187 to 602 million dry tons by 2022 over the $40 to $60 per dry ton price range and to 243 to 767 million dry tons by 2030 at the same prices. This equates to an increase from a current 473 million dry tons annually to nearly 1.1 billion dry tons by 2030, under a conservative set of assumptions about future increases in crop yield.
The high-yield estimate increases the proportion of corn in reduced and no-till cultivation and increases corn yields to about double the current rate of annual increase. For energy crops, the high-yield scenario increases the annual rate of crop productivity growth from 1% to 2%, 3%, and 4% annually. No high-yield scenario is evaluated for forest resources, except for the woody crops. The feedstock potential projected under the high-yield assumptions at a $60 per dry ton price offers enough feedstock to produce up to nearly 70 billion gallons per year of biofuels by 2022, nearly double the total RFS2 mandate in the same year. With continued developments in biorefinery capacity and technology, the feedstock resources identified could produce about 85 billion gallons of biofuels – enough to replace approximately 30 percent of the nation’s current petroleum consumption. Alternatively, biomass resources are large enough to potentially produce almost a trillion kWh by 2022 with much higher quantities by 2030.
Background on the Update
In reference to the report, U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu states:
Developing the next generation of American biofuels and bioenergy will help diversify our energy portfolio, reduce our dependence on foreign oil, and produce new clean energy jobs. This study identifies resources here at home that can help grow America’s bioenergy industry and support new economic opportunities for rural America.
The report’s findings demonstrate that increases in biomass-derived energy sources can be produced in a sustainable manner through the use of widely-accepted conservation practices, such as no-till farming and crop rotation. In fact, in some cases increased production may contribute to environmental improvements. For example, removing tree portions that are unfit for market in the forest industry can reduce forest fire risk, and planting energy crops on marginal lands can reduce soil erosion.
The 2011 Billion-Ton Update was produced in collaboration with the Energy Department’s Oak Ridge and Idaho National Laboratories, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, The University of Tennessee, and other university and industry representatives. To view the report and explore its data, which was analyzed at a local level – county-by-county – visit the Bioenergy Knowledge Discovery Framework.
U.S. Department of Energy. 2011. U.S. Billion-Ton Update: Biomass Supply for a Bioenergy and Bioproducts Industry. R.D. Perlack and B.J. Stokes (Leads), ORNL/TM-2011/224. Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, TN. 227p.