This gloomy assessment is from the USDOE and USDA:
Am I missing something? This report confirms that corn ethanol will yield
higher (1.8%) or similar ghg emissions without considering secondary land
use changes, result in lower supplies and export of corn for food, and
require much higher energy prices to be commercially viable - this is with
current biofuel policy.
This gloomy assessment is from the Biomass Research and Development Board.
It strikes me as requiring rose tinted reading glasses; it does not support
the theory that biofuels will make a significant near-term contribution to
the climate chaos problem let alone contribute to more sustainable global
R&D into higher crop yields and more sustainable farming are nice long term
goals; but if biofuels do NOT reduce ghg emissions in the near-term then it
seems to me that infrastructure incentives and R&D money needs to be focused
on deployment of REAL solutions that reduce ghg emissions NOW. In addition
R&D is needed that opens more pathways to even more significant ghg
emissions reductions through zero-carbon energy carriers.
Throwing good money after bad makes absolutely no sense.
Am I missing something?
Report: Improved Crops Would Help Meet Federal Biofuel Targets
A new report from the Biomass Research and Development Board finds that
higher corn yields and improved energy crops could make it much easier to
meet the federal Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) in coming years. The RFS
requires conventional ethanol production to increase to 15 billion gallons
per year by 2016, and to meet that with current trends in corn yields would
require a 4.1% increase in corn acreage. The good news is that the increase
would be mostly accommodated by existing farmland in the areas that now grow
most of the nation's corn, but the increased production would also cause a
price increase that would cut non-ethanol corn use by 5.2% and reduce
exports by 7.7%. Although the report did not examine international effects,
such a cut in U.S. corn exports would presumably spur greater production in
other countries, which could lead to land use changes that would impact
greenhouse gas emissions. However, higher U.S. corn yields could ease these
impacts. While the report assumes a yield increase of about 2 bushels per
acre per year, an accelerated increase in corn yield of about 3.1 bushels
per acre per year would mitigate most corn prices impacts, as well as the
impacts of corn plantings on other crop production.
The RFS also requires the production of 20 billion gallons of advanced
biofuels, such as cellulosic ethanol, by 2022. Cellulosic ethanol is
produced from non-food biomass sources, such as corn stover (the stalks,
leaves, and cobs from corn), wood chips, other agricultural residues, and
energy crops such as straw, switchgrass, and poplar. Wood chips left over
from wood product production and from forest fuels reduction are expected to
supply about 4 billion gallons of cellulosic ethanol. That provides relief
for farm-based feedstocks, holding their price to about $45 per ton versus
$60 per ton without the wood chips. Agricultural residues would provide
about 60% of the remaining 16 billion gallons, with corn stover comprising
most of the residues, even though the report assumes that some corn stover
will be left in place to maintain land quality. The remaining cellulosic
ethanol will be produced from dedicated energy crops, including hay in the
Northern Plains, the Mountain States, and the Pacific region, and other
energy crops in the Corn Belt, the Southeast, Appalachia, and the
Mississippi Delta. Most crops will probably be grown on pasture land or
unproductive farmland, although some productive farmland will be shifted to
energy crops, particularly in Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi.
The report also examines the greenhouse gas (GHG) impacts within the United
States of meeting the RFS requirements. It notes that the increase in corn
production will boost agricultural GHG emissions by only 1.8%, the
equivalent of about 8 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions, and a
boost in corn yield could essentially eliminate that increase. However, the
report does not account for international impacts or for secondary impacts
on livestock production and feed production, nor does it take credit for
reductions in petroleum consumption. The report does anticipate that a high
price for fuel and a price of $25 per thousand tons of carbon dioxide
emissions would encourage farmers to reduce their GHG emissions, and thus
reduce the impact of growing the energy crops. The report concludes with a
call for research on higher crop yields, on more sustainable farming
methods, and on a broad portfolio of potential energy crops. It also calls
for more data on energy crops and more rigorous models to examine the
impacts of growing such crops on such factors as GHG emissions. The Biomass
Research and Development Board is co-chaired by DOE and the U.S. Department
of Agriculture (USDA), and is part of the Biomass Research and Development
Initiative (BRDi), which involves six federal agencies and two executive
offices. See the
A/7_0_1OB?contentidonly=true&contentid=2008/12/0304.xml> USDA press release
and the full report (
reasing%20Feedstock_revised.pdf> PDF 9.7 MB).
ep2.html> Download Adobe Reader.
David E. Bruderly PE
Clean Power Engineering
Wise Gas Inc.
920 SW 57th Drive
Gainesville FL 32607-3838