U.S. Billion-Ton Update: Biomass Supply for a Bioenergy and Bioproducts Industry - Comprehensive Survey of All Sources of Biomass Energy, Energy Crops, Forest Biomass, Wood Waste, Agricultural Waste by Progressive Management - Read Online
U.S. Billion-Ton Update
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This important report on the feasibility of a billion-ton annual supply of biomass for bioenergy and bioproducts, updated for 2011, has been converted for accurate flowing-text ebook format reproduction.

Contents: Introduction * Biomass In Current and Projected Energy Consumption * Forest Biomass and 13 Wood Waste Resources * Agricultural Biomass and Waste Resources * Biomass Energy Crops * Summary

The purpose of this report is to update the 2005 Billion-ton Study (BTS) and change its focus from a strategic assessment to a comprehensive resource assessment, thereby addressing issues raised since its publication. One major criticism of the 2005 BTS was that the identified potential biomass was not restricted by price, and some of the potential feedstocks would likely be too expensive relative to other feedstocks under current and prospective technological change (i.e., not be economically available). This update provides estimates of prices and quantities of the resource potential (i.e., supply curves). This update also treats sustainability much more rigorously, and it focuses on currently unused resources and energy crops. Full analysis of the sustainability of large-scale biomass production is not the intention of this report; however, quantitative projections presented may be useful for further analyses of the environmental and social aspects of using biomass for energy.

The original report included biomass that was currently being used for energy production because it counted toward the billion-ton goal. In this update, currently consumed biomass resources, such as wood residues and pulping liquors used in the production of forest products, are treated separately to avoid confusion with the unused potential. The update focuses on deriving estimates of biomass available for additional energy production and bioproducts at different prices and locations across the continental United States.

Chapter 2 provides a summary of biomass resources currently used in the production of biofuels, heat, and power. This chapter also provides projections of currently used biomass to the year 2030. Chapter 3 assesses forest biomass and waste resources. Agricultural resources are evaluated in two chapters. Chapter 4 assesses primary crop residues from the major grains, as well as other crop residues, crop processing residues, and animal manures. These latter resources were listed in the 2005 BTS as other crop residues and other residues. Chapter 5 contains the assessment of the energy crops and includes perennial grasses, woody crops, and annual energy crops. Chapter 6 provides a summary of the resource assessment update. For convenience and ease in reading, a decision was made to show feedstock quantities and their composite total at the $60 per dry ton level in many of the figures and tables in the report. This price was selected because it brings in most of the available tons from all of the feedstocks and because the price represents a realistic, reasonable price for discussion purposes.

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ISBN: 9781465767158
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1

INTRODUCTION

1.1 Background

The report, Biomass as Feedstock for a Bioenergy and Bioproducts Industry: The Technical Feasibility of a Billion-Ton Annual Supply (generally referred to as the Billion-Ton Study or 2005 BTS), was an estimate of potential biomass based on numerous assumptions about current and future inventory, production capacity, availability, and technology.1 The analysis was made to determine if conterminous U.S. agriculture and forestry resources had the capability to produce at least one billion dry tons of sustainable biomass annually to displace 30% or more of the nation's present petroleum consumption. An effort was made to use conservative estimates to assure confidence in having sufficient supply to reach the goal.

The potential biomass was projected to be reasonably available around mid-century when large-scale biorefineries are likely to exist. The study emphasized primary sources of forest- and agriculture-derived biomass, such as logging residues, fuel treatment thinnings, crop residues, and perennially grown grasses and trees. These primary sources have the greatest potential to supply large, reliable, and sustainable quantities of biomass. While the primary sources were emphasized, estimates of secondary residue and tertiary waste resources of biomass were also provided.2

The original Billion-Ton Resource Assessment, published in 2005, was divided into two parts—forest-derived resources and agriculture-derived resources. The forest resources included residues produced during the harvesting of merchantable timber, forest residues, and small-diameter trees that could become available through initiatives to reduce fire hazards and improve forest health; forest residues from land conversion; fuelwood extracted from forests; residues generated at primary forest product processing mills; and urban wood wastes, municipal solid wastes (MSW), and construction and demolition (C&D) debris. For these forest resources, only residues, wastes, and small-diameter trees were considered. The 2005 BTS did not attempt to include any wood that would normally be used for higher-valued products (e.g., pulpwood) that could potentially shift to bioenergy applications. This would have required a separate economic analysis, which was not part of the 2005 BTS.

The agriculture resources in the 2005 BTS included grains used for biofuels production; crop residues derived primarily from corn, wheat, and small grains; and animal manures and other residues. The cropland resource analysis also included estimates of perennial energy crops (e.g., herbaceous grasses, such as switchgrass, woody crops like hybrid poplar, as well as willow grown under short rotations and more intensive management than conventional plantation forests). Woody crops were included under cropland resources because it was assumed that they would be grown on a combination of cropland and pasture rather than forestland.

In the 2005 BTS, current resource availability was estimated at 278 million dry tons annually from forestlands and slightly more than 194 million dry tons annually from croplands. These annual quantities increase to about 370 million dry tons from forestlands and to nearly 1 billion dry tons from croplands under scenario conditions of high-yield growth and large-scale plantings of perennial grasses and woody tree crops. This high-yield scenario reflects a mid-century timescale (~2040-2050). Under conditions of lower-yield growth, estimated resource potential was projected to be about 320 and 580 million dry tons for forest and cropland biomass, respectively. As noted earlier, the 2005 BTS emphasized the primary resources (agricultural and forestry residues and energy crops) because they represent nearly 80% of the long-term resource potential.

Since publication of the BTS in April 2005, there have been some rather dramatic changes in energy markets. In fact, just prior to the actual publication of the BTS, world oil prices started to increase as a result of a burgeoning worldwide demand and concerns about long-term supplies. By the end of the summer, oil prices topped $70 per barrel (bbl) and catastrophic hurricanes in the Gulf Coast shut down a significant fraction of U.S. refinery capacity. The following year, oil approached $80 per bbl due to supply concerns, as well as continued political tensions in the Middle East. The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA) was enacted in December of that year (see Text Box 1.1). By the end of December 2007, oil prices surpassed $100 per bbl for the first time, and by mid-summer 2008, prices approached $150 per bbl because of supply concerns, speculation, and weakness of the U.S. dollar. As fast as they skyrocketed, oil prices fell, and by the end of 2008, oil prices dropped below $50 per bbl, falling even more a month later due to the global economic recession. In 2009 and 2010, oil prices began to increase again as a result of a weak U.S. dollar and the rebounding of world economies.

Other legislation has had impacts since 2005, as well. The 2008 Farm Bill, also known as the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008, provides for 11 programs (although not all have been funded) for renewable energy, biobased products, and bioenergy. Furthermore, the Farm Bill provides for advanced biofuels, which are biofuels other than corn-kernel based, and provides funding for using biomass for power or heat. The Farm Bill also makes incentives available for the production of biomass through the Biomass Crop Assistance Program. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 provided additional funding for biorefineries and other clean energy initiatives. In effect, since the BTS was published, America has seen an expansion in financial support for renewable energy and has had both legislative and executive actions that support all types of renewable energy, including biomass. The emphasis has shifted to cellulosic biofuels and to the use of biomass for an array of products, including electricity and thermal applications.

In addition to cellulosic biofuels and the RFS, there has also been interest in developing a national RPS (renewable portfolio standard) to generate electricity from renewable energy, including biomass. A study by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) (2007a) looked at a combined 25% RFS and RPS by 2025. This analysis suggests that to comply with such mandates, it would require almost a 13-fold increase in non-hydropower renewable generation and more than a 12-fold increase from 2005 levels. Although not all would be biomass based, the likelihood of increased demand for biomass for all energy uses has become very apparent. However, the greenhouse gas reductions are also providing more scrutiny in the use of biomass, especially in emissions accounting. Although this analysis does not address differences in emissions among feedstocks, it does address the basic sustainability aspects of using renewable feedstocks—a non-diminishing supply over the period studied.

In sum, these supply and demand forces have contributed to volatility in oil prices in recent years, and by transitioning toward higher energy efficiency and additional domestic sources of renewable fuels, such as biofuels, there is high potential to reduce U.S. market uncertainty and increase energy security. Legislative and executive actions have occurred at the federal and state levels in support of the use of biomass. There have been increased legislative actions and investments in the use of biomass for biopower. Overall, since the original report, the United States has accelerated efforts in using biomass for energy, and along with that emphasis, new questions have been asked about supply.

Text Box 1.1 / Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA)

The law contains a number of provisions to increase energy efficiency and the availability and use of renewable energy. One key provision of EISA is the setting of a revised Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS). revised RFS mandates the use of 36 billion gallons per year (BGY) of renewable fuels by 2022. The revised RFS has specific fuel allocations for 2022 that include use of:

• 16 BGY of cellulosic biofuels

• 14 BGY of advanced biofuels

• 1 BGY of biomass-based biodiesel

15 BGY of conventional biofuels (e.g., corn starch-based ethanol).

EISA legislation (see, 42 U.S.C. 7545(o)(2)) also established new definitions and criteria for both renewable fuels (e.g., greenhouse gas reduction thresholds) and the renewable biomass used to produce the fuels. Renewable biomass generally includes:

• Crops from previously cleared non-forested land

• Trees from actively managed plantations on non-federal land

• Residues from non-federal forestland that is deemed not to be critically imperiled or rare

• Biomass from the immediate vicinity of buildings or public infrastructure at risk from wildfires

• Algae

• Separated yard or food waste.

Excluded from the qualifying renewable biomass are resources from ecologically sensitive or protected lands, biomass from federal forestlands, biomass from newly cleared or cultivated land, and merchantable biomass from naturally regenerated forestlands (see, 42 U.S.C. 7545(o)(1)(I)).

1.2 Purpose

The purpose of this report is to update the 2005 BTS and change its focus from a strategic assessment to a comprehensive resource assessment, thereby addressing issues raised since its publication. One major criticism of the 2005 BTS was that the identified potential biomass was not restricted by price, and some of the potential feedstocks would likely be too expensive relative to other feedstocks under current and prospective technological change (i.e., not be economically available). This update provides estimates of prices and quantities of the resource potential (i.e., supply curves).3 This update also treats sustainability much more rigorously, and it focuses on currently unused resources and energy crops. Full analysis of the sustainability of large-scale biomass production is not the intention of this report; however, quantitative projections presented may be useful for further analyses of the environmental and social aspects of using biomass for energy. Many of the sustainability aspects have been discussed in other studies, such as the Biomass Research and Development Initiative (BRDI) (2008) report on economics and environmental implications of meeting the RFS. Further, this update emphasizes the 2012 through 2030 time period coincident with implementation of EISA (see Text Box 1.2) and DOE initiatives, rather than on updating the mid-century projection results in the original study. The original report included biomass that was currently being used for energy production because it counted toward the billion-ton goal. In this update, currently consumed biomass resources, such as wood residues and pulping liquors used in the production of forest products, are treated separately to avoid confusion with the unused potential. The update focuses on deriving estimates of biomass available for additional energy production and bioproducts at different prices and locations across the continental United States. A schematic of the biomass resources considered in this update are shown in Figure 1.1. The resources noted as currently used are treated in a separate chapter. Separate chapters are also devoted to forest residues, agricultural residues, and energy crops. Although recent attention has turned to algal feedstocks because of their high productivity, algal feedstocks are not included in this assessment. There is insufficient information and data to estimate and project the availability of algal feedstocks at a county scale with any degree of accuracy. The National Algal Biofuels Technology Roadmap (U.S. Department of Energy, 2010b) reports that many years of research will likely be needed to achieve affordable, scalable, and sustainable algal-based fuels.

A key outcome of this update is to estimate feedstock supply curves by county for all major primary cropland and forest resources at the farmgate or forest roadside. These supply curves include prices to acquire or access the resource and costs for collecting or harvesting the resource and moving it to the field edge or forest roadside to be ready for transport. In this report, only national results are conveyed. A separate database containing the disaggregated biomass supplies by county and state is available through a Web-based Bioenergy Knowledge Discovery Framework (KDF) (ORNL, 2010). This framework is intended for users to capture, visualize, and analyze information on the complete bioenergy supply chain and the infrastructure needed to support that