The U.S. Department of Energy recently released a report, the 2011 U.S. Billion-Ton Update: Biomass Supply for a Bioenergy and Bioproducts Industry, detailing U.S. biomass feedstock potential nationwide. The report 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, such as food, feed and fiber crops.
The study provides industry policymakers and the agricultural community with county-level data and includes analyses of current U.S. feedstock capacity and the potential for growth in crops and agricultural products for clean energy applications. The biomass resources identified in the report could be used to produce clean, renewable biofuels, biopower or bioproducts. For example, 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% of the nation’s current petroleum consumption.
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. 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 baseline scenario in the newly released report shows that biomass resources could be increased 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.
“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,” commented U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu. “This study identifies resources here at home that can help grow America’s bioenergy industry and support new economic opportunities for rural America.”
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