At the request of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Bioenergy Technologies Office, Energetics’ Jonathan Rogers served as lead author for “An assessment of the potential products and economic and environmental impacts resulting from a billion ton bioeconomy,” published November 21 in Biofuels, Bioproducts and Biorefining. The article examines the potential benefits of a billion-ton bioeconomy, which would require producing and converting one billion tons of U.S. biomass into bio-based energy, fuels, and products by 2030.
For this effort, Mr. Rogers developed an MS Excel model to estimate the economic impacts of producing and converting biomass at this scale. He used the model to evaluate 10 different scenarios and worked with experts from Argonne National Laboratory to quantify the environmental impacts of each.
The researchers estimate that achieving a billion-ton bioeconomy could displace 9.5% of fossil energy consumption and avoid the equivalent of up to 446 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually. A billion-ton bioeconomy could also directly expand bioeconomy revenues by a factor of five—generating nearly $259 billion and 1.1 million jobs for the U.S. economy. The economic and environmental impacts discussed in the analysis are estimates rather than projections, and they are contingent upon developing the feedstock supplies, lowering production costs, and enhancing the value of bioeconomy products.
“Biomass resources are very likely to play an important role in the transition to a low-carbon economy,” said Mr. Rogers. “While bio-based fuels and products will have to enter into and compete in extremely competitive markets, bio-based options represent the only plausible alternative to some fossil fuels and petroleum-based products, such as hydrocarbon-based aviation fuels and chemicals.”
In addition to serving as lead author of the article, Mr. Rogers presented preliminary results to the Advanced Bioeconomy Leadership Conference in Miami in June 2016.