U.S. Billion-Ton Update: Biomass Supply for a Bioenergy and Bioproducts Industry

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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. 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 ... continued below

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Downing, Mark; Eaton, Laurence M; Graham, Robin Lambert; Langholtz, Matthew H; Perlack, Robert D; Turhollow Jr, Anthony F et al. August 1, 2011.

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Description

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. 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. 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 ({approx}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. 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.

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  • Report No.: ORNL/TM-2011/224
  • Grant Number: DE-AC05-00OR22725
  • DOI: 10.2172/1023318 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 1023318
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc834684

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  • August 1, 2011

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  • May 19, 2016, 3:16 p.m.

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Downing, Mark; Eaton, Laurence M; Graham, Robin Lambert; Langholtz, Matthew H; Perlack, Robert D; Turhollow Jr, Anthony F et al. U.S. Billion-Ton Update: Biomass Supply for a Bioenergy and Bioproducts Industry, report, August 1, 2011; United States. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc834684/: accessed December 14, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.