Description: A recent presidential Executive Order to triple current levels of bioenergy and biobased production by 2010 has increased interest in determining whether sufficient biomass resources will be economically available to support the goal. The US has a well-structured program of research and development which is focusing on increasing potential energy crop and crop residue availability under economically and environmentally sustainable conditions. Genetic improvement programs are ongoing in three U. S. locations for hybrid poplar and cottonwood, in one location for willow, and in four locations for switchgrass. Variety testing and cropping systems development is being conducted at wider variety of sites for all three crops. Molecular genetics is providing important information and tools for identifying and controlling desired traits. The program is also expanding to address supply logistics issues for both energy crop and residues. Equilibrium model analysis performed jointly with the US Department of Agriculture suggests that at farmgate prices of about $33 dt and $44 dt, between 7 and 17 million ha of land could convert to energy crop production without negatively affecting food supplies. Large amounts of crop residue also become profitable for farmers to collect at similar prices. This potential for supporting significant bioenergy and biobased products industries in the US will only be realized if the environmental and economic values to local communities are recognized and factored into energy and environmental policy.
Date: January 10, 2001
Creator: Wright, L.L.
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Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department