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Sustainability of Biofuels Workshop and Report. February 18, 2009 BERAC Meeting John Houghton BER Workshop and Report team includes Libby White. Lignocellulosic Biofuels. Accelerated production of biofuels from agricultural and forest resources is motivated by:

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Sustainability of biofuels workshop and report

Sustainability of Biofuels Workshop and Report

February 18, 2009

BERAC Meeting

John Houghton

BER Workshop and Report team includes

Libby White


Lignocellulosic biofuels
Lignocellulosic Biofuels

  • Accelerated production of biofuels from agricultural and forest resources is motivated by:

    • national and energy security concerns,

    • ways to potentially mitigate climate change while enhancing ecosystem services,

    • ways to re-invigorate rural economic development, and

    • other potential benefits


Us policies encourage biofuel sector
US Policies Encourage Biofuel Sector

  • Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA)

    • As part of EISA, the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) mandates that 36 billion gallons of biofuels are to be produced annually by 2022, of which at least 16 billion gallons are expected to be produced from cellulosic feedstocks.

    • In addition to provisions for biofuel production, EISA recognizes the importance of biofuel sustainability by mandating a life cycle analysis for biofuels every two years and the development of sustainability criteria and indicators.

  • Others:

    • Biomass Research and Development Act of 2000

    • Energy Policy Act of 2005

    • 2002 and 2008 Farm Bills


A traditional framework for understanding biofuel systems

Cropping System

Disturbance

System Structure

Crop species / varieties

Insect pests & predators

Pathogens & vectors

Landscape elements

ManagedCrop selection Rotation frequencyCover crops and tillageHarvest timing & intensityPretreatment location

Unmanaged

Disease & pest outbreaks

Extreme weather (drought, flooding, hail)

Climate Change

System Function

Primary productivity

Carbon flow Nutrient storage and transformations

Greenhouse gas fluxes

Ethanol conversion

Feedstock pretreatment

Outputs

Fuel, food, fiberNitrate, phosphorus, soil exportsPesticides, greenhouse gases

After Robertson et al., in prep; After Collins et al. 2007


A traditional framework for understanding biofuel systems

Cropping System

Disturbance

System Structure

Crop species / varieties

Insect pests & predators

Pathogens & vectors

Landscape elements

ManagedCrop selection Rotation frequencyCover crops and tillageHarvest timing & intensityPretreatment location

Unmanaged

Disease & pest outbreaks

Extreme weather (drought, flooding, hail)

Climate Change

System Function

Primary productivity

Carbon flow Nutrient storage and transformations

Greenhouse gas fluxes

Ethanol conversion

Feedstock pretreatment

Ecosystem Services

Provisioning (e.g. feedstock)

Regulating (e.g. climate stabilization)

Supporting (e.g. soil maintenance)

Cultural (e.g. wildlife amenities)

After Robertson et al., in prep; After Collins et al. 2007


A Socio-Ecological Framework for Biofuel Systems

Social Template

Social System

Cropping System

Human Behavior

Farmer decisions & actionsRefiner decisions & actionsConsumer preferenceRegulations & incentivesMarketsTechnology

Disturbance

System Structure

Crop species / varieties

Insect pests & predators

Pathogens & vectors

Landscape elements

ManagedCrop selection Rotation frequencyCover crops and tillageHarvest timing & intensityPretreatment location

Unmanaged

Disease & pest outbreaks

Extreme weather (drought, flooding, hail)

Climate Change

System Function

Primary productivity

Carbon flow Nutrient storage and transformations

Greenhouse gas fluxes

Ethanol conversion

Feedstock pretreatment

Human Outcomes

Quality of life

Economic vitalityValues

Perceptions & knowledgeCommunity health

Ecosystem Services

Provisioning (e.g. feedstock)

Regulating (e.g. climate stabilization)

Supporting (e.g. soil maintenance)

Cultural (e.g. wildlife amenities)

After Robertson et al., in prep; After Collins et al. 2007


Sustainable biofuels production defined
Sustainable biofuels production defined

  • Key: Attractiveness of biofuels option is very sensitive to issues other than cost.

  • Sustainable biofuels production: the economic production of biofuels today in ways that consider current and future environmental and social needs.

  • Three key aspects of sustainability

    • Environmental aspects require consideration of biogeochemical and biodiversity responses at multiple scales.

    • Economic aspects require assessing demand for biofuels and ensuring that cellulosic biofuels are cost-competitive with other fuel sources and profitable for feedstock producers and refineries.

    • Social sustainability aspects require consideration of food security, energy security, and rural community interests, among others.

  • To fully understand each key element, it is necessary to know how they interact.


Mission inspired science

Office of Science

Mission-Inspired Science

BER advances world-class biological and environmental research and scientific user facilities to support DOE’s energy, environment, and basic research missions.

  • Develop biofuels as a major secure sustainable national energy resource;

  • Understand the potential effects of greenhouse gas emissions on Earth’s climate and biosphere, and their implications for our energy future;

  • Predict the fate and transport of contaminants in the subsurface environment at DOE sites; and

  • Develop new tools to explore the interface of biological and physical sciences.


Sustainability workshop purposes
Sustainability Workshop Purposes

  • Address salient sustainability issues,

  • Survey our present state of knowledge,

  • Point out gaps in understanding where more research is needed, and

  • Produce a report that summarizes these items.


Sustainability of biofuels workshop state of the science and future directions
Sustainability of Biofuels Workshop: State of the Science and Future Directions

  • October 28, 29, 2008

  • Jointly sponsored by DOE/BER and USDA Resource, Education, and Economics (REE)

    • USDA participants: Steiner, Shoemaker, Hipple, Buford

  • Phil Robertson, GLBRC Sustainability Thrust Leader

  • 75 Experts

  • 50% of speakers and participants selected by DOE, 50% by USDA

  • Report: Expected to be released in March


Sustainability workshop doe speakers
Sustainability Workshop: DOE speakers and Future Directions

  • Setting the Stage:

    • G. Philip Robertson, Professor of Ecosystem Science, Michigan State University, and Sustainability Thrust Leader, DOE Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center

  • Ecology (Soil and Plant Processes and Their Interactions)

    • Jerry M. Melillo, Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole

    • Douglas A. Landis, Michigan State University


Sustainability workshop doe speakers cont
Sustainability Workshop: DOE speakers cont. and Future Directions

  • Economics and Land Use

    • Madhu Khanna, University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign

  • Water Demand, Supply, and Quality

    • Patrick Mulholland, Oak Ridge National Laboratory

  • Social and Technological Change:

    • Peter Nowak, University of Wisconsin

  • Game-Changing Scenarios:

    • Lee R. Lynd, Dartmouth College


Environmental soils carbon and other greenhouse gas cycling
Environmental: Soils, carbon and other greenhouse gas cycling

  • Investigate and build improved models of carbon, nitrogen, and water cycles to predict feedstock productivity and environmental outcomes.

    • Examine long-term data to predict change in soil, microbial, nutrient cycling of biofuel ecosystems to long term environmental change.

    • Use varied rainfall, temperature, and other factors where possible.

    • Link biophysical models to land use, economic, other socioecological models.

    • Identify response thresholds to residue removal and fertilizer inputs.


Soils continued
Soils continued cycling

  • Use advanced genomics to characterize microbial communities within biofuel plant-soil systems.

    • Examine carbon and nitrogen cycling, disease suppression, other services that benefit production.

    • Develop improved understanding of biotic and physiochemical factors controlling microbial communities.


Soils continued1
Soils continued cycling

  • Investigate carbon cycling and sequestration, methane, and nitrous oxide fluxes for candidate biofuel cropping systems.

    • Conduct long-term field experiments and create models that characterize nitrous oxide and methane fluxes in cellulosic biofuel systems.

    • Better characterize sequestered carbon and its connection to soil structure, microbial communities, and nutrient and water availability.

  • Develop field-deployable instrumentation for quantifying in situ nitrous oxide and methane fluxes.


Environmental water
Environmental cycling: Water

  • Determine water fluxes in mixed agricultural systems.

    • Investigate water use for marginal lands.

  • Initiate modeling studies to compare current climate conditions with projected future climate change.

  • Understand effect of crop selection and cultivation on streamflow and groundwater.


Environmental water continued
Environmental cycling: Water continued

  • Investigate new approaches to agricultural and silvicultural land-use design and management practices that reduce runoff of sediments, nutrients, pesticides, or other inputs.

  • Establish watershed-scale field studies examining hydrology and water quality effects of conversion from agricultural crops and other land uses to different bioenergy crops and cultivation options.


Environmental biodiversity and ecosystem services
Environmental cycling: Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services

  • Determine services provided by biofuel feedstocks as function of feedstock; regional characteristic, such as soil and climate; and cultivation practice.

    • Build improved models of the projected impacts of bioenergy crops on biodiversity and ecosystem services in agricultural landscapes.

  • Study impact of invasive, exotic, or transgenic biofuel crops on ecosystem services. Develop options to reduce risk.

  • Investigate the connections between biodiversity and resilience, and identify perturbations of concern.


Environmental landscape ecology and systems integration
Environmental cycling: Landscape Ecology and Systems Integration

  • Emphasize regional scale and modeling across scales.

  • Integrate other more narrowly scoped models.

  • Investigate crop selection and management effects on intermediate scale watersheds and habitats

  • Conduct field experiments at regional scales


Economic aspects of sustainability
Economic cycling Aspects of Sustainability

  • Develop a regionally-detailed supply curve for cellulosic ethanol. Provide scenarios of patterns of crop selection for other analysts.

  • Assess non-cropland availability for biomass crop production.

  • Develop consistent life cycle analysis tools.

  • Assess the impact of cellulosic ethanol on land use changes.


Social aspects of sustainability
Social cycling Aspects of Sustainability

  • Analyze and better understand stakeholder values and views regarding biofuel development, including:

    • Potential economic and job impacts

    • Options for models of ownership, such as cooperatives, and allocation of risk for participation in biofuels development.

    • Ecosystem services and biodiversity

    • Infrastructure changes, such as transportation.

  • Improve economic, environmental, and land use models to more explicitly portray social concerns.



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