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Sustainable Biofuels: Baselines, Uncertainties & Values

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  1. Sustainable Biofuels: Baselines, Uncertainties & Values Timothy M. Smith Director, Initiative for Sustainable Enterprise Associate Professor, Bioproducts & Biosystems Engineering University of Minnesota MIT/Ford/Shell Research Workshop Dearborn, MI June 9, 2009

  2. The really big questions… How do we feed and secure energy for 9 billion people, while… • Stabilizing global climate change? • Protecting important (high-value) ecosystems? • Reducing poverty and income disparity? “Science” alone can’t provide the answers!

  3. Sustainable Biofuels Federal & State Policy: • Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) adopted by EPA to implement provisions of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. • State-level blending mandates, renewable portfolio standards and low carbon fuel standards (CA,11 Northeastern states and 9 Midwestern states pursuing these policies) • Waxman-Markey, American Clean Energy and Security Act • Biofuels Interagency Working Group (Obama initiative; May 9, 2009) Voluntary Standards Development: • Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels • Sustainable Biodiesel Alliance • Biofuels and Sustainable Development (with Global Bioenergy Partnership) • SCS-001/ANSI - Draft National Standard • IEA – Task Force 40 • National Biofuels Action Plan – USDA

  4. Examples of Advantages and Disadvantages of Biofuels • Advantages of Biofuels: • Reduction of imported crude oil • Renewability • Rural development • Use of waste material • Reduction in greenhouse gas • emissions • Disadvantages of Biofuels: • Energy intensive production • Runoff of agrochemicals to water • Use of limited water supplies • Threatened and endangered species • Increased soil erosion • Land conversion effects • Introduction of invasive species (Currant 2009)

  5. Global Biofuel Blending Targets and Production * EIA 2008 U.S. Ethanol (2022)*: Prod: 15.3 – 17.1 bil. Gallons; approx. 2.5 times 2008 levels

  6. Biomass in the U.S. (A. Milbrandt 2005) Top 5 Biomass States: Iowa 8.3% Illinois 6.7% MN 6.2% Missouri 4.4% ND 4.1% Top 5 29.5% Minnesota: Expected to produce 1.7 – 2.1 billion “advanced biofuels” by 2022 (Smith & Suh 2008) Would need all crop residues, switchgrass from CRP and forest residues!!!

  7. (Wisner 2007) | UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA, Department of Bio-based Products

  8. Global Biofuel Blending Targets and Production Feedstock for 30 bil. gallons per year** * EIA 2008; **Kline and Oladosu (2008) U.S. Ethanol (2022)*: Prod: 15.3 – 17.1 bil. Gallons; approx. 2.5 times 2008 levels Imports: 2.4 – 3.1 bil. Gallons; approx. 5 times 2008 levels EU (2020): Require 20-50% imports to reach 2020 blending target Sept 2008 – target amended to 4 percent from today’s crop-based biofuels. 45% GHG savings over fossil fuels rising to 60% in 2015. Latin America (2017): BrazilArgentinaColombia CBI

  9. Sustainability Impacts of Biofuels • Fossil Fuel Use and Depletion • Net Energy Balance • Global Warming

  10. Environmental Impacts of Biofuel Feedstocks

  11. Environmental Impacts of Biofuels • Fossil Fuel Use and Depletion • Net Energy Balance • Global Warming • Land Use

  12. Land Clearing and the Biofuel Carbon Debt (Fargione et al. 2008)

  13. Lifecycle GWP of Renewable Fuels (EPA-420-F-09-024, May 2009)

  14. EPA Lifecycle GHG Emission Reduction Results for Renewable Fuels (EPA-420-F-09-024, May 2009)

  15. Environmental Impacts of Biofuels • Fossil Fuel Use and Depletion • Net Energy Balance • Global Warming • Land Use • Air Quality • Food-for-Fuel • Soil Quality • Water Quality • Water Availability • Biodiversity • Invasive Species • Socio-Economic Aspects

  16. Non GWP Environmental Impacts (Zah et al. 2007)

  17. The Promise of Algae? Water, Energy & Costs (Muhs et al. 2009)

  18. Carbon Intensity of Petroleum Transport Fuels Unnasch. S., et al. (2009). Typical Baseline Values used: - Gasoline: 92 – 97 g/CO2e/MJ - Diesel: ≈ 82 g/CO2e/MJ Point estimates from 95 - 115 g/CO2e/MJ Uncertainty brings the petroleum baseline to a potential 90 - 130 g/CO2e/MJ depending on: - Overseas vented natural gas- Oil sands processing tech.- Treatment of co-product electricity from cogeneration- Method used to determine refinery emissions- Treatment of residual oil and coke co-products

  19. Concluding Thoughts Policy will play a major role in sustainable biofuels development, but not the only role. Private voluntary standards and certifications will attempt to address the multiple trade-offs difficult for governmental policies to address. We are very early in the process… criteria and implementation mechanisms are far from being determined – let alone “standardized” within a handful of “winning” (legitimate) private governance initiatives. Nearly as much uncertainty exists within extant petroleum-based systems as developing bio-based systems (access, security, transport, land-use change, process technologies, etc.). Time horizons matter Much more work is needed to create the data infrastructure and institutions necessary to handle multiple viable/credible sustainability standards/policies for biofuels. Any normalization or weighting of environmental/social/economic factors feeding standards (policy or market driven) are subjective and based on the stakeholders engaged in decision-making.

  20. Questions and Contact Tim Smith 612.624.6755 timsmith@umn.edu