Policies for Sustainable Biofuels Development in the United States
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Policies for Sustainable Biofuels Development in the United States. Jeff Skeer, Office of Policy and International Affairs U.S. Department of Energy German Marshall Fund Washington, DC, 22 February 2008. Renewable Fuels Standard Enacted: Focus on 2d Generation Feedstocks.

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Policies for Sustainable Biofuels Development in the United States

Jeff Skeer, Office of Policy and International Affairs

U.S. Department of Energy

German Marshall Fund

Washington, DC, 22 February 2008

Renewable fuels standard enacted focus on 2d generation feedstocks
Renewable Fuels Standard Enacted: Focus on 2d Generation Feedstocks

Year Billions of Gallons of Fuel Per Year

20 in 10 Proposal Enacted 12/2007

(Alternative Fuels) (Biofuels Only)

  • 2010 10 12

  • 2011 11 12.6

  • 2012 12 13.2

  • 2013 14 13.8

  • 2014 17 14.4

  • 2015 22 15

  • 2016 28 18 3

  • 2017 35 21 6

  • 2018 24 9

  • 2019 27 12

  • 2020 30 15

  • 2021 33 18

  • 2022 36 21

Of Which Non Starch Ethanol Biofuels:

Comparison of biofuel scenarios
Comparison of Biofuel Scenarios Feedstocks

Twenty in Ten Proposal

Enacted December 2007l

Biofuels &




EIA No-Policy-Change


Annual Energy Outlook 2007

Corn Ethanol


Cellulosic Ethanol

The standards are nested shown with 2022 volumes
The Standards are Nested FeedstocksShown with 2022 volumes

Our commitment to sustainability
Our Commitment to Sustainability Feedstocks

DOE’s Biomass Program is committed to developing the resources, technologies, and systems needed for biofuels to grow in a way that enhances the health of our environment and protects our planet. To that end, we are working to…

  • Develop diverse, non-food feedstocks thatrequire little water or fertilizer

  • Foster sustainable forestry practices toenhance forest health

  • Selectively harvest biomass componentswhile leaving adequate soil nutrients

  • Assess life-cycle impacts of major scale-up in biofuels production, from feedstocksto vehicles, addressing:

    • land use and soil health

    • water use

    • air quality issues

    • impacts on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions

Lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions associated with different fuels
Lifecycle Greenhouse Gas Emissions FeedstocksAssociated with Different Fuels









Corn Ethanol







Sources: Wang et al, Environ. Research Letters, May 2007; Wang et al, Life-Cycle Energy Use and GHG Implications of Brazilian Sugarcane Ethanol Simulated with GREET Model, Dec. 2007.

  • Solutions Feedstocks

  • R&D to improve effectiveness and reduce costs of enzymatic conversion

  • R&D on advanced micro-organismsfor fermentation of sugars

  • R&D to improve syngas clean-up and catalyst for alcohol/fuel synthesis

  • Fund loan guarantees, commercial biorefinery demonstrations, and 10% scale validation projects

  • Fundamental feedstock research, enhanced feedstock demonstrations at scale, collection & storage equipment research, development and testing

Future efforts address obstacles to biochemical and thermochemical routes to biofuels, support demonstrations, and resolve infrastructure issues.

Overcoming Barriers to Commercial 2d Generation BIofuels

  • Barriers

  • Enzymatic conversion costs

  • C5 sugars conversion

  • Low Syngas-to-Fuel Yields

  • Commercial-scale integration of process components

  • Inadequate feedstock and distribution infrastructure

Genetic strategies to boost crop yields
Genetic Strategies to Boost Crop Yields Feedstocks

  • Increase feedstock per unit of land by increasing growth rate and photosynthetic efficiency.

  • Increase fuel yield per ton of feedstock through better composition and structure.

  • Enhance disease and pest resistance.

  • Allow germination and growth in cold weather.

  • Use perennial, multi-year crops with efficient nutrient use and reduced fuel input.

  • Permit dense planting and easy harvesting.

  • Deep roots for increased carbon sequestration, drought tolerance and nutrient uptake.

700 Feedstocks


Cost reductions

to date



Future goal

Minimum Ethanol Selling Price (cents/gal)

















Cellulosic Ethanol Potential and Status

Historical and Projected Cellulosic Ethanol Costs

Cellulosic ethanol cost competitiveness and sustainability attributes are key to biofuels growth potential

Modeled Ethanol Cost for “nth Plant”




NREL Modeled Cost

Major reductions in the cost of cellulosic ethanol

already achieved – much remains to be done

DOE Leverages Partnerships to Achieve Cost Reduction Goals Feedstocks

  • Commercial-Scale Biorefineries (up to $385 million)

    • Six cost-shared, integrated biorefinery demonstration projects to produce130 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol in 5 years using variety of conversion technologies and cellulosic feedstocks

  • 10%-Scale Biorefinery Validation (currently 4 projects up to $114 million)

    • Cost-shared, integrated biorefinery demonstrations using cellulosic feedstocks to produce renewable fuels; one-tenth of commercial scale

    • Four selectees announced last month for total investment of $114 million; more selectees expected by April 2008

  • Ethanologen Solicitation (up to $23 million)

    • Five selected research teams working on microorganisms

  • Enzyme Solicitation (up to $33.8 million)

    • Creating highly effective, inexpensive enzyme systems forcommercial biomass hydrolysis; second phase: cellulase development with cost-sharing industry partners

  • Thermochemical Conversion (up to $7.75 million)

    • Integration of gasification and catalyst development

  • Joint DOE-USDA Solicitation ($18 million)

    • Biomass R&D Initiative

Major DOE Biofuels Project Locations Feedstocks

Geographic, Feedstock, and Technology Diversity

Ghg methodologies task force of global bioenergy partnership gbep
GHG Methodologies Task Force of Global Bioenergy Partnership (GBEP)

  • GHG methodologies taskforce established by GBEP steering committee in May 2007.

  • Desired end result is flexible methodology for policy makers in all countries.

  • First taskforce meeting held October 2007.

  • Second meeting scheduled for March 6-7 2008 and will include solid biomass and liquid biofuels.

Ghg taskforce work plan
GHG Taskforce Work Plan Partnership (GBEP)

1. Review existing methodologies;

2. Develop a harmonised approach so GHG lifecycle assessments can be compared on an equivalent basis;

3 Encompass the full well-to-wheel lifecycle of transport biofuels;

4 Not indicate a preference for any particular existing methodology or feedstock, or to limit parameters; and

5 Define parameters and inputs to be considered when conducting a LCA and develop a good practice document.

Membership of ghg taskforce
Membership of GHG Taskforce Partnership (GBEP)

Attendance at first meeting included:

  • UNEP

  • UN Foundation

  • International Council on Clean Transportation

  • University of California Berkeley

  • Iowa State University

  • GBEP Secretariat

  • Canada

  • France

  • Germany

  • Italy

  • Japan

  • United Kingdom

  • United States

Results of first gbep ghg meeting
Results of First GBEP GHG Meeting Partnership (GBEP)

  • Accomplished review of existing efforts in defining methodologies

  • Reached broad agreement that it is possible to develop common methodology

  • Developed preliminary list of parameters needed for a common methodology in a “checklist”

  • Recognized issues needing further discussion

Development of common checklist
Development of Common Checklist Partnership (GBEP)

  • The GHGs to be covered;

  • The effects of direct land use change, both in terms of above and below ground carbon inventories;

  • The effects of the production cycle, including fertilizer production, agricultural inputs and processing energy;

  • Combustion of the finished biofuel and tailpipe emissions; and

  • Corresponding factors to facilitate comparison with the fuel replaced.

Issues needing further discussion
Issues Needing further Discussion Partnership (GBEP)

  • Accounting for co-product emissions;

  • Ensuring transparency in default values and parameters used, and assumptions made, in conducting a GHG lifecycle assessment;

  • Whether and how to take account of the effects of indirect land use change;

  • How to take account of future technologies (e.g. cellulosic) in the design of the methodology.