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Billion Tons of Biomass
August 21, 2011, 5:19 pm
Filed under: Biomass

A research team led by Oak Ridge National Laboratory projected that the U.S. would have between 1.1 and 1.6 billion tons of available, sustainable biomass for industrial bioprocessing by 2030. The finding was a highlight of the “2011 U.S. Billion-Ton Update: Biomass Supply for a Bioenergy and Bioproducts Industry.” The report is an update of a landmark 2005 study undertaken by the DOE and ORNL in 2005.

The report examines the nation’s capacity to produce a billion dry tons of biomass resources annually for energy uses without impacting other vital U.S. farm and forest products, such as food, feed, and fiber crops. The study provides industry, policymakers, and the agricultural community with county-level data and includes analyses of current U.S. feedstock capacity and the potential for growth in crops and agricultural products for clean energy applications.

According to the DOE, “with continued developments in biorefinery capacity and technology, the feedstock resources identified could produce about 85 billion gallons of biofuels – enough to replace approximately 30 percent of the nation’s current petroleum consumption.”

Current usage of biomass

From the report: “Biomass energy consumption (excluding biobased products) was reported at 184 million dry tons in the 2005 BTS. More than 50 percent of this consumption was estimated to be in the forest products industry, with equal amounts used in other processing industries, electric power generation, and the residential and commercial sectors. A relatively small fraction (less than 10%) was used to make biofuels. Based on the most recent EIA data, current biomass energy consumption is nearly 200 million dry tons, or 4 percent of total primary energy consumption.

“About 17 percent of this consumption is space heating in the residential and commercial sectors. The source of this biomass is nearly all fuelwood. The electric power sector represents a small percentage of total biomass consumption (8 percent) and uses a variety of biomass feedstocks—fuelwood, MSW biomass, MSW landfill gas, and biosolids (or sewage sludge).

In 2009, nearly 60 percent of biomass-derived electric power consumption was from MSW sources. Transportation accounts for 31 percent of total consumption, with ethanol used in gasoline blending accounting for most (90 percent) of the total. Biodiesel accounts for 8 percent, and the remainder is E85 (85 percent ethanol fuel) and other biomass liquids. The industrial sector accounts for 44 percent of total biomass energy consumption. Most of this amount (nearly 90 percent) is wood and waste wood. MSW, landfill gas, and biosolids account for the remainder.”

 

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