Sixty Billion Gallons by 2030: Economic and Agricultural Impacts of Ethanol and Biodiesel Expansion
Agriculture is well positioned as a feedstock source because the fuels can be utilized with current engine technologies and are compatible with the current distribution infrastructure. Commercialization of cellulosic to ethanol technology will enable fuels to be derived from a diverse portfolio of feedstocks from numerous regions of the country. The levels of ethanol production analyzed are 10, 30, and 60 billion gallons of ethanol annually by 2010, 2020 and 2030, respectively. Impacts of producing 1 billion gallons of biodiesel production by 2012 and 1.6 billion gallons by 2030 are also projected. Overall, for the period 2007 to 2030, the estimated accumulated gains in net farm income are over $210 billion; and the accumulated potential savings in government payments are estimated to be $150 billion. Due to the geographic decentralization of the production of feedstock, economic gains are projected to accrue to the majority of regions of the country. Significant expansion beyond 60 billion gallons per year would likely require expansion of the region suitable for the production of bioenergy crops, ability to convert other pastureland (beyond cropland in pasture) into energy crops; allowing CRP acreage to be used in feedstock production, increasing short-rotation wood crops in the Northeast and Northwest regions, increased yields above those assumed in the analysis, and/or increasing the efficiency of cellulosic conversion. Further research should examine the agricultural, environmental, and economic impacts of one or more these factors changing.
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