Cellulosic Biofuel Supply with Heterogeneous Biomass Suppliers: An Application to Switchgrass-based Ethanol
The potential of biomass for alternative energy production has attracted considerable attention because of associated implications for energy security, food supply, and climate change. This paper considers the economic impacts of spatial variation and landowner behavior on potential biomass supply for U.S. cellulosic biofuel. We develop and apply a long-run biomass production through bioenergy conversion cost model that incorporates heterogeneity of biomass suppliers within and between local markets. An application to U.S. switchgrass-based cellulosic ethanol production suggests cost-minimizing biofuel production decisions, which include biorefinery size, biomass transportation distance, and price of biomass, vary significantly across locations. An aggregate switchgrass ethanol supply curve developed from local biofuel supply estimates is used to evaluate the potential for and cost of achieving cellulosic biofuel production targets such as the revised Renewable Fuels Standard. Empirical results suggest spatial variation in biomass production conditions plays an important role in the potential supply and distribution of U.S. cellulosic biofuel production.�
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