Biomass Energy in a Carbon Constrained Future

September 3, 2010 - 12:00pm

Two areas of research will be presented: potential roles that domestically sourced biomass energy could play in achieving U.S. environmental and petroleum security goals, and possible pathways for achieving California’s long-term greenhouse gas reduction goals.  Biomass energy is viewed by many in the electricity and transportation fuel sectors as offering benefits such as greenhouse gas emissions reductions and petroleum fuel substitution.  For this reason a large-scale biomass energy industry future is often anticipated although currently biomass energy provides only a small contribution to these sectors.  Agriculture models, however, predict that future domestically sourced biomass energy feedstocks will likely be supply constrained when compared to current U.S. energy demands, meaning that biomass energy’s ultimate contribution could be limited.  Moreover, demand for biomass energy from both the electricity and transportation fuel sectors could further diminish biomass energy’s contribution to achieving goals in each sector.  A multi-sector analysis of a low carbon emission future in California indicates that substantial infrastructure changes will be required in every sector of the economy. Exploring pathways for achieving California’s low carbon future provides a broader perspective on biomass energy utilization.   

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