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Current Research and Emerging Economic and Environmental Issues on Biofuels Madhu Khanna University of Illinois.

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Presentation on theme: "Current Research and Emerging Economic and Environmental Issues on Biofuels Madhu Khanna University of Illinois."— Presentation transcript:

1 Current Research and Emerging Economic and Environmental Issues on Biofuels Madhu Khanna University of Illinois

2 Research Collaborators H. Onal, A. Jain, X. Chen, H. Huang, C. Crago, S. Kang

3 Economic Issues: Current Research Integrated analysis of the agricultural and fuel sectors to examine Determinants of the economic viability of alternative types of biofuels/feedstocks Implications of biofuels for land use, for food and fuel prices Cost-effectiveness of alternative policies to support biofuels GHG implications of biofuels and social welfare costs of GHG mitigation with alternative biofuel policies Implications and potential for trade in biofuels with Brazil Determinants of spatial location of feedstock production and refineries

4 Conceptual Analysis What should the policy for transportation fuels be? Performance based vs Technology Standards Targeted to specific externalities: Carbon price to control GHG emissions What should the carbon price be in the presence of biofuels? When revenues from carbon tax could be recycled to reduce other taxes What are the implications of existing biofuel policies and is there a rationale for them? Effects depend on demand side factors and supply side factors -Ease of substitution between gasoline and biofuels -Cost of producing biofuels and the responsiveness of gasoline supply to the US -Biofuel subsidies can have unintended effects of increasing GHG emissions and vehicle miles travelled. Justification for mandates: To stimulate innovation With an open economy, portion of the costs of themandates borne by foreign oil producers Reduce transfer of monopoly rents to OPEC


6 Econometric Estimation: Crop Productivity Growth


8 Determinants of the competitiveness of biomass feedstocks Yield per hectare; costs of harvesting and method of storage Availability of non-cropland

9 Relative Costs of Cellulosic Feedstocks Comparative advantage of different feedstocks depends on whether a high cost or a low cost scenario materializes for a particular crop

10 Low Costs of Production of Cellulosic Feedstocks Low Costs of Production of Switchgrass and High Costs of Production of Miscanthus Supply Curves for Biomass Possible to produce 1 billion tons of agricultural biomass by 2030 but at a cost of $140/ton + Requires high yielding grasses, optimistic projections of costs of production Use of idle land and cropland pasture

11 Mix of Biofuels to Meet RFS Sensitive to Accompanying Policies

12 Policy Scenarios Affect Regional Production Patterns of Feedstocks and Conventional Crops

13 Land Requirements These scenarios restrict bioenergy crop production to cropland and currently idle cropland/ cropland pasture Restrictions on the use of idle cropland/cropland pasture raise the cost of cellulosic biofuels and reduces production levels That leaves 254 M ha of pastureland and 62 M ha of forestland pasture at 2007 levels

14 Intensity of Food vs. Fuel is Policy Dependent Food and fuel prices can fall with the proposed subsidies but at significant cost to the government $330 B (2007-2022)


16 Extensions of Economic Analysis to Brazil Key questions –What is the potential for trade in biofuels between US and Brazil and its implications for sugarcane expansion in Brazil? –Which regions will land expansion occur in and what current land uses will be displaced? –What is the potential for intensification of pasture and cattle production to release land for sugarcane production? –How large are the direct and indirect land use change effects in Brazil due to US production of biofuels and trade with Brazil?

17 Location and Capacity of Biorefineries

18 Emerging Issues Confronting Biofuels Going beyond above ground GHG emissions Soil carbon, biodiversity, water quality Indirect Land Use Change Other demands for biomass: electricity, heating, biodiesel Barriers to perennial energy crops and investments in refineries Risks and Uncertainty: Technology, policy, prices Ownership of land

19 Effects of Land Use Change on GHG Emissions Incorporating direct land use change emissions in the LCA and economic model –Crop-specific saturation limits for soil carbon –Crop specific declining rate of soil carbon sequestration over time –Site-specific variations in rate of sequestration depending on history of land use

20 ILUC Issues Understanding the extent and type of land use changes likely in Brazil Literature focusing on determining an ILUC factor and a payback period in terms of GHG savings –Estimation of the ILUC factor of the RFS –Wide variation: 167 years to 15 year payback period Empirical question: –In a second best world what should be the ILUC factor used for regulation of biofuels? –What are the economic/GHG impacts of incorporating ILUC in an LCFS or other climate policy?

21 Biodiversity Impacts Implications of mono-cropping perennial grasses for various species Constraints that it should impose –on contiguous land under grasses –On harvesting frequency, methods –Type of grasses (mixed native species) Trade-offs that biodiversity concerns pose with other motivations for biofuels, GHG mitigation and energy security

22 Barriers to Investment in Dedicated Energy Crops For growers of energy crops Chicken and egg dilemma Upfront establishment costs, lags between investment and returns Uncertainty about prices Potential for technological obsolescence as new crop varieties emerge Risk of refinery shutdown/drought

23 Risks for Refineries Technological innovation in conversion process Uncertainty about demand –Depends on demand, price of oil Uncertainty about costs –Feedstock price, availability and quality Large capital costs Investment tax credits and loan guarantees vs volumetric tax credits

24 Implications for the Structure of the Industry and Design of Contractual Arrangements Vertically integrated industry vs. having heterogenous independent growers Biomass pricing schemes and profit sharing schemes between growers and refineries Input provision by growers vs. refineries

25 Some Directions for Future Research Expand feedstocks and geographical boundaries –Other perennials, forest biomass, woody biomass, agave Expand environmental impacts and integrate with economic analysis (water, water quality, biodiversity, soil carbon) Expand the energy system boundaries beyond ethanol Assessment of land availability and suitability Potential for agricultural productivity improvements/ intensification ILUC factors – Normative and positive analysis Type of governance structures Standards for sustainability Incorporating considerations of risk and uncertainty in economic models Supply chain analysis Contract design

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