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Billion-Ton Update: Home-Grown Energy Resources Across the Nation

August 11, 2011 - 3:59pm


Total potential biomass resources by county in the contiguous U.S. from the baseline scenario of the Update (Figure 6.4, page 159) | Map from Billion-Ton Update

Total potential biomass resources by county in the contiguous U.S. from the baseline scenario of the Update (Figure 6.4, page 159) | Map from Billion-Ton Update

Biofuel jobs could be coming to a community near you, according to a collaborative report released yesterday by the Energy Department that details the huge potential of U.S.-produced biomass. Thanks to research from scientists and engineers from across industry, government, and several universities, the 2011 U.S. Billion-Ton Update: Biomass Supply for a Bioenergy and Bioproducts Industry report  offers a glimpse of a clean energy economy made up of a significant portion of sustainably produced biofuels. 

The 2011 Billion-Ton report is a follow-up to the original 2005 report that concluded the U.S. has the ability to annually produce a billion dry tons of biomass for biofuels, biopower and bioproducts. 

Yesterday’s report – a joint effort by the Energy Department, its National Laboratories, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture -- predicts that agricultural and forest lands from across the country can sustainably produce over a billion tons of biomass annually, all by developing underutilized land resources…and all while still meeting forecasted demands for food, feed and fiber resources. 

What this tells us is that with continued developments in biorefinery capacity and technology, the feedstock resources identified in the report could produce about 85 billion gallons of biofuels. That’s enough to replace approximately 30 percent of the nation’s current petroleum consumption!

The developing U.S. bioenergy industry will create jobs, lower greenhouse gas emissions, and replace petroleum-based products refined from foreign oil. By advancing current bioenergy technologies, gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, power and other products can be made from domestic, renewable biomass resources.

Diverse agriculture, forest, and waste resources from many regions across the U.S. can contribute to a new bio-based economy and energize rural America with economic opportunities. Numerous states show significant potential to help us achieve the ambitious bioenergy goals of the President’s Blueprint for a Secure Energy Future and the Renewable Fuel Standard

And while yesterday’s report is generally consistent with the findings of the 2005 study, it now provides data at the county level, price and cost scenarios associated with growing and collecting potential biomass, and a more rigorous analysis and modeling of sustainability. The report and its supporting data improve our understanding of future biomass markets and will be a critical resource for landowners, businesses, and other potential participants in the clean energy economy.  

View the report, explore its data, and discover related resources on the Bioenergy Knowledge Discovery Framework.  Or download the full report directly here. Stay tuned for Energy Department announcements about a webinar in September to learn more about the study and its implications for biomass potential in the U.S.