Woody Biomass Supply and Demand 1

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1 Woody Biomass Supply and Demand 1 Bryce Stokes, Ph.D. Senior Advisor Navarro Research & Engineering, Inc. Department of Energy, Golden Field Office Golden, CO Introduction Forest biomass is one of the numerous feedstocks for the production of biofuels, biopower, and bioproducts as America embraces a renewable energy future. These woody feedstocks range from wastes in forests, at mills, and bound for landfills to purpose-grown plantations. In the middle include thinnings and the smaller-diameter merchantable wood that might be used for energy biomass depending on market conditions. Certainly, wood will continue to be sold for its highest value if markets exist. Forisk Consulting (2010) tracks bioenergy projects across the southern U.S. that use wood and reported that there were about 130 announced projects. The announced demand would be nearly 50 million tons per year of new wood use by 2020, although they estimated that about only half appear viable. Their projection is that nearly twothirds will be used for electricity production (see Figure 1.). Just last year, Oglethorpe Power (2009) announced the purchase of a site in Warren, GA for the first of two, maybe three, 100- megawatts bioenergy facilities. They go on to explain that the raw materials proposed are whole-tree chips and chipped pulpwood. It is expected that biomass from agricultural and forestry lands will have a significant role in our renewable energy future for electrical and heat/steam production as well as biofuels and for bio-based products. Wood is already the most significant, renewable resource outside hydro for electricity production. If the above projections and estimates from other sources materialize, wood will definitely have the dominate role in the generation of electricity and probably pellets. Figure 1. Estimated wood use by announced facilities in the South (Forisk, 2010). This paper looks at the both the drivers of demand for wood for energy and an estimate of supply and likely impacts of increased demand. Does America have enough wood to 1 The results and opinions expressed in this paper and by the author do no constitute or imply the policy of the Department of Energy or other federal agencies.

2 supply both a burgeoning biomass for energy market and still meet its demand for conventional products? It all depends on the assumptions and what actually develops in the market place. How much biomass do we need? Currently there are two major drivers of the use of agricultural and forestry biomass, one for biofuels and another for biopower. In addition to these, there are both congressional and executive mandates for the use of biomass in bioproducts as well as an option in the greening of buildings and operation of the government. Biofuels Mandates and Incentives A primary driver for biofuels has been the use of corn ethanol as an oxygenation agent with up to a 10 percent blend with gasoline. Presently that is about 14 billion gallons of ethanol per year and represents approximately 10 percent of the 140-billion-gallon U.S. gasoline market on a volumetric basis. There is discussion to increase the blend to 15 percent, but EPA has yet to make that ruling. Another driver has been the Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit that was established in 2005 and has been extended and modified by various statutes since. It was originally a blender s tax credit for 51 cents per gallon of ethanol. The 2008 Farm Bill lowered the rate to 45 cents per gallon. Since then, there have been several other tax credits for small ethanol producers, biodiesel, small-agricultural biodiesel producers, and renewable diesel. The Farm Bill also provided a cellulosic biofuel tax credit of up to $1.01 per gallon less other credits. In addition, there have been other changes in the tax law to support the development of cellulosic biofuels. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 established a renewable fuels standard (RFS, now sometimes referred to as RFS1) for liquid transportation fuels. The RFS was significantly expanded by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (sometimes called RFS2). The RFS requires the blending of renewable fuels (including ethanol and biodiesel) in transportation fuel. The expanded RFS mandates the use of advanced biofuels fuels produced from non-corn feedstocks and with 50 percent lower lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions than petroleum fuel starting in Of the 36 billion gallons required in 2022, at least 21 billion gallons must be advanced biofuel. There are also specific quotas for cellulosic biofuels and for biomass-based diesel fuel. Finally, an import tariff and a most-favored-nation duty of $0.54 per gallon (for fuel use) applies to imports of ethanol into the United States from most countries. Some Caribbean countries can import duty-free which has led to some interesting transportation dynamics. 2

3 Electricity Mandates Although there is currently no federal Renewable Electricity Standard (RES), there are 29 states and DC with Renewable Portfolio Standards in place that call for a wide range of renewable electricity standards over various time frames. Some are very aggressive and depend on projects already in place. For the southeastern U.S. where options beyond biomass are minimal, there are few states with mandates. However, as mentioned already, there are announced projects underway that include the use of wood for electricity production. In addition to the state mandates, there has been federal legislation proposed for a national RES at various percentages, requiring up to 25 percent electricity sold by utilities to come from renewable sources by It should be noted that none have passed at this time, but the debate continues. Most interesting is that some have higher renewable energy credits for small, distributed electricity generation. In any case, it is expected that biomass and primarily wood will be one of the leaders in renewable electricity generation. Dedicated and co-firing biomass currently supplies 39 billion kilowatt/hour (0.9%) of renewable electricity to America. It is projected that in 2030, biomass will account for 231 billion kilowatt/hour (4.5%) of renewable electricity generation (AEGen Dynamics, 2009). Wood Demand Impacts With all these mandates and incentives, the concern is the impact on the demand for biomass, specifically wood. The Energy Information Administration (EIA) undertook a study to analyze the impacts associated with a 25 percent mandate by 2025 for both fuels and electricity (EIA, 2007). The electricity requirement is implemented as a renewable portfolio standard (RPS), while the motor fuel standard is implemented as a renewable fuel standard (RFS). The RPS results in biomass generation of 495 billion kilowatthours (363 percent) higher in 2030 under the mandate than without it. Also, about half of the required renewable generation would come from biomass. Considerable increases in biomass electricity generation occur in virtually every region of the United States. For the RFS, about 61 billion gallons are needed by 2025 of which 28 billion would be from cellulosic feedstock. This would require that biomass consumption for energy rises from less than 30 million tons in 2005 to 535 million dry tons in 2025 and almost 700 million dry tons in 2025 for the highest use scenario. The EIA estimates that it takes about 364 million dry tons of wood to meet both mandates. This is from forest residues, urban waste, and energy crops. Sample (2009) estimated that it would take another 379 million dry tons of roundwood to meet the entire required 870 million dry tons of biomass needed annually for the mandates. 3

4 How Much Woody Biomass do we Have? The original Billion Ton Report (Perlack, et.al, 2005) estimated that there were 368 million dry tons of wood resources available annually. This was mostly wood wastes from the forests, mills, and urban areas. It did not include the woody energy crops which were reported as perennial crops (either grasses or wood) that totaled 377 million dry tons. The report was just a strategic analysis and only looked at availability. It did not include costs or sustainability criteria to determine the economic and ecological availability. For the past three years, an effort has been made to update the Billion Ton Report. It is being improved by developing cost curves for all feedstocks at a county level. This allows for an analysis of feedstocks by costs to roadside at various spatial scales with aggregation up to national estimates. It also provides land use change and acreage estimates for energy crops. For wood, there have been changes in the types of feedstocks and the underlying assumptions as to availability primarily because of sustainability criteria and current use. Feedstocks that are already used for energy are removed this includes almost all of the mill residues and all the pulping liquors. Also, an analysis was conducted to determine how much of the smaller diameter trees that are currently merchantable may be used for biomass with changes in the markets. Clearly, there is no expectation that wood can supply all the biomass needs, or that we harvest vast amounts of periodic growth from our nation s forests for biomass markets. Our analysis does show that America s agricultural and forestry lands can still provide about a billion dry tons of biomass at relatively competitive cost, but probably not at current costs. The actual makeup of the feedstocks depends on many factors and will vary region to region. For forestry, there is an opportunity to increase both availability and supply, but it depends upon incentives and the markets before such actions will occur. References Forisk Consulting Oglethorpe Power. May 7, News Release. AEGen Dynamics. September 22, EIA Energy and Economic Impacts of Implementing Both a 25-Percent Renewable Portfolio Standard and a 25-Percent Renewable Fuel Standard by August 2007, SR/OIAF/ Energy Information Administration, Washington, DC. 4

5 Sample, V. Alaric Ensuring Sustainability in the Development of Wood-based Bioenergy in the US South. August 26-27, 2009, Perlack, Robert D. and others Biomass as feedstocks for a bioenergy and bioproducts industry: the technical feasibility of a billion-ton annual supply. Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, TN. 59 p. 5

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