The US Department of Energy’s Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) released its new strategic plan, titled Strategic Plan for a Thriving and Sustainable Bioeconomy. The strategic plan—with a vision for 2040—lays out BETO’s mission to accomplish its vision in a dynamic setting that realizes changes in the energy landscape, advances in technology, growing environmental awareness, and public expectations.
The strategic plan sets the foundation for the development of BETO’s multi-year program plans, annual operating plans, and technology program areas. It also takes a crosscutting approach to identify opportunities to adapt and align BETO activities and project portfolios with those in both the public and private sectors. The plan centers around four key opportunities: enhancing the bioenergy value proposition; mobilizing US biomass resources; cultivating end-use markets and customers; and expanding stakeholder engagement and collaboration.
|BETO strategic plan summary. Click to enlarge.|
The strategic plan outlines goals for each of these key opportunities, which will be implemented through a range of substrategies and measured by specified success indicators.
Enhancing the bioenergy value proposition. Strategic Goal: Develop and demonstrate innovative and integrated value chains for biofuels, bioproducts, and biopower that can respond with agility to market factors while providing economic, environmental, and societal benefits.
Most sources of alternative energy, such as solar, wind, and geothermal, produce electrical power while biofuels and biochemicals can directly replace petroleum-derived liquid fuels and chemicals compatible with today’s infrastructure. Although electrification coupled to these alternative energy sources can transform the light-duty vehicle fleet, it is unlikely even in the mid- to long-term that the needs of the heavy-duty marine and aviation industries will be met by anything except an energy dense carbon-based liquid fuel. Additionally, many chemicals relied upon for transportation (such as oils and lubricants) as well as other commodity chemicals and polymer precursors are, and will likely remain, carbon-based.
By 2017, verify at pilot scale at least one technology pathway for hydrocarbon biofuel production, demonstrating a mature modeled price of $3/gasoline gallon equivalent (gge) with GHG emissions reduction of 50% or more.
By 2018, complete gap analyses to identify the barriers and solutions to potentially reaching a mature modeled price of $2/gge for biofuels.
By 2019, publish a multi-dimensional analysis that identifies and quantifies specific economic, environmental, and social bene ts of a transition to a robust bioeconomy.
By 2020, provide an analytical framework for bioproducts research by publishing market and life-cycle analyses, roadmaps, and/or reports.
By 2022, verify at pilot or demonstration scale two additional pathways for hydrocarbon biofuel production at a mature modeled price of $3/gge with GHG emissions reduction of 50% or more with the option of incorporating a bioproducts strategy.
By 2023, demonstrate a suite of analytical methods for quantifying environmental benefits associated with biomass and bioenergy production—such as decreasing harmful emissions and improving soil quality and water quality—that can be used to outline and define well-justified environmental goals.
By 2025, demonstrate production of bioproducts at needed scales (20-100 kg) for product testing to support off take agreements and end-user/market acceptance to displace incumbent petroleum products.
By 2027, demonstrate at least one biofuel and bioproduct production strategy that reduces capital cost by 30% from 2012 cellulosic ethanol baseline.
By 2027, verify at pilot scale, a $1/gge fuel reduction cost for the production of biofuels and bioproducts by valorizing conversion-process waste streams (such as lignin and pyrolysis aqueous streams) and producing novel bioproducts that capitalize on the highly oxygenated nature of biomass (functional replacements).
By 2027, demonstrate, at pilot scale, conversion technologies that meet low water use, low harmful emissions, and minimal wastewater treatment needs as defined by the 2019 multi-dimensional analysis that increase the cost of fuel by <$1/gge.
By 2030, develop process pathways to five functional replacement molecules that are sustainable, derived from biomass feed-stock, and achieve >60% GHG emissions reduction and/or 25% overall energy input reductions compared to the molecules they replace.
By 2040, enable large-scale biomass production and conversion that allows biofuels to constitute 25% of the US transportation fuel market.
By 2040, through R&D, support replacing 7% of petrochemicals with bioproducts.
By 2040, demonstrate ecosystem services—such as improvements in soil quality, water quality, and decreased nutrient loss—that increase environmental quality stemming from large-scale biomass production.
Mobilizing US biomass resources. Strategic Goal: Reduce delivered cost and risks associated with feedstock quality and volume to accelerate widespread commercialization of sustainable biomass supply chains for a broad range of markets.
The mobilization strategy consists of two components. The first involves cost-reduction strategies, which include improving crop yield, storage and transport operations, and machine and labor efficiency; reducing material losses during harvest; and increasing preprocessing.
The second focuses on enabling markets to allow biomass to be accessed at affordable prices and providing more opportunities for sustainable operations. Both components, working together, are necessary to mobilize sufficient quantities of cost-competitive biomass.
Cultivating end-use markets and customers. Strategic Goal: Meet early-adoption market demands and catalyze new markets that support sustainable, affordable living.
Expanding stakeholder engagement and collaboration. Strategic Goal: Grow an informed community of public and private stakeholders that understands and contributes to an enduring, sustainable bioeconomy, while appreciating its challenges and benefits.