Role of Biomass in Americas Energy Future

The Role of Biomass in America's Energy Future (RBAEF)

RBAEF is an ongoing project jointly led by Dartmouth College and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), and sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy, the Energy Foundation, and the National Commission on Energy Policy.

RBAEF is a multi-institution, multi-sponsor project initiated in the spring of 2003 with two primary objectives:

  1. Identify and evaluate paths by which plant biomass can make a large contribution to meeting future demand for energy services.
  2. Determine what can be done to accelerate biomass energy use and in what timeframe associated benefits can be realized.

What's Different About This Project?

The project is differentiated from previous efforts by the breadth of technologies considered, the diversity of organizations involved (technical, environmental advocacy, policy), and its forward-looking character. With respect to the latter, our analysis is focused on mature technology that can reasonably be expected in the future given a concerted effort. In addition, we consider the possibility of changes to the status quo that leverage the benefits of advanced energy supply technologies, including high productivity energy crops, high vehicle efficiency, and integrated food and energy production.

Working Hypotheses Under Consideration

  • The fraction of energy services that could be obtained from biomass is much larger than has been considered in most analyses to date.
  • Such large-scale provision of energy services could be accomplished with environmental benefits and without using a large amount of new land.
  • Fuel produced from cellulosic biomass is a legitimate option as a primary energy carrier for the U.S. transportation sector over the indefinite future.
  • Innovation, change, and increased energy efficiency are essential features of most if not all paths to a sustainable and secure energy future.

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