Production and Delivery of Biofuels

AuthorJames M. Van Nostrand
Page 692 Legal Pathways to Deep Decarbonization in the United States
I. Introduction
e Deep Decarbonization Pathways Project (DDPP) is a
global initiative to examine actions available to individual
countries to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to
levels consistent with limiting the increase in global mean
surface temperature to no less tha n 2 degrees Celsius.1 e
DDPP reports2 envision a much greater role for biomass
energy, or bioenergy, in achieving a deeply decarbonized
Author’s Note: e author expresses appreciation to the West Virginia
University College of Law and the Hodges Research Fund for their
nancial support for this book chapter.
1. J H. W  ., P  D D  
U S, U.S. 2050 R, V 2: P I 
D D   U S 20, 22 (Deep Decarbon-
ization Pathways Project & Energy and Environmental Economics, Inc.,
2015), available at
implications.pdf [hereinafter DDPP P R].
2. Id.; J H. W  ., P  D D 
 U S, U.S. 2050 R, V 1: T R 14-
16 (Deep Decarbonization Pathways Project & Energy and Environmental
energy system for the United States. With this sca led-
up role for bioenergy, the need to pursue decarboniza-
tion opportu nities throughout t he biofuels supply chain
becomes more pressing, in order to achieve the broader
decarbonization objectives identied in the report s (i.e., an
80% reduction in GHG emissions below the 1990 level by
2050). e biofuels supply chain comprises: (1)the grow-
ing and harvest ing of the feedstock; (2)transporting the
feedstock to a biorenery; (3)processing the feed stock to
produce biofuels; (4)distribution of biofuels; and (5)bio-
fuels end uses. is chapter ex amines the opportunities for
decarbonization in the “middle” elements of this supply
chain—the production of bioenergy, and the transporta-
tion logistics before and after the production process.3
Economics, Inc., 2015), available at
technical-report.pdf [hereinafter DDPP T R].
3. Issues associated with growing the feedstock are covered in Chapter 25, and
the production and delivery of low-carbon gaseous fuels are discussed in
Chapter 26.
Chapter 27
Production and Delivery of Biofuels
by James M. Van Nostrand
Biomass energy, or bioenergy, is expected to play a prominent part in achieving a deeply decarbonized energy
system, according to the analysis in the Deep Decarbonization Pathways Project reports. While decarbonization
will focus largely on the use of electricity where possible—electricity becomes a much larger share of nal energy
under the decarbonization strategies—there are “high-value end uses” that are less amenable to electrication,
such as freight transport and industry. For these nonelectric end uses, biomass is envisioned to become a major
fuel source. e reports recommend shifting current biofuels policy from production of corn-based ethanol and
gasoline substitutes and redirecting biomass resources toward these high-value end uses. is scaled-up role for
bioenergy correspondingly stimulates the pursuit of decarbonization opportunities throughout the biofuels supply
chain. is chapter focuses on opportunities for decarbonization in the “middle” elements of the biofuels supply
chain—the production of bioenergy, and the transportation logistics before and after the production process.
Achieving the necessary level of decarbonization in the production and delivery of biofuels will require a variety
of legal strategies, including reformation of the renewable fuel standard, widespread adoption of low-carbon fuel
standards by states and regions, and measures to promote carbon intensity reductions in the production of biofu-
els, such as increased use of combined heat and power to reduce dependence upon grid electricity (until such time
as the electrical grid is substantially decarbonized), and carbon capture and sequestration at bioreneries.
Page 693
e DDPP reports suggest that liquid biofuels in
2050 might need to contribute about 20% of the present
petroleum demand—currently about 300 billion gallons
per year—assuming that both wind and solar power are
aggressively developed and the technolog y continues to
improve for car battery storage (thereby enabling electri-
cation of the light-duty vehicle eet).4 is translates into
a target production amount of about 60 billion gallons
of biofuels a nnual ly.5 Because commercially developed
resources currently fall far short of this quantity of fuel,
biofuels production will have to be scaled up considerably
to meet the goals outlined in the DDPP reports, which
envision an expanded role for bioenergy in achieving a
deeply decarbonized energy system for the United States,
as biomass (along with wind, solar, and nuclear) assumes
a dominant share of the nation’s primary energy supply.
With respect to measures designed to achieve GHG
reductions in the production and delivery of biofuels, the
DDPP reports identify strategies that, if implemented,
would achieve signicant reductions in the carbon inten-
sity of biofuel production. For example, because grid-
supplied electricity is an integral input to the biofuels
production process, the decarbonization of the electricity
supply through increa sed integr ation of renewable and
low-carbon energy (among other things) will result in a
lower carbon footprint in the production of biofuels.6 Sim-
ilarly, the sections of the DDPP reports regarding decar-
bonization of transportation are applicable to reductions
associated with transporting feedstock to bioreneries and
subsequent delivery of biofuels.7
is chapter briey reviews the types of bioenergy fuels
and the processes used for converting t hem from biological
material into fuel, followed by a description of the existing
regulatory approaches to encourage reductions in GHG
emissions. e chapter then examines the opportunities
for achieving emissions reductions at the various sta ges of
the production process, including recommendations for
additional measures to decarbonize the production and
delivery of biofuels.
4. DDPP T R, supra note 2, at 62.
5. John Perona, Biodiesel for the 21st Century Renewable Energy Economy, 38
E L.J. 165, 173 (2017).
6. DDPP T R, supra note 2, at 35-37.
7. Id. at 27-32.
II. Overview of Biofuels Production and
e opportunities for decarbonization in the “middle”
elements of the biofuels supply chain—the production of
bioenergy, and the transportation logistics before and af ter
the production process—are somewhat li mited. e GHG
emissions associated with the production and delivery of
biofuels is such a specialized a nd narrow source that the
annual Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and
Sinks does not contain a category t racking the GHG emis-
sions from the production of biofuels, nor the even more
limited emissions associated with transportation of feed-
stock and post-rening distribution of biofuels. Nonethe-
less, the necessar y expansion in the production and use of
biofuels contemplated in the DDPP reports makes these
sources of GHG emissions more signicant than they now
appear to be. is section provides a brief description of
the process of biofuel production and delivery, followed by
a discussion of the challenges a ssociated with achieving the
GHG reduction objectives identied in the DDPP reports.
e analysis begins w ith a consideration of the feed-
stock for biofuels production, which refers to the material
that will be converted into the biofuel. For purposes of the
analysis in this chapter, the feedstock is relevant only as it
aects the GHG emissions associated w ith transportation
to a biorenery. Feedstock8 for biofuels can include a vari-
ety of materials, such as corn, grain, grasses, forest resi-
due, crop residue, waste biomass (including yard waste,
municipal solid waste, and construction and demolition
debris), willow, soy, sugarcane, soybean oil, vegetable oil,
and recycled grease. In t he U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency’s (EPA’s) development of pathways for its life-cycle
GHG emissions analysis under the federal Rene wable Fuel
Standard (RFS),9 the Agency identied 12 feedstocks:
8. According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), “feedstock” is dened
as “any material used as a fuel directly, or converted to another form of fuel or
energy product.” “Biomass,” in turn, is dened as “an energy resource derived
from organic matter.” is means that biomass is not necessarily a feedstock,
but biomass used for biofuel production is a feedstock. In biofuels parlance,
these terms are often used interchangeably, but it is important to note the
distinction. See DOE, Oce of Energy Eciency and Renewable Energy,
Bioenergy—Full Text Glossary,
text-glossary (last visited May 2, 2018).
9. EPA modeled known biofuel production processes and designated fuel
pathways for each type of biofuel, thereby simplifying the process for de-
termining eligibility for a particular RFS biofuel category. e designated
fuel pathways identify the permissible feedstocks and production process
requirements that must be satised to produce a biofuel that qualies for a
particular biofuels category (e.g., renewable fuel, advanced biofuel, biomass-
based diesel). EPA, Lifecycle Greenhouse Gas Results,
results (last updated Sept. 14, 2016).

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