Key Study Assumptions

Rapid development of the bioenergy sector will be reliant on a strong investment in agricultural research and technology. This will not only increase the competitiveness of bioenergy products, but it will also reduce the cost of the transition to this new industry. In this analysis, the impacts of development of the bioenergy sector with increased agricultural productivity from research and development are compared with impacts under the baseline.

A summary of key assumptions and descriptions of these assumptions is provided below in Table 2. The text following the table provides more detail regarding several of these key assumptions.

Table 2. Key Study Assumptions and Descriptions.

Key Assumptions


Ethanol and Biodiesel Goals

Ethanol-10 billion gallons by 2010, 30 billion by 2020, and 60 billion by 2030. Biodiesel-1 billion gallons by 2012, with an additional .6 billion gallons from yellow grease and tallow by 2030.

Cellulose to Ethanol Availability

Cellulosic to ethanol technology becomes commercially available in 2012.

Dedicated Energy Crops

Switchgrass serves as a proxy for dedicated energy crops. Hybrid poplar and willow, along with many other species, are potential energy crops in certain areas of the country.

Dedicated Energy Crops Yield

Yields increase over time at rates ranging from 1.5 percent to 5 percent, depending on region.

No Till Adoption

Adoption of no tillage increases from 20 percent to 55 percent over time.

Land Base

Includes 307 million acres of cropland in major crops plus hay and 56.2 million acres of cropland in pasture.

Yield of Traditional Crops

Yields increase over time. The rate of increase between 2006 and 2015 is taken from the USDA Baseline. From 2015 to 2030, the rate of yield increase is 50 percent above the USDA trend.

Agricultural Feedstocks

Ethanol-Corn grain, corn stover, wheat straw, dedicated energy crops (switchgrass). Biodiesel-Soybeans, tallow, and yellow grease.

Wood Based Feedstocks

Ethanol-Forest residues, mill wastes, fuel treatment and forestland thinnings. Future development as wood (willow and hybrid poplar) for dedicated energy is proxied by switchgrass in this study. Harvesting of standing stock for feedstocks is not included.

Distiller's Dry Grains (DDG)

Maximum usage of DDG's in food animal diets is 30 percent for beef cattle and 10 percent for dairy cattle, hogs, and broilers.

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