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DOE Report Outlines How America Can Triple Biomass Yearly Biomass Production

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) released the 2023 Billion-Ton Report (BT23), which shows that the United States could sustainably triple its production of biomass to more than one billion tons per year. The report — the fourth in a series of assessments of potential biomass resources in the United States since 2005 — finds that one billion tons of biomass could satisfy over 100% of the projected demand for airplane fuel in the country, allowing the U.S. to fully decarbonize the aviation industry with sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).

The decarbonization of America’s transportation and industrial sectors depends on a significant increase in the production of renewable biomass for use in liquid fuel, bio-based chemicals, and other products. Highlights from the report include:  

  • The United States currently uses about 342 million tons of biomass, including corn grain for ethanol and wood/wood waste for heat and power, to meet roughly 5% of America’s annual energy demand 
  • The United States can triple the production of biomass, producing an estimated 60 billion gallons of low greenhouse gas liquid fuels, while still meeting the projected demand for food, feed, fiber, conventional forest products, and exports 
  • Currently available but unused biomass resources can add around 350 million tons of additional biomass per year above current uses and double the U.S. bioeconomy 
  • Biomass resources, like energy crops, in a future mature market can provide more than 400 million tons of biomass per year above current uses 
  • Further technological innovations could lead to evolving and emerging resources that represent additional biomass potential 
  • The analysis ensures sustainable outcomes by accounting for potential risks to soil, air and water quality, water availability, and the imperative to protect America’s forests and biodiversity 

The BT23 report analyzes the biomass production capacity of approximately sixty resources, several of which have never before been the subject of a DOE Billion-Ton assessment. These include winter oilseed crops, trees and brush harvested from forests to prevent wildfires, macroalgae such as seaweed cultivated in ocean farms, and carbon dioxide from industrial plants. The report finds that the wide dispersion and variety of these resources will ensure that the benefits of expanded biomass production extend to both rural and urban areas.  

BT23, developed by Oak Ridge National Laboratory on behalf of DOE’s Bioenergy Technologies Office, reflects the contributions and reviews of multiple federal agencies, national laboratories, universities, and industry stakeholders. Learn more about the 2023 Billion-Ton Report.  

Additionally, the U.S. Department of Agriculture recently released the Plan to Enable the Bioeconomy in America: Building a Resilient Biomass Supply report, which outlines a plan to boost biomass supply chain resiliency for domestic biobased product manufacturing while also advancing environmental sustainability and market opportunities for small and mid-sized producers.

Visit the Bioenergy Technologies Office webpage to learn more about DOE’s efforts to build a strong, low-carbon bioeconomy.

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