WASHINGTON, March 2, 2016 - The USDA Chief Scientist Catherine Woteki announced the release of the Federal Activities Report on the Bioeconomy. The report was developed to inform Americans of current federal agency activities working to develop and support the “bioeconomy,” an emerging segment of the U.S. economy that relies on renewable biological resources to produce fuels, power and bio-based products.

These fuels, power and products are produced using biomass, such as agricultural residues, grasses, energy crops, forestry trimmings, algae and other sources, instead of fossil fuels.

Benefits of the bioeconomy include:

  • Reduced greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector.
  • Diversified U.S. energy options, less dependency on energy imports (reliance on foreign oil, energy security).
  • The use of animal waste for biogas, fuel, heat and biopower production as a management technique can generate additional revenues for farmers.
  • The use of municipal solid waste for renewable energy production can alleviate pressures building on wastewater treatment plants and landfills due to high volume.
  • Bio-based products support the growth of plants, trees and vegetation, which recycle carbon (CO2) from the atmosphere, resulting in air quality improvements when compared to fossil fuel-based products.
  • Job creation, particularly in rural areas.

At the Energy Department (DOE), research, development, and demonstration for biofuels is concentrated within the Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) and other offices in the Sustainable Transportation sector at the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE). Similar work is done within the Office of Science, the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, and other DOE offices.

At USDA, much of the research and development focuses on the production, quality, and integration of feedstocks into commercial agriculture production of food, fiber and forestry. USDA also has programs and activities that promote end markets for biofuels, heat and biopower and bio-based products. Many bio-based products are already available for purchase, including products certified by USDA’s BioPreferred program. However, others still need technological and/or market development to reduce costs, improve quality and/or performance, such as cellulosic biofuels that can directly replace gasoline.

DOE’s biomass assessment studies have concluded that the potential exists to sustainably produce 1 billion tons of biomass in the U.S. – tripling the size of current U.S. biomass usage –  which could displace 25 percent of U.S. transportation fuels, 50 billion pounds of bio-based products, and generate 85 billion kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity.


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