The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act that President Obama signed this week includes an appropriation of $16.8 billion for the Department of Energy’s Office of Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) programs and initiatives.
Of this total, $2.5 billion will be allotted for Applied Research, Development, Demonstration and Deployment, including $800 million for biomass, $400 million for geothermal and $50 million for information and communications technology.
EERE is working in partnership with the USDA Regional Feedstock Initiative (including Sun Grant initiative universities) to deploy energy crops for biofuels production and other new markets, says Valri Lightner, acting Biomass Program manager, EERE.
In addition to the partnership, the Biomass Program focuses on logistics, including the harvesting, collection, transportation and storage of various ag residues, including corn cobs, corn stover, wheat straw and switchgrass.
The Biomass Program also is focused on sustainably producing feedstock for biofuel production, including minimizing the amount of water and nutrients used on the land, Lightner says. The program wants to maintain the balance of fulfilling the country’s food, feed, fuel and fiber needs, she adds.
How soon could we see biomass used on a wide-scale commercial basis? The Renewable Fuel Standard program requires increasing the use of renewable fuels every year through 2022 (growing to 36 billion gallons in 2022). Biofuels will begin to make some market penetration in 2010, Lightner says.