4 Key Takeaways from the DOE’s “Billion Ton” Bioenergy Report

Written on: May 27, 2024

We have feedstocks to dramatically expand renewable propane in the U.S.

bioenergy report united states The Bioenergy Technology Office (BETO) of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) aims to “accelerate net greenhouse gas emissions reductions through the cost-effective, sustainable use of biomass and waste feedstocks” in the U.S.

The 2023 “Billion Ton” report that they released assesses the ability of biogenic carbon resources to replace petroleum with the goal of achieving the government’s emissions reduction goals. The essential question they wanted to answer was whether there are sufficient feedstocks to produce the bioenergy products — including renewable propane — to meet these targets.

The report finds the answer is a resounding Yes. This is excellent news for U.S. homeowners and business owners who want to continue using efficient vehicles and equipment powered by diesel, heating oil, propane and other traditional fuels while achieving decarbonization and dealing with the challenges of climate change.

Here are four of the main takeaways from this report — and what they mean for the production of renewable propane and other low-carbon liquid gases.

We could triple the U.S. bioenergy economy.

The report has found that more than 1 billion tons of biomass could be added to our current production pipeline each year, roughly tripling the bioenergy economy.

The report also notes that, of the 1.2 billion tons identified, 350 million tons per year are “low-hanging fruit” or wastes that exist in landfills, forests, fields and farmland that could be quickly accessed.

”Purpose-grown” crop potential is slightly down — but still significant.

The potential for crops grown expressly for bioenergy purposes is down 3% since the last report. However, this is largely due to increased demand for conventional crops in BETO’s projections. Even so, the report finds the potential for approximately 300 to 600 million tons in this segment.

The report doesn’t account for all in-field potential bioenergy.

Bear in mind that this report doesn’t reflect the raw total biophysical potential of these resources. It accounts for “economic and environmental constraints” and satisfying “conventional product demands.” For example:

Even with those hedges, there is enormous potential for growth in the bio sector.

The report explores emerging resources that could add more bioenergy.

The renewable energy landscape is never static. Every year, we’re seeing new, innovative products emerging from carbon-reduction research. The DOE’s report specifically calls out pond-grown micro-algae and ocean-grown seaweed as emergent resources that, combined, “could double or triple the billion-ton biomass resource potential” in the report.

What does this mean for renewable propane?

As a country, we need an “all of the above” approach to addressing climate change. Electrification mandates place financial burdens on businesses and homeowners, limit energy choice and place extreme strains on our fragile electric grid.

This report shows that we can dramatically scale up our bioenergy production without negatively affecting food production, recycling initiatives, soil conservation and other sustainability concerns. We know that renewable propane can have a carbon intensity that is only about 16% of the average CI of our country’s grid electricity. Research into feedstock crops like Camelina promises to take that CI even lower.

Now, we have confirmation from the DOE that the U.S. has the resources to make rPG and other biofuels available to many more citizens.

Do you want to increase your access to renewable propane and join an engaged advocacy network? Consider joining the Renewable Propane Alliance.