DOE increases funding request for biomass, biorefinery activities

By Erin Voegele | February 15, 2012

The U.S. DOE has released information detailing President Barack Obama’s $27.2 billion Fiscal Year 2013 budget requested for the department. According to the DOE, nearly $2.34 billion, or 8.61 percent of the total budget, would support energy efficiency and renewable energy activities and projects.

“The United States is competing in a global race for the clean energy jobs of the future,” said Energy Secretary Steven Chu. “The choice we face as a nation is simple: do we want the clean energy technologies of tomorrow to be invented in America by American innovators, made by American workers and sold around the world, or do we want to concede those jobs to our competitors? We can and must compete for those jobs. This budget request includes responsible investments in an American economy that is built to last.”

Of the nearly $2.34 billion requested for energy efficiency and renewable energy, a total of $270 million has been specifically requested to support biomass and biorefinery systems development. That is an increase over the FY 2011 funding level, which was nearly $180 million, and the FY 2012 budget of approximately $200 million. According to the DOE, 29 percent of the FY 2013 request for biomass and biorefinery project systems development would support activities related to innovation, 32 percent would support emerging technologies, 23 percent would be assigned to systems integration, with the remaining 16 percent of the funding directed to overcoming market barriers.

The strategic goal of the biomass and biorefinery systems program is to catalyze the timely, material and efficient transformation of the nation’s energy system and secure U.S. leadership in clean energy technologies, said the DOE in the budget request. Furthermore, the DOE stated that the program goal is to achieve a modeled total cost for mature technology of less than $3 per gallon on a gasoline gallon equivalent (GGE) for drop-in fuels such as renewable gasoline, renewable diesel and renewable jet by 2017.

The budget also describes four specific goals, or “Annual Measures,” it intends to achieve with FY 2013 funding.  The first of these four goals is to reduce the modeled conversion cost for woody biomass conversion via fast pyrolysis to a gasoline and diesel blend stock in support of the cost goal to bring the cost down to less than $3 per gallon. The target for FY 2013 is $2.71 GGE. The second annual measure aims to develop a design case for a biochemical conversion route to hydrocarbon fuels that will set yearly technical targets and cost goals for the next five years, said the DOE in its budget proposal. The third goal is to reduce nonpulp wood feedstock supply system logistics cost in dollar per dry matter ton for delivery to plant gate or conversion reactor inlet. According to the DOE, the FY 2013 target is $55 per dry ton, which does not reflect grower payments. Finally, the DOE stated that it aims to achieve a validated total yearly production capacity for advanced biofuels of 80 million gallons by 2014, or 100 million including biorefinery projects supported by Recovery Act funds. The target for FY 2013 is 75 million gallons.

A full copy of the FY 2013 budget request can be downloaded on the DOE website.


(This story first appeared in Biorefining Magazine.)