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Title: Long-run effects of falling cellulosic ethanol production costs on the US agricultural economy

Renewable energy production has been expanding at a rapid pace. New advances in cellulosic ethanol technologies have the potential to displace the use of petroleum as a transportation fuel, and could have significant effects on both the agricultural economy and the environment. In this letter, the effects of falling cellulosic ethanol production costs on the mix of ethanol feedstocks employed and on the US agricultural economy are examined. Results indicate that, as expected, cellulosic ethanol production increases by a substantial amount as conversion technology improves. Corn production increases initially following the introduction of cellulosic technology, because producers enjoy new revenue from sales of corn stover. After cellulosic ethanol production becomes substantially cheaper, however, acres are shifted from corn production to all other agricultural commodities. Essentially, this new technology could facilitate the exploitation of a previously under-employed resource (corn stover), resulting in an improvement in overall welfare. Thus in the most optimistic scenario considered, 68% of US ethanol is derived from cellulosic sources, coarse grain production is reduced by about 2%, and the prices of all food commodities are reduced modestly.
 [1] ;  [2] ;  [1]
  1. Texas A&M Univ., College Station, TX (United States)
  2. Oklahoma State Univ., Stillwater, OK (United States)
Publication Date:
Report Number(s):
Journal ID: ISSN 1748-9326; 28302-P
Grant/Contract Number:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Environmental Research Letters
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 2010; Journal Issue: 5; Journal ID: ISSN 1748-9326
IOP Publishing
Research Org:
Texas A&M Univ., College Station, TX (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE)
Country of Publication:
United States
54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES; 09 BIOMASS FUELS; biofuels; grain ethanol; cellulosic ethanol; corn stover; switchgrass; food prices; land-use change; greenhouse gas emissions
OSTI Identifier: