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The Hydrogen Economy: Opportunities, Costs, Barriers, and R&D Needs
FIGURE G-14 Geographic distribution of projected bioenergy crop plantings on all acres in 2008 in the production management scenario (after Walsh et al., 2000).
56 percent would be from currently used cropland, 30 per cent from the CRP, and 13 percent from idle cropland and pasture. The crop would be exclusively switchgrass. In the wildlife management scenario, 96 million dry tons (dt) of biomass (equivalent to 7.6 million t H2) would be produced on 19.4 million acres of cropland, of which about 53 percent would be from currently used cropland, 42 percent from the CRP, and 4 percent from idle cropland and pasture. Land from the CRP would become a significant source for farming biomass crops. The CRP sets aside environmentally sensitive acres under 10- to 15-year contracts. Appropriate management practices must be developed before CRP lands are used. Environmental ramifications of various management practices must be examined to ensure that there is no substantial loss of environmental benefits, including biodiversity and soil and water quality. It is conceivable that a farming scenario alternating between agricultural crops and bioenergy crops on existing agricultural and CRP lands could be developed; however, those unproven cases were not considered in this analysis.
Bioenergy crop production is considered profitable at $40/dt, and could compete with currently grown agricultural crops (TIAX LLC, 2003; Milne et al., 2002). Based on assumed yields, management practices, and input costs, switchgrass is the least-expensive bioenergy crop to produce on a per dry ton basis. Production costs (farm gate costs) for switchgrass are estimated to range from $30/dt to $40/dt, depending on the management scenarios (WMS versus PMS) (de la Torre Ugarte et al., 2003). Adding processing and delivery costs would result in an approximate delivered biomass price on the order of $40 to $50/dt, respectively. Using these feedstock costs as well as current and projected gasifier efficiencies (50 percent versus 70 percent) in the committee’s analysis, the future costs per kilogram of hydrogen produced from biomass and delivered at the vehicle is about $3.60 (scenario MS Bio-F; see Figure 5-4 in Chapter 5). In this scenario, a reduction in biomass cost was assumed to be achieved by increasing the crop yield per hectare by 50 percent, which presents significant technical challenges.
The profitability of bioenergy crop farming will vary with given field and soil types (Milne et al., 2002). Notably, the price per dry ton of bioenergy crop is predicted to increase with the total biomass produced. A shift of cropland use from traditional agricultural crops to bioenergy crops will also result in higher prices for traditional crops. Because of land ownership, management, and crop establishment, biomass production by energy crop production will be more expensive than using residue biomass. Also, regional variation in the availability of residue biomass, such as in woody areas in the northeastern United States, could make hydrogen pro-