droughty lands available for bioenergy crops. However, because of the uncertainties in the economic analyses, the suitability of woody crops for integrated, coproduct-oriented systems, and the expectation of greater environmental benefits from tree plantations over herbaceous systems, OFD is also continuing to support research on woody feedstocks.

Environmental issues are another important driver of bioenergy crop development. OFD has been working closely with the environmental community and has initiated several in-house studies and studies in partnership with universities to evaluate the environmental aspects of energy crop culture. These studies have focused on the effects on soil fertility, water quality, and wildlife habitats compared to the effects of alternative crops and natural vegetation.

OFD has also conducted detailed modeling analyses of life-cycle impacts for carbon management of bioenergy crops compared to fossil-fuel alternatives (Wang, 1997; Wang et al., 1998). Perennial bioenergy cropping systems can provide diverse local environmental benefits (e.g., biofiltration, erosion control, and creation of wildlife habitat), as well as benefits in terms of global carbon management. By evaluating environmental and economic trade-offs at several scales, OFD has provided a foundation for the development of national policies that may help the United States reduce net additions of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere while solving some of the environmental and economic problems of rural communities.

ALLOCATION OF FUNDING

The feedstock development program involves a wide range of projects both within DOE and in cooperation with universities, industry, and other government agencies (see Table 3-1). Research is divided regionally and nationally. Regional divisions are the Midwest/Plains States (switchgrass and poplar), the Southeast (switchgrass and poplar), the Northeast (willow), the Lake States (poplar), and the Pacific Northwest (poplar). Regional development centers conduct research focused on breeding and agronomics to increase crop yield and on plant physiology and biotechnology. Up to now, Congress has not supported significant increases in funds. In fiscal year 1998, the feedstock development projects accounted for 8.2 percent of the OFD R&D program; in fiscal year 1999, they accounted for 6.7 percent. The request for fiscal year 2000 is 10.3 percent of the OFD budget.

OFD's initial focus was on woody crops, for which 37 percent of its research funds were allocated in 1994-1995 (compared to 22 percent for herbaceous crops). However, since 1996, both crop types have received approximately 33 percent of research funds for crop development (see Table 3-2). Allocations for environmental sustainability also increased from 12 percent in 1996 to 20 percent in 1999. The economics of production were a major focus during 1996 and 1997, accounting for 25 percent of funds spent, but received almost no funding in 1999. Research in

TABLE 3-1 Participants in the Feedstock Development Program, 1996-1999

Crop Development

 

 

Woody Crops

 

 

 

Iowa State University

 

 

Mississippi State University

 

 

Washington State University

 

 

State University of New York

 

 

University of Washington

 

 

Oregon State University

 

 

U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, North Central Forest Experiment Station

 

Herbaceous Crops

 

 

 

Auburn University

 

 

Oklahoma State University

 

 

Texas A&M University

 

 

University of Georgia

 

 

University of Tennessee

 

 

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

 

 

U.S. Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Plant Materials Centers

 

 

U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service

 

 

Chariton Valley Resource Conservation and Development District

Environmental Sustainability

 

 

 

Alabama A&M University

 

 

Auburn University

 

 

Clark University

 

 

Clemson University

 

 

U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Forestry Sciences Laboratory

 

 

U.S. Department of Agriculture, Center for Forested Wetland Research

 

 

National Council for Air and Stream Improvement

 

 

Tennessee Valley Authority

Economies

 

 

 

Kansas State University

 

 

University of Tennessee

 

 

University of Minnesota-Crookston

 

 

Natural Resources Research Institute

 

 

U.S. Department of Agriculture, North Central Forest Experiment Station

 

 

WesMin Resource Conservation and Development Council

 

Source: ORNL, 1999a.

biotechnology, which includes tissue culture, genetic mapping, and genetic engineering, has received extremely low funding, ranging from 2 to 4 percent.

SHIFT IN STRATEGIC DIRECTION

Like other elements of OFD's R&D program, research on feedstocks has been dominated by short-term goals, most of them involving production or commercialization. Investments in new science and technology have been limited in scope and funding. OFD's support for research in biotechnology, molecular genetics, and physiology to provide new options for production systems has been very modest.

In general, OFD has focused on the management and



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement