The Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) is focused on early-stage research and development (R&D) to support a thriving bioenergy industry that is economically self-sustaining, protects natural resources, and enhances environmental and social benefits. BETO’s Sustainability Program generates scientific knowledge that proactively addresses issues affecting the scale-up potential, public acceptance, and long-term viability of advanced bioenergy systems. This program is critical to achieving BETO’s goals.
BETO is committed to develop and apply scientific approaches to quantifying bioenergy sustainability and promoting continuous improvement across multiple economic, environmental, and social objectives.
CURRENT OFFICE ACTIVITIES
BETO collaborates with national laboratories, universities, other federal agencies, and private industry to conduct analysis and early-stage R&D to improve the benefits of advanced bioenergy relative to conventional energy systems. Sustainability activities are primarily focused in the following areas:
- Economic and Energy Security—Developing tools and methods for assessing and quantifying the potential fuel market impacts and overall economic and energy security benefits associated with biofuels and bioproducts.
- Jobs—Facilitating the growth of bioenergy-related jobs through cost-shared R&D and analyzing the potential for job creation across relevant sectors including farming, plant operations, scientific research, and product and equipment design.
- Food Security—Advancing technologies to produce bioenergy from residues and wastes and developing landscape management strategies—such as growing energy crops on marginal land—that enable production of biomass without negative impacts to food security.
- Land Use and Productivity—Advancing landscape design approaches that increase biomass production while maintaining or enhancing ecosystem services and food, feed, and fiber production.
- Soil Quality—Developing strategies and tools for producing biomass feedstocks while maintaining or enhancing soil quality.
- Water Quantity and Quality—Assessing the water resource use and water quality of bioenergy production and investigating opportunities for bioenergy crops to improve water quality.
- Biological Diversity—Investigating relationships between bioenergy crops and biodiversity and engaging with diverse experts to understand and promote practices that consider the needs of wildlife.
- Air Emissions—Analyzing biofuel pathways to quantify progress towards reducing greenhouse gases and other harmful emissions through lifecycle tools and other analyses.
COMMITMENT TO CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT
Other BETO efforts to continuously improve bioenergy sustainability are represented below:
- Bioenergy Sustainability Indicators—BETO collaborated with researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory to develop a suite of bioenergy sustainability indicators to measure and assess environmental and socioeconomic sustainability along the bioenergy supply chain.
- Online Tools and Data Resources—BETO developed and maintains the Bioenergy Knowledge Discovery Framework (KDF), which provides access to a variety of data sets, publications, and collaboration and mapping tools.
- Global Scientific Dialogues—BETO participates in international dialogues on sustainable bioenergy to contribute technical expertise and communicate the U.S. experience in evaluating and enhancing bioenergy sustainability. Organizations that BETO engages with include the:
The following resources provide additional information about bioenergy sustainability and BETO’s research efforts: