Sustainability

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The Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) is focused on early-stage research and development to support a thriving bioenergy industry that protects natural resources and advances environmental and economic benefits. BETO’s Sustainability program area proactively identifies and addresses issues that affect public acceptance and long-term viability of advanced bioenergy systems; as a result, the area is critical to achieving BETO’s goals.

Our Vision


BETO is committed to growing a bioenergy industry that achieves multiple national goals:

  • Creates economic opportunities
  • Enhances energy security
  • Promotes environmental benefits.
     
bioenergy sustainability diagram
Sustainability isn’t an end state or specific goal. BETO is committed to developing and applying scientific approaches to quantifying bioenergy sustainability and promoting continuous improvement across multiple environmental and economic objectives

Current Office Activities

BETO identifies and addresses challenges for sustainable bioenergy production by collaborating with national laboratories, universities, and other federal agencies to conduct early-stage research and development. In the area of environmental sustainability, our efforts are primarily focused in the following areas:

Air Quality—Analyzing biofuel pathways to quantify progress towards reducing emissions.

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

Soil QualityDeveloping strategies and tools for producing biomass feedstocks while maintaining or enhancing soil 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.

Land Use and Productivity—Advancing landscape design approaches that increase biomass production while maintaining or enhancing ecosystem services and food, feed, and fiber production.

Commitment to Continuous Improvement

Other BETO efforts to continuously improve bioenergy sustainability are represented below:

Job Creation—BETO facilitates the growth of bioenergy-related jobs through cost-shared research and development and develops tools like the Jobs and Economic Development Impacts (JEDI) model from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Job creation can be assessed in a wide range of sectors, including farming, plant operations, scientific research, and product and equipment design.

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 Toolkits and Data Resources—BETO developed and maintains the Bioenergy Knowledge Discovery Framework (KDF), a database and geospatial analysis tool that is a national decision-support framework to foster a sustainable and robust bioenergy industry.

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 International Energy Agency Bioenergy, the Global Bioenergy Partnership, and the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials.