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Economic Potential for Energy Cane Production as a Cellulosic Biofuel Feedstock in the Southeastern United States

1 Department of Agricultural Economics & Agribusiness, Louisiana State University Agricultural Center, Baton Rouge, LA;
2 Delta Research and Extension Center, Mississippi State University, Stoneville, MS;
3 Department of Agricultural Economics, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY

Special Issues: Materials for Energy Technologies

The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 established the Renewable Fuels Standard which set forth goals for domestic renewable fuel production of cellulosic and advanced biofuels in the United States. A major issue confronting the achievement of these biofuel utilization goals is the probability that the eventual expansion of advanced cellulosic biofuel production would be sufficient to meet the stated goals. Current long range projections of cellulosic biofuel production are expected to remain significantly below statutory targets due to the limited supply and expected development of cellulosic biofuel production. The production capacity expansion of advanced cellulosic biofuel has been identified as a major challenge in meeting the Renewable Fuels Standard. Energy cane has been identified as a crop with having significant potential to be developed as a biofuel feedstock crop. The greatest challenge currently facing the production of energy cane is the ability to expand production of the crop outside temperate zones. Within the six-state study area, approximately 1.15 million hectares were identified as idle cropland having the greatest potential for energy cane production. With a low seed cane expansion planting ratio and harvest through a fourth stubble crop, total energy cane production costs were estimated to be $113 per dry metric ton of feedstock. At higher planting ratios, projected total energy cane production costs were below $70 per metric ton.
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