New York biofuel road map released

By Anna Austin
The New York State Energy and Research Development Authority has released a renewable fuel road map for New York that indicates there is potentially 1 million to 1.68 million acres of nonforest land that can be used for bioenergy feedstock production in New York.

The 140-page document assesses the prospects for the expansion of biofuel production within the state while focusing on biomass resource availability and economic and environmental impacts. The road map considers 11 key issues, including stakeholder input, analysis of sustainable feedstock production in New York, feedstock transportation and logistics, life-cycle analysis and public health and biofuel industry economic impacts and analysis.

The road map's lower estimate of available biomass crop land (1 million acres) assumes that no cropland is used for new bioenergy feedstock production, rather new production lands come from abandoned farmland, old pasture, and scrub and shrub lands not currently used for production. The estimate also assumes that only about half of New York landowners would be interested in production. The higher estimate of 1.68 million acres assumes additional land (approximately 0.68 million acres) becomes available by the year 2020 due to projected increased crop and milk yields but on less land, freeing some current crop land for lignocellulosic energy feedstocks.

Another potential feedstock source the report considers is municipal solid waste (MSW) for ethanol production. Using data from two New York State MSW characterization studies and a U.S. EPA waste characterization study, estimates of waste biomass available for ethanol production were extrapolated from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Waste Management Plan 2000 update. The road map calculates that if New York were to convert only the yard waste and paper waste fraction that's not currently being recycled into ethanol, it could possibly yield 426 MMgy of ethanol in the short term and 524 MMgy in the long term, depending upon the conversion process used.

Overall, New York lands could potentially provide 5.6 to 16 percent of estimated 2020 in-state gasoline consumption, assuming that the technological barriers to commercial-scale production of lignocellulosic ethanol are overcome by the year 2020, according to the road map. It also finds that New York-derived biomass could support four large-scale centralized lignocellulosic biorefineries (capacity ranging from 90 MMgy to 354 MMgy) or up to 24 smaller capacity (60 MMgy) biorefineries.
The Renewable Fuels Roadmap and Sustainable Biomass Feedstock supply For New York can be accessed at