DOE seeks input on landscape design for feedstock production

By Erin Voegele | August 29, 2014

The U.S. Department of Energy is asking for input on landscape design approaches that sustainably integrate cellulosic feedstock production into existing agricultural and forestry systems. The DOE recently published a notice in the Federal Register inviting public comment on its request for information (RFI) on landscape design for sustainable bioenergy systems. Comments are due Sept. 2.

According to the notice, the DOT’s Bioenergy Technology Office plans to support the continued increase of sustainably produced domestic bioenergy from renewable feedstocks. The RFI is directed at landscape design approaches that integrate cellulosic feedstock production in a way that maintains or improves environmental sustainability. This includes greenhouse gas mitigation, water quality, water quantity, soil quality, air quality, and biodiversity. The landscape design approaches would meet environmental, social and economic objectives. This means the plans would maintain or enhance ecosystem services, be acceptable to relevant stakeholders and maintain or improve livelihoods and landowner profitability.

The notice indicates the DOE is seeking information on cost-effective, feasible approaches for testing the landscape design approach for increasing feedstock production at a watershed, multi-landowner, or comparable spatial scale through a combination of modeling, data collection, field research and engagement with landowners and other stakeholders.

Information posted to the DOE’s Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy Funding Opportunity Exchange indicates that while the DOE is aware of promising advancements that support the objective of designing multi-functional landscapes that supply cellulosic bioenergy feedstocks while maintaining or enhancing environmental sustainability, it is not aware of many initiatives that apply the current set of tools and knowledge to proactively design these landscapes, validate the sustainability impacts and assess the feedstock characteristics and logistics systems associated with those landscape designs.

The RFI posted to the EERE website also specifies the DOE will not pay for information provided under the RFI. In addition, no project will be supported as a result of the RFI. However, the notice indicates it is possible the DOE could issue a funding opportunity announcement in the future based on consideration of the input received from the RFI.

A copy of the Federal Register notice is available here. A full copy of the RFI can be downloaded from the EERE Exchange website under DE-FOA-0001178.