Federal biomass board releases bioeconomy report

By Erin Voegele | February 26, 2016

The Biomass Research and Development Board, an interagency collaboration composed of senior decision-makers from federal agencies and the White House, recently published a report, titled “Federal Activities Report on the Bioeconomy.” According to the board, the document was prepared to emphasize the significant potential for an even stronger U.S. bioeconomy through the use of biofuels, bioproducts, and biopower. It also includes information on the wide-ranging, federally funded activities that are currently helping to bolster the bioeconomy.

The report explains that board members have been planning a broad, new vision to promote the expansion of the bioeconomy since the fall of 2013. “With 1 billion tons of biomass projected to be sustainably produced and available annually by 2030, the board recognized the need to fully develop a Billion Ton Bioeconomy Vision. The Board believes that a single, coordinated multi-department vision focused on developing and implementing a plan for utilizing this biomass for these purposes will increase economic activity, decrease reliance on foreign oil, and create market-driven demand for bioenergy and bioproducts,” said the board in the report.

According to the report, there are currently four main barriers that restrict our nation’s ability to achieve Billion Ton Economy goals. The first focuses on sustainably producing and accessing adequate and affordable feedstocks. The second is developing and applying innovative, cost-competitive conversion technologies. Third is the optimization of distribution infrastructure to allow for the movement of biomass and subsequent derivatives across the entire supply chain. The fourth is consumer education.

The proposed objectives of the bioeconomy vision include using an integrated systems approach to support development of the bioeconomy, providing the science and technology to the sector, public and private collaboration, workforce development, and contributing to the understanding and informing of policy.

The report also notes that work has already started on building a national federal government coalition, with the goal of expanding the bioeconomy. “Agencies have distinctive missions that relate to the bioeconomy that are currently being accomplished through various approaches and programs, authorized by various statutes. This coordinated effort will leverage these approaches and programs, as appropriate,” said the board in the report.

In addition, a board committee is currently conducting efforts to identify and understand more about the various bioeconomy stakeholders. Activities are expected to include stakeholder and public workshops and the potential establishment of a formal coalition that would provide leadership and oversight of the vision’s strategy and practice. According to the report, information gathered through engagement with the public will result in an overall plan for the vision, which will be detailed in an Integrated Bioeconomy Implementation Plan scheduled to be released later this year.

A full copy of the report can be downloaded on the Biomass Research and Development Board website.