With CO2emissions similar to those from petroleum-based fuels, a substantial supply of alternative liquid transportation fuels can be produced with thermochemical conversion of coal with geologic storage of CO2 at a gasoline-equivalent cost of $70/bbl.
With CO2emissions substantially lower than those from petroleum-based fuels, up to 2 million barrels per day of gasoline-equivalent fuel can technically be produced with biochemical or thermochemical conversion of the estimated 550 million dry tons of biomass available in 2020 at a gasoline-equivalent cost of about $115–140/bbl. Up to 4 million barrels per day of gasoline-equivalent fuel can be technically produced if the same amount of biomass is combined with coal (60 percent coal and 40 percent biomass on an energy basis) at a gasoline-equivalent cost of about $95–110/bbl. However, the technically feasible supply does not equal the actual supply inasmuch as many factors influence the market penetration of fuels.
The discussion in this chapter thus far has addressed the potential supply of alternative transportation fuels from technologies ready to be commercially deployed by 2020; potential supply, however, does not translate into what will be available at that time. The rates at which alternative liquid fuels can penetrate the market will depend on many variables. In addition to technological readiness, they include such factors as oil price, carbon taxes, the construction environment, and labor availability. To illustrate the lag between the time when technology becomes commercially deployable and the time when significant market penetration of its product occurs, the committee developed a few plausible scenarios.
Regarding biochemical conversion to cellulosic ethanol, the committee took into account the current activities with demonstration plants, the announced commercial plants, the DOE road map, and the rate of construction of grain ethanol plants. It assumed that a capacity of 1 billion gallons per year of cellulosic ethanol would be achievable by 2015 and that the capacity build beyond 2015 would