it is assumed that capacity will grow by two to three plants each year, coal-to-liquid fuels with CO2life-cycle emissions similar to those of petroleum-based fuels can replace up to 3 million barrels of gasoline equivalent per day by 2035. That option would require an increase in U.S. coal production by 50 percent.
The deployment of alternative liquid transportation fuels aimed at diversifying the U.S. energy portfolio, improving energy security, and reducing environmental impacts by 2035 would require aggressive large-scale demonstration in the next few years and strategic planning to optimize the use of coal and biomass to produce fuels and to integrate them into the transportation system. Aggressive development and demonstration of cellulosic-biofuel and thermochemical-conversion technologies with CCS are necessary to advance these technologies and to address challenges identified in the commercial demonstration programs. Given the magnitude of U.S. liquid-fuel consumption (14 million barrels of crude oil per day in the transportation sector) and the scale of current petroleum imports (about 56 percent of the petroleum used in the United States is imported), a business-as-usual approach is insufficient to address the need to find alternative liquid transportation fuels, particularly because development and demonstration of technology, construction of plants, and implementation of infrastructure require 10–20 years per cycle. An assessment of the current government and industry programs would determine their adequacy to meet the commercialization timeline required to reduce U.S. oil use and CO2 emissions over the next decade.
Developing detailed scenarios of market penetration rates of biofuels, coal-to-liquid fuels, and associated biomass and coal supply options would help clarify hurdles and challenges to achieving substantial effects on U.S. oil use and CO2 emissions. Such analysis will provide policy makers and business leaders with the information needed to establish enduring policies and investment plans for accelerating the development and penetration of alternative-fuels technologies.
A potential optimal strategy for producing biofuels in the United States could be to locate thermochemical conversion plants that use coal and biomass as a combined feedstock in regions where biomass is abundant and locate biochemical-conversion plants in regions where biomass is less concentrated. Thermochemical plants require a larger capital investment per barrel of product than biochemical conversion plants require and thus benefit to a greater extent from economies of scale. This strategy could maximize the use of cellulosic biomass and minimize the costs of fuel products. An assessment of the spatial distribution of potential