The U.S. Department of Energy and the biofuels industry should conduct a comprehensive joint study to identify the infrastructure system requirements of, research and development needs in, and challenges facing the expanding biofuels industry. Consideration should be given to the long-term potential of truck or barge delivery versus the potential of pipeline delivery that is needed to accommodate increasing volumes of ethanol. The timing and role of advanced biofuels that are compatible with the existing gasoline infrastructure should be factored into the analysis.
The deployment of alternative liquid transportation fuels aimed at diversifying the energy portfolio, improving energy security, and reducing the environmental footprint 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. 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.
The U.S. Department of Energy should partner with industry in the aggressive development and demonstration of cellulosic-biofuel and thermochemical-conversion technologies with carbon capture and storage to advance technology and to address challenges identified in the commercial demonstration programs. The current government and industry programs should be evaluated to determine their adequacy to meet the commercialization timeline required to reduce U.S. oil use and CO2 emissions over the next decade.