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Counting Carbon in Bioenergy Systems-Opportunities and Challenges

Presenter: Peter Woodbury, Cornell University

This presentation considers aspects of the carbon cycle critical for bioenergy carbon accounting in general. (The EPA accounting framework specifically will be addressed in the next session.)

In addition to the carbon cycle, we include methane and nitrous oxide because these greenhouse gases (GHGs) are much more potent than carbon dioxide, so small amounts really matter when counting overall GHG emissions. We will review different kinds of biomass feedstocks and bioenergy systems. We will critically examine claims that bioenergy systems are either "carbon-neutral" or that they emit more GHGs than fossil fuel systems. We will discuss important issues that greatly affect GHG accounting, including choice of baseline, scope of the analysis, spatial scales (local to national) and time scales (annual to centuries). Furthermore, we will ask how stakeholders, regulators, and scientists may have different goals and priorities for greenhouse gas accounting rules. We will also examine some examples of existing accounting rules and what they suggest about key opportunities and challenges for accurately accounting for GHG emissions from bioenergy systems.


About this webinar series
The Clean Power Plan (CPP) was announced by President Obama and the EPA in August 2015 and provides the first-ever national standards that address carbon pollution from power plants. The final rule takes into account over 4.3 million stakeholder and public comments to ease its implementation, with individual states, tribes, and territories building their own plans to meet mandated carbon reduction goals specific to each planning entity. The proposed state plans outlining how this will be achieved must contain specific steps for each tool in a portfolio of methods used to meet state-level goals: emissions trading, increasing energy efficiency on both supply and demand sides, shifting coal generation to natural gas generation, and/or increasing renewable power generation. That last category leaves room for biomass energy, but stakeholders in the bioeconomy still seek clarification on exactly how biomass could or should fit in to a state plan.

This webinar series begins to tackle that question, providing guidance, information from cutting-edge research, and expert perspectives on the role sustainable bioenergy can play in state plans designed to meet CPP requirements. Though the US Supreme Court recently granted a stay on the CPP, many states continue developing their individual plans, and the need for information and clarity regarding this policy remains.

This webinar is hosted by Sarah Wurzbacher, NEWBio, Penn State University and eXtension Farm Energy community. NEWBio is supported by Agriculture and Food Research Initiative Competitive Grant no. 2012-68005-19703 from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

The Clean Power Plan series is a co-sponsored effort by the USDA NIFA AFRI Regional Bioenergy System Coordinated Agricultural Projects, which focus on sustainable production of advanced biofuels, industrial chemicals, and biobased products to enhance existing agricultural systems, create rural jobs, and achieve other goals related to energy security and sustainability.

Visit the CPP Webinar Series Homepage: http://www.newbio.psu.edu/cppwebinar.asp

 



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