November 20, 2009

Can biofuel production in the United States meet the promises of policy makers?


Nathan Parker, ITS-Davis Graduate Researcher


In recent government policy in the United States and around the world, biofuels have been suggested as a cure for a number of ills caused by the transportation sector’s dependence on petroleum for energy. The most prominent of these are the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in the face of global climate change, enhancement of energy security and supporting rural economies. From a broad-brush perspective, biofuels appear capable of making progress on those policy goals over the next couple of decades. However, it is becoming increasingly clear that the attractiveness of biofuels is dependent on the specific pathway used to produce them. Good policy will require an improved understanding of biofuel systems including the tradeoffs that exist between the size of the biofuel supply, economics and potential adverse environmental and/or societal impacts.

This talk focuses on the goals different stakeholders have for biofuel policy and the extent to which a resource base exists that meets the requirements of all.

Biographical Sketch

Nathan is a PhD candidate in the Transportation Technology and Policy program at ITS-Davis. His research focuses on the modeling the infrastructure needed to enable transitions to alternative fuels. During his time at Davis, Nathan has studied hydrogen pipelines, transition barriers for hydrogen, the production of hydrogen from biomass, and assessments of biofuel supply. He received his BS in physics from Wake Forest University in 2001 and his MS in the TTP program at UC Davis in 2007.