U.S. Department of Energy - Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
Bioenergy Technologies Office
The Bioenergy Technologies Office's activities are guided by a commitment to environmental, economic, and social sustainability. The Office works with universities, national labs, and other federal agencies to understand and promote the benefits of bioenergy while reducing potential negative impacts across the supply chain—from biomass production to end use. The Office is committed to developing bioenergy that does not compromise environmental quality and the availability of food, feed, fiber, and water.
A viable, sustainable, domestic biofuels industry that:
- Produces renewable biofuels, bioproducts, and biopower
- Enhances U.S. energy security
- Reduces our dependence on oil
- Provides environmental benefits, including reduced greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions
- Creates economic opportunities across the nation
Current Office Activities
Water Quantity and Quality - Working with national labs and other partners to conduct life cycle analyses of water requirements for the production of advanced biofuels, corn ethanol, sugar cane ethanol, and competing petroleum fuels.
Soil Health and Agronomics - Conducting in-field studies in collaboration with USDA, national labs, the Sun Grant Initiative universities, and other regional partners to measure soil attributes and other metrics to better understand what management practices achieve favorable yields while preserving soil health.
Climate Change and Air Quality - Performing analyses that cover the entire biofuels supply chain, from feedstock production to consumption in vehicles, to better understand how biofuels affect GHG emissions and air quality.
Land Use - Developing quantitative models of domestic and international land-use changes associated with increased biofuels production to be included in life cycle analyses, and coordinating with the environmental and scientific communities to assess the suite of model assumptions, available global datasets, disconnects between model needs and data availability, and research needs.
Biodiversity - Supporting spatial analyses and in-field research to better understand how siting and management of biofuels crops can help maintain biodiversity.
- Bioenergy Knowledge Discovery Framework (KDF), a geospatial analysis tool that is a national decision-support framework to foster a sustainable and robust bioenergy industry
- Maintaining the Regional Biomass Energy Feedstock Partnership with USDA, the Sun Grant Initiative Universities, and other regional partners to improve understanding of geographic variations in climatic conditions and soil type and their impact on nutrient cycling, water quality, GHG emissions, and land-use associated with feedstock production
- Engaging in interagency sustainability efforts
- Participating in multi-stakeholder groups developing criteria and indicators for sustainability, such as the Council on Sustainable Biomass Production, and international efforts, such as the Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels, the Global Bioenergy Partnership's Sustainability Task Force, and the International Standards Organization working group on bioenergy sustainability.
For more information, see a summary of our efforts: Enhancing Benefits While Mitigating Concerns: Biofuels Sustainability