Sunday, April 29, 2007

Reaching 25% renewable energy by 2025: Implications to the agricultural sector

Burton C. English1, Daniel G. De La Torre Ugarte2, Kim Jensen2, Jamey Menard2, and Chad Hellwinckel2. (1) Agricultural Economics, University of Tennessee, 2621 Morgan Circle, Knoxville, TN 37996-4518, (2) Agricultural Economics, The University of Tennessee, 2621 Morgan Circle, Knoxville, TN 37996-4518

The 25x’25 Project Steering Committee, which established the “25x’25” vision, along with Energy Future Coalition and the Energy Foundation, financed a study conducted by the University of Tennessee to determine the feasibility of America’s farms, forests and ranches providing 25 percent of U.S. total energy needs while continuing to produce safe, abundant and affordable food, feed and fiber.  The analysis also looks at the associated impacts of achieving the goal on the agricultural sector and the nation’s overall economy.  Based on Department of Energy estimates and a recent RAND study, the nation will annually consume about 117.7 quads of energy by 2025.  To meet the 25x’25 vision, 25 percent of the projected 117.7 quads, or 29.42 quads, are needed from renewable energy sources.  Currently, an estimated 1.87 quads are produced from biomass (agricultural/forestry) resources in the production of electricity and/or heat, and 12.10 quads will be annually produced from geothermal, solar photovoltaic, hydro, and wind generation by 2025 (13.97 quads total).  To meet the 25x’25 goal of 29.42 quads, an additional 15.45 quads would need to come from agricultural and forestry lands.  Key findings are that the 25x’25 goal is achievable and the agricultural sector can reliably produce food, feed and fiber at reasonable prices.  Including multiplier effects through the economy, the projected annual impact on the nation from producing and converting feedstocks into energy would be in excess of $700 billion in economic activity and 5.1 million jobs in 2025.

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