Indirect land use change and biofuels: Mathematical analysis reveals a fundamental flaw in the regulatory approach

Seungdo Kim, Bruce E. Dale, Reinout Heijungs, Adisa Azapagic, Tom Darlington, Dennis Kahlbaum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • 5 Citations

Abstract

In the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS2) program, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) has used partial equilibrium models to estimate the overall indirect land use change (iLUC) associated with the biofuel scenario mandated by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA). For regulatory purposes, the U.S. EPA "shocks" (changes) the amount of each biofuel in the economic models one at a time to estimate the threshold values for specific biofuels (single-shock analysis). The primary assumption in the single-shock analysis is that iLUC is a linear process with respect to biofuels, i.e., that interactions between different biofuels are trivially small. However, the assumption of linearity in the single-shock analysis is not appropriate for estimating the threshold values for specific biofuels when the interactions between different biofuels are not small.Numerical results from the RFS2 program show that the effects of interactions between different biofuels are too large to be ignored. Thus, the threshold values for specific biofuels determined by the U.S. EPA are scenario-dependent and value choice-driven. They do not reflect real impacts of specific biofuels. Using scenario-dependent values for regulation is arbitrary and inappropriate. Failure to deal appropriately with interactions between different biofuels when assigning iLUC values to specific biofuels is a mathematical and systematic flaw; it is not an "uncertainty" issue. The U.S. EPA should find better ways to differentiate the contribution of one biofuel versus another when assigning iLUC values or find better means of regulating the land use change impact of biofuel production.

LanguageEnglish (US)
Pages408-412
Number of pages5
JournalBiomass and Bioenergy
Volume71
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2014

Profile

regulatory approach
mathematical analysis
Biofuels
biofuels
biofuel
Land use
land use change
Defects
United States Environmental Protection Agency
Environmental Protection Agency
econometric models
linearity

Keywords

  • Biofuel policy
  • Corn ethanol
  • Indirect land use change
  • Renewable fuel standard
  • Soybean Biodiesel
  • Sugarcane ethanol

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Forestry
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Waste Management and Disposal

Cite this

Indirect land use change and biofuels : Mathematical analysis reveals a fundamental flaw in the regulatory approach. / Kim, Seungdo; Dale, Bruce E.; Heijungs, Reinout; Azapagic, Adisa; Darlington, Tom; Kahlbaum, Dennis.

In: Biomass and Bioenergy, Vol. 71, 01.12.2014, p. 408-412.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Kim, Seungdo ; Dale, Bruce E. ; Heijungs, Reinout ; Azapagic, Adisa ; Darlington, Tom ; Kahlbaum, Dennis. / Indirect land use change and biofuels : Mathematical analysis reveals a fundamental flaw in the regulatory approach. In: Biomass and Bioenergy. 2014 ; Vol. 71. pp. 408-412
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