Purdue Analysis Cuts Ethanol Greenhouse Gas Emission Estimates

Revisions to a Purdue University economic analysis have cut about 10% of the total emissions expected from an increase in corn ethanol production.

The findings, released in a report to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory, show that ethanol could be a somewhat better option than previously thought for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Wally Tyner, a Purdue agricultural economist and the report’s lead author, says revisions to the Global Trade Analysis Project (GTAP) model better reflect market conditions and land productivity than a 2009 report that showed corn ethanol wouldn’t significantly lower greenhouse gas emissions over gasoline.

View full report

"This is a new area," Tyner says. "We haven’t been faced with estimating land-use change related to biofuels ever before. The difference between this report and previous reports is advances in science. With any issue, your first cut may not be the best, but when you get new data and new methods, you improve."

The report considers land-use changes when calculating total greenhouse gas emissions from biofuels based on the U.S. program to increase corn ethanol production to 15 billion gallons by 2015. Those changes include the emissions created by converting forest or pasture land to cropland. The new analysis predicts emissions related to land-use change at 35% lower than previous analyses.

Purdue economists ran three new simulations through the GTAP model. The first used 2001 economic data as a base; the second updated the data through 2006; and the third used the updated 2006 data and assumed growth in population and crop yield through 2015.

The 2009 report showed that total — including land-use change — carbon dioxide emissions per megajoule for ethanol would be 86.3 grams. The three simulations in the new report predict 84.4 grams, 81.1 grams and 77.5 grams, respectively.

The third simulation, which Tyner says is probably the most accurate, reduces the amount of carbon dioxide that would be emitted by about 10%. But he warned that the numbers are still uncertain because the model contains many complex relationships, covers the entire globe, and includes data and parameters from a diversity of resources.

The new GTAP simulations evaluated ethanol emissions based on several new assumptions:

*Marginal land conversion data changed. Previous reports estimated that marginal lands converted to corn production would be two-thirds as productive as prime land. The new simulations used data from another model to predict productivity for land being brought into cultivation by country and by agro-ecological zone.

Tyner says the change had a large effect on decreasing the number of hectares of land needed to produce 1,000 gallons of ethanol.

"In Brazil, in particular, the production of the land that would come into use is much better than two-thirds," Tyner says. "It’s closer to one, or about as good as current land in use."

*About 60 million acres in the U.S. that had been converted from cropland to mostly pasture and some forest were re-evaluated. Tyner says that land would be more productive than other land considered marginal in the country.

*Energy sector demand and supply elasticities were revised. Tyner says new economic data has shown that consumers do not change consumption habits as drastically as once thought based on gasoline price changes.

"We were getting too large of a reaction in the model to price changes," Tyner says.

*Factors affecting the livestock sector were re-evaluated. New simulations assumed that distillers’ dried grains with solubles — an ethanol co-product used as livestock feed — would go primarily to dairy and cattle producers, mirroring actual usage.

The California Air Resources Board last year used GTAP predictions for ethanol emissions when drafting its low-carbon fuel standard, which aims to lower the state’s transportation carbon emissions 10 percent by 2020. At that time, GTAP predictions using land-use changes showed that ethanol wouldn’t significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions over gasoline usage.

Tyner is a member of the California Air Resources Board Expert Working Group and said information from this report and other new data would be considered before that committee submits a final report to the board in December.

The Argonne National Laboratory was the major funder of the new study. Tyner says future simulations would add cellulosic biofuels to the analysis.

Topics:

Leave a Reply

Management Stories

StewardshipMichigan Agriculture Leaders On Toledo Water Ban: We Want To Be Part Of The Conversation
August 8, 2014
Leaders of Michigan agricultural organizations said Thursday that the government should not have a “knee-jerk reaction” based on last weekend’s water ban in Toledo due to fertilizer run-off in Lake Erie. Read More
ManagementRussia Bans U.S. And EU Ag Product Imports In Ukraine Sanctions Battle
August 7, 2014
Russian President Vladimir Putin has banned the import of agricultural goods from countries that have imposed sanctions on Russia. Read More
EmployeesAsmark Institute Dedicates New Training Center To Ford West
August 6, 2014
The Asmark Institute plans to recognize the retired industry leader's years of service to the fertilizer industry at the new state-of-the-art facility in Owensboro, KY. Read More
LegislationUSDA: Quick Implementation Of Disaster Assistance Programs A ‘Top Priority’
July 9, 2014
USDA has processed 106,000 payments to farmers in 40 states across the country who suffered livestock and grazing losses between Oct. 2011 and passage of the 2014 Farm Bill. Read More

Trending Articles

Equipment2014 Product Of The Year Voting
September 19, 2014
Many new products were introduced to the ag retail marketplace this year. From this group, CropLife IRON and its consulting partners have selected five finalists for the Product of the Year award. Please cast your vote today to help us determine the winner. Read More
FertilizerFall Fertility 2014: Forecasting Fertilizer Use
September 7, 2014
Great crops this year have tapped the soil, and fall work is definitely called for, but how challenging will that get? Read More
CropLife 100CHS To Build $3 Billion Fertilizer Plant In North Dakota
September 5, 2014
The fertilizer plant in Spiritwood will be the single largest investment in CHS history, as well as the single largest private investment project ever undertaken in North Dakota. Read More
EquipmentNew Holland Acquires Miller-St. Nazianz
September 3, 2014
The assets of Miller acquired as part of the transaction will become part of New Holland Agriculture, a CNH Industrial brand, building on a successful four-year partnership between the two companies. Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Acquires East Kansas Chemical
September 2, 2014
Ranked 82nd on the CropLife 100, East Kansas Chemical will operate as part of Pinnacle's Performance Agriculture brand. Read More
MAGIE 2014 ShowStopper
EquipmentJohn Deere Again Wins MAGIE ShowStopper Award
August 25, 2014
For the second consecutive year, John Deere was honored at the Midwest AG Industries Exposition (MAGIE) for its new R4045 sprayer. Read More

Latest News

Syngenta
Crop InputsSyngenta Launches Plant Breeding Academy
October 1, 2014
Syngenta announces the release of its Breeding Academy, a global initiative designed to enable the continued development of scientists at Syngenta and beyond. Read More
FertilizerFertilizer Outlook And Technology Conference Set For No…
September 30, 2014
Conference participants can expect to gain perspective on the outlook for agriculture and major fertilizer materials and inputs from industry experts. Read More
MicronutrientsVerdesian Acquires Micronutrient Supplier
September 30, 2014
Verdesian Life Sciences has acquired QC Corp., a producer and supplier of granular and dry micronutrients and ferrous sulfate products. Read More
Eric SfiligojHearing From Young Ag Voices
September 30, 2014
Potential future leaders in ag retail had the chance to shine at the recent Mid America CropLife Association meeting. Read More
WebinarsUpcoming Webinars
September 30, 2014
Register for one of our upcoming Webinars or access our archive of past Webinars to view recordings of presentations that may be of interest to you. Read More
Crop InputsSyngenta Appoints New Chief Operating Officer
September 29, 2014
Jon Parr will succeed retiring COO John Atkin at the end of the year. Read More
CropLife 100South Dakota Wheat Growers To Add Grain-Agronomy Facili…
September 26, 2014
Planned to be constructed in Kennebec, the facility will be located along the soon-to-be rehabilitated line of heavy-rail service from Chamberlain to Presho. Read More
CropLife 100GROWMARK Announces Vice President Appointments
September 25, 2014
Two individuals have been appointed Vice President positions on the GROWMARK executive team. Read More
FertilizerFertilizer Industry Organizations Join Global Alliance …
September 25, 2014
The Fertilizer Institute, the International Plant Nutrition Institute and the International Fertilizer Industry Association are encouraging the industry to promote the proper use of fertilizer products to minimize their environmental impact. Read More
Precision AgARA Organized Precision Forum Hits Capitol Hill
September 24, 2014
The Coalition for the Advancement of Precision Agriculture (CAPA) hosted its inaugural Precision Ag Forum, Sept. 18, in Washington, D.C. Read More
FertilizerFactors To Consider When Placing Fertilizer With Seed
September 24, 2014
The type of crop, fertilizer source, row spacing and soil environment all affect how much fertilizer can be safely applied with seed. Read More
FertilizerSidedressing Manure Into Corn Has Promising Results
September 24, 2014
Applying manure to growing crops can boost yields, reduce nutrient losses and give livestock producers another window of time to apply manure to farm fields. Read More
FertilizerWhen To Sample Manure For Analysis
September 24, 2014
Because the goal is to collect a sample that represents the manure actually being applied, the best time to sample is during loading or field application. Here's why. Read More
Syngenta
Seed/BiotechSyngenta Faces Second Lawsuit Over Agrisure Viptera Cor…
September 23, 2014
A second company has sued Syngenta AG over sales of genetically modified corn seed not approved by China. Read More
StewardshipCover Crops Field Guide For Farmers Expanded
September 23, 2014
Farmers interested in planting cover crops to improve soil health now have an updated and expanded resource in the second edition of the Midwest Cover Crops Field Guide. Read More
HerbicidesArysta LifeScience Launches Contest For Wheat Growers
September 23, 2014
The Flush after Flush Photo Finish contest encourages farmers across the U.S. to participate through Instagram or Twitter using the hashtag #FlushAfterFlush. Read More
FertilizerCF Industries Confirms Merger Of Equals Discussions Wit…
September 23, 2014
CF Industries Holdings, Inc. has confirmed that it is in preliminary discussions with Yara International regarding a potential merger of equals transaction. Read More
StewardshipProgram To Examine Ag-Related Practices, Policies To Pr…
September 22, 2014
A panel discussion on October 14 will include a significant discussion on key issues and solutions related to all aspects of harmful algal blooms. Read More