Abstract for: An Overview of the Biomass Scenario Model

Biofuels are promoted in the United States through aggressive legislation as one part of an overall strategy to lessen dependence on imported energy as well as to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases. Meeting mandated volumetric targets has prompted substantial funding for biofuels research, much of it focused on producing ethanol and other fuel types from biomass feedstocks. A variety of incentive programs (including subsidies, fixed capital investment grants, loan guarantees, vehicle choice credits, and aggressive corporate average fuel economy standards)have been developed, but their short-and long-term ramifications are not well known. This paper describes the Biomass Scenario Model, a system dynamics model developed under the support of the U.S. Department of Energy as the result of a multi-year project at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. The model represents multiple pathways leading to the production of fuel ethanol as well as advanced biofuels such as biomass-based gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, and butanol). This paper details the BSM system dynamics architecture, the design of the supporting database infrastructure, the associated “scenario libraries” used in model runs, as well as key insights resulting from BSM simulations and analyses.