Abstract for: Dynamic Modeling of Learning in Emerging Energy Industries: The Example of Advanced Biofuels in the United States

This paper (and its supplemental model) presents novel approaches to modeling interactions and related policies among investment, production, and learning in an emerging competitive industry. New biomass-to-biofuels pathways are being developed and commercialized to support goals for U.S. advanced biofuel use, such as those in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. We explore the impact of learning rates and techno-economics in a learning model excerpted from the Biomass Scenario Model (BSM), developed by the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory to explore the impact of biofuel policy on the evolution of the biofuels industry. The BSM integrates investment, production, and learning among competing biofuel conversion options that are at different stages of industrial development. We explain the novel methods used to simulate the impact of differing assumptions about mature industry techno-economics and about learning rates while accounting for the different maturity levels of various conversion pathways. A sensitivity study shows that the parameters studied (fixed capital investment, process yield, progress ratios, and pre-commercial investment) exhibit highly interactive effects, and the system, as modeled, tends toward market dominance of a single pathway due to competition and learning dynamics.