Biofuels and Negative Emissions Technologies
Henry Lee: Welcome to the Energy Policy Seminar. I'm Henry Lee. I'm the director of the Environment and Natural Resources Program at the Belfer Center here at the Kennedy School. And one of the sponsors of this seminar series, along with the Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government and the Harvard University Center for the Environment. Henry Lee: This is our first, and I believe only, hybrid seminar in this series. We've been trying to do it for the last few weeks, but we finally have pulled it off.
So thank you all for coming and there is free food that you can sneak out and get here. We are recording this seminar and will post it on the series webpage, so if you have a friend or colleague who misses this talk please let them know that they can watch it later. Henry Lee: We'll have an in person Q&A for the people in this room, but for our virtual audience we will take questions in the Q&A function, which is in Zoom, which is the bottom of your page. Henry Lee: It's a great pleasure for me to introduce our speaker today, Dr. Alexandre Strapasson. Dr. Strapasson is a research fellow at agriculture and energy policy at the Environment and Natural
Resources Program at the Kennedy School, working on bio-economy and water, energy food nexus. Henry Lee: He is also an honorary lecturer at Imperial College in London, and a visiting lecturer at IFP School in France. Prior to these experiences, Dr. Strapasson was director and head of the Department of Bioenergy at Brazil's Ministry of Agriculture. Henry Lee: I could keep on going on all the other things he's involved with, but I will leave him more time to talk about this really interesting new issue, which is biofuel and negative emission technologies.
Henry Lee: His doctorate is from Imperial College. And he has been with us, I think almost three years, at different times. So welcome Alexandre. Alexandre Strapasson: Thank you very much, Henry, for this kind introduction. Hello everyone. Very good to see you all here.
And also everybody that is watching online this presentation as well. Alexandre Strapasson: For me, it's a great pleasure to be here. I think after five years, was my last talk here in this room. And I'm very, very happy to be here again.
Alexandre Strapasson: So my presentation today, I'm going to focus on the negative emissions technology-- Elizabeth Hanlon: Sorry, Alexandre, before you get going, could you share your slides for ... Just put it in presentation view for the Zoom attendees? Alexandre Strapasson: I thought it was already. Let's see here. Is that okay? Elizabeth Hanlon: No. Alexandre Strapasson: Okay. Alexandre Strapasson: Let's change it.
Elizabeth Hanlon: Yes. Alexandre Strapasson: Okay, cool. Wonderful. Right.
So let's get started. First of all, let's talk about the challenge that we have. Most of you are already familiar.
If you will back up with me with to this chart, this was the last IPCC report launched by working group three, which was two weeks ago. Alexandre Strapasson: And here we can see that the 1.5 degrees Celsius, the curve to meet 1.5 is going to be extremely challenging. And even the curve to be 2 degrees Celsius is going to be very challenging as well. The red curve there on top is approximately the trend, if we have the policies that countries are pledging to have. Alexandre Strapasson: And on the other graph here, you can see by 2100 that actually if we keep this trajectory of 1.5, at some point, we are going to be
net zero, we have to meet net zero, otherwise the temperature will keep increasing, increasing, increasing. And if we are to really obtain this strong reduction, we are going to need some source of negative emissions. Alexandre Strapasson: So to achieve net zero we need some sources of negative emissions, because there are some sectors that are very hard to abate. So for example, cement, iron, steel, variable electricity, these are sectors that are very difficult to obtain net zero.
So unless we have some sort of direct air capture, increasing soil carbon, these type of things, it's going to be challenging. Alexandre Strapasson: But actually the challenge is a bit more complicated, because even when we meet net zero, we have to achieve net negative. And why do we have to achieve net negative? Because what matters is the cumulative emissions.
So we have cumulative emissions in the at the moment. Once you reach net zero the cumulative emissions are still there. So if you want to have the cumulative emissions back to pre-industrial levels, you have to have net negative scenario, beyond net zero. Some other colleague talked about this type of challenge in previous seminar, so I just want to stress this concept of net negative scenario, which is very important. Alexandre Strapasson: And now we have the reality, because the curves, the scenarios, [inaudible 00:07:42], and we can model thousands of scenarios. Scenarios that everybody will be happy.
Scenarios that some people will prefer. So this type of thing. But the reality is that actually we are keeping our GHG emissions increasing. We are not being able to decrease these emissions as promised. Alexandre Strapasson: As we can see here, the emission from CO2 from fossil, they are quite substantial, 64%.
Emissions from land use change are about 11%. And methane also extremely high. Including livestock. Including leakage from natural gas, for example. And other sources. Alexandre Strapasson: When we look at the energy sector, specifically, we see that in the past ten years were a bit more.
Actually the share of fossil fuels remain approximately the same. And the total amount has actually increased, the production of fossil fuel in the past ten years. Alexandre Strapasson: Although we have to recognize that modern renewables also increased. But when people look only at modern renewables they may think, "Look, actually, renewable energy are increasing very substantially."
Alexandre Strapasson: Yes, they are increasing, but fossil fuels they are also increasing. And many people think that actually the future is now with solar energy and wind power, and completely forget and deny bioenergy, perhaps with some of prejudice about biofuels, that biomass is something from developing nations, this type of bad understanding about modern use of biomass, that I would like to go over a bit more here. Alexandre Strapasson: So if you look at this share of modern renewables, you see that biomass is actually part of several sectors. Transport sector, also for heating, also for power generation, but the largest share is traditional biomass. The traditional biomass, which is within this others.
It's always like many hidden things hidden here. But you have nuclear and traditional biomass. Alexandre Strapasson: So in total, bioenergy is about 60 exajoules.
The total energy demand in the world is 381 exajoules. Only bioenergy is 60 exajoules. So it's 16% of the total primary energy consumption is bioenergy. Of course, when you talk about the power sector then it's different. Of course, wind power and solar, they have been increasing very substantially, which is really great, but primary energy is different, because then we include ... And we're talking,
not only primary energy, we talk about energy mixes, that would include transport sector, it would include heat, it would include several other processes. Alexandre Strapasson: And liquid biofuels is part of bioenergy, so think like ethanol, biodiesel, is just part of bioenergy. So think like ethanol, diesel, is just part of bioenergy. But it is much broader than that.
It includes solid biomass, and wood pellets, wood chips, logs, and agricultural refuse. All these type of sources, including gases, like biogas, for example, are within this scope. Alexandre Strapasson: So one important question is, how much bioenergy could we obtain without competing with food and forestry conservation? This was one of the questions that I had spent some time on in my PHD.
I was a bit concerned with this type of thing, because we could say it's very nice we plant crops, we use photosynthesis to get the CO2. And it's a liquid fuel or some fuel that would be wonderful, because this is renewable and we can replace fossil fuel. Alexandre Strapasson: Yes, but we need land to do that. Because we need land, then we have another problem. Because then we have the agricultural world involved. So it's not energy only, but agriculture.
Then we have potential competition with food resource, and food production, with forestry conservation. How to model this in a proper manner. Alexandre Strapasson: So I have to include different dynamics. For example, crop and livestock use, they tend to keep increasing. So if we increase crop and livestock yield, it means that we can produce the same amount with less land. Although, we may also increase food consumption.
And we are going to need more of these type of crops. So not necessarily crop use will be sufficient to the demand. Alexandre Strapasson: But we have also possibilities to change dietary patterns. We have possibilities to increase soil carbon. Depending on the agricultural management that we have we can increase soil carbon. We can use our agricultural residues in a smarter manner.
It's also possible to have multiple cropping and integrated systems. This is very often not very well included in the models. Alexandre Strapasson: Multiple cropping means that, for example, if you have a corn harvest in an area that is subtropical or tropical area, naturally you can have two crops in the same year. You can have even a third crop in winter season.
So which means that there is a difference between harvested area and the physical area. Because if you are harvesting, let's say three crops a year, actually your harvested area is three times your physical area. Alexandre Strapasson: Then another important point to include is the amount of core products and byproducts associated with bioenergy production. Let's say for example corn, which is the most important crop here for the production of ethanol especially in the United States.
We produce not only ethanol, but we produce now also distiller's dried grains with solubles, we also call it DDGS. And the DDGS is produced from the other part of the kernel, because we use to produce it, and we use only the starch part. The other part is DDGS, which is used as animal feed. Alexandre Strapasson: So lots of models, they don't include this analysis. They say, "Look, actually we are using all this corn-produced biofuels, so we need this same amount of land to produce corn for other things." But actually we are using only starch part.
And so they are still using other parts of the kernel to produce corn oil and DDGSs. Alexandre Strapasson: Sugarcane also has similar dynamics. Sugarcane is the second most important crop used for ethanol production. Particularly Brazil and some other nations. And we obtain ethanol, but can also produce sugar.
We can also produce bioelectricity, vinasse is a liquid residue from the biorefining, which can also be used as a source of fertilizers. Alexandre Strapasson: But when we put this altogether in a system dynamics model, somebody tonight modeled these dynamics at global scale, and obtained that the 60 exajoules of bioenergy can increase up to 70 in a business as usual, without competing with food security if we put all these variables. Change in diet, or not change in diet, proper use or increasing [inaudible 00:14:58] this type of thing.
Alexandre Strapasson: In a high mitigation scenario we increase this up to 170 exajoules. In an extreme situation, 306. This is consistent with the IPCC result as well. And I what I want to show you is that by modeling this we can see that we can obtain substantial amount of negative emissions by increasing soil carbon and by increasing carbon in reforestation. Because if we increase crop use, for example, we can have more forests.
We have more forests, we have more carbon storage in the forests. Alexandre Strapasson: Another possibility to restore carbon without using bioenergy. At least a number of them. Is, for example, afforestation, reforestation, as I mentioned. So if we have more, let's say freed up lands.
This concept may be a little bit confusing. What I mean by freed up land is that, for example, when you increase crop use, and then you may release some areas that you can use for other things. And so this is called freed up lands, or surplus lands.
Some type of surplus. Alexandre Strapasson: Then you can have either afforestation, reforestation, or you can have food crops, for example, on some of these areas. Alexandre Strapasson: Another possibly is to increase soil carbon.
Soil carbon can substantially change if you use, for example, if you have a forest, if you have well managed pasture land, if you have, for example a multicrop system, when you have for example a corn harvest followed by a soybean harvest, for example, and you replant directly on the straws. Just cut the straws and plant. Keeping the straws on the site.
So this type of processing increase a lot the amount of soil carbon, the amount of organic material in the soil. Alexandre Strapasson: Which is a way to sequester this carbon. Some people may argue, this is a way to sequester, but this is a bit complicated, because if you change land use, or if we have a lot of forest, then we have a larger incidence of wildfire, this type of thing, then this carbon would be released out to the atmosphere. Alexandre Strapasson: That's a risk.
I agree that this is a risk. But this doesn't mean that we shouldn't increase this, to face this type of approach, because they can provide substantial benefits. Alexandre Strapasson: Wood materials, this is relatively small, when we compare to global scale. for example wood materials that we use for buildings, et cetera. Although, in the United States it's very common to have wooden houses, but if you calculate all this amount of carbon, it's relatively small.
Alexandre Strapasson: Another possibly is biochar. Some people here are probably familiar with biochar. If you are not, biochar is basically the production of charcoal. And then you mix this ... It's a kind of charcoal, actually, through pyrolysis. And then you obtain a material that is very stable.
This carbon is very stable. So we spread this and we mix this in the soil, an agricultural process. It increases nutrient retention. It has many interesting characteristics, biochar. Alexandre Strapasson: And this carbon won't be decomposed easily by soil microbes.
Which means that you could have this carbon, rather than having geological sequestration, you will simply have carbon in soil in a relatively stable manner for centuries. Alexandre Strapasson: There are lots of research on that, if this carbon will be really stable for centuries or not. So it's a whole new area, biochar research. Alexandre Strapasson: One important question is that, rather than just having biomass sequestering carbon, or creating soil carbon, can we get energy from this, and at the same time store carbon? So then we could tackle issues, actually, at the same time. Alexandre Strapasson: Yeah, it is possible. Clarify here, my emphasis here is on negative emissions.
If you say, "I'm using biomass to displace coal." Well, this is all carbon. This is not negative. So take negative, then you have to sequester somehow. Biochar, reforestation, or bioenergy with carbon capture and storage. Also called as BECCS.
Alexandre Strapasson: So this is a very simplified system. You have here, for example, a reforested land, a commercial forest plantation. Let's say you've got pine trees.
If you harvest this is sequestered carbon from the atmosphere via photosynthesis. You harvest this biomass. You use this biomass, let's say, in a thermal power.
But rather than releasing the CO2, we are capturing the C02, and sequestering it here. Alexandre Strapasson: This process is not only theoretical thing. There are companies already doing that.
One of the companies is Drax Power. This is not a propaganda. This is just because they are really being pioneers at this. They are already doing this in the United Kingdom, and a very large [inaudible 00:20:45] power there. Alexandre Strapasson: And you can also account here, not only for the sequestration, but that you are displacing coal.
Actually, they start at coal firing, so putting biomass pellets with coal in the same furnace, same boiler, and then started to increase more and more the biomass until displacing almost entirely the use of coal. They're becoming a biomass power plants. Alexandre Strapasson: But just to recap here some main power cycles, which I would like to emphasize a bit on the next slide. You have basically three possibilities of power generation. There are some other cycles, but just to recap the ones here. You have single vapor power cycle.
Also called a Rakine cycle. Alexandre Strapasson: This is relatively low to medium efficiency. So basically you get soil stuff for coal, soil biomass pellet, you put this in a boiler, heat the water. This heated water goes to a steam turbine, and then it producers electricity. Alexandre Strapasson: There are lots of cold thermal power, for example, based on this system, actually.
Most of them are based on this system. And when you gases, rather than using soil biomass, you can then put in a gas turbine. In a gas turbine, in another cycle, this Brayton Cycle, you just put the fuel directly in the turbine. And then you obtain electricity. Alexandre Strapasson: Single vapor is about 25% to 40% efficiency.
Gas power is around 42% efficiency. And then you can also have a combined system. So you have gas turbine, and then the thermal residue from the gas turbine, we can still put in the steam turbine. So combining these both cycles, then you maximize a lot efficiency, obtaining about 50% efficiency. Alexandre Strapasson: You can also use the thermal residue from all these cycles, to just call it combined heat and power. Thermal residue, for example, for heating water, for industrial use or heating houses, for example.
So we are no longer able to generate electricity from this, delta T of temperature, but you can use this thermal residue for other purpose. Alexandre Strapasson: That said, then let's keep moving here, in this digging a bit down with BECCS approach. So other possibilities are capture CO2, put this here in a thermal power, either single cycle, or combined cycle. If you gassify the biomass, convert the biomass into a gas, we can use, for instance, gas cycle.
Alexandre Strapasson: But we can also, let's say, harvest corn or sugarcane and produce biofuel. And use biofuel here. And biofuel in the fermentation process release CO2. So again CO2 and that's sequestration.
So in this case, actually, I'm obtaining a liquid fuel there, but I'm capturing additional from the fermentation process. Which increases a lot the carbon balance. Alexandre Strapasson: So we can produce liquid fuels basically from three main ways. The most common sources are fermentation of sugars, or indirectly from addition of starch. Starch is a long chain, it's a long carbon hybrid.
So if you split down, the breakdown, the molecule of starch, you can [inaudible 00:24:38] some more sugars that you can ferment. Alexandre Strapasson: So when you use a starch, like corn, or wheat, there are lots of other crops, then after breaking down those molecules with hydrolysis you obtain more sugar that you ferment. And after distillation produce ethanol as well.
This is almost the same logic here. Alexandre Strapasson: Another process is using cellulose and hemicellulose, so then you can use almost any type of biomass. The idea here is to breakdown cellulose and hemicellulose which are very large carbohydrates.
Then have to do pretreatment and hydrolysis, and then you break it down into small sugars that you can ferment. This is a bit expensive. Some companies are already doing it, but The cost of ethanol fuel is more expensive than conventional sources.
But there is still lots of expectation that this would become more competitive in the coming years. Although this promise has been for a long time. And still it's having difficulty to become more competitive.
Alexandre Strapasson: There are lots of papers about the carbon footprint from ethanol. You can find papers talking very badly. There is this recent publication criticizing a lot of ethanol companies here in the United States. But what I can tell you is that we can also find lots of other papers of the other side. Including in journals like Science, and Nature, et cetera.
Alexandre Strapasson: So I personally try to look at different papers, see the assumptions, if they're consistent or not. See the trends to see if they make sense or not. The US EPA, for example, they consolidated several studies to obtain different ranges here for net GHG emissions according to different types of fuel.
You see here, baseline gasoline it's almost 100. Then you have ethanol here, ranging from ... Depending on which system that they produce have different levels of carbon sequestration. Alexandre Strapasson: If you are looking for an average number, just to have an idea, rather than huge range, that would be more or less a data that would make more sense. I think this study is quite reasonable from Scully and Norris they published environmental research letters.
They obtained about 46% lower emissions than gasoline by using corn ethanol. And for sugarcane there is also this paper published in Nature Climate Change obtaining 86% production. And one of the main reasons for this difference is because the case of sugarcane in the biorefinery used the sugarcane by gas as your energy source for the biorefinery. Alexandre Strapasson: In a corn biorefinery we need an additional source of energy.
And this is usually a natural gas. So this natural gas, unfortunately, it damaged the carbon footprint from corn. Alexandre Strapasson: One way to get rid of this natural gas is to use biomass.
Instead of using natural gas, you use, let's say, pellets. And some companies they are already doing that. So then you can increase even more this benefit.
Alexandre Strapasson: But currently we are using ethanol mainly for road, as a fuel, to displace gasoline. This is mainly in road transport. We use ethanol in other cycle engines. Just to remember that biodiesel is a different story.
We use biodiesel to replace diesel in diesel cycle. For example, trucks, ships, for example, you can use biodiesel for other types of oil or oil based fuels. Alexandre Strapasson: When we talk about auto cycle then ethanol is interesting fuel to displace gasoline. You can use this in normal cars. For example, heavy blendings of ethanol with gasoline. In the United States there are lots of states that have E10, which means 10% ethanol within gasoline.
Many consumers, they don't know this actually that ethanol is 10% in many fuel pumps. Alexandre Strapasson: And more recently there is a big pressure, not pressure, but pressure and support, I would say, to allow the use of E15 throughout the year in the United States. The reason why is because recently in a biorefinery it was supported this idea.
There's lots of farmers trying to convince members of the senate to push this. This [inaudible 00:29:46] to allow this 15% blend, which could increase a bit the use of ethanol, substantially the use of ethanol, in the US. Alexandre Strapasson: Although, in the long term, it's likely that electric vehicles will become more and more competitive and will rapidly those vehicles that are based on combustion systems.
But this will take time. And we think from a global scale this will take much more time than in the United States. Alexandre Strapasson: We can also have flex fuel vehicles, which can use different types of 100% ethanol or 100% gasoline, doesn't matter. And hybrid vehicles, electric, and then ethanol for flexible, flex fuel, and hybrid.
Alexandre Strapasson: But some other research they are trying to have some quality work on this at the University of Minas Gerais in Brazil. They are trying to get hydrogen from the ethanol molecule. Take the hydrogen from the ethanol molecule, within the vehicle. So have a reformer in the vehicle. So just fill up your tank with ethanol. And this reformer will take the hydrogen out of ethanol, and put in a fuel cell, and obtain electricity directly with ethanol.
The advantage that you don't need battery and you can use ethanol as a kind of battery. And you don't have to change anything at the gas station. Alexandre Strapasson: But there are also some problems. It's still a bit expensive. The reformer is a bit heavy and requires some elements of chips. Alexandre Strapasson: But continuing our journey here.
So we can also use this for alcohol chemistry and use it for air transport, like alcohol for jet. Although there are other fuels that are apparently more competitive with alcohol, the jet, but it's also [inaudible 00:31:40]. Alexandre Strapasson: Thinking about these trends. And thinking just as an exercise, about the ethanol market, let's say 2050 or 2060, lots of electric vehicles, and then I was wondered, can we use ethanol for power generation? Would it make sense to use it for power generation. Then we started to assess this. Alexandre Strapasson: And there is apparently a case study, which is this type of power, this relatively small kind of power, it's introduced in Juiz de Fora city.
They have a thermal power, a gas fired based type of power, that they starting using ethanol. And as a flexible fuel, thermal power. So if you don't have ethanol, no problem.
You'll just keep using gas. So this is the tank with the truck, with transporting ethanol here. These are the tanks to storage, ethanol, it's about 600 cubic meters of ethanol, it's possible to store there.
Possible to rate about 30 hours. Alexandre Strapasson: This thermal power has approximately 87 megawatts of installed capacity. This a pump system, and then this the adaptation to the turbine. The [inaudible 00:33:07] turbine can inject the ethanol for natural gas. Alexandre Strapasson: This is without CCS.
This is just alternating the fuel. Think, for example, in the situation that some countries are having with the natural gas suppliers in Europe. To have this possibility of having another fuel that you can switch, it's something interesting not only for carbon emission, but also for energy security.
Alexandre Strapasson: Why don't we use ethanol in a combined cycle? This case here, that I showed you before, it was a single cycle. This is a single cycle thermal power. Why don't we use it combined cycle and capture emissions? And in addition to this, why don't we capture the emission from the fermentation process in the biorefinery? Alexandre Strapasson: So when we capture this altogether is what we are calling here as ethanol power with carbon capture utilization and storage. EPCCUS. I'm proposing this with some other colleagues.
We are writing a paper. This in publication process. And with some preliminary analysis the potential of using ethanol for power generation, but including capture in the power generation and in the fermentation process. Alexandre Strapasson: Some advantages.
This will provide dispatchable electricity, which is one of the very complicated areas of this [inaudible 00:34:30]. This will provide an alternative ethanol market, thinking that actually we have a growing share of electric vehicles worldwide. This would increase energy security, because then we have the option if we don't have a sufficient amount of natural gas, but we have ethanol, that will be something interesting.
Alexandre Strapasson: The technology basis is already available, so we are not talking about the breakthrough technology that's still in development, no. We are already producing ethanol. The gas turbines are the same that we have.
They are [inaudible 00:35:01] gas turbines. Alexandre Strapasson: But there are some problems here. How about cost? And would be really able to obtain negative emissions? Let's see. Alexandre Strapasson: So here we put everything together. Almost finishing here. We put everything together here.
The lifecycle assessment. We have here the ethanol part and the gas part, all the in flows and out flows here from carbon. We obtain carbon from atmosphere here, get our carbon from the atmosphere. We may have some direct [inaudible 00:35:36]. And you have the biorefinery process. We can emit CO2 here or we can capture here.
Then we put this in internal power, and subtract it. Alexandre Strapasson: Same thing for gas. Gas we may have leakage of methane here. So there are also some issues with [inaudible 00:35:52] natural gas [inaudible 00:35:54].
Alexandre Strapasson: We obtained that as an exercise. Let's say if we use all ethanol that we have available in the world, all ethanol. And let's say, rather than using this as a transport fuel, we are going to use this, let's say by 2050 or so, we're going to use an equivalent amount in thermal powers. This would be the reduction. This is just substituting natural gas without CCS.
This is the emission from natural gas, equivalent to 5%. And this is using corn. Corn capturing the emissions in the fermentation process. Sugarcane without capturing the emissions in the fermentation process.
And sugarcane capturing the emissions in the fermentation process. Alexandre Strapasson: So even without CCS in the thermal power, just capture the emissions in the fermentation process of sugarcane, we are really able to obtain negative emission. But if we capture in the fermentation and the power station, and we generate electricity, then all fuels will obtain negative emissions. And this delta here is massive, because actually we are obtaining negative, and we have these avoided emissions. Alexandre Strapasson: Then we estimated approximately the land that would be necessary to propose this.
So we assessed here a broad range, considering low crop use, high crop use, average crop use. If we do this using only corn. If we do this using only sugarcane.
And then this an estimate for without carbon capture with power generation, with EPCCUS, which means with carbon capture. There's an [inaudible 00:37:36]. Alexandre Strapasson: And this is harvested area, because for example if you have double cropping of corn, you may need less physical area.
Alexandre Strapasson: Another exercise is, how about if we change all the natural gas that we are using for power generation. If we use ethanol. I know that this may sound a bit extreme exercise, but just to understand the magnitude that would be possible. Alexandre Strapasson: Then the negative emissions will be massive. It's minus gigatonne of CO2. Remember that the total CO2 emission in the world, CO2 equivalent, is 59.
You are obtaining minus four of negative emissions. But actually we also have 3.36 of avoided emission. So the total here is actually 7.36 gigatonnes of CO2 avoided plus negative. Alexandre Strapasson: This is huge. Alexandre Strapasson: Problems.
In this exercise, the area would also be massive. If we use only sugarcane, 261, this is approximately the current agricultural land in Brazil, let's say for example. The United States is about ... This almost the size of the United States. The United States I think is 950 million acres or so. And the net [inaudible 00:39:21] very low [inaudible 00:39:21].
This would be something more reasonable here, in terms of scale for this extreme exercise, of course. Alexandre Strapasson: But this globally. This is global. And this is harvested land.
So we can have double cropping and these things that we discussed. And we have also byproducts, not only fuel. There's other things we see with this. Alexandre Strapasson: To assess the cost, then we consider the International Energy Association some scenarios for cost analysis. And then we obtain some graphs here. When the EPCCUS would be viable, or not viable, according to these different curves here.
Alexandre Strapasson: So, for example, in the United States it's very complicated, because in the US natural gas are very cheap. But if you look at the prices in Korea and Japan, for example, because they import the liquified natural gas, actually I just checked on the weekend to see the prices now, and they are huge. Because when you look at the gas Japan, Korean market, for example, in March there are prices like $80 per million tons. But this is a spike, because of speculative behavior. Alexandre Strapasson: But when you look at the average that we are seeing it's about 30 in the Korean, Japan market.
Even future market is pointing to this. So if you say 30, and currently we have about $20 the price of ethanol, then some products start to make sense. Alexandre Strapasson: And this is the analysis. You can see that you would need a carbon price of 171, which is very expensive, for this technology to become viable.
But there is a huge dispersion here. In some areas they may be already competitive with gas. Alexandre Strapasson: And to finalize, if we think, actually many gas fired power plants, they will have CCUS anyway. It's not because we are proposing these CCUS. Natural gas, some countries they are saying that they will mandatorily have to have a carbon capture.
Alexandre Strapasson: In this case, we should compare them, ethanol with gas being captured. So in the end, we obtain the average won't change much. But the dispersion will change. And many places here will have competitive scenario. Alexandre Strapasson: So in conclusion is nature based solution, they can provide relevant contribution to carbon mitigation. This term solution, we have to understand is in broad context.
Of course, it's not only nature based solution. There are lots of other strategies that are equally important, but they can be substantial. That can help obtain negative emissions to offset hard to abate sectors. Alexandre Strapasson: These technologies that propose the ethanol power with carbon capture storage, they may be already viable in some markets.
But still a bit difficult in average markets. Main challenge is land use and fuel costs. Alexandre Strapasson: If we are to move forward with this type of technology then we will of course have to assess this more deeply. We will require regulatory framework and social environmental criteria to assess more deeply. Alexandre Strapasson: And to finalize, this type of assessment we are not including the cost related to the impacts of climate change on adaptation cost.
Because it's easy to compare with natural gas. Natural gas actually is very cheap. But because natural gas is not including these costs here, of the potential climate change effects, including costs that are not possible to be quantified and accounted. Such as, for example, loss of biodiversity. Alexandre Strapasson: Folks, that's it. Thank you very much for attention.
And I'm happy to answer some questions. Thank you. Henry Lee: We have 16 minutes. And Liz is going to keep check of the virtual questions. Remember that's the bottom of your page there. Just hit the question and we will provide them.
Henry Lee: I guess one of my questions is, when I look at their estimates of land, the one thing that the whole crisis in Russia and Ukraine have pointed out is you can have a lot of land, but it can be taken away from you, too, because of civil war. And we're looking at significant increases in grain prices, for example, going into the next six months. Henry Lee: Then I add to that all of the water problems, water resources problems, around the world that relate to climate. How do you incorporate those two variables in your thinking? Alexandre Strapasson: Yeah, that's two very, very important questions. And by the way, Henry and I, for me, it was a pleasure to write something together with Henry on energy and water nexus in biofuels. And we assess the security case of the United States, for example.
And the production of biofuels requests substantial amount of water. And this something relevant that we have to take into account. And also the use of fertilizers is something important. Alexandre Strapasson: Some nations in water scarce areas, I wouldn't encourage the expansion of biofuels in these areas. Although, many fuel crops, they can be simply rain fed, say, for example. I'm talking about the reality, for example, in my home country.
Almost all sugarcane produced in Brazil, they are rain fed. In the United States most corn are rain fed. Some people think they are actually irrigated.
No, actually it's a small percentage. I think it's 15% or something like that that are produced using irrigation. So the main actually water footprint related to irrigation.
Alexandre Strapasson: In the industrial part there are also some impacts. But this has been minimized over the years. Industries are managing to use water more efficiently, to recycle the water used the same. But at the same time, we have to think that gas fired thermal power also use water. So there's water impacts with this other competitive use as well. Alexandre Strapasson: Regarding land use and land tenure and these type of conflicts, actually land is a subject that is extremely complex, because there's some countries lands are state owned.
Other countries are private owned. And some countries they have clear rules, et cetera, but in reality you have lots of land grabbing, you have lots of corruption associated with land resources. So it's definitely not an easy topic.
But this is about agriculture in general. It's not only about biofuels or biomass. It affects everything. Henry Lee: Questions? Yes. Abhishek Malhotra: Thank you, Alexandre for the talk. I have two small questions.
One is regarding ... I'd like to talk about costs. I wanted to learn a little bit more about how do things look looking forward given the cost trends that we've seen and the learning rates that we've seen for a lot of technologies. Solar, for batteries, and no projected costs for electrolyzers.
What is the learning potential for the ethanol technologies that you're talking about? So for the EPCCUS, what kind of cost reductions can we expect? Abhishek Malhotra: The second question is about standardization. I feel like a lot of barriers to achieving scale in countries like India have been related to standardization and setting up of supply chains for the feedstock. And to be able to do that efficiently, so that you can collect the feedstock over a large area and use it in a cost effective manner. So have you thought about how do we achieve the kind of standardization to set up efficient supply chains for some of these technologies, which has been an issue since a long time now, I guess? Alexandre Strapasson: That's really great. Actually, both questions, really great. Thanks, Abhishek.
Alexandre Strapasson: The first about other technologies, like solar, the cost, the learning curve of solar PV, for example, it's amazing to see how quickly it has been declining the costs, and mean power as well. The point is that this type of, I wouldn't say proposition, it's an analysis, we're just trying to understand if it would make sense or not, it's not in competition with wind or solar. Because this would be important to have a source of dispatchable electricity. Alexandre Strapasson: So rather than using natural gas, we use the ethanol. But I wouldn't agree that actually if you look at the costs of electricity generation wind and solar would be much more competitive actually.
The idea is to balance these things. Alexandre Strapasson: Regarding the use of batteries and smart grids, et cetera, we may need less and less sources of dispatchable electricity, if we have other strategies to balance The grid. In this exercise we explored some extreme situations just to see the magnitude, but we won't have these in each market, or we could have this complimenting these sources whenever necessary. Alexandre Strapasson: Regarding the standard issues. When you look at biofuels, it's very complicated when we talk about biodiesel. Because biodiesel can be produced from different feedstocks, but ethanol is simpler because ethanol is [inaudible 00:49:53] alcohol.
We just have [inaudible 00:49:55] alcohol. We have hydrous ethanol, unhydrous ethanol, which is very well known in the US, Brazil, other nations, the European Union, in India, in China, other large producing nations. Alexandre Strapasson: We have some criteria of study requirements, but this is relatively simple. In terms of feedstock, this depends on the government. So let's say, for example, corn production here is something very traditional, the farmers are used to do this for centuries, actually, for corn production.
And corn production for ethanol, or for animal feed, is the same corn, it's not a different crop. Sugarcane is the same. And as you know India is, with Brazil, they are both the largest sugar producer in the world, based on sugarcane. Alexandre Strapasson: So if India start to use part of the sugarcane with ethanol combined with sugar, for example, this could generate lots of benefits for farmers, for example. And also for rural areas.
And to standardize this you can have some criteria. So let's say for example, in the United States, in California, they have the low carbon fuel standard. So the low carbon fuel standard, they have lots of criteria, saying that depending on the way that they produce this ethanol, you have a carbon footprint associated with that.
Alexandre Strapasson: In Brazil, we have a program actually it's a federal policy called RenovaBio which we have a carbon certificate according to the way that you produce ethanol. So you can say, "Actually I'm trading [inaudible 00:51:45] trading [inaudible 00:51:45] market." Saying that, "My ethanol was being produced standardly. I proved this through external auditing." This type of thing.
And then you [inaudible 00:51:54]. I'm not sure I answered the questions, but [inaudible 00:51:58]. Henry Lee: Elizabeth, you have one? Then I'll come back over here. Elizabeth Hanlon: Yeah. We have a question from the Zoom world, from David Wooley, who asks what types of carbon sequestration are available for agricultural lands that don't require the carbon intensive transport of biomass? That is distributed forms of carbon sequestration. Alexandre Strapasson: I don't know if I got properly the question, but as I briefly described here in the presentation there are different manners to increase soil carbon in agriculture.
So we can have, for example, [inaudible 00:52:38] system increasing soil carbon. Either using, or not using, with proper biofuels we can increase soil carbon, this type of practice. Alexandre Strapasson: If you produce biofuels then it would make sense that people will say, "I actually would like to double check every step that we are producing because I'm using these biofuels because we are claiming that actually we are dong reduce emissions."
That's fair enough. So that when you start to assess it would be much better if you have, in the agricultural sector, if we increase soil carbon, in the transport you avoid large transportation. You have a use, you produce the ethanol close to the consumption centers, which is not very ... Sometimes it's not possible. If you are transporting this ethanol and then you are expending energy and releasing emissions in transport. Although ship transport is not very impactful in this sense.
Alexandre Strapasson: So then we have to check every, every step, this carbon footprint. But something that is important to understand is carbon dynamics is exactly this logic of several integrated issues. So for example the use of distiller's dried grain, this is very important to understand the carbon dynamics, because actually if I increase soil carbon by no tillage corn production, if I'm using this corn for ethanol, but if I'm also using the other part of corn for other proposals, then I start to minimize this impact. And if I capture this CO2 from fermentation, which unbelievably we are not doing that, except for fuel, biorefineries that are starting to capture that. This CO2 is releasing. Alexandre Strapasson: Actually, this CO2, to be honest with you, I personally think that this CO2 is the easiest emission to capture, because CO2 from fermentation is more than 99% concentration.
So we don't have to use membranes absorption, absorption types of carbon capture. This is almost pure CO2 stream. It's very easy to capture, and even to use, actually. Alexandre Strapasson: Another thing is to capture in the exhaustion pipe in the power generation. That is more complicated, because you have a low concentration, unless use pure oxygen in the combustion. That's another issue.
Henry Lee: Another question back here. Yes. We have five minutes, so ... Audience Member: Is there any potential that this might lead to deforestation in order to farm these biofuels? Alexandre Strapasson: Yeah. That's a very good question.
And actually, although, I personally, I'm enthusiast about biofuels and bioenergy, but I'm also critical this type of risks. And you cannot expand agriculture wherever you want. And the same for livestock. So how to balance this.
That's an important question. This is not only for biofuels, this is for agriculture and livestock in general. Alexandre Strapasson: But for biofuels it's even more critical, because you are using this for carbon reduction. Before deforesting, it wouldn't make sense.
Because if you are deforesting, it means that you are removing all this carbon that is stored in the forest and releasing it to the atmosphere. So the payback period to compensate this emission, it will be huge. It will be many, many decades actually, to pay back that carbon. Alexandre Strapasson: So the important is to increase production by two main ways. One, is to increase yields.
So if you increase crop use, you reduce the amount of land. Second is to use integrated schemes. So then you reduce also the amount of land. We can also explore some more radical manners to avoid this issue. Alexandre Strapasson: For example, you can have zoning schemes. I had the opportunity to coordinate the [inaudible 00:56:53] biophysics convention in Brazil when I worked with the government.
We seem to say ... Actually, we had some colleagues from agricultural research company there named [inaudible 00:57:04]. Alexandre Strapasson: And we had a great team of experts and [inaudible 00:57:09] and this type of soil analysis, et cetera. So we mapped out the entire country and say, "Look, in the Amazon, we are forbidden to expand biofuels.
In the Pantanal, which is important wetland, you are also forbidden. But in these other areas, you are welcome to expand." Alexandre Strapasson: And then we converted this into a legal framework, and it worked very well. It was launched in 2009.
Until recently, no biofuels expansion in Brazil occurred in lands that we excluded, which was really great. It was something that I was proud. It was really great, when I worked in government that project was really great. But then the current president revoked it.
I hope that they new administration next year. Alexandre Strapasson: But on the other hand, this zoning was revoked, but they can restart it an alternative system which is basically certification scheme of carbon balance, et cetera, which has been working well as well. Henry Lee: Thank you very much.
Alexandre Strapasson: Thank you very much. [inaudible 00:58:16]. Henry Lee: Next week will be our final energy policy seminar of the semester.
And we have a real treat for everybody. There's been a lot of discussion and debate over the year about what's the role of oil companies and gas companies going forward. A lot of difference of opinion, and they're held very strongly in this institution on that issue. Henry Lee: And we're bringing in a person, who I think is the best expert in that space on it, Professor Andrew Hoffman, University of Michigan. And he will be talking on creative or controlled destruction, the fate of the fossil fuel sector in a climate constrained world. So he will be our final guest and he will be next week.
Alexandre, thank you very much.