BETO 2021 Peer Review - WBS Bioeconomy Scenario Analysis

Research output: NRELPresentation


The Bioeconomy Scenario Analysis project uses systems thinking and analysis to assess current and/or prospective techno-economics, research and development, deployment strategies, policy, and market conditions and their impact on the potential development trajectories of the bioenergy industry over time. Results from this project include identification of opportunities and constraints to industrial development, quantification of multiple metrics (energy, economic, environmental) and informing researchers, decision makers, and industry of the steps needed for a sustainable, nationwide biofuels industry. Analyses from this project enable the creation of a bioenergy industry by (1) inciting policy-makers to explore scenarios for nationwide biofuels production, identifying policy actions consistent with pathways for growth; (2) improving industry’s understanding of industry growth potential under different technology and investment conditions, better targeting their development efforts; and (3) providing universities and other interested stakeholders with tools and analyses that can be adapted to meet research and teaching objectives, connecting students with careers that build the industry. One of the many modeling tools used in this project, the Biomass Scenario Model (BSM) is a publicly-available, unique, validated, state-of-the-art, award-winning, fourth-generation model of the domestic biofuels supply chain which explicitly focuses on how and under what conditions biofuel technologies might be deployed to contribute to the U.S. transportation energy sector. We use models like the BSM to examine the implications of policies and incentives as well as their potential side-effects. The BSM uses a system-dynamics simulation to model dynamic interactions and transitions across the supply chain; it tracks the deployment of biofuels given industrial learning and the reaction of the investment community in the context of land availability, projected oil markets, consumer demand for biofuels, and government policies over time. Under expected market conditions, analyses using the BSM suggest that the biofuels industry may require significant external actions in the early years to thrive. Interventions that accelerate the industrial learning process (e.g. operation of pre-commercial and commercial facilities) have been identified as having strong influence in starting the growth of a commercial biofuel industry. Policies which are coordinated across the whole supply chain in BSM foster the growth of the biofuels industry and production of tens of billions of gallons of biofuels may occur under sufficiently favorable conditions.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages34
StatePublished - 2021

Publication series

NamePresented at the U.S. Department of Energy's Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) 2021 Project Peer Review, 8-12, 15-16, and 22-26 March 2021

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/PR-6A20-79169


  • bioeconomy scenario analysis
  • biomass scenario model
  • system dynamics


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