Wood Bioenergy and Land Use: A Challenge to the Searchinger Hypothesis

Resources for the Future DP 13-33

27 Pages Posted: 11 Nov 2013

See all articles by Roger A. Sedjo

Roger A. Sedjo

Resources for the Future

Brent Sohngen

Ohio State University (OSU) - Department of Agricultural, Environmental & Development Economics

Anne Riddle

Resources for the Future

Date Written: November 05, 2013

Abstract

A concern of many environmentalists is that the use of biomass energy will decimate the forests. Searchinger et al. (2008, 2009) examined this issue related to corn ethanol and suggested that substituting corn ethanol for petroleum would increase carbon emissions associated with the land conversion abroad necessary to offset the decline in corn availability. Associated with these concerns is the overall issue of climate change (IPCC 2006). This issue is broader than simply corn. If agricultural croplands are drawn into the production of biofuel feedstocks, commodity prices are expected to rise, triggering land conversions overseas, releasing carbon emissions, and offsetting the carbon reductions expected from bioenergy. Using a general stylized forest sector management model, our study examines the economic potential of traditional industrial forests and supplemental dedicated fuelwood plantations to produce biomass on submarginal lands. It finds that these sources can economically produce large levels of biomass without compromising crop production, thereby mitigating the land conversion and carbon emissions effects posited by the Searchinger Hypothesis.

Keywords: biomass, forests, fuelwood, land use, land conversion, wood biomass, bioenergy, carbon emissions, feedstock, Searchinger Hypothesis, climate change

JEL Classification: Q1, Q16, Q23, Q24, Q42, Q54

Suggested Citation

Sedjo, Roger A. and Sohngen, Brent L. and Riddle, Anne, Wood Bioenergy and Land Use: A Challenge to the Searchinger Hypothesis (November 05, 2013). Resources for the Future DP 13-33. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2352480 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2352480

Roger A. Sedjo (Contact Author)

Resources for the Future ( email )

1616 P Street, NW
Washington, DC 20036
United States

Brent L. Sohngen

Ohio State University (OSU) - Department of Agricultural, Environmental & Development Economics ( email )

2120 Fyffe Rd
Ag Admin
Columbus, OH 43210-1067
United States

Anne Riddle

Resources for the Future ( email )

1616 P Street, NW
Washington, DC 20036
United States

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