BP – Future Fuels

By August 1, 2005Library

By Nick Cucinelli ’05, Ruth Scotti ’05, Eric Wingfield ’05 (with Eric Hesse and Carrie Pasch)

Abstract: Governments and corporations have long recognized conventional air pollution and energy security as important drivers of energy and transport policy, but new revelations about global warming, petroleum scarcity, and surging global petroleum demand are now motivating renewed interest in the environmental, social, and economic aspects of “sustainable mobility.” This paper briefly reviews a broad body of sustainable mobility and systems thinking work completed for BP p.l.c., one of the world’s largest energy companies and a strong advocate of early measures to combat global warming. We then report on our efforts to focus on one narrow aspect of sustainable mobility—fuel choice—and apply a system dynamics model to explore the evolutionary market challenges to the implementation of advanced ethanol and biodiesel technologies in the United States over the next 40 years.

Our STELLA™ model captures the complex interactions between farmers and bioprocessors in the U.S. Corn Belt, two major decision-makers in a growing transport biofuels industry that will increasingly rely on a mix of corn, corn stover, and switchgrass to produce three primary fuels: conventional ethanol, lignocellulosic ethanol, and lignocellulosic biodiesel. Our model results and analysis suggests that, in the absence of radical demand management strategies, conventional ethanol can play only a minor rolein mitigating carbon emissions. Advanced ethanol and biodiesel can have a more substantial impact and are worthy of investment, but they must be viewed as part of a larger portfolio of strategies for addressing global warming. An early and sustained effort to introduce these fuels could offset up to 10% of transport fuel demand by 2045. All findings and conclusions within this report are our own; they reflect neither the public position of BP nor the professional opinions of the BP personnel with whom we worked.

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