The Water–Energy Nexus in the American West
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The Water–Energy Nexus in the American West

Edited by Douglas S. Kenney and Robert Wilkinson

The nexus between water and energy raises a set of public policy questions that go far beyond water and energy. Economic vitality and management of scarce and precious resources are at stake. This book contributes to the body of knowledge and understanding regarding water, energy, and the links between the two in the American West and beyond.
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Chapter 7: The New Generation of Biofuels

Ronald C. Pate


Ronald C. Pate1 INTRODUCTION Biofuels and biopower are forms of energy derived from biomass that represent an expanding segment of the United States energy sector. If properly developed and used, biomass represents an economic development opportunity, particularly in more rural areas, that can also provide a diversification of domestic energy supplies capable of displacing fossil fuel use in a way that can help reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and reduce national dependence on imported petroleum. Biomass is also seen as the basis for the establishment of a broader domestic bio-industry to supply chemicals and other materials with a lower GHG footprint (US Department of Energy [DOE], 2011; National Research Council [NRC], 2000; Perlack et al., 2005). The impacts of increased biomass production and bioenergy use within the water–energy nexus will depend on the specific form that it takes and the local and regional conditions and practices under which it is implemented. For example, the growing of dedicated biomass energy crops using irrigation in the more water-sparse regions of the West can be expected to have greater impacts on local water resources than biomass grown in other regions of the country with more ample precipitation. Water is needed in the production of biomass feedstock, as well as in the processing and conversion of that feedstock into transportation fuels, electrical power, process heat and other products and materials (DOE, 2006; Pate et al., 2007). Just as water is a local issue, so too is the production and use of bioenergy. From...

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