Land Use Requirements for Production of Biofuels in Florida

Document Type

Technical Report

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This study establishes relationships between production of various biofuels crops (Miscanthus, Switchgrass, Sorghum, Corn, Elephantgrass, Sugarcane, Energycane and Eucalyptus), associated biomass and bioethanol yields, land use requirements for these crops, biomass to biofuels conversion methods and the overall fuel demands, particularly in Florida’s transportation sector. An important metric in evaluating the ability of various biofuel potential options to successfully address the above mentioned relationships is the quantity of fuel that can be produced from available agricultural land. Concerns are being raised regarding food production, available land, and water, as well as other resources diverted by biofuels production. With the world having currently 12.08 billion acres of agricultural land for its 7.052 billion inhabitants, there is on average 1.70 acres of agricultural land available per person. Florida has even less available agricultural land per person (0.43 ac), but its favorable climatic conditions, advanced research, modern technologies as well as a traditional leading role in agricultural production make the State one of the nations’ forerunning regions in biofuels production. With Florida having 18,905,048 inhabitants, 14,372,807 registered vehicles with an average annual mileage of 13,348 miles/vehicle/year, an average E10 fuel consumption of 23.5 miles/gallon and assuming bioethanol having 66.7% energy content of petroleum-based gasoline per unit volume, an average 625.7 gallons of bioethanol (E100) per year per Floridian would be needed, if only bioethanol was used as a vehicular fuel. Results show a range from 0.54 ac/person using Eucalyptus to 2.16 ac/person using Switchgrass to produce the volume of E100 necessary to deliver the equivalent energy of gasoline consumed by the average vehicular fuel needs of one person in Florida. This represents 127% to 507% of all available agricultural land in Florida. The economic feasibility of bioethanol crops requires further analysis. While the available agricultural land that would be required for producing only bioethanol crops does not compare favorably to the total of Florida’s limited available land, there is still a potential to shift some of the Florida energy needs to biofuels.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

Land Use Requirements for Production of Biofuels in Florida, Hendry County Sustainable Biofuels Center, 91 p.