The Forest Products Industry at an Energy/Climate Crossroads
Brown, Marilyn A.
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Transformational energy and climate policies are being debated worldwide that could have significant impact upon the future of the forest products industry. Because woody biomass can produce alternative transportation fuels, low-carbon electricity, and numerous other “green” products in addition to traditional paper and lumber commodities, the future use of forest resources is highly uncertain. Using the National Energy Modeling System (NEMS), this paper assesses the future of the forest products industry under three possible U.S. policy scenarios: (1) a national renewable electricity standard, (2) a national policy of carbon constraints, and (3) incentives for industrial energy efficiency. In addition, we discuss how these policy scenarios might interface with the recently strengthened U.S. renewable fuels standards. The principal focus is on how forest products including residues might be utilized under different policy scenarios, and what such market shifts might mean for electricity and biomass prices, as well as energy consumption and carbon emissions. The results underscore the value of incentivizing energy efficiency in a portfolio of energy and climate policies in order to moderate electricity and biomass price escalation while strengthening energy security and reducing CO2 emissions.
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