Essays on Economic and Environmental Analysis of Taiwanese Bioenergy Production on Set-Aside Land



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Domestic production of bioenergy by utilizing set-aside land in Taiwan can reduce Taiwan?s reliance on expensive and politically insecure foreign fossil fuels while also reducing the combustion of fossil fuels, which emit substantial amounts of greenhouse gases. After joining the World Trade Organization, Taiwan?s agricultural sector idled about one-third of the national cropland, hereafter called ?set-aside land?. This potentially provides the land base for Taiwan to develop a bioenergy industry. This dissertation examines Taiwan?s potential for bioenergy production using feedstocks grown on set-aside land and discusses the consequent effects on Taiwan?s energy security plus benefits and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The Taiwan Agricultural Sector Model (TASM) was used to simulate different agricultural policies related to bioenergy production. To do this simulation the TASM model was extended to include additional bioenergy production possibilities and GHG accounting. We find that Taiwan?s bioenergy production portfolio depends on prices of ethanol, electricity and GHG. When GHG prices go up, ethanol production decreases and electricity production increases because of the relatively stronger GHG offset power of biopower. Results from this pyrolysis study are then incorporated into the TASM model. Biochar from pyrolysis can be used in two ways: burn it or use it as a soil amendment. Considering both of these different uses of biochar, we examine bioenergy production and GHG offset to see to what extent Taiwan gets energy security benefits from the pyrolysis technology and how it contributes to climate change mitigation. Furthermore, by examining ethanol, electricity and pyrolysis together in the same framework, we are able to see how they affect each other under different GHG prices, coal prices and ethanol prices. Results show that ethanol is driven out by pyrolysis-based electricity when GHG price is high. We also find that when biochar is hauled back to the rice fields, GHG emission reduction is higher than that when biochar is burned for electricity; however, national electricity production is consequently higher when biochar is burned.